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Safety vs. Passion & the “Would-You-Rather” Approach to Relationships

I have a friend. And for the sake of his privacy (or dignity), we’ll call him Steve. Steve sometimes likes to entertain himself with his never-ending stash of what I like to call “would-you-rathers”. A “would-you-rather” is a question that juxtaposes two equally undesirable scenarios and asks just that, would you rather? And these questions can range anywhere from the comical–“Would you rather have a husband that’s a good cook or good in bed?”–to the slightly more serious, in light of Montana Fishburne–“Would you rather have a daughter that’s a porn star or a son who’s always in and out of jail?“.And whether serious or funny, all his questions seem to indulge us in the most extreme of plots. But his most recent loaded question triggered this post.

Would you rather have a guy that treated you well but was boring as hell or a guy that treated you like shit but you had a lot of passion with?”

This isn’t something you haven’t heard before. Alas, Steve had simply revived the grandest battle in dating history: Mr. Nice Guy vs. Mr. Not-So-Nice. Even when Mr. Nice Guy holds the key to a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence while the only key Mr. Not-So-Nice holds opens room 226 at the Holiday Inn, it’s no secret that this battle usually ends in the treacherous demise of Mr. Nice Guy.

(Are you that nice guy? Check out “Why Nice Guys Finish Last With Women?”

This “would-you-rather” situation didn’t have the same hyperbolic character of the others. Recently in my dating life, I had actually made the choice between these two men. I was still seeing the guy from my last post who pretty much played the role of my Mr. Nice Guy. Smart. Funny. Cute. Ambitious. He seemed so–safe, the kind of man you could count on coming home to you every night without fail. I feared he might actually be a little too nice. On the other hand, I had the Mr. Not-So-Nice. And he had his own set of good qualities. Nevertheless, he dealt with me only when he deemed necessary. He would be here today and South of the border tomorrow. So if you’re wondering why I even considered this Mr. Not-So-Nice, admittedly, it boiled down to the way he made me feel. When he came around, my brain reduced to marshmallow fluff. I liked him–A LOT. And Mr. Nice Guy just didn’t have the same brain fluffing effect on me. But why?

The Drama Theory
Immediately I thought of the scene from the movie He’s Just Not that Into You* where Alex confesses to a clueless Gigi, “guys invented the ‘spark’ so that they could not call, and treat you kind of bad, and keep you guessing, and they convince you that that anxiety and that fear that they’re throwing at you is actually, just a ‘spark’ “. This sounded remarkably similar to my Mr. Not-So-Nice. Alex goes on to explain to Gigi that this method works because women are addicted to the drama of a relationship. And why wouldn’t we be? We’ve all overdosed on romantic comedies since leaving the womb. And somewhere between chick flick fixes, we made drama synonymous with passion. So now, we actually prefer drama. It consumes us. And we allow this because putting up with the drama dished out by Mr. Not-So-Nice distracts us from dealing with any relationship or emotional issues we might have (like commitment, for example!). It’s kind of like that friend that busies herself with everyone else’s problems so she never has to deal with her own. Somebody has to play the bad guy role. And if it’s always him, it can never be her.

My friend Steve’s “would-you-rather” extreme approach doesn’t work particularly well for dating. If I had to choose between only those two men, I’d have to find a new way to procreate. In essence,  a clingy, insecure Mr. Nice Guy will usually lose a woman to a more confident Mr. Not-So-Nice. But when you dig a little deeper, real people usually do not live on either end of an extreme. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. So there doesn’t always have to be a trade-off of safety for passion or vice-versa. The special person you’re looking for should come offering the best of both worlds. In the end, I chose my Mr. Nice Guy because I found out he has a lot more to offer than just being nice. He also makes me laugh and I thoroughly enjoy his company. And although he could be the safe choice in one sense of the word, I haven’t sacrificed any passion at all–just drama.

*This video entitled “10 Chick Flick clichés you will NOT see in He’s Just Not That Into You” is pretty funny, whether you’ve seen the movie or not!

About P.R. Cheek

Summer Rain. Whispers me to sleep and wakes me up again. Sometimes I swear I hear it call my name. You wash away the pain. My summer rain.

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