Why Can’t You Be Nice?

A few weeks into dating my now-boyfriend, something awful happened. I cried over a case of La Croix.

A few weeks into dating my now-boyfriend, something awful (yet ultimately insightful) happened. I cried over being gifted a case of La Croix. Granted, it was my favorite flavor, but still, carbonated water should never bring a person to tears. So, why did that happen? Well, as I was gifted the La Croix, I realized that it was one of the few gifts I had received from someone I was fucking in literal years. Yes, years. In those initial seconds of holding the box in my hands, I registered that he had been paying attention to me randomly talking about this particular flavor (Key Lime if you’re wondering), and a few days later, brought it over for me. Just so I could have it. Because we briefly talked about it.

Yes, this is a super simple, basic act. Not at all is it a grand gesture, or even all that exceedingly kind or thoughtful. It’s a box of fucking canned water. And the fact that I perceived it as more impactful than it really was, is what put me in such an over-the-top emotional state. At that moment, I really understood just how abysmal my dating life was prior to this. The bar was so low with the men I was sleeping with, that I actually gave up on expecting basic human decency.

Right then was when I formed a telling thought: men aren’t nice.

Before I keep going, I’ll add this: I say men aren’t nice, because I fuck men. I’m sure other people who aren’t men are also unkind in the way I’ll be discussing in this piece, but I’ve only dealt with straight men so that’s what I’m speaking to.

Throughout my many years of dating and fucking men, and sometimes sort-of dating them, or sometimes just hanging out but also sort-of fucking them, I found myself deeper in an environment where certain patterns and behaviors became normal that really shouldn’t have. It was normal to immediately anticipate that the plans I was making with a guy were most likely going to fall through last minute. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added an event to my weekly schedule all the while thinking, this isn’t actually going to happen. It was normal to not expect a text back for hours, days, or even weeks. One time, months, but I won’t get into that. It was normal to avoid conversations that might be seen as “too personal”. In fact, it was normal to not have lengthy conversations at all. The less talking, the better. It was especially normal to avoid physical touch outside of sex, except for maybe a quick kiss before they say they can’t sleep over, and head out the door. A, thinking of you, text would only happen at two in the morning. Followed up by, can I come over? and Do you have whiskey? Speaking of liquor, buying me drinks on a date would happen, but more so because that was considered a social custom to them. That, in my eyes, is not an act of kindness. It’s wanting to avoid being called a cheap jerk. To sum all that up, my point is that it was normal to not receive any act of thoughtfulness or indication of compassion.

But, why? Why was it normal for my romantic interactions to be so devoid of humanity?

The answer is fear. Fear that such treatment toward a person might be misconstrued for the worst thing imaginable: an official relationship. Somehow, kindness has transformed into something reserved only for people who want to be coupled with one another. You should only be kind if you’re looking to be exclusive. Being kind outside of that will only make things more complicated.

I know that most of the men I’ve been with were not bad people. I mean, I wouldn’t have fucked them if I really believed they were. However, just because a person isn’t mean to you, doesn’t make them nice. I see now how much my interactions lacked warmth, and I fully comprehend the reasoning. In fact, I almost agreed with it.

The more I thought about this the more I found myself wondering, is this how it has to be? If you don’t want someone to think you’re really dating. As in, dating dating, do you have to cut off your capacity for kindness toward them? Do you have to be an asshole in order to ultimately not be an asshole? For a brief moment, I genuinely thought yes. Perhaps this is what’s best because there really is the possibility of leading someone on. Then I thought about it more clearly and gave myself a wake-up call. I was falling into the same trap. Again.

Believing that this is how it has to be is assuming that everyone who fucks wants a relationship (something largely assumed about women). Even if they say they don’t want one or assure that they’re fine with not getting into a relationship with you, the assumption is that this is not to be trusted at face value. Thus, kindness is eliminated as a safety measure.

My advice: get out of your own head, and stop assuming that everyone who has sex with you falls instantly in love with you. More importantly, maintain a respectable level of honesty and openness. In doing so, you can bring kindness back into your dating life. Even if you’re not dating.

Here’s what I want to emphasize. This isn’t about sex. In my opinion, the physical act of sex is not all that sacred or special. I’ve done it with all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations, and in no way view it as something precious that needs to always be approached with a deep emotional connection. It’s fun, exciting, pleasurable, and a great way to pass the time if you’re waiting for Netflix to stop buffering. This isn’t about sex, it’s about people who have sex. It’s about people who have sex and don’t communicate. It’s about how lack of trust takes the kindness out of romantic interactions, and how truly fucked up that all is.

Emotional distance as a choice is totally a thing, and that’s fine if both people want it, but it shouldn’t be the default. Especially if that distance is created out of a need to let the other person know you don’t want to be exclusive with them.

So here’s what I ask. Be nice to the people you fuck. Text back, give hugs, and compliments. Maybe even a gift every now and then. Talk about life and love and family. Ask questions. Be open. Be honest. Doing all of this is what makes you human. It’s what humanizes others. Don’t fear kindness. It’s what makes for a better life. Why wouldn’t you want that?