You can be a good man and not be boring. But when you’re young and dumb—which most of us either are or have been—it’s common to subscribe to the gendered notions of “good” and “bad.” A lot of immature dudes talk about wanting to have fun with “bad girls,” but settling down with a “good girl” which is more than just an individually perceived conception, but rather a very specific set of physical and mental attributes and lifestyle choices.
While women also do the same thing with “bad boys” and “good guys,” as you mature, some folks begin to realize that those labels are nothing more than overly-simplified BS, but it’s actually alarming how many people hold on to these theories well into their adulthood. What may be more shocking is that these reductive binary profiles aren’t just propagated by the opposite sex, but also very much by their own gender.
I experienced this the other day when I was talking to some young male college kids about dating. They were trying to explain to me that the attractive young women in their school weren’t entertaining dates from anything other than “bad boys.” And if they did go on a date with a “nice guy,” he’d eventually be dissed, dismissed and probably saved in her phone as “Free Food.”
The young men in the group all sullenly nodded their heads in approval and one-by-one each chimed in with their own story/theory on why getting and keeping a woman necessitates avoiding being a “good guy” because young women are simply bored by them.
That’s when I had to interject.
See, I understand exactly where those dudes are coming from because I used to be just like them. I had a pre-imagined conceptualization of what being a “good guy” was and it was steeped in the same BS these young dudes were parroting. I thought “good guys” went to church all weekend, never drank or smoked anything, avoided conflicts at all costs, listened to the edited versions of rap songs, never whined on any girls and used Friday and Saturday nights to study. I relegated being good to that confined box, labeled it boring and assumed that’s mostly the characteristics that women my age weren’t interested in. While I wasn’t completely wrong, I was mostly wrong. There were two things I had yet to realize in my immaturity:
1. There’s no such thing as a “good guy.”
2. You can be good without being boring.
The more I grew up and started to recognize that the box I created for “good guys” was completely foolish, the more I realized that being “good” is about how you treat your significant other. While being “good” is subjective, being a good partner—and therefore a good man—isn’t. Being honest, open, loving, supportive, dependable and communicative are just a few of the traits relevant to being a good dude and that can come in any physical manifestation and life plan.
There are plenty of interesting guys with fascinating careers and hobbies who are endowed with the ability to be a good man for the right woman. There are plenty of dudes who aren’t pushovers who could be a good guy to the right woman. And there’s plenty of dudes who have lives far removed from the confined box of “good guy traits” who can be a good man for the right woman.
Look, if you’re an adult and you still subscribe to labeling groups of men and women as “good” and “bad,” then it’s really time to grow the hell up. Life is so much bigger than Twitter memes and outdated relationship conversations.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.