Blanket apologies seem a bit naff, however as I am now dating someone who I can very clearly see fits the ‘nice guy’ category I am very aware that some kind of apology is owing (or some kind of self-forgiveness is necessary here).
If you ‘dated’ (I’m using this term very loosely because I don’t actually think I ever went on a real date in my life before this guy) me once and are already wondering if I’m talking about you, let me just say this….if you are wondering, you aren’t one of the ‘nice guys’. You would know because your post-dating me would have left a sour taste in your mouth because your niceness scared the shit out of me, so I royally fucked it up. You’d know because I was the girl who dirty-danced with your best friend that time you brought him to visit because the combination of cold-medication and alcohol made him look heaps like Patrick Swayze. And therefore. I was Baby. You’d know because after you invited me to come and meet your family one weekend at a big deal community event (but before the family meeting weekend happened) I ‘accidently’ slept over at my male friend’s house after eating too many prawns and drinking too much beer. You’d know because I would have invited you post-breakup to New Year’s Eve and then danced with everyone else and two other guys had a fight over me and I ran away and pretended I had no idea who either of them were. I wouldn’t have told you I broke up with you because when we were dating I met someone who totally would never have committed to me at a party where I was dressed as a Ulysses butterfly, and he flirted with me and so I made up a story about your Mum not liking my daughter as the reason for it not “working out”. I wouldn’t have told you that actually, the possibility of you was way too much for me, so I found a million other reasons why you weren’t right, like the fact you didn’t know how to load a sheep truck.
It’s so naff that it was always “it’s not you, it’s ME” but it really was. I just had no freaking idea consciously until lately (like you know, Gap Year). See, the thing is we (as in my siblings and I, but also possibly most kids of my generation) were basically not taught how to date or how to find good people to love, or anything. We were just told not to have sex with people and expected somehow that that would work. I want my daughters to know that sex is good and beautiful and OK, but that you do it with people who are kind and respect you and respect themselves and generally want the best for you. Just being expected not to have sex in this world is not going to happen. Your children are going to have sex with people. Possibly lots of sex with lots of different people. And they should know that it’s OK, but that you should love yourself enough first to not make poor choices about who to share that with.
This whole nice guy thing is not about sex. It’s about vulnerability and how terrifying it felt for me to be in a situation with someone who cared if I was OK, who respected me and my body and my desires, who was generally interested in getting to know me, and GOD FORBID who maybe really liked me. The closer I got to a ‘nice guy’ the sooner I would end it in some lame and predictable way or another, whilst lying to myself that the young dude on the skateboard was worth the trouble. The meaner a guy was to me, or the less interested, the more comfortable I was with their attention when, or if, they decided to bestow it upon me. Sometimes this man in my life just adores me. I can tell. And sometimes that’s a bit scary for me. I may have half-jokingly told him he should be ‘meaner’ to me, and he looked really confused. It’s confusing.
Here’s the thing about femininity -it takes a long time to get brave with it. I’m getting braver but there are times where I’d just prefer not to be that vulnerable and feel all those feels about that stuff. But mostly I love it, and even with the last mean guy I found a way to do it better and more than before. He treated me the way I expected and that was OK with me because that’s what I expected. I didn’t get scared with him very often except all the times I wanted him to adore me and commit to me and he didn’t (which was all the time) and so I didn’t use my vulnerability bravely enough to just ask him. And then I would have known sooner, and I would have been ‘safer’ sooner instead of ‘safe’ in the not knowing.
And so the apology winds its way all the way around again back to me and then to them, because to be honest ‘nice guys’ you didn’t do the wrong thing. I hope you went on to be ‘nice guys’ to women who knew they were OK and expected nothing less, and didn’t give up on the nice guy thing because a tall blonde chick with honestly NO IDEA made your niceness seem lame. She was just lame and not very brave, and she had some super-hard lessons to learn about lameness and bravery (which you may be pleased and vindicated to know she learnt). The other guys and life taught her that.
It doesn’t change anything. There is no regret there. Just time that had to pass and things that had to happen because this is how it’s meant to be, because if not it would have been something different. And it’s not different. It’s like this.
So not naff. Just brave and stuff.