There is an old cynical saying that "Nice Guys Finish Last". As kind-hearted boys mature into manhood, they will often find truth in that statement, at least the appearance of truth.
It does seem that the bully, the aggressor, the person with self-interest at heart tends to attract the girls, to become the star athlete and enjoy popularity. As kind-hearted men grow older, reaching young adulthood, this trend seems to strengthen, as they notice the “confident” guy marrying well, making more money and retaining popularity. However, look below the surface and you may find that all of it can be a mirage.
Motivation is the difference between the kind-hearted male and the self-promoting male. It is much deeper than the short-lived motivation obtained from attending a seminar. It is a deep innate motivation derived from early childhood experience. Often, the “confident” guy is hiding from his own anxiety, wearing a mask of competency, while shaking in fear within his own psychological stew of dysfunction. In other words, he is suffering and attempting to balm internal conflict with the appearance of strength and success. This is true from sociopathic dictators to many politicians and self-absorbed and greedy business leaders. Childhood conflict, likely from physically or emotionally abusive experience is what forces him to strive in a frenzy and to perhaps mistreat and cheat others to “be a winner”.
During teen years, young men are often perplexed as to why girls are attracted to the person under the mask of self-confidence. They will tolerate emotional abuse and even physical abuse and complain about it but remain drawn to the appearance of strength and confidence. This is a function of basic human evolution, as the mating instinct is to be with the primate who can best protect her and her children. This confuses and confounds kind-hearted teenage boys, categorized in the “friend zone” and used as sounding boards and sources of comfort, yet in “friends only” relationships. This is one of the many trials and contradictions of being a teen.
Most of the world’s religions teach us to be kind, loving, caring and gentle. However, young men learn to be aggressive, to gain advantage over others—to “get to the top of the hill”. A father who is disappointed in his own life may contradict all religion has taught, screaming at his son and berating him as soon as the boy’s first T-ball game. This causes emotional development in one of two ways. The son may become withdrawn and, eventually, suicidal or the boy may become the bully his father is teaching him to be, learning to survive on narcissistic tendencies and exhibiting cruelty and corruption, in order to obtain that false mask of confidence and ability that covers his true inabilities.
My question is, would you consider that a peaceful and enjoyable life? Is there happiness within such a life? Men of this nature are pitiable—living within a quivering mass of emotional wreckage. Yet, the functional, kind and Christ-like man will feel inferior to such a person.
The micro-mansion, the fancy cars, the big speedboat and the bombshell on his arm may cause it to appear as if the masked person has the ultimate life. Reality is often in contradiction to this. Many times the wives of such people come into the counseling office, sobbing about how their husband cheats on them, dominates them, controls them and is heaping anger and emotional abuse upon the children. The vast majority of the time, she will struggle for years, trying to fix the dysfunctional marriage, only to have the troubled husband force her hand. This often results in an ugly battle for control of the children and resources. The so-called Alpha Male character will use cruelty, lies and threats to maintain control. It never ends well and may go on for many years.
It may take the woman a few relationships later, repeating the pattern, to realize that the kind-hearted guy she used to cry on the shoulder of in high school is the man she should have married. He is likely now the Servant Leader who retains humility, in spite of having built a solid team within his business that respects him greatly. Because of his experience of bullying by the so-called “Alpha”, he may retain a bit too much humility and self-doubt. In spite of inner fears, he is the type who receives respect in his community for anonymous charitable work, where words of his kind deeds eventually are known.
He may be the volunteer baseball coach that young men approach at the local café, years later, showing off a new girlfriend and telling of how well he is doing at the local university. He respects his “coach” and remembers him standing up to a local adult bully who insisted upon coaching his own son’s team and what a jerk he seemed to be, belittling his own child before a crowd—then, screaming at the umpire.
Here is the gist of it all. Would you rather be the person with many conditional friends, those seeking something from you, or---the person with friends who are around you because they are inspired by your good acts? Would you rather be the person suffering in a gumbo of their own self-doubt and pain or the person who finds comfort and a sense of wellbeing in helping others? Would you trade a few dates with a troubled, yet popular girl, for a respectful and lasting relationship with a well-adjusted woman? Would you trade a life of self-hatred and feigned success for a life of peace and harmony?
Here is the best fictional example of what I’m trying to present. Most of us have watched the movie, “A Christmas Story”, where Ralphie, the shy and timid, yet intelligent boy is bullied by the vile characters of Scut Farkus and Grover Dill. For one brief moment of anger, Ralphie rises above his self-doubt and pummels Scut, who becomes a pathetic character with his mask removed. Grover, the henchman, is simply a coward who runs and hides from the boy they both were bullying a few minutes before.
The Scut Farkus prototype may be able to ride his mask of implied superiority and strength to financial success with the prom queen at his side. However, long-term, the pathetic person will always emerge and the life will be that of painful inner turmoil, unless Scut decides to seek some help for his insecurities and fears or his wife forces him into counseling. Good luck to her, by the way.
Meanwhile the Ralphie clone will tend to be shy with girls, which may be difficult for him between the ages of 12 and 30. However, Ralphie, if he can avoid usury by dysfunctional people and--if he can protect his kind heart, has the potential to become a true community leader.
He may find the woman who respects him for who he is and she may become much more attractive and loved in the community than any girl Ralphie wanted to be with, years ago. That unfortunate female may now be dealing with the heavy-drinking, heavy-gambling and volatile individual that a Scut Farkus is likely to become. She will likely leave him, through great turmoil, to have a rebound relationship with another Scut Farkus clone, then another, before, perhaps finding a guy like Ralphie, whom she calls her “White Knight”. There is peril for Ralphie in being the White Knight, as the woman’s childhood issues likely are untreated. Ralphie is being set up for abuse and disappointment and likely a much thinner bank account.
The moral of “A Christmas Story” is that good guys do win. It may be hard to believe, but many Ralphie types are the true leaders of our communities. They go on to build great companies. They sponsor charities. They raise children who may mirror dad’s self-doubt and humility but have kind hearts, themselves. If Dad can teach them to protect themselves from predators and reach out to those in true need, they will help society prosper and grow.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” How very true! Congratulation, all you Ralphies out there. God bless you. Keep the faith in yourself and don’t let things get you down. Nice guys do win---just takes some time! So, when a girl wants to be “just friends” because you are “too nice”, take that as a compliment but that’s not a relationship with any promise for you. Patience. You will be the winner, long-term.