Don’t be a “nice” guy. But I’ve observed guys who can be kind while still being dominant, and I’ve observed guys who attempt to be kind but are really giant pussies. The differences are instructive.
Two guys I work with illustrate the point… one is respected, demanding, and yet kind, while the other guy runs around supplicating to women and superiors in a way that makes him seem like a dog. He’ll do anything for anyone and as a consequence no one respects his time or (limited) knowledge. He brags about the things he does for people and especially for women. Watching him brag to women he’d like to bang is pathetic. He’d be a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen if he had the balls to make a move. Fortunately he doesn’t and he’s at least harmless enough not to be a likely lawsuit target.
The other guy will not do anything for anyone any time. He isn’t miserly either. Instead he seems to carefully evaluate who he is actually friends with and what actually needs to be done. He can be astonishingly generous with his time if he thinks his investment is likely to be worthwhile, but he is also good at subtly but definitely shaming people who waste his time. One of my first bosses was like him, and I learned more from that boss (and from a particular client) than I have from anyone else, ever, including teachers, professors, and girlfriends.
I’m also thinking about kindness from a position of stregnth because in this essay VC Paul Graham states,
Good does not mean being a pushover. I would not want to face an angry Ronco. But if Ron’s angry at you, it’s because you did something wrong. Ron is so old school he’s Old Testament. He will smite you in his just wrath, but there’s no malice in it.
In almost every domain there are advantages to seeming good. It makes people trust you. But actually being good is an expensive way to seem good. To an amoral person it might seem to be overkill.
Being kind does not mean being a pussy. If you’re “kind” because you’re a pussy and can’t be assertive, no one will respect you and no one should respect you. Things are often valuable in proportion to their supply, and an infinite supply of a thing (like kindness) is of low value.
Don’t be “nice” to women, but be kind to ones who you’re already fucking and who deserve kindness. Don’t give anything, including attention, to women you’re not fucking and who have proven that you’re not going to fuck them. With women and clients pretty much everything is a binary: You’re fucking them or you’re not; they’re giving you money or they’re not. There is no in between. Women and clients like the liminal state. It took me way too long to learn this.
I hate to use the word “nice,” which is close to “kind,” because “nice” has been so polluted by the idea of the “nice guy” that it’s toxic.
Being kind can also mean being tactfully honest. If someone is deadlifting incorrectly it is kind to tell them, or to tell them how you know what you know. Being “nice” can often mean trying to assuage a person’s feelings, even when feelings of inadequacy or wrongness are justified. That being said, know when to speak and when to shut the fuck up. Often shutting the fuck up is best because morons can’t be helped and can’t take justified criticism.
The girl I’m breaking away from sees me as kind because her sister (who she is close to) does and because of something I did: I paid her tuition (which wasn’t much money) briefly. Now, I know, and you should know, that it’s a horrible idea to use money to supplicate to women. Let me emphasize that before commenters jump on me. I’d already been dating this girl for about a year. When we first started dating I don’t think she had any idea how much I make. I don’t waste money on the usual dumb shit guys waste money on (cars, apartments; unfortunately I do have a high burn rate that is not negotiable, however). Her work and school interfered with her ability to do the things I wanted her to do, so I just paid the tuition. She didn’t ask for it, directly or indirectly, which is an unusual mark of character these days. It isn’t a lot of money to me. You can argue that I was manipulated, but if so then I was party to the manipulation.
We’re on the path to breakup because she wants to move in with me and I’ve flat-out said no. I’ve been down that path and I’m not going down it again. I like this girl and I like the crazy shit I’ve encouraged her to do, but long-term she’s too young for me and I don’t want the kind of committment she thinks she wants but doesn’t actually want. Living together is the death of eroticism and I won’t do that again. Not anytime soon. Maybe someday.
Reminder, I originally wrote this post a year and a half ago, so some of the personal anecdotes don’t line up with my current life.