Sound Off: Guys, If You’re Really Nice, Take a Hint

woman not into the man trying to kiss her

She’s not into it, dude.

FIND ANY STORY where a woman has been harassed, assaulted, or berated by a man, and you’ll see plenty of guys — and, unfortunately, one or two women — who maintain that the only purpose the story serves is to paint men as awful, awful people, which they totally are not, and, you know, that woman is a liar and a bad person so she probably deserved whatever she got.

You’ve heard the saying “a hit dog will holler”? Yeah, that’s where I’m at right now.

Our culture gave birth to the Tinder Nightmare Guy. After he asked an abrupt, personal question about the contraceptive habits of a complete stranger, TNG couldn’t understand why that stranger cancelled their date. To prove how unreasonable she was, TNG called her five or six times in the span of five minutes. Over the two-and-a-half hours after she broke off their plans, he messaged her many, many times, often without receiving a response.

Unfortunately, that woman’s experience isn’t unique or rare. In August 2015, a Harry Potter podcast host put BuzzFeed’s Grace Spelman on blast when she blocked him from her Facebook and Twitter accounts after he sent her an uncomfortable, flirtatious message. As HuffPo reports, he then “tweeted at Spelman incessantly, insulting her work and her intellect, all the while claiming that his initial attentions were just in the service of advancing Spelman’s career.”

I don’t use dating apps, but, like Spelman, I’ve received online rage from men. There was the follower who posted a typo-ridden comment, then — when I suggested that perhaps he meant to comment on something else I shared — proclaimed that he read more books than I ever had. Then there was the friend of a friend who filled my Facebook with vitriol after I shared Gina Crosley-Corcoran’s essay, “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person.” This is, of course, not to mention the man who, after railing that I didn’t understand how he and his siblings were “the future,” sent me a flirty private message to tell me that I shouldn’t have unfriended him, because he “liked half of what [I] post[ed].”

Guys, you have to stop.

Angry diatribes don’t prove how nice you are. If someone ignores you, take the hint and leave them the hell alone. Continuing to demand their attention doesn’t make them look bad; it makes you look unhinged.

Look, there are nice guys, and then there are Nice Guys. A nice guy will buy you a coffee when you’re having a bad day, and then politely leave you alone to drink it. A Nice Guy will buy you a coffee, but when you tell him you don’t want company and aren’t interested in him, he’ll demand that you pay him back for the hot beverage.

So it’s pretty simple. If you’re nice because you want to make someone’s day better, then you’re probably an all-right person. But if you perform favors just to get positive attention from the recipients, then you aren’t really nice at all. Instead, you’re an abusive manipulator, and your favors don’t mean sh*t.

Guys, when you lament that no woman wants to date a Nice Guy like you, you’re sending us all a giant Bat Signal: I AM NOT NICE. I WILL HARASS YOU IF YOU DO NOT GIVE ME SEX IN EXCHANGE FOR MY FRIENDLY DEMEANOR.

A hard fact of adulthood is that the things you do will not have the desired effect 100 percent of the time. You don’t always get a “thank you” when you hold a door or elevator for someone, and when your polite act goes ignored, it can be angering. The solution is not to berate the person for not showing their appreciation, however, nor is it to give them an obnoxious “you’re welcome” in return for their silence. That’s not the way adults handle disappointment. You let it roll off your shoulders, and you forget it ever happened. That’s life.

This is all to say that, even if we excuse Nice Guys’ not-nice ulterior motives, the barrage of harassment they hurl at their targets remains unacceptable, because that response isn’t a legitimate part of an exchange between adults. Going back to TNG as an example, when you message and call a woman repeatedly, demanding that she answer you, you’re the immature one. You’ve also reached a frightening level of neediness that no one would want to take on.

Annoying others until they give you the attention you want is a behavior pattern that you should have left behind in kindergarten. If it’s still in your repertoire, you need to take a long look in the mirror, Nice Guy, and start working to change your ways. Don’t expect recognition for your efforts, though. You don’t get a cookie for doing what you’re supposed to do.