Nice Guy Syndrome, The Friendzone, and Entitlement Mentality

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Whenever I scroll through my dashboard on Tumblr, one thing that keeps popping up is this thing called “Nice Guy Syndrome.” “Nice Guy Syndrome” is (according to the Tumblr hive mind) when your average guy complains about his lack of relationships even though he acts nice to women. Most guys with “nice guy syndrome” complain about being stuck in the friendzone.

A good example of “Nice Guy Syndrome” or being stuck in the friendzone can be seen in “Prophecy Girl” (Buffy season 1, episode 12). Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd analyzes this scene in his Buffy Episode Guide. The scene I’m talking about starts at the 2:23 mark and the analysis of said scene ends at 4:17 so if you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I recommend you stop the video at that point to avoid spoilers.

I totally get Xander wanting to ask Buffy out, but at the same time, I understand why Buffy turns Xander down, too. It’s not even that she has a crush on Angel, which Xander complains about later, but she sees him as a friend, plain and simple. (Also, kudos to Willow for refusing to be Xander’s rebound.) Xander thinks with his passion, but he lacks clear judgment and empathy, an issue that continues on for the rest of the series. One major thing I hated about the show is that they never showed Xander getting over Buffy. Even when he moved onto relationships with other girls, Xander still interferes in Buffy’s life, namely pushing her to stay in a relationship with a guy named Riley even though they’re all wrong for each other. (Not to mention the crap that went down in Season 6 but that is a completely different blog post.)

Now while it’s true girls fantasize about bad boys (I’ve mentioned my drooling over Spike on here, right?), they also fantasize about having the perfect gentleman as a husband as well. (Exhibit A: Mister Darcy from Pride and Prejudice) I don’t like guys who only act nice just so they can get a girlfriend. Guys should be nice to girls because you should love your neighbor as yourself, not as a means to an end.

But unfortunately, girls are just as guilty of acting bitter over guys they can’t have. Trust me when I say I’ve been there and done that. My boy-crazy phase was basically like Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” I would see this cute guy and immediately think that I’ve fallen in love with him. I’d act all nice to him, doing my best to flirt (usually with spectacularly awkward failure), but the minute something goes wrong, I start panicking. I start seeing any girl he’s friends with as a rival. And yeah, I’d eventually write the guy off as all wrong for me, spend some time single and then boom, onto the next guy.

Things have thankfully changed since then. I hang out with my friends, which consist of both guys and girls, but I don’t expect anything out of the guys. Even the cute ones. This is because I’ve accepted my life as a single person and don’t feel entitled to having a relationship just because I want one. Believe me when I say that I get lonely and I miss being in a relationship sometimes and I hope to have a good relationship sometime in the near future. The difference between now and then is that I recognize that the guys in my life are people too, not just means to an end.

The thing about the friendzone is that it comes from an entitlement mentality. People act nice as a means and think that they can have the perfect guy or girl if they act a certain way. But a relationship built on the expectations of getting everything you want isn’t healthy. A good example of that can be seen in Buffy and Riley’s relationship during Season 5.

 

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Buffy is the Slayer, which means that she has super strength and speed and can kick a normal guy up and down the curb without breaking a sweat. Riley, being a normal guy, felt emasculated by the relationship. It eventually led to him seeking pleasure from prostitutes and giving Buffy an ultimatum when she finds out. Riley was never considerate of Buffy’s real life issues and constantly made her feel like she had to carry the weight of their relationship. In other words, he felt entitled to having a certain kind of relationship with Buffy that she couldn’t give him. He decided to return to the army and left Buffy picking up the pieces, thinking that his leaving was her fault.

America tends to have a major entitlement mentality when it comes to things. You can see that in prosperity gospel or in the Law of Attraction. But as the Rolling Stones said “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need.” I think if people realize that love isn’t something you’re entitled to, we can start treating each other with more respect.

Screenshots from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are copyright to Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.

Shindig: Chivalry and Feminism

I am going to do my very best not to let my fangirl squee get in the way of analyzing this episode. I squeed about it enough in the intro to my Firefly Month.

The episode starts out at your typical bar (except for the virtual pool). Mal pickpockets a man at the pool table who bragged about coming into money by selling slaves. It’s a small indicator of Mal’s strange sense of morality given that he makes his living by smuggling and stealing from people he deems to be bad (like slave traders and the Alliance) and never from innocent people (as seen in The Train Job). The planet that the crew visits, Persephone, was where they started in the pilot.

A conversation at the dress shop eventually leads to Kaylee talking about Inara, which irks Mal into mouthing off at her. Zoe, Wash, and Kaylee return to the ship, but Mal and Jayne run into Badger. (Played by Mark Sheppard whom Supernatural fans recognize as Crowley and Doctor Who fans will recognize as Canton Delaware Everett.) Badger informs Mal and Jayne about a man in need of a smuggler, but won’t work with Badger beneath him. Coincidentally, this man is going to be a guest at the party Inara is attending and Badger just so happens to have a couple of invitations.

It’s clear at this party that the society knows Inara because she announced by her name and not as her client’s escort. As I said before, the life of a Companion is very similar to that of a geisha, who often relies on the support of a danna or patron. (I had a Memoirs of a Geisha phase.) Inara’s client, Atherton, is making such an offer to Inara when Kaylee and Mal walk in.

Meanwhile, on the ship, Book, Simon, and Jayne are playing a card game while River has a minor breakdown, removing the labels from the food in the kitchen. I think it’s because the food came from the Blue Sun corporation, which turns out to be a major antagonist in the film Serenity.

During Mal and Inara’s dance, the subject of what is legal verses what is morally right gets brought up again. Mal considers his work to be honest, even though it’s illegal and says that the society Inara is a part of is all taking part of a giant lie even though they’re considered to be Mal’s superiors. He doesn’t want to stop Inara from taking Atherton’s offer, but he later says he hope that she doesn’t because he cares about her. Captain Mal Reynolds: master of the mixed messages.

The duel in this episode is a duel of swords instead of fists or pistols (both of which are Mal’s specialty). It’s up to Inara to teach Mal how to fence and fight with a sword. Later on, when the actual duel takes place, Inara provides the distraction that gives Mal the advantage to defeat Atherton. Mal cheats, punching Atherton in the face again, and beats him down with the handle. However, instead of killing Atherton as stated by Sir Warrick Harrow as the rules of the duel, Mal decides to show mercy and just stabs Atherton a couple of times.

The icing on the cake, however, is what Inara declares when Atherton shows his true feelings for her. When Atherton threatens to her that she’ll never find work again, she throws the rules of her guild at him. His actions have blacklisted him from any other Companions. Mal’s duel leads to him successfully making a deal with Sir Warrick Harrow and the two of them return to the ship and share some homemade wine while they overlook the cargo that they’re smuggling: cows.

One underlying theme in this episode is chivalry and feminism. Most feminists do not like the idea of chivalry. However, I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. After all, the idea of chivalry and feminism are both grounded in the idea that women ought to be valued as people and not as property. Besides that, Emma Watson created a nonprofit organization called He For She, which asks for men to help support women’s rights and promotes gender equality. I think it’s a great example of how men and women can start working together to support each other.

The most obvious example of how chivalry and feminism work is the main plot involving Mal, Inara, and Atherton. Mal is motivated by his desire to defend Inara’s honor, a very chivalrous idea. However, he also calls Inara a whore to her face. As I stated before, he wasn’t calling her a whore because he’s slut shaming her. He just does not like what she does for a living. And the reason he wants to defend Inara’s honor is because he thinks Atherton is treating Inara like an object. We can see examples of that with Atherton holding onto Inara possessively and glaring with jealousy as Inara and Mal have a dance and later grabs Inara once the dance was done.

Another example of chivalry and feminism is seen in the minor subplots. A distinguished gentleman rescues Kaylee from a group of mean girls by means of slut shaming. While I will subtract points to the cool old guy for using slut shaming, he apologizes for his rudeness and says “I cannot abide useless people.” I was so wishing that the cool old guy was Sir Warrick Harrow. Later on, Kaylee is seeing talking mechanics with a large group of men, showing that a woman can have a good time with men just by being herself. She didn’t have to go out onto the dance floor to have a good time.

I’m not exactly what modern, secular society would consider a feminist. I prefer to use the term “gender equalist” because I believe that men have their own discrimination issues just as often as women do. I also believe that men and women have to support each other instead of women blaming the patriarchy and men acting entitled to whatever they want just because they’re nice guys. I’m not gonna say that Shindig is the perfect example of what I wish gender equality could be like, but it’s a start at least.

Lent Day 15: St. Joseph is Awesome!

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten meditation for today talks about how the ego gets in the way of becoming holier. If you ever encounter a person who has this “I’m holier than thou!” vibe, they’re doing it wrong!

A wonderful example of someone who lived a wonderful holy, humble life is St. Joseph whose feast day is today.

My friends Rachel and Kateri made this wonderful video about St. Joseph that goes beyond the images we usually associate with the foster father of Jesus.

The usual assumption about St. Joseph was that he was a widower, possibly old enough to be Mary’s father, and died sometime between Jesus’s preteen years and full adulthood, which could be supported by the fact that he doesn’t appear in the Gospels when Jesus officially began his ministry or at the Cross at Jesus’s death. Besides that, Catholics believe that Mary stayed a virgin after she was married. That could only happen if she was married to someone who wasn’t sexually interested in her, right?

But what if he wasn’t? What if Joseph was around the same age as Mary? After all, the child Jesus would need a role model, an example of the man he would eventually become. It would be hard to picture a child thinking of becoming a grown man if the prominent example is past his prime. Archbishop Fulton Sheen instead has his own theory: That Joseph was a young man, prime marriage material, and able to provide a living for Mary and Jesus.

But what would explain Joseph’s death? The fact that back then, men tended to have shorter life spans than women. Still applies to today, but back then the life expectancy gap was even more extreme. 

Point is this: Picture Mary as a teenager (12-14), since that was how old she could’ve been to marry at that time. And picture Joseph as somewhere close to that (say 13-16). And picture ALL of the things you heard about the things leading to Jesus’s birth and picture yourself as a teenager or a teenager in your life. Could you do the same things Joseph and Mary did in those circumstances? Probably not.

If Joseph and Mary were around today, their relationship status would be: “Joseph and Mary are in a relationship and it’s complicated” because according to the Catholic church, Mary was conceived without sin and they will raise God made flesh. So yeah, complicated relationship, but they made it work because they put God’s needs before their own. Mary and Joseph are the Gospel’s OTP! (That means one true pairing!)

Joseph as a young man provides a great testament to the fact that men can in fact be in control of their hormones. Read about how Joseph reacted to everything that happened to Mary and all the things God asked him to do. Notice that he doesn’t say a single word in the New Testament, but instead listens and obeys God. If men and women put God first and treat each other with the dignity and respect that God created us with, there would be a lot less conflict between the genders.