I was chatting with a man online. Not the first time, and certainly not the last. He was exasperated. I wasn't sure exactly what I said to set him off, but it happened something like this.
We were talking about online dating, then the online world in general, then the gross exaggerations and blatant falsehoods so many people present as fact. Then we moved on to the assorted "mishaps" we routinely run into—for example, the man or woman you meet for drinks looks nothing like the person in the photographs you saw.
From there, I couldn't help but mention some of the really scary, creepy things that can happen when you're taken in by someone's seemingly earnest nature. More specifically, I related several of my own stories of scary, creepy guys that sent me into extended periods of social hibernation—much reduced online presence and, most certainly, no online dating.
What kind of unnerving and inappropriate behavior?
We're talking about the kind of stuff that leaves a woman feeling vulnerable; not only emotionally, but physically—fearing for her safety. And, with that awareness of how vulnerable we are, we may stand almost helplessly as we watch our once solid belief in "good guys" drop off the edge of the Earth.
How does a good man deal with that? What if he really likes a woman who seems to have her guard up?
What do the good guys do when, everywhere they turn, they hear stories (from women) about terrible men?
So, my chat encounter continued as the (seemingly) pleasant man, increasingly annoyed, offered this: "I'm sorry you've run into so many bad guys. This makes me really upset. I'm one of the good guys, but it could take forever for you to trust me. How many other women out there also assume every guy sucks? I'm a really good guy, and I'm paying for the sins of the bad guys."
I don’t think his comments fully sunk in until days later. And I think he's right. Nothing he could have said would convince me he's a good guy, though I don't assume that he's not. In my head, I know there are plenty of good men out there—men of character, men who don't mislead, nice men; the kind of men who may think they finish last, but who are exactly the type that many of us "nice women" would love to find.
But we're slow to give them a chance. We're slow to give any man a chance—after a really shitty divorce, after our first months of online dating, after the first post-divorce relationship ends badly, after the rebound that really hurt.
And we, the women, need to come to grips with the fact that our "pickers" may be off. Getting our Good Guy GPS back on track will take us time.
Are you one of the good guys?
Do you consider yourself one of the good guys who feels like he's paying for the sins of the nasty ex-husbands, the cheating ex-boyfriends, or the slippery charmers on apps and sites that get a woman into bed and never call again?
Here's my advice, and from what I remember, more or less what I conveyed to the man I was chatting with.
Be patient with a woman you really like. If she's resistant because she's been hurt; if she's resistant because she's been scammed; if she's resistant for any reason, but you truly like her and you think she might like you, too… tell her there's no hurry. Tell her you're happy to take the time the two of you need to trust each other. Just telling her you're "a really good guy" isn't going to do it. Yes, you're going to have to prove it with your actions, and those actions include giving her—and the budding relationship—time.
To the women out there who are still licking their wounds after a tough divorce, after a long custody battle, during ongoing legal proceedings years after your marriage ended… to the women out there who gave their hearts too easily after divorce and were left wondering what they did wrong… to the women who don't think there are good guys out there, I say this: There are.
But you need to take the time to heal, to trust yourself and your judgment, to trust not only what a man says, but what he does. Judge by actions, protect yourself, but stay open to possibilities. The good guys are waiting for you. For us. And good guys are worth waiting for.