Niceness makes a comeback
"Nice guys finish last," the nice guys of the world lament. And nice women everywhere nod their heads in collective agreement.
On a summer trip to Rome, I spent an interminable 30 minutes just inside Saint Peter's, waiting for the rest of my group. I leaned against a marble column, observing the passing tourists in sun visors and man-pris (the cropped pants much-loved by European males).
A good-looking Italian security guard darted smoldering looks in my direction. He walked an increasingly narrow security perimeter so that our shoulders nearly brushed after 20 minutes. In all that time, he never once smiled. While he was walking the wider part of his route, a group of Americans passed. Pale and Midwestern, they looked soft beneath their stone-washed Levis. One young man glanced in my direction. When our eyes met, he smiled a bright, open smile, beaming that unique brand of American kindness identifiable anywhere in the world. Not an Adonis, I thought, but his warmth still put him leagues ahead of the handsome — but sullen — security guard.
Niceness certainly feels like a turn-on, so I wonder why we don't encourage it more in our relationships.
In her best-selling dating advice book, "Why Men Love Bitches," author Sherry Argov tells the story of a married friend who convinced her husband to do his own laundry using a supreme-o bitch tactic. Her solution? She dropped a red sweatshirt into his load of white cotton underwear. There was much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes when he discovered the carnage. With a pair of pink boxer shorts clutched in a meaty fist, he shouted, "You will never, ever, ever do my laundry again." His wife smiled in triumph. Ouch.
Thankfully, a recent New York Times
article reported that congeniality is making a comeback. Leading men like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan point to the growing trend. "That amiable guys and uncomplicated sweethearts could be today's pop heroes is a sign of an outbreak of niceness across the cultural landscape — an attitude bubbling up in commercials, movies and even, to a degree, the normally
not-nice blogosphere," the NYT
If this is really the case, then I — for one — am thrilled. I'm tired of the meanness that now masquerades as social normalcy. Not just the Simon Cowell and Janice Dickinson type of harshness, but the rudeness and sarcasm that have infiltrated our romantic behavior as well. Since when did love become less about kindness and more about snarkiness?
In her sequel to "Why Men Love Bitches" — "Why Men Marry Bitches" — even Ms. Argov pointed her readers toward greater sweetness. True, she berated a young woman for serving foie gras on the second date, but she seemed to take a step back from the first book's hard-line stance, where lines like "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and… bitches — it doesn't get any better than that" set the tone.
In her second book, Ms. Argov encourages women to have a backbone but allows room for a gentler side. "All you have to do is be feminine, soft, charming and enjoyable to be around," she says. Wouldn't that be nice?
Contact Artis >>Send your dating tips, questions, and disasters to: email@example.com