There was never a day in which someone said to me, "You know Laura? You're really a bitch," and meant it. When speaking with love interests, this was always a plus. I could say that no man had ever called me a bitch, which was a signal that, "Hey man -- I won't do you dirty."
Is it nice to be known as a "nice girl?" Sure. No one wants to be viewed as a total jerk, but some days, I wish I were a "bitch." Here's why.
A nice girl gets walked on. Her love partners shortchange her, lie to her, diminish her and give her the short end of the stick. What does the nice girl do? She admonishes her partner sweetly and usually turns the other cheek. It's no good to be resentful and bitter of people all the time, but the nice girl could stand to put up some boundaries and signs that say, "Thanks, but no thanks. Your time is up."
Being nice has meant that more often than I care to admit, I put up with people's nonsense for longer than I should have. There's a distinct difference between putting up with someone's junk and tolerating someone for who he or she is. For example, you could meet someone who's a total flake and befriend this person. You may start to accept that your flaky friend will weave in and out of your life not because he or she is a bad person, but just flaky. That's tolerating someone. Let's say however, that you start dating someone who constantly cancels on you for important events and can't seem to be there for you when you need it, yet expects you to be there for him or her each and every time there's a problem, and it hurts. If you keep this person around, you're not tolerating your partner's behavior, you're putting up with it. Who gets hurt in the end? You -- not the other person.
I'm thankful that I try my best to tolerate others for their unique characteristics, but what I am not proud of is that I have "put" up with too much garbage. It's as if my self-protective button sometimes erupts on me and I let myself get hurt.
I'm not the only woman who does this. It's been ingrained into our DNA at this point that if we're not nice, good girls, we're evil pariahs. We are one or the other, yet can't be in-between. We're angels or black widow spiders. Madonnas or whore. But at this point in my life, as I near the end of divorce proceedings, I am seizing this chance at starting over to drop the "good girl" act. There's a fine line between being nice and being a doormat, and on occasion, I have veered into doormat territory. Yes, I am a loud, outgoing and straight-forward woman. Yes, I have always marched to the beat of my own drum and rarely do I shrink away from pursuing my goals and dreams. However, yes, I have also swallowed too much crap because I was trying to be "nice" and keep the peace. Because I wanted someone to like me.
Recently, I broke up a friendship because the person pulled some passive-aggressive junk on me. It was sad to me that she couldn't talk to me honestly and in a heartfelt manner but instead, resorted to nasty name-calling and anger. Ending the friendship was hard. Is hard. It makes me sad sometimes still and I vacillated on what to do, but I also know that at my age -- 38 -- I can't stand to have friendships like that with people who try to hurt me rather than talk to me. Just as much that I cannot stand to have bad romantic relationships with men or bad relationships with anyone, even family. Here I am, single and almost 40. I can't put up with garbage anymore. I can't keep turning the other cheek only to then end up hurt. If I don't draw the line in the sand telling people how I want to be treated, I shouldn't then be surprised when someone tramples on me saying, "Well, it seemed like you would put up with it!"
There is no reward on earth for being Mrs. Nice Guy. Is there a reward for being kind to others? Absolutely. But Mrs. Nice Guy lies down in the dirt and lets people take her heart for a joyride. There is a distinction between being kind and being the world's "Welcome Home Doormat." I cannot make up for lost time or change things that have happened in the past, but what I can do for the future is set the stage that I, Laura, will not let people toy with my head and heart. I can cut off bad situations, bad people, and make it clear about what kind of people I want in my life and don't want in my life. It's hard but when you let others wear you down, you are giving yourself an invitation to heartbreak and that won't do anymore.
I will not RSVP for hurt anymore. There are better parties to attend.