(A Story for Self-Respecting Nice White Ladies)
This is a story about a nice young man we’ll call Bob. Bob is a really nice guy. Lots of people like Bob, because he’s nice. He hasn’t dated much, and he’s giving it a try. A lady he sort of likes, let’s call her Linda, is not really looking for a nice guy right now, for reasons that are no one’s business but her own. Maybe she’s not into guys, maybe she’s busy, maybe both or neither of those reasons. Like I said; none of our business. Bob misses that memo and, more or less innocently, asks Linda out on a date. When Linda says, “No, thank you,” Bob doesn’t just let Linda live. No, Bob asks Linda why she won’t go out with him, and when she tries to explain it he argues with her and tries to talk her into going out with him anyway. Linda keeps trying to explain what she needs and why (I know… we can talk to Linda about this separately, this story is about Bob), but Bob is persistently and willfully ignorant to Linda’s clearly stated wishes. When Linda finally says she is too exhausted to explain herself over and over—she’s so done—Bob wants to know why she has to be mean about it. Bob says Linda might get more guys to like her if she weren’t so angry. Bob even calls Linda names under his breath that he would probably not want his mother to overhear (we’ll keep this story clean, though). Linda’s friends try to shield Linda from Bob’s veiled and not-so-veiled insults. They attempt to educate Bob about how dating and mutual attraction actually work, but Bob gets mad about being “attacked.” Bob tells Linda and all of Linda’s friends and all his own friends about how hurt his feelings are and how mean Linda and all her friends are for ganging up on him. At some point, Bob even tries to pretend he never asked Linda out to begin with, because he’s quite rightly a bit embarrassed about the whole episode. A few “spiritual” people who know people who know either Bob or Linda peripherally chime in to say that if Linda was more enlightened, she wouldn’t attract guys like Bob (but this story isn’t about those people either). In the end, Bob winds up not really looking at all like the nice guy everyone thought he was because he’s making a big ass of himself. The thing is, Bob probably has a good heart, but he doesn’t do four very important things that fully formed, relational adults. He does not 1) respect boundaries, 2) manage his own emotions, 3) live gracefully with his own discomfort, and 4) recognize that Linda doesn’t owe him anything (especially not an invitation into her life). We can all probably agree that Bob has some capacity to learn from this experience and become the nice guy he already thinks he is, and also that it isn’t Linda’s (or her friends’) job to teach Bob everything he needs to know so that he can date successfully.
Moral of the story: Do better than Bob.
Nice White Ladies, when you enter, with all your best intentions, into the online space of a Woman of Color who has specifically and explicitly stated that her page is not-you-centered, and you feel a bit put off at not being “made to feel welcome,” please understand that you are actually being trusted to behave like a fully formed, relational adult who can:
1) respect boundaries
2) manage your own emotions
3) live gracefully with your own discomfort
4) recognize that other people don’t owe you anything (especially not an invitation into their lives, complete with a welcome mat and a glass of wine)
This trust is a sacred gift. When you come into a space and make demands on someone else’s time and attention when they have asked you not to, you are not just disrespecting them, you are also disrespecting yourself.
Have some self-respect. Don’t be a Bob.