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There are a lot of frustrating things about being single, but today I want to focus on one unsolicited piece of advice I’ve heard over and over within the last four years I’ve been dateless. I’m currently in that stage of life where I am watching my friends and family find their soulmate, get hitched, and throw lavish weddings to celebrate their love for one another. And me? I get to attend these celebrations completely plus-one-less only to be nudged by people saying “you’re next.” I then have the luxury explaining that I am not, in fact, “next” since I’m extremely single. After pointing this out, the inquiries begin.
“Well, what’s the dating scene like? Is there anyone you’re interested in?”
I usually tell them “no,” even if it’s just a lie to protect my own privacy. Of course, there’s something about weddings where people in committed relationships feel the need to insert advice to the single attendees as if we’re desperately seeking their words of wisdom (we’re not). The worst of that advice?
“You just need to find someone nice.”
This unsolicited advice can be given in a number of ways. You might also hear, “Focus on finding a nice guy/girl and it’ll all work out,” or even “[insert name here] is nice! I like them! You should date them!” Regardless of the exact phrasing, the words “good” and “nice” and “kind” are usually the common denominators in this blanket statement.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most frustrating and demeaning things I hear as someone who’s single, and let me explain why. I know these advice-givers don’t have the intention of being patronizing. I’m sure they just are trying to convey that I should steer away from terrible humans that would treat me like crap, but I can’t help and feel that there’s this condescending undertone every time someone says to “just find someone nice.”
Find someone nice? Look. I truly don’t think that I’ve ever gone into dating someone who I didn’t consider “nice” from the beginning. After all, who would do that? Can you imagine telling your friends, “So, I just met someone and he’s super special because he’s a HUGE asshole. I mean, ladies, he’s a total jerk without a single kind bone in his body.” Let’s be honest here. If you’re telling me to just find someone “nice,” you’re really just revealing this hidden message that I should lower my standards and settle down.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “nice” one of those bare minimum criteria that anyone should be looking for in a partner? Nice is the starting point. The baseline. The VERY first thing on the litmus test. Yes, I want to find someone nice. I also want to find someone who inhales oxygen maybe doesn’t have a history of murdering puppies for fun. No shit. Of course I want to find someone nice. But I’d also like to find someone who is intelligent, quick-witted, loves children, and challenges me to be a better person. Is it really that selfish of an expectation that I want someone who’s more than a well-mannered person?
Kindness should just be someone’s way of life, and to expect two people would date and fall in love just because they’re both bare minimum decent human beings is an absurd thought. This whole concept is essentially saying that as long as someone has the wherewithal of being kind, it shouldn’t matter if they have a total dumpster fire of a personality.
Personally, I’d like to believe I have several other qualities other than my ability to be nice, and I can only hope my future partner does too. I’d rather never date again than be with someone who I didn’t feel was riveting, and quite frankly: I don’t think “nice” is all that exciting if that’s the only personality trait we share. Shouldn’t we just put to rest the idea that being “nice” is some kind of huge accomplishment to find in a relationship? It’s not like it’s some feat SO incredibly noteworthy that we should raise some dating prospects above the rest. If you are “nice” then you are being exactly what most people should expect from other people. Period. And if you’re suggesting I find “niceness” to be the only thing someone is offering in a relationship, that’s pretty pathetic.
I think a lot of this has to do with my age. When I was in college, I was always told to keep my expectations high and that it’s an important thing to be picky. But now? “Nice” is the one checkbox I’m being asked to fill. That’s quite a leap, no? I guess since I’m slowly nearing the big 3-0 and I’m literally the last non-married or engaged person left out of my family and close circle of friends, they all fill the need for me to hurry up and join their couple endeavors.
To those friends and family that have given me this advice, I know you mean no harm. And I love you. But I riddle you this: What if I meet someone really “nice”… but they hate dogs, the great outdoors, and football? See? Maybe it’ll be worthwhile to take my time and find someone who is much, much more than just a “nice” guy. .