“Good” guys finish last

So I didn’t finish the sauce today. It’s not so urgent now.

Instead I used my very rare second-day-off-in-a-week to clean the fish tank, and go to the physio (now diagnosed officially as a meniscus tear), and chase up a bunch of stuff about the new house (plumbers, fireplaces, electricians). None of this was sexy or interesting, although we did get confirmation today that we can draw down the Kiwisaver first home deposit… so that’s $30,000 we didn’t have yesterday.

However, the thing that’s really been playing on my mind today was actually a Facebook post by George Takei. He often posts interesting and controversial things, and today was no exception. This one was a story about an anonymous poster, apparently put up in public, trying to shame women for not going out with “good guys”:

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The veracity of the poster isn’t mentioned. It’s an anonymous rant, captured on camera and originally posted to a fairly anonymous Tumblr site. There’s no indication given as to where the picture was taken.

However, it’s obviously got people talking – probably in part because so many people can relate to both the ranter and the rantee in this situation.

Yes, it hurts when someone you’re attracted to decides that they’d rather not be with you. I’d venture a guess that 99% of adults have experienced that pain first-hand (myself included). Yes, it happens to straight women too – we are no more automatically entitled to male affection than men are entitled to female affection. The simple fact is that not everyone is going to be into you. That doesn’t make you a freak or a loser – it doesn’t even make you a minority.

However, getting this bitter and angry about that rejection (and blaming a full half of the human species) isn’t the reaction of a good adult. It’s the reaction of an immature, entitled, narcissist. Love isn’t a game that you can win or lose, and other people are not prizes or possessions that can be won if you’re just “good” enough.

It reminded me of an excellent article I read a couple of years ago, where a (male) blogger dismantled the way that culture can convince men that women are automatically attainable simply through persistence. He used the example of nerd/gaming culture and the backdrop of the 2014 Isla Vista Massacre to make his point. Teaching young men that they’ll get Pauline if they just jump over enough barrels, only leads to anger and frustration when you find out she’d rather stay with Donkey Kong. However, if you take away the idea that the woman is the prize, then maybe (just maybe) you’ll jump over the barrels for your own sense of achievement… and you may end up more attractive to other people in the process, because you’ve become a whole person with integrity and not the jerk who wants to use others to patch up your fragile ego… but that shouldn’t be your reason for doing it (because that’s not integrity, it’s just a big fake show).

However, there is a good reason why these simple truths sit so badly with so many people: we’ve been programmed by our culture to believe in the game. Revealing that there is, in fact, no game at all just leaves most of us feeling unequipped and out of ideas. If we can’t win the girl by being persistent or showing her that we’re “good” (or by jumping over barrels), then how do we win her? What do you mean we can’t win her? Nobody wants to be alone forever. It’s not FAAAIR!

It’s probably no news to anyone that people can over-react and treat their current misfortunes as if they were a life sentence. We’ve all done that too. But telling our poster-writer (mid-rant) that one day things will get better… that’s probably not going to sit too well with them either.

The fact is that life (and relationships) are complex. There are no easy answers, and not one of us “deserves” the attention of others. You can be the nicest, most benign human being on earth and still be alone. We must all just accept that everyone else around us has their own, unique way of seeing the world, and that their opinions and motivations are independent of ours. That’s as fair as it gets. Because if you respect others’ autonomy then they will hopefully respect yours.

At the end of the day, they only person you’re in competition with is your own sense of self.

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