I’m going to tell you a story, the story of my first boyfriend, John. His friendly, unreserved manner hinders me from comparing him to Mr. Darcy, but to compare him to Mr. Tilney of Austen’s Northanger Abbey seems to be a perfect fit. For even in his appearance, John had the same adorable leprechaun-ish years as JJ Feild in the movie adaptation, and was equally tall in stature and charming in countenance.
By sharing this story, I raise a rather controversial question: do nice guys really finish last? If you were to ask my mother, she’d laughingly roll her eyes at me and affirm, “Clearly.”
Let us flash back to my junior year of high school. Cut to me, 16 and forever single. In high school, I performed in a show choir, and for those of you unfamiliar with the term or concept of a “show choir,” I encourage you to picture the TV show Glee. (Though my show choir practiced for months on a single twenty-minute show, while Glee miraculously picked up their songs and dances fifteen minutes before a competition.) Like any show choir worth its salt, we had a live band, consisting of student musicians.
One of our keyboard players, the elder brother to one of my friends, soon caught my attention. He was impossibly smart and cute, so I figured, what could be the harm? (His sister was very supportive, so no awkwardness came from me dating her brother–unlike my own brother, who has forbidden me from his best friend, we had no qualms.) As we were both part of the same show choir, everyone knew of our relationship; they shipped us.
It started out much like any high school relationship does–with very little actual talking and a great deal of texting. We chatted during passing periods and held hands at show choir competitions. Our very first date was on Valentine’s Day–still cringing at the clicheness of it all. I’m a girl who is not particularly fond of the cliche, and now I have the memory of my first kiss being on Valentine’s Day.
Upon this first kiss, it became utterly obvious that we had no physical chemistry. No labs, equations, or beakers, feelings are anything but logical, after all. Sure, he was attractive (like doppelganger-of-Joseph-Gordon-Levitt-cute), good humored, and intelligent. But it turns out that he was more of a friend than a boyfriend–a good friend that I tried to make into something more.
Ron Weasley (those sneaky gingers) remains one of the lucky few to successfully escape the friendzone. For those of you who deny the existence of the friendzone, I envy your black-and-white world–for my own is blurred by many shades of gray (though not 50).
And unfortunately, none of John’s amiable qualities could prevent the inevitable. Our relationship lacked everything I’d read about–that feeling of butterflies in your stomach. We lacked the names-carved-into-a-tree, Taylor-Swift-song-inspiring chemistry that is generally associated with a romantic relationship.
John sensed my growing distance. My texts were shorter, with less smiley faces. I also took longer to reply. The more John pushed our relationship, attempting to force chemistry, the more I drew back. I didn’t want to have to force anything with such a new relationship.
But when he put together the world’s most original prom proposal shortly after our first date, I did not yet know my own feelings. So I said yes. Had I only known my own feelings, much the same way Elizabeth did when Darcy proposed both the first and second times, I could have spared us both some unnecessary pain in the long run, for I still feel guilty for the way our relationship ended.
As I mentioned, he kept pushing as I pulled away. Four days before prom, he asked me outright what was wrong–I had intended to wait until after prom to end it, not wanting to ruin his senior prom. But I had no other option.
I told him I didn’t want to continue dating because I thought it would be too hard when he left for his mission trip. (I should have mentioned, John is Mormon, and after graduating high school, left for a two-year mission trip in Brazil.) So, yes. I took the easy out, and didn’t tell the whole truth about why we needed to break up. That was something that had weighed on my mind when we first started going out, so it was still a viable reason. It just wasn’t true.
We still went to prom together, and I now have the memory of my junior prom being one of the most awkward nights of my life. I was young; I didn’t handle the situation very well. I’ve learned since then, and if ever I have the opportunity to apologize to John, I will.
Unlike my relationship with John, Elizabeth Bennet’s situation and opinions altered greatly from the first proposal to the second, and she ended up happily married to a man that would suit her. I, on the other hand, remain single, while John just got married in February. To an 18 year old.
So you may be asking yourself, what was the moral of this story? Did she even answer her own question? (Do nice guys finish last?)
I don’t believe that nice guys finish last. Because they’re the ones that girls like me are looking for. Contrary to what my mother continues to believe, I didn’t break up with John because he was too nice. His being nice was one of the things that made me like him in the first place!
We weren’t right for each other. And lucky for him, he found someone who isright for him.
I will say this about nice guys. The reason there is some misconception about nice guys finishing last is because often, these are the men that try. They initiate dates; they plan them; they surprise you with flowers. If you’re anything like me and you’re unused to such attention, and this becomes a frequent occurrence, it can be, shall we say, off-putting. These are also the men that run the risk of coming on too strong.
But then again, I’m unused to such attentions. I’m still not completely comfortable letting a guy pay for my dinner, even a cup of coffee. I’m not sure why this is, but to remedy my discomfort, I’ve started a thing where I make a guy switch off paying with me, to give me some peace of mind.
Let me conclude on the maybe not so cliche note that nice guys don’t finish last. Even if a relationship doesn’t work out with a nice guy, it doesn’t mean that his being “nice” was the problem. Rather, he just wasn’t right.