PODCAST: On Nice Guy Syndrome, and Boundaries!

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Podcasts | 44 comments

Podcast on Boundaries and Nice Guy Syndrome
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Have you ever heard the J.O.Y acronym?

It’s supposed to sum up our attitude towards how we live our lives, and it stands for:

  • Jesus first
  • Others second
  • You last

This is very much what we’re taught in church–that we come last. Yet Jesus said that we’re to love others AS we love ourselves. We matter too.

When we think that everyone else’s needs are more important than our own, it can make it very difficult to draw boundaries.

Today on the podcast, Rebecca and I are talking through another important part of our new book She Deserves Better, which launches next Tuesday! We’re looking at the importance of boundaries; why it is that girls are often encouraged to live boundary-less lives; and how we can help our daughters (and ourselves) have boundaries!

Listen in!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

1:10 “Jesus gave up his life for you, so you have to give up everything!”
7:10 Conviction Boundaries vs Protection Boundaries
11:15 How does church society expect us to talk to boys?
18:00 The conditioning in the male maturing process
25:15 “Nice Guy” Syndrome
42:00 Another bad survey of guys opinion on girls
55:00 In Summary
57:00 New ‘She Deserves Better’ Review!

“But he’s such a nice boy!”

We want to raise boys who are awesome, and who will attract a great wife, and who will succeed in life.

But often the way we talk about our boys differs from the way we talk about our girls. We say things like, “girls ignore the nice guys and just go for the bad boys,” or “if she doesn’t like you, there’s something wrong with her.”

However, we need to be careful to not raise any of our kids, boys or girls, to feel as if they are entitled to a relationship, let alone a relationship with a specific girl.

Rebecca was in first year university when the Toronto van attack occurred–when a man drove a van into a crowd of people because he was angry that no girl had ever dated him. In a Psychology class, Rebecca’s prof mentioned that if girls had been nicer to him in high school, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. But Rebecca spoke up and said, “maybe the girls could feel that he was the type of guy who would drive a van into a crowd of people, and they didn’t feel safe with him.”

We had an extended discussion on the podcast about how it’s important not to bully or socially ostracize anyone, but at the same time, our girls are allowed to have protection boundaries, and they aren’t required to be best friends with someone or to date someone. They’re allowed to make decisions and feel safe. We talked about the importance of helping our kids learn social skills so they’re not socially awkward. 

Plus you won’t want to miss Rebecca’s discussion of why she was excluded from junior high friend groups–because she carried her rock collection to youth group!

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Plus what is up with the misogyny in the books to teen girls?

I was the one on the team who had to read and analyze the books to teen girls, and I was quite overwhelmed by the view of girls that was presented in For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice. So I shared a few excerpts from the book that I think you’ll find disturbing–quoting boys calling girls “evil” or “like the mafia”, and offering no caveats that this wasn’t true. 

And we analyzed a few more of her questions on her survey!

The Webinar on our Data and Nuance–has the pendulum swung too far?

We announced on the podcast that we were going to do a webinar this Sunday, April 16, for all who pre-ordered.

That webinar is still coming, but due to illness we’re going to postpone until the middle of May. Anyone with a receipt will be able to attend!

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Boundaries and Nice Guys Podcast

What do you think? Do you have trouble drawing protection boundaries? Did you ever feel like you had to be nice to a guy who made you feel  unsafe? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your marriage and your parenting.  And today we are on episode 187 of the Bare Marriage podcast.  And we are going to talk about boundaries.  Our new book, She Deserves Better, launches next week, April 18th.  So I’m so excited about that.  We’re only five days away now, Rebecca.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s crazy.  

Sheila: And so joining me, of course, is my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach, one of the coauthors on She Deserves Better and one of the coauthors on our groundbreaking book, Great Sex Rescue.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: And She Deserves Better was based on another huge survey that we did of 7,000 women, predominantly evangelical women, to see how messages that they received in church as teens affects them long term throughout their lifetime and affects their relationship health.  And the interesting thing is that when we talk about this we often focus on purity culture that came in kind of when—around the time you were born and was definitely there when you were in youth group.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: So sort of around 1995 to maybe 2015 although I think it’s still very much there.  

Rebecca: Oh, it is very much there still.  Yeah.  It’s just not as blatant.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  But there’s also other messages because I didn’t get the purity culture stuff.  I grew up in Canada in the 80s in youth group.  But I did get stuff about boundaries, and that’s what I want to talk about today.  When we were in youth group, we were really focused on evangelism.  Let’s pray for the unreached nations of the world.  Let’s figure out how to reach our schools for Christ.  Let’s start Christian groups on our high school campuses.  That was our aim when I was in high school.  And over and over again, the idea would be Jesus gave up everything for you.  How can you not sacrifice everything for Him?

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: And that actually—those chapters in She Deserves Better are the ones that spoke the most to little 15-year-old me.  I know the modesty ones and some of the other ones spoke to little 15-year-old you and Joanna.  But it was this idea of I still am worth something.  I don’t need to give up everything I am to love Jesus.

Rebecca: You don’t have to prove that Jesus was right to give up everything for you by giving up everything in return.  You don’t have to prove anything.  

Sheila: Right.  Because yes.  While we do live for God and while we do hold everything in an open hand knowing that it is God’s and not ours—

Rebecca: And we do carry our cross.  And we do choose to offer ourselves as living sacrifices unto God.  Yeah.

Sheila: Exactly.  We are still important.  And this, I think, is what I sometimes missed and what a lot of girls still miss.  And so I want to share with you something that we said in She Deserves Better.  Okay.  

Rebecca: Okay.  So I’m going to read an excerpt from chapter—I should know what chapter this is.  Chapter two.  Chapter four of our book.  Oh my word.

Sheila: The boundaries one.

Rebecca: I will tell you.  When you’re writing a book, the chapter order changes so much that it’s just—I know what all the chapters are.  I just know where they are.  Okay.  

Sheila: Yes.

Rebecca: So I’m going to read you an excerpt.  “If you attended Sunday School or summer camp, you were likely taught the mantra Joy: Jesus first, other second, you third.  This was the Christian way to live.  Seeing ourselves as less important than the people around us.  This saying became so popular that it’s the basis of a popular children’s Sunday School song teaching kids as young as three that their proper place is last.  Being others oriented is an excellent praiseworthy thing.  The Christian walk is predicated upon a call to selflessly love and serve others.  But if your daughter is trying to live out this joy lifestyle, what is she to do when dealing with people who are making her uncomfortable?  Like a girl from your daughter’s youth group who doesn’t have a ton of friends and is texting your daughter for hours every day and is taking a toll on her.  A shy, socially awkward boy is in love with your daughter and keeps asking her out even though she turns him down every time and is beginning to feel like harassment.  Or a close friend of your daughter’s is leaning on your daughter for emotional support during a family crisis refusing to talk to anyone else, and it’s causing your daughter to experience anxiety and lose sleep because she feels responsible for her friend’s wellbeing.  How do you draw boundaries in these situations if you’re supposed to put yourself last?  We are supposed to emulate Jesus, who literally died for us.  So how do we have any right to say no when the consequences aren’t as dire?  Our daughters need to know why Jesus sacrificed Himself for people.  Or perhaps they need to know what were not the reasons that He sacrificed Himself.  He didn’t die to spare our egos.  He didn’t die so that we don’t have to face our problems head on.  He didn’t die so that our feelings aren’t hurt.  He didn’t die so that we don’t have to seek medical or psychological help from trained professionals.  He didn’t die so that we can avoid facing the consequences our actions have on other people.  He didn’t die so that we can avoid learning social skills and continue to make people uncomfortable.  He didn’t die so that we can avoid facing the truth, and He didn’t die so that we can mistreat the people around us.  Jesus died for us because there was something greater He was offering, not because He wanted us to avoid any and all discomfort.”

Sheila: Yeah.  And that’s it exactly because—it’s funny.  We’re reading those scenarios that we wrote in the book specifically that teen girls would experience.  And I think almost all adults have experienced that too.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And we wrote them that way because they’re so vanilla.  They’re things where it’s not a clear cut.  It’s not like you have a friend who is sending you death threats or something where it’s like that clearly we know what to do there.  It’s a little bit more obvious.  There’s things where it’s like okay.  But technically, would you be mean if you said no?  

Sheila: Yeah.  So you have a friend, who just isn’t coping well, and they’re calling you all the time.  And they’re not getting professional help, and you feel responsible for them.  I think that’s something we all go through and so do teenagers.  And are we teaching our teens that they’re worth something because Jesus didn’t die so that that person who is calling you or calling your teen daughter doesn’t have to deal with their stuff.  So they don’t have to get counseling.  So they don’t have to seek out professional help.  And Jesus didn’t die so that someone can be socially awkward and continue to bombard you with texts or bombard your teenage daughter with texts, and you just take it and want to be nice.  And I think a lot of us feel like our role is to always, always, always be nice because we don’t want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable.  But we think it’s perfectly okay for them to make us feel uncomfortable.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And the big thing that we say in that chapter is getting back to the as yourself part of the love your neighbor as yourself.  It’s not love your neighbor—like take all the love that you had for yourself, get rid of that, and put it on other people.  It’s more just expand who you’re loving like this.  So continue to love yourself but love other people the same way.  And I think that’s such a fundamental difference than this idea of love others first and then you come last.

Sheila: Exactly.  

Rebecca: You are never a consideration because there is no one—other than Jesus and others, there is literally no one else on the planet other than you so—which means you are literally last in your mind.  

Sheila: Yeah.   This is really what boundaries are about is helping people understand here is what I’m responsible for.  Here is what you’re responsible for.  And here is what I’m not responsible for.  When we were writing the boundaries chapter, you actually came up with great names for the two different types of boundaries because we don’t always see boundaries that way.  So do you want to tell people what you said?

Rebecca: Sure.  Yeah.  We talked about the difference between what I call conviction boundaries and protection boundaries.  So conviction boundaries, the church does a great job at.  Conviction boundaries are things like I don’t drink.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t go to parties.  I don’t have sex.  I don’t—those kinds of things.  So I feel convicted this is—I think these are things or a sin that I won’t engage in.  Or these things are unwise or unsafe and so I don’t do them.  They’re things where I feel like it is a bad thing to do so I won’t.  Right?

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: It’s conviction.  It’s in the name.

Sheila: And we had—and studies have actually found that kids who go to church are pretty good at these things.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  I mean church attendance in high school is hugely correlated with lower levels of adolescent substance abuse, adolescent risky sexual behaviors, much less—yeah.  All the external behaviors that we’re trying to avoid our teenagers doing, we seem—the church is really good at preventing those things.

Sheila: So way to go.  Way to go.  We are doing a good job because nobody wants their kids going out and getting drunk and doing drugs and driving recklessly and all of these things.  So I mean there’s always room for improvement, but we’re doing good.  So let’s keep doing good at the conviction boundaries.  Absolutely.  But there’s another type of boundary—the one that we’ve been talking about—that we don’t do as well on.  And that’s the protection boundaries.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Because the thing that conviction boundaries and protection boundaries are different in is conviction boundaries don’t tend to really affect the other people around you.  Like when I was in high school and I didn’t drink, I just didn’t go the parties.  I didn’t berate my friends who drank.  I was like, “Okay.  You guys, I’ll see you Monday.”  And that was it.

Sheila: And they were actually okay with that.

Rebecca: Oh yeah.  They’d invite me every week, and I’d be like, “Yeah.  No.  See you Monday.”  It was fine, right?  But protection boundaries are different because protection boundaries require us to inconvenience someone else in order to keep ourselves safe.  So that would be the thing where it’s like you have a friend who drives recklessly and actually having to say, “I won’t get in a car with you anymore.”  Or having that friend—or that guy in your class who is professing love and sending you sexually explicit messages to tell you how much he loves you, and you’re like, “Ah, I know that you’re lonely.  And I know that you don’t really have any friends.  And I know that I’m one of the only people who talks to you, but this is inappropriate.  And I can’t have you doing this.  And if you do this, I will have to block your number.”  

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: That’s harder to do because another person is going to get mad at you.

Sheila: Yeah.  And you’re not being nice.  You’re supposed to be nice. 

Rebecca: You can be super nice and say, “Yeah.  No.  I’m sorry.  I just don’t smoke.  I just don’t drink,” right?  You can be super nice.  It doesn’t affect—but it doesn’t feel nice to say, “You cannot message me anymore about this or cannot,”—it’s not nice to say, “I have to turn my phone off at 10:00 every night.  I know you might be having a crisis.  I have to turn my phone off at 10:00 every night, and so I’m free until 10:00.  But after that, you have to talk to your parents.  You have to call a help line.  You have to do something else because I can’t do that.”  It doesn’t feel nice.

Sheila: Right.  And I think—again, I think there’s a lot of adult women listening to this and probably some adult men too who have to incorporate this into their lives because other people are making you uncomfortable and are really infringing on you in a way that isn’t helpful to anyone.  And we are really bad at saying no.  We are absolutely really bad at saying no.  

Rebecca: But one of the reasons that, in particular, we don’t do protection boundaries well with girls looking at the literature and looking at our findings and everything is that we fundamentally believe that boys are entitled to things that girls are not.

Sheila: Yeah.  I think we do.  Mm-hmm.    

Rebecca: We fundamentally believe this.  I think we believe—and we’ll be reading you excerpts in this podcast.

Sheila: We have excerpts.

Rebecca: Yeah.  But we believe that girls owe boys, in particular, flattery and relationships and—girls are supposed to make boys feel big and strong and masculine and all these things.  And they’re supposed to make boys feel like super heroes.  Again, we have excerpts that we will be reading you.  Should we just read them now? 

Sheila: Yeah.  Let’s just do it.  Let’s just do it.  Okay.  So For Young Women Only written by Shaunti Feldhahn has a chapter in here about a lot of boys feel like they’re imposters and they just really want to feel like they’re good enough because they feel like they’re always doing this performance.  And they’re not doing it well.  And what she’s advising girls to do is to give guys the gift of confidence.  Now she isn’t talking about boyfriends.  She’s just talking about all the boys around you.  So we talked in a previous podcast about how she told girls that boys need unconditional respect and that if they get angry it’s probably because you were disrespecting them.  And now here is how she ends it.  I won’t read the whole thing.  I’ll just skim it.  But “in the movie Spiderman 2, we watch as Peter Parker tries to hold his complicated life together and doesn’t do a very good job of it.  He’s practically killing himself trying to rescue people at all hours.  He ends up disappointing his professor, his boss, his land lord, at worst, the girl he secretly loves.  They view him as a slacker, not knowing about his secret life.  His secret love, Mary Jane, gets so fed up with him seeming to choose other things over her that she gets engaged to another man.  Peter’s confidence drains away as he sees his worst fears and insecurities about himself unfold before his very eyes.”  And then it goes on to talk about how but one day Mary Jane figures out who he is and all of this is really wonderful.  And he says, “But although he’s grateful, he still lacks confidence.  He’s given up being the super hero in order to protect his girl from disappointment or danger but, in doing so, is not being the man he wants to be.  In the last scene when Peter is finally kissing the girl of his dreams, he hears the city sirens that have so often beckoned him to drop everything and save the day.  He turns away and smiles at Mary Jane with a look that says, ‘Don’t worry.  I’m choosing you.’  But instead of clinging to him in selfishness or fear, she gives him one last kiss, nods toward the window, and says, ‘Go get him, Tiger.’  What about you?  What message are you giving the guys you care about?  Is it a selfish message of, ‘You’re not quite enough’ or an encouraging message of, ‘Go get him, Tiger’?”  

Rebecca: And it’s like if you’re talking to someone who is in a relationship and you’re saying, “Hey, encourage each other in your passions and stuff.  Be Mary Jane,” or something, I can’t understand that.  I think I would say it entirely differently.  Entirely differently.  But I understand that.  But the idea that a 14-year-old girl reading this looking at the 14-year-old boys in her class is supposed to see them as literal comic book super hero level?  You’re supposed to say, “Go get him, Tiger.”  What if what he wants to do is do stupid prank videos on TikTok to old people in the grocery store?

Sheila: Yeah.  

Rebecca: I’m sorry.  What if it’s like, “Old person steps in pie prank”?  Go get him, Tiger.  What are you supposed to do?  And there is no—and that might sound ridiculous, but there are not caveats given there.

Sheila: Exactly.  You’re just supposed to—because he—boys have the right to feel like a super hero.  That’s really what this is about is that boys need to feel confidence, and your job is to help give him that confidence that he needs.  And I just want to tell girls that’s not your job.

Rebecca: No.  And not—

Sheila: Yes.  We are to be polite to people.  Yes.  We’re to be kind.  Yes.  We can encourage people, but it is not your job to give a teenage boy confidence.

Rebecca: It’s not even confidence.  It’s an ago then.

Sheila: Yeah.  He’s not a super hero.  And what if she’s the super hero?  Throughout this chapter, it’s all about her deferring to the guy.  If she knows more about a subject than he does, she has to make sure that he doesn’t feel badly.  But why isn’t she allowed to take pride in something that she knows about?

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Why isn’t she allowed to just confidently be the one who knows more?

Sheila: Yeah.  But she can’t do that because that would wreck his confidence.  And so it’s like he is due confidence that she isn’t.  And we see this throughout our literature for teen girls in evangelicalism.  Lies Young Women Believe told girls that they should be starting to submit to the boys around them as practice for when they’re married.  We saw this in many of our resources is that girls are told, “You are supposed to submit to his leadership now so that you don’t start expecting anything.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  And even in the realm of dating and consent and sexual autonomy, we were just on a podcast with some great debate.  But what the host was saying—was saying, “Well, it’s just harder for boys to stop during sex, so girls need to know how boys are,” implying that girls should be dating boys who have a hard time respecting consent.  And I don’t—that was not the goal of that—that was not his intention to imply that.  But that was the implication.  And that message is everywhere where it’s, “Well, boys can’t stop, so you just shouldn’t even start,” or all those articles I read that I read in Brio saying that boys are like lions who see meat if you wear immodest clothing, so you should be careful implying that those—and then saying those are godly guys.  This is the thing.  Boys, who will rape you, still deserve a relationship.  Boys, who know less than you, still deserve to feel smarter.  Boys, who are doing less impressive things, still deserve to feel more confident than you.  We are in an area in the church where we are training our young girls to prop up egos of boys and to offer themselves and flattery and love and affection to boys who will misuse it and mistreat it because that’s what the teaching say they will do.  And you’re supposed to do it anyway.  And that’s where I just think that we, as mothers of sons, need to watch this because we have so many biases—all of us.  And we all look at that kid, and we are like, “You are my sweet, precious, perfect, little boy,” as a mother of a son.  And there is so much cultural norm—there is a huge cultural norm where we expect girls to have self development, to grow emotional intelligence, high levels of empathy, to be able to pick up on social cues a lot more than we expect of our boys. 

Sheila: Yeah.  And multiple studies have shown that.  And that’s actually one of the reasons that girls have higher emotional intelligence.  It’s not that it is innate.  This has been shown over and over again.  Girls are not innately more emotionally intelligent than boys.  It’s just that the way that we talk to them.  We talk to girls more than we talk to little boys.  With little boys, we expect them to play physically.  With little girls, we expect them to talk. 

Rebecca: We expect them to play house.  Boys go outside and play soccer.  Girls stay inside and play house, right?

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: And I think that’s where we need to realize that, for a lot of this, we expect that the world that our sons will walk into will cater to them.  And in doing that, we, as their moms and dads—we fail to give them adequate social skills because we assume that the world will cater to them.  And what that means is we assume that they will be able to take advantage of others doing the emotional work for them.  And that’s a really hard way to say it.  These are the things that I’m thinking about as a mother of a son doing this research, so you’re all getting a little bit of my mind and these kinds of things is make sure—how can we, in light of this understanding, then raise the next generation of boys too to not expect to be able to take advantage of the emotional labor done by girls?

Sheila: Yeah.  So let’s put an image to this.  And this is a brutal one.  All right?  And so excuse me for going 0 to 60 right away.  But gosh.  How long ago was it now?  10 years ago?

Rebecca: I think it was about 10 years ago.  It was my first year at university.

Sheila: You were in first year university.  Yeah. 

Rebecca: So it must have been 10 years ago.

Sheila: There was a guy in Toronto—in the north end of Toronto—who drove his van into a bunch of pedestrians and killing—most of them were women.  Not all of them were women.  Killed a bunch.  And the police managed to talk him down.  And it came out that he was an incel.  It was kind of the first big incel thing that made the news.  I think it made international.  It was the first big incel thing that made international news.    

Rebecca: No.  There were other incels.  Just the first one that was Canadian.

Sheila: Okay.  As a Canadian, I guess it just seemed—looms large.  But even when I read in other stuff about incel, they always mention the Toronto van incident.  And he claimed that the reason that he did it—that he got so upset—was that no girls had ever dated him.  And so he was an involuntary celibate, which is what incel means.  Involuntary celibate.  So they don’t want to be without girls.  But girls have just—the girls will not be nice to them.  

Rebecca: The reason I know this happened in my first year of university is because then we were talking about this in all my classes because I’m a psychology major, right?  So we’re talking about this in every class.  And I had a professor, who was pontificating about how this is just such a good example of why we need anti bullying because if this guy had just had friends in high school maybe he wouldn’t have done this.  And I was like no.  Absolutely not.  I popped my hand, was like, “Or maybe he was—he didn’t have friends and girls didn’t date him not because girls were catty and mean but because they knew that he was the kind of guy who would kill girls who wouldn’t have sex with him.”  I was like there is a level here where it’s like as someone who was ostracized in junior high—I did not have friends in junior high.  I genuinely did not have many friends.  I had two friends in junior high, and one of them works on the blog.  But I was incredibly awkward, okay, guys?  I’m going to give you a new picture, which is incredibly innocent.  I was—

Sheila: And I just want to say this whole time I thought she was the most beautiful, wonderful thing in the world.  

Rebecca: Which speaks more to your judgment more than anything else.  So I was the kid with braces and headgear, first of all.  So anyone else?  Braces and headgear.  I feel you.  But I was this homeschooled kid, who my favorite item of clothing were these sweatshirt type—but not good sweatshirt material. Like weird stretchy sweatshirt material, giant cargo pants mixed with harem pants mixed with parachute pants with the legs cut off.  But the reason I liked them so much is they had giant pockets all over them so I could carry my rock collection with me everywhere I went.  Okay?  That was me at 11.  

Sheila: Now, to be fair, I didn’t know that you were carrying the rock collection.  I might have spoken up.

Rebecca: You probably would have spoken up about that.  

Sheila: I probably would have done that.

Rebecca: No.  I had my rock collection with me everywhere.  That’s the kind of kid I was.  Okay?  And I did not have friends.  And I should have been able to be my sweet, little, nerdy self and not have been picked on quite as much as I was.  I shouldn’t have had the actual mean things said to me.  But I was always picked last for groups unless it was for something nerdy.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Trivia.

Rebecca: Unless it was trivia night.  I was always picked last.  I always sat alone during snack time at youth group.  I didn’t really have people who liked me.  And then I learned social skills.  I will say that.  Okay?  In my particular situation, it’s like I stopped carrying my rock collection everywhere.  Okay?  I still had braces.  I still looked the same, but I just—I started to kind of realize that if I wanted to be a part of places where there were people I had to kind of act like how people are supposed to act.  And I was able to do that because I didn’t have any barriers to doing that and stuff like that.  That was lovely.  

Sheila: And by high school, you were very popular, and it was all fine.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  By high school, I was perfectly fine.  But the thing is as I was sitting there, it would have been very easy—and it was very easy when I was in grade six—to say, “Well, the reason I’m not popular is because I’m not a floozy like all the other girls.  It’s because I’m smart.  It’s because I’m smarter than everyone else,” right?  That’s what I did.  I told that to myself when I was a little 11-year-old me.  Just because everyone else is shallow and everyone else is a bad person and I’m perfect—and it’s like you know what?  I was smarter than 95% of the kids in my youth group back then.  I was.  That’s just a fact of life.  I just was.  I also—they would have accepted me if I didn’t try to shove agate and amethyst in their face all the time.

Sheila: Right.  So it wasn’t because you were smart that you didn’t have friends.  It was because you were carrying around the rock collection.

Rebecca: It’s because I was actively doing things that they found uncomfortable and socially unacceptable.  Right?  And so there’s a level where it’s so easy to blame it on something else, and that’s what we see in these incel groups, right?

Sheila: Well, and I think this is what you’re trying to get at is there is a difference between a kid who is ostracized because they’re strange and quirky and a kid who is ostracized because they are entitled and dangerous.  

Rebecca: Yes.

Sheila: You weren’t entitled.  You were just quirky.  And once you figured that out and got social skills, you fit in because we always say to our kids, “You’re going to find someone one day.  Someone is going to see who you are, and they’re going to love you.”  But we also need to ask our are sons—and our daughters but especially our sons—are they actually someone who is going to be a safe and good partner?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because the problem—and this is the problem with boys, in particular, is that they’re in a culture that is actively training them how to not be safe.  Look at The Great Sex Rescue.  Look at the men, who have read Great Sex Rescue, and realized, “Oh my goodness.  This is why it all makes sense because I’ve been trained to be sexually entitled.”  Right?  And that’s why we have to be extra careful.  And that’s why we’re talking about boundaries about this kind of stuff because our girls are going to be living in a world with boys who have been systematically trained to feel entitled to their bodies, entitled to their flattery, entitled to their compliments, entitled to having girls do emotional labor for them.  And girls need to be able to know practically how to stand up for themselves even if it makes someone feel a little bit angry.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And that’s hard to do.

Rebecca: But it’s a skill.

Sheila: And in this conversation, here is something that often comes up too.  The problem with nice guys versus bad boys because we often hear, “Oh, girls.  They just go for bad boys.  They don’t go for nice guys like you.”  The problem, however, is that not all nice guys are actually nice guys.  

Rebecca: Yes.  I mean I would actually argue that most people who call themselves nice guys are not nice guys.

Sheila: Because that’s what we often hear at incel groups is, “I am so much better than these terrible guys who just work out at the gym or—

Rebecca: Whatever.  Yeah.

Sheila: – the bad, shallow boys.”  But it depends.  “I am nice to girls, and they never are nice back.”  The problem is if you are nice to someone so that they will do something for you you’re not actually being nice.  You’re actually trying to build up an entitlement.

Rebecca: You’re being manipulative.  

Sheila: You’re being manipulative.  “Now I am entitled to this because I did this for you.  Now I’m entitled to a relationship with you.”  And our girls need to understand this dynamic is not okay.  Let me just read a couple of examples.  We got this from an article.  Should I read them, or should we just sort of paraphrase them? 

Rebecca: Oh, we can just read them.  They’re fine.

Sheila: Okay.  So then I’ll quote the article?

Rebecca: Sure.

Sheila: Okay.  Yeah.  And I’ll put a link into—there’s an article about this nice guy syndrome.  I’ll put a link to it in the podcast notes.  But here’s examples of quote unquote nice guy behavior.  Okay?  Performing kind gestures with the sole motive of seducing a woman.  Insisting the reason they were rejected is that, “Oh, women just like bad boys.”  Believing that showing basic human decency and manners makes them especially nice or complaining about the difference between what women claim to want in a man and the man that they actually go for.  And when things don’t go their way, they often complain they’ve been friend zoned despite the target of their affections never being interested in the first place.

Rebecca: And this is exactly why—and this is why we’re talking about the protection boundaries because this is what happens.  Because there are a lot of people out there in the church too—I experienced this growing up in high school and stuff where the boys will say, “Well, because I’m not trying to rape you, I’m a good guy.”

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: There are guys out there who will try to have sex with you even if you don’t want it.  But I’m not going to do that.  I’m a nice guy.  I’ll treat you—I’m a gentleman.  I hold the door for you, and I don’t try to rape you.  So you deserve—I deserve to get a girl like you because I’m not an assaulter.”  And it’s like, “No.  No.  I’m sorry.  Wait.  Hold up a second.  Not assaulting someone is not a point in your favor.  It’s just not a negative.”  It’s not like a, “Oh, oh my goodness.  I swoon you lack of a rapist.”  That’s not a thing.  And our girls need to know that you are allowed to—here, I’ll tell you what happened to me.  When I was 13 or 14, two guys in my youth group who were a bit socially—they didn’t fit in very well.  Very much this nice guy syndrome.  Always talking about how those other guys—they get all the girls.  And the girls are just super shallow and only going for looks.  And they don’t know what makes a good guy.  And then meanwhile, they’re the ones who are spitting the most vile stuff about the girls that they like who don’t like them back.  They’re the ones who are saying things like, “Oh, well, she’s just a total swear word,” and stuff like that.  And then when they profess their love to me over Facebook messenger and I said, “Hi.  Yeah.  You know me.  You know I don’t date right now.”  I was 14 years old.  I was like, “I am not dating.  You know me well enough to know that I don’t date.  I don’t know why you told me this.”  And I was 14, so I didn’t have the greatest, kindest way to turn people down.  But I was nice, and I was like, “No.  This is never going to happen because I don’t date.  And I’m also not interested to make it very clear.”  And then they go from being this nice guy who tries to be all gentlemanly to you and making sure you’re okay and checking in on you and try to connect to the barrage of messages you get from a nice guy after you turn them down.  The things they say to you.  Things like, “You’re such a two faced,”—I can’t swear on this pod—but in order to say what was said to me by another 14-year-old boy—

Sheila: In your church youth group.

Rebecca: – I can’t say the words on this podcast.  

Sheila: Right.  

Rebecca: In my church youth group.  Yeah.  These kinds of things that happen is that you have these boys who think, “Well, I put in the work, and so now she needs to give me love.  She needs to give me affection.  I deserve something from her because I was a gentleman.”  And that’s the kinds of things that the protection boundaries came up with.  That’s what they’re for because it would have—it is hard to hurt someone’s feelings?  It is hard to.  And it sometimes needs to happen.  And Joanna shares the story in our book about how she was dating a boy and then realized that she didn’t actually like him anymore.  And she didn’t—couldn’t break up with him, and a teacher helped her do it.  But this is the kind of thing where it’s like—girls—it can be really hard when you know you’re going t hurt someone’s feelings when you’ve been so trained to think, “My job is to make people feel good about themselves especially the boys no matter what.”  It’s like no.  Your job is to pursue goodness, to love mercy, and to act justly.  That is your job.  And yes.  That will mean, often, putting your own preferences to the side thinking, “You know what?  I’m not the main character in this story right now.”  Thinking, “You know what?  This isn’t about me right now.  I’m going to do what’s best for them.”  And other times, it’s going to be like, “Yeah.  No.  That’s—no.  That’s a no.”

Sheila: Yeah.  Because you have a right to feel safe and you also don’t need to date someone that you don’t like.  Our girls need to know that they don’t owe someone a relationship just because that person has been bombarding them with messages and seems a little bit socially awkward and you feel sorry for them. 

Rebecca: And relationship doesn’t just mean dating either.  You don’t even owe a friendship to people who won’t respect your boundaries.  And this is where the protection boundaries are so important because we hear so often that boys just need to learn.  Right?  “They just know it.  They’re still young.”  Yeah.  But you’re expecting the 14-year-old girl that they’re harassing to know.  What are they supposed to learn?  They’re supposed to learn things that the girls have already learned.  We say in the book, “Your daughter is not an object lesson.”  And that’s what protection manners are about.  Your daughter—her job on this earth is not to be homework for someone else.  Her job is not—whether it’s a friend who is going through a massive mental health crisis and is leaning too much on your daughter, who is very emotionally stable, for support and it is draining your daughter because that has happened to a lot of us.  Okay.  Maybe your daughter needs to stand up to a member in your family who is putting a lot of stress on them and taking—and putting adult responsibilities on their tiny 14-year-old shoulders.  Maybe there is a situation where someone is making them feel just put down all the time, and she can’t quite put her finger on it.  But she knows that they—sorry.  But she knows that they’re going through a hard time.  So should she just kind of let herself have this frenemy bully?  There are these tricky situations where there isn’t always a black and white right answer.  Sometimes yeah.  You keep talking to the friend, who is draining you emotionally because that’s your job right now.  And you’re like, “Yeah.  No.  I feel good about this.  This is what I’m supposed to do.”  Sometimes you do kind of keep talking to the guy who has a lot of social,”—

Sheila: Or the girl with the rock collection.

Rebecca: Sometimes you talk to the girl with the rock collection.  Okay?  But sometimes you talk to the guy who makes you a little uncomfortable sometimes because it’s like, “You know what?  In this case, I genuinely—this is harmless.”  And it’s chalked up to something that’s out of his control or something like that.  There are certain things where you’re like, “I think, in this instance, this is the right thing for me to do.”  And the protection boundaries are teaching your daughter how do you make that decision.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Because there is a difference between—let’s say your kid is at a youth group.  And there are some marginalized kids coming in.  Maybe they’re new refugees, and they don’t speak English that well.  Maybe they just aren’t as wealthy.  And it is your daughter’s job to make them feel included.  It is.  It’s what all of our jobs are.  But it’s not your daughter’s job to necessarily be their best friend.  And that’s where we need to help your daughter make the right decisions.  And we hope that we can walk through that in the book, She Deserves Better.  How do we figure out—okay.  What is my role?  And what is not my role?

Rebecca: Yeah.  What’s the difference between including someone and being their friend and being a good neighbor and loving them selflessly and then allowing people to overstep your boundaries?  Where is that line?  And it’s going to be different for different people.  And that’s why in the book you’ll notice we don’t have specifics.  We don’t.  Because it doesn’t help your daughter to have specifics either.  Your daughter needs the muscle—she needs to work out this muscle because this is what teenagehood is for.  That’s why the stakes are relatively low in teenagehood a lot of the time.  It is about whether or not you’re texting too late at night and you’re tired for class in the morning.  That’s a relatively low stake compared to, “I might lose my job over this,” right?

Sheila: Okay.  But let me talk to mothers of boys for a minute here.  I am not a mother of a son.  I am the mother of two daughters.  And I had the opportunity twice during my daughters’ youth group experience where I had to talk to some mothers when their sons were being really inappropriate with my daughters.  And in both cases, the mothers blew me off because, “But their sons are so lovely.”  And I was—and, obviously, this was a big misunderstanding because there is no way that their angelic sons would ever do this.  And it’s like no.  That’s not all right.  And I guess my plea to all of us whether the parents of boys or girls or whatever—but let’s see our kids not only through rose colored glasses but also realize that one of our jobs as parents is to raise kids who are not socially awkward and who are kind to one another.  And if your son, especially, is being consistently rejected telling him, “Well, that’s because all the girls are bad, and you’re perfect,” isn’t necessarily the best route.  Maybe it’s—  

Rebecca: It might be that they just haven’t found their person.  I was rejected constantly in high school by the people who I was interested in.  But I just hadn’t found my group yet.  I was in a small town.  That’s perfectly fine.  Sometimes it’s not that there’s anything wrong.  But saying it’s because girls are stupid—saying, “You just haven’t found your people yet,” is different than saying, “All these girls have terrible taste.”  One of them is just, “Yeah.  Maybe you’re just in—maybe you’re going to find your people when you go off to school someday.  Maybe you’ll move out of the small town.  Maybe you just need a new social group.  Maybe you just don’t mesh with people.”  That’s fine.  Saying, “Well, all those girls don’t understand how perfect you are.  And girls are only interested in super, stupid, superficial things.  And you’re going to find someone that finds out how special you are because any girl who rejects you is just absolutely ridiculous,” that’s an incel talking point.  

Sheila: Yeah.  It is.

Rebecca: That’s what we’re trying to get here is like there’s two things we need to talk about is first of all we need to be honest and recognize that girls have been conditioned to not have protection boundaries in a way that boys have not been conditioned to be.  Okay.  And specifically, not have protection boundaries around boys in a way that boys have not been conditioned to have a lack of boundaries around girls.  Okay.  The second is that a lot of times we can unwittingly set up our children.  And because the evangelical culture, specifically our sons, to become dangerous people by allowing them to blame their lack of self development on girls and encourage incel behavior rather than asking us to have some honest introspection and be like, “Is there actually something that I’m doing that’s making people uncomfortable?  Or am I just weird?”  I’m weird.  Rebecca.  I am weird.  No one is surprised by that anymore.  Okay.  I was the kid with the rock collection at youth group.  Okay.  I’m weird.  But I am.  And I knew in my heart that when I got out and I got to get into an area where there were more weird people like me, I knew I’d find my people.  And I did.  I found, not only my husband, I found friends.  I found a church community where there were lots of other people who were interested in the same things that I was.  And I knew that it was likely just because I was in a smaller town.  There wasn’t a lot of people like me.  And it was just a luck of the draw situation.  That’s so different than saying, “Everyone you know is just shallow and terrible.”  And that wasn’t what it was.  It was just these just aren’t your people.  And I think that’s where we have to be honest with ourselves as parents are am I raising my daughter to become someone’s homework, to think it’s okay to be treated like an object lesson?  And am I raising my son to be the kind of person who will think it’s okay to treat someone like an object lesson, who will think it’s okay to treat someone else as their homework, who will think it’s okay to treat someone else with entitlement and let them do the emotional work for them?  And I think we have to ask those things, in particular.  And the reason that it’s gendered in this case is because of the cultural context.  And so in your cultural context, it might not be as gendered.  But in evangelical, cultural context, this is so blatantly girls owe boys.  And boys don’t owe girls.  

Sheila: Yep.  And it’s scary.  It really is.  Now we know that especially in junior high I’ve had so many parents talk about how the girls are constantly bombarding my son with texts.  And so this could totally go both ways.  So this is a conversation we need to have with our kids about what protection boundaries are, how you don’t owe anybody a relationship.  You don’t owe anybody your time when they are not respecting your boundaries.  And so yeah.  Let’s work through scenarios.  We do that in She Deserves Better on how to have boundaries.  But please, please, please, please watch the way you talk to your sons especially because, quite frankly, the stakes are higher for girls.  Yes.  It’s really a problem when 13-year-old girls are texting boys at all hours.  Absolutely.    

Rebecca: I’m just remembering the things that our friends did when I was 12 to 14.  It’s like yeah.  Girls can be a lot.  It’s not just boys.  We know that.

Sheila: But let’s face it that it is girls who are usually the victims of date rape.  And it is girls who are usually the victims of severe abuse when you get into abusive relationship.  Again, doesn’t mean that girls can’t be abusive too.  But it tends to be that one way.  And so the stakes are higher for girls.  And I’m just asking, please, let’s look at what it is that we’re telling girls to accept.  And let’s look at what it is that we’re telling boys to expect and what it is that we’re telling boys they’re entitled to.  We’re going to put a link to the podcast that we were on last week.  We were talking about it on the blog and on social media.  We were on Theology in the Raw with Preston Sprinkle.  And we got into this quite a bit.  It was a really, really interesting discussion because normally when we go on other podcasts to share about She Deserves Better or The Great Sex Rescue we’re just talking about what’s in the book.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because people love it.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So we’re just saying, “Hey, here’s what we found.  Here’s our findings.  Here’s the bad stuff.  Here’s how it affects girls.  Here’s how it affects women.”  But with this, we actually had a really interesting conversation because Preston was pushing back at some of what we were saying.  And so we were able to articulate even better why we feel the way we do about things like consent and modesty and why we just can’t be saying that boys can’t help themselves and that some boys find it very hard to stop.  And girls just need to understand that.  And so we’re going to put a link.  Please listen to that especially around the 30-minute mark and all the way to the end.  Rebecca was dynamite.  It was fun.  And I really appreciate Preston giving us the chance to have that conversation because I think he gave voice to a lot of things that many people think and gave us a chance to push back.  So that was really helpful.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And our patron says that I’ve ruined—our patrons have said that I have ruined raccoons for them forever.

Sheila: Yes.  So you need to find out why.  Okay.  So that’s what we wanted to say about boundaries.  We talk a lot in She Deserves Better about how we can help our kids recognize toxic people, how dangerous it is to tell girls that they need to have a lot of deference to authority all the time.  So check out the book.  It launches next week.  I’m so excited about that.  You still have time to preorder.  So when you preorder, you just can send us your receipt.  The link is in the podcast notes, and you’re going to get our modesty download.  So a handout that you can give to your youth pastor, your school principal, your summer camp director on how to talk about modesty in a way that isn’t shaming.  And we have some new stats that are not in the book at all about the deconstruction that’s going on among especially millennials and what’s happening and why, who it is that’s deconstructing, why they’re deconstructing, and what they’re deconstructing from.  We didn’t have room to put it in the book, but it’s absolutely fascinating.  So you can get that.  Plus we’re going to be doing a webinar this Sunday, April 16th, which you can get an invite to.  Everyone who preorders will get invited to that.  We’re going to talk about the nuance.  How—yeah.  We don’t want the pendulum to swing too far.  And so how do we figure out what is—where is healthy?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Well, we want to ask when should the pendulum swing too far.  And when should it not?  And how can we tell from the data?  Because some things, it’s like yeah.  The pendulum can’t swing far enough.  And other things it’s actually there’s some nuance here that we need to make sure that we’re discussing.

Sheila: Okay.  Now I asked Rebecca—this is Sheila’s part of the podcast where I can just do something that I really wanted to do because we wanted to talk about boundaries.  And as we got into this, we realized oh, hold on a second.  There’s that thing about Spiderman in For Young Woman Only.  And so we were looking through For Young Woman Only to find this Spiderman thing.  And I found a whole bunch of other things that I just want to share with you to show you some of the problems that are in Shaunti Feldhahn’s book.  So I want to share with you a question that Shaunti asked, and this is a survey that she did of young men so that she could then tell young women what guys were like.  Here is her survey question.  “Is the following statement true or false?  A main reason for not sharing your inner feelings is to protect yourself from getting hurt and/or because you don’t trust some girls to handle your personal information with care.” 

Rebecca: And the answer is yes or no.  Right?

Sheila: And the answer is yes, that’s true.  No, that’s false.  

Rebecca: I’m just trying to think of another option.  I’m wondering about the no, that’s false.  What are they saying—what are they thinking as an option?  I’m like okay.  Why wouldn’t you share your feelings?  Okay.  Because you—either you’re afraid of getting hurt.  Okay.  You don’t trust people to handle the information.  Okay.  Maybe I don’t know what my feelings are.  I can’t talk about them.  But she pretty much covers every possible scenario just in the question.

Sheila: But just listen to this wording.  “A main reason.”  Okay.

Rebecca: A man reason.  Yep.  A main reason.  So we have qualifier number one.

Sheila: Yes.  Because it might have been just a minor reason.  Why are they—if they said no to this, is it because I agree with it but it’s not a main reason?

Rebecca: Well, it’s also like—it’s like a main reason is like it could be one of your main reasons.  But it’s not the main reason.  It’s just a qualifier that’s unnecessary.

Sheila: Yep.  So a main reason for not sharing your inner feelings is to protect yourself from getting hurt and/or—she’s got two options.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And/or.  Yeah.

Sheila: This is just such bad survey development.  

Rebecca: And she says it’s there for—her take away is “one of our biggest surprises was the huge number of guys that didn’t trust most of the girls they knew.”  But I don’t trust most of the girls I know.  I don’t trust most of the girls I know.  I don’t trust most of the guys I know.  I don’t tell my inner most feelings to most people I know.  I tell them to my friends.  And she doesn’t say to your girlfriend or your best friend.  Think of your best friend, who is a girl.  Do you talk to her about what you’re feeling?  She didn’t ask that.  

Sheila: No.  She said, “Because you don’t trust some girls to handle your personal information,”—I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t—I think not trusting some girls is a very wise thing.

Rebecca: I’m not going to go into the mall—here in the Quinte Mall and be like, “My name is Rebecca Lindenbach.  Here is my social and insurance number.  Here is my address.  Here is my phone number.  I am crippling afraid of X, Y, Zed.”  I’m not going to go and tell—or I’m not going to just go on my Facebook account, like my personal one, and do like my incredibly personal psychological trauma dealing with stuff.  This is stuff you only talk to with your—and the reason that we’re talking about this—the thing that’s so frustrating with it is it starts to promote this misogynistic trope that girls are catty and unreliable and untrustworthy.  And that boys are the victims of girls’ cattiness.  And it’s just like—

Sheila: I want to read to you some of the survey responses that Shaunti got that she shares in this book without qualifiers.  So in other words, she wants girls to know that these are what boys are thinking and that this is valid.

Rebecca: Well, and I understand the—I will say.  I understand the overall idea of just telling people this is just the facts.  The problem is this isn’t just the facts.  These are quotes that she pulled out.  She chose these ones.  And also, we, as a society, understand that 13 year olds and 14 year olds and 15 year olds should not be making authoritative decisions.  Yeah.

Sheila: Okay.  So let’s just listen to some of the things that she says or that her survey—people said—and she thinks it’s vitally important that teenage girls understand this is how boys think.  “Whenever a girl does something bad, it seems their whole gender is evil.  I tell myself I’m just going to play video games the rest of my life.  You fall back into testosterone land.  It’s like a limb just got broken.”  This is here so that girls feel sorry for boys and so that girls understand that if boys are playing video games all the time it’s actually girls’ fault.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Or it’s like girls are so catty.  And if one girl is mean, it’s like the whole gender is evil.  Why is that a thing that girls need to know?  Why isn’t it like, “Oh, well, that guy obviously is just not emotionally mature”?

Sheila: Why is this not being used as an example of how some boys have red flags and you need to be careful?

Rebecca: Yes.  Some boys are misogynistic.  That’s a misogynistic thing.  One girl does something wrong.  All women are evil.  That’s misogyny.

Sheila: Yeah.  Here is something else.  “You can tell girls are not safe when you see how they treat each other.  Guys will fight it out and resolve it.  But girls aren’t confrontational in an honest way.  They’re more like the mafia.  I’m going to kill your mom, your dog, everyone.  They’ll start rumors and get their posse together like a scene from Anchorman or Gangs of New York where no one knows what they’re fighting about.”  Now, again, I am not saying that there were no girls who acted like the mafia.  But to include this in a book to say—I’m getting angry again.  But to insinuate that girls are like the mafia and that’s okay to say, that is so problematic.    

Rebecca: And also frankly, here’s my question.  It’s like I know that—especially in high school, girls—we’re emotionally immature when we’re 13, 14, 15 just like boys are.  And girls tend to be more social.  We tend to fight more socially than we do physically.  Those kinds of things.  Tend to engage in a lot more cyber bullying and that kind of thing.  But the question is why is it so abhorrent to a lot of these guys that girls start rumors?  Because when most of the rumors that I heard from girls about boys were like, “Oh, he cheated on that person,” or, “Hey may have actually assaulted that person.”  And I think that we have to honestly talk about the fact that gossip really, really hurts people who hurt other people.  I’m just concerned that girls are being chastised about gossiping when what they’re really doing is warning other girls about bad behavior. 

Sheila: Yeah.  There was actually—it got really interesting.  Do you remember the media in New York, I believe it was, where women started that Excel spreadsheet that was passed around where people would write in about unsafe dates?  And then it got shut down because they were threatened to be sued and everything.

Rebecca: But women were just literally like, “He tried to rape me, y’all.”  

Sheila: They just wanted to warn people of predatory behavior.  Okay.  Here’s another one that she says.  “Guys hate gossip.”  And then get ready for this one.  Here is Shaunti Feldhahn quoting a guy.  “Girls talk too much.”  Remember that one?

Rebecca: We literally studied it.

Sheila: Yeah.  We literally measured how that finding—

Rebecca: Is it true?

Sheila: Not only is it not true, but it’s harmful.  When we teach girls that girls talk too much, that does long term harm.  We did an entire podcast on it last month.  I will put the link in.  But Shaunti Feldhahn is actively teaching it here.  “Girls talk too much.  They go to the bathroom in groups of five, and they talk about stuff like us.  Boys.  At least, guys just react to negative stuff with their testosterone.  Girls get evil.”  So she is sharing boys’ thoughts that girls are evil.  Girls are like the mafia.  And she even has a Jezebel quiz.    

Rebecca: Yes.  Are you a Jezebel?

Sheila: Girls can tell whether or not they are a Jezebel.  And so if you were wondering why it is that we get so worried that girls have been taught to cater to men and that men’s opinions of women are seen as more authoritative than women’s understanding of ourselves, you may start to understand why.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that is exactly why we’re talking about this the way that we are.  We are not saying that girls can’t be catty.  We’re not saying that there isn’t a gossip and bullying problem in high schools.  We’re not saying that girls are perfect and guys are not.  We’re not saying that at all.  What we’re saying is that we are in a culture where boys are encouraged by bestselling Christian authors to say things like, “Girls are evil.  Girls are like the mafia.”  These horrible—this book—I will be honest.  This book reads like a Reddit incel thread.

Sheila: It does.

Rebecca: It reads like a Reddit incel thread.  And when you’ve actually read the manifesto—so some of these murderers—these mass shooters and these people like the Toronto van guy, they all have these weird manifestos that are all about women and how women are so shallow and evil.  And they’re all catty and stupid, and they deserve death.  This stuff.  It starts here.  And so this is why we’re talking about protection boundaries so firmly about guys who rub you the wrong way, guys who are creepy.  Your daughter deserves to know that if a guy is saying all girls are evil that’s a major red flag.  That isn’t just him being a guy.  No matter what Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice want to say.  This is not just a guy being a guy.  This isn’t incel.  This is misogyny.  This is not okay.  And we need to stop saying, “Well, this is how guys are.  And you’ll find your special someone, sweetie.”  Maybe he shouldn’t.  We have to start talking about this so that the cycle freaking stops at some point.  We have to be honest about the fact that there are people out there who society is training them and encouraging them in becoming more and more misogynistic and incel like and telling our girls, “You have to be nice to everyone and accept everyone,” and not having caveats about how like, “Hey, yeah.  There are guys who are not safe, and you don’t owe someone flattery.”  Being nice doesn’t mean you give them what they want.  Being nice doesn’t mean that you erase yourself to be more convenient to them.

Sheila: And you certainly don’t owe them a relationship.  We need to be careful what we say to our kids.  Our kids are not owed a marriage.  Our kids are not owed a relationship.  Yes.  You want that for your kids.

Rebecca: And odds are they’ll get it.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And they probably will.  But we need to stop promising them that God is going to send them a spouse because you don’t know that.  You really don’t know that.  And not everybody gets married.  And some people shouldn’t get married because some people would be terrible marriage partners.  And so I think our job as parents is to help raise kids who would be great marriage partners.  And that means being honest about how if your child is not treating other people well the problem is not that other people don’t like your child.  And that’s a hard thing to hear.  But Becca needed to give up her rock collection.

Rebecca: I really did.  I really did.  And it was a lot.  I’ll be honest.  I was a lot.

Sheila: But some of those boys, who were harassing her in youth group—they needed to give up more than a rock collection.  They needed to give up their entitlement to a relationship.   And it wasn’t just that they were socially awkward.  It’s like showing off your knife collection at youth group when the leaders aren’t watching is not appropriate.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And being really inappropriate and making the girls feel intimidated.  

Sheila: And some of the other boys because I remember some boys that—

Rebecca: Yep.  Were uncomfortable.

Sheila: – and this is serious stuff.  And so let’s not excuse it in our boys.  We need to raise our kids.  All of them.  Boys and girls.  With emotional maturity and with an idea of how to be kind to others.  And that means opening our eyes even if it’s hard.  Okay.  That was a tough one.  That was deep.

Rebecca: Yeah.  

Sheila: But you know what?  We can do better.  Our girls deserve better.  Our boys deserve better.  And we need to be the kind of church that will never publish a book like For Young Women Only again.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  My goal, especially with talking to the mothers of sons—my goal is just that everyone who is a little bit—doesn’t really get social norms the same way I did—okay?  The same way I was weird.  My hope is that just we let our kids grow out of it by age 13.  That we notice it.  Because for all the things that I joke about you about how you let me go to youth group in those horrible pants with those—and I know you say you don’t know I had my rock collection.  You look at some pictures of me, and it’s like she’s got something in her pockets.  Okay?  I’m going to be honest.  But you did then—you made sure that I had people to play with and people to come over.  And you did kind of say, “Maybe we stop wearing that kind of clothes.”  You did step in.  And you helped me feel a little bit more normal.  And that was important too because I needed to learn how to not make people feel bad about themselves.  That was something I had to learn how to do.  And that’s something we talk about in She Deserves Better too is understanding are you crossing someone else’s boundaries.  Are you being respectful of other people?  And that’s something I had to learn when I was little.  I think that when we’re saying this we’re not—I just want to be really clear that we’re not saying that you have to think that your precious little baby girl or boy isn’t your precious baby little girl or boy.  It’s more just that the best gift that we, as parents, can give our children is the truth.  And not in a mean way.  I just mean let’s—our ability to see them truthfully.  If my son was acting in appropriately in a way that meant that other kids didn’t want to play with him, the kind of thing to do for him is teach him how to act in—is to teach him how to act in a way that makes him a good playmate so that he can have friends.  It isn’t to just get mad at everyone for not wanting to play with him.  Right?  We know this at age 3.  We know this at age 6.  We know this at age 10.  The stakes are just a lot higher at age 15.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And we’ve got to start being honest.  And I just want to point out too in She Deserves Better we do have those conversations about how to make sure you’re not violating someone else’s consent and someone else’s boundaries.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Because it obviously can go both ways.  Okay.  I want to read an amazing review that has come in.  The reviews are starting to come in on Goodreads for She Deserves Better.  We’re so excited about that.  But here is what one woman wrote.  “I wish we had this book 20 years ago.  And my only complaint is that I wish it was longer.  Heart breaking and hope inducing Gregoire and team go through toxic teachings that have been pushed by the church in the name of purity culture that are (a) not biblical and (b) create immense harm in girl’s self esteem, safety, and capability deep into adulthood.  I wish we had more practical here’s how to fix it steps.  Like I said, I would want the 500-page version of the book like this that went into everything.  But I think this book is a great intro to starting these conversations that we’ve been desperately missing.  It’s aimed towards moms to prepare for tough talks with daughters.  But I read this to help with youth ministry and reading it was of extreme personal benefit too.  Grab this book and anger ball to squeeze and a box of tissues.”  

Rebecca: That’s great.  Can I just say a really quick thing before we sign off?  The best thing that I’ve seen—it was Laura from One Room Schoolhouse on TikTok was talking about She Deserves Better.  She has a throwaway line about how Gregoire does this.  And by the way, it’s written by Sheila Gregoire, Rebecca Lindenbach, and Joanna Sawatsky.  But they’re like Charlie’s Angels.  We just kind of go by one thing.  It’s just Gregoire.  I just thought that was great.  Yes.  Gregoire and team.  It’s like yeah.  Totally good with that.

Sheila: So you can pick up She Deserves Better wherever you get books.  Baker Books still has it at 40% off with free shipping in the U.S.  And we are looking forward to hearing how you like She Deserves Better.  So keep your emails coming and your comments and especially your reviews.  And we will see you again next week for our great celebration and launch on the Bare Marriage podcast.  Bye-bye.

Rebecca: Bye.

SDB Coming Soon Desktop

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    So, girls owe metaphorical blow jobs to boys, and girls owe boys whatever boys want as long as the boys are “nice.”

    And husbands wonder why wives object to transactional sex. 🤮 🙄 🤬

    Is it that boys aren’t raised to have boundaries, or is it that they are being raised with infinite boundaries that enclose every girl the boys know? 🤔

    Received SDB yesterday, and let me assure everyone that grown women NOT raised in church, meaning they were not exposed to these toxic teachings as teens, ALSO got all these messages loud and clear, even when those messages were presented in subtle, sophisticated language in sermons, sunday school, and Bible studies (and, of course, all those “Christian” marriage books). Grown women need this book too.

    Mr. R. and I actually discussed the differences between girls’ and boys’ fights in junior and senior high. Our experiences were the same, even though he grew up in a very rural area and I grew up in a medium-sized city. Girls would draw blood and inflict pain, while boys mainly just shoved one another and insulted the others’ mothers.

    • Codec

      Yep. In high-school the most brutal fights I saw were with the girls in cosmetology. They would pull straight razors. That was not to say that I did not see some real fights with guys but yeah.

  2. Jane Eyre

    “But often the way we talk about our boys differs from the way we talk about our girls. We say things like, “girls ignore the nice guys and just go for the bad boys,” or “if she doesn’t like you, there’s something wrong with her.””

    But I seem to recall research – can’t remember where I saw it 😉 – that church modesty messages make it more likely that women will marry abusers. Obviously, then, they aren’t married to genuinely good men and the good guys are left out in the cold. So if you want them to notice the good guys, it would seem like toning down the misogyny would really help to achieve that goal.

    Serious question for these people: do you want the good guys to get married or not?? If you do, get rid of the sexism and stop making women feel crappy about their God-given bodies.

  3. Cynthia

    I’m listening now to the part where you are talking about the Toronto van attack and comments that people made afterward. That’s strikes home – my office is only a few minutes away from where the attacker lived. One thing that came out with the local news coverage here is that he wasn’t “rejected” by girls at all. He had extreme difficulties with social skills and was actually afraid of girls. He also may have lied about his motivation for the attack. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to hear some people act as if compelling girls to go on a date with him would have somehow avoided the mass killing, when there is nothing to support that.

    Thanks also for printing out that while teaching people (girls) not to be selfish might sound nice at first glance, what it really means is that other people teach them that they only deserve to be put last and that they required to do things for others at the expense of their own well-being. Telling someone ELSE that they need to be self-sacrificing actually sounds really selfish.

  4. Nathan

    I’ve heard of the JOY thing (though not with the acronym). Only work for others, never do ANYTHING for yourself even at the expense of your own health, safety and well being. I can’t believe that God really wants us to do that. Yes, sometimes we can and should make major sacrifices for others, but not all the time in every situation.

    Sometimes, as Sheila says, it’s okay to take some time and effort for yourself. As I understand, you get a lot of pushback from some people when you say that.

    • Tim

      “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned *NOT ONLY* about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well…”

      Philippians 2, with my emphasis. It doesn’t say not to be concerned with your own interests!

      • Meghan

        Oh Tim, thank you so much for pointing out that emphasis! That verse always filled me with so much guilt over how incredibly selfish I was* and how I should do better about putting others first. I memorized it and used it to berate myself. I don’t think I’ve ever hear anyone point out that the verse assumes that of course you’re taking care of yourself.

        *I was not actually all that selfish; in fact I needed to learn to draw better boundaries and say no sometimes!!

        • Tim

          Pleased it was helpful, Meghan!

  5. Codec

    Nice guy syndrome.

    It is interesting how often this shows up in media as a specifically villainous trait.

    Some examples.

    Naraku from Inuyasha- This man felt he deserved Kikyo’s affection and when he did not get what he felt he was owed he set Kikyo and Inuyasha against each other, pinned inuyasha to a tree for a hundred years by proxy, actively set out to encourage intergenerational warfare, gave Miroku the wind tunnel, and set out to make feudal Japan a living he’ll for anyone who opposed him.

    Bowser- Super Mario Bros. Bowser is so convinced that all he needs for Peach to love him is to achieve incredible feats of power failing to fathom the idea that those very feats of power and displays of grandiose cruelty are repulsive to her. In the recent animated movie he sings an entire ballad ( created by Jack Black no less) about this very point claiming that he would tear through the Mario bros and even his own army if it meant peach would love him.

    Scott Pilgrim and Gideon Graves- Scott Pilgrim series. Now I already hear the objection. Scott is a good guy. He is the hero of the series. True, but Scott spends most of the series as an emotionally stunted train wreck who attempts to make himself feel better by dating a high-school in Knives Chau who he then leaves for Ramona. He fails to understand that his own aversion to responsibility is a problem, unconsciously manipulates his loved ones, and he actively tries to deny reality. So much so that the man spawns a living embodiment of his suppressed memories/ a literal Jungian shadow in the form of Nega Scott. He thinks Nega Scott is evil and tries to kill him. His friend Kim sees Nega Scott for what he actually is and begs Scott to come to his senses. Scott is not the hero because he is a good guy. Scott is the hero because he realizes he is a bad guy and he tries to get better. Gideon Graves on the other hand does not try to get better. He actively enjoys being a villain who collects women like dolls and treats his supposed compatriots as disposable pawns. He is a manipulative narcissist who weaponizes gaslighting.

    As for women being out to get men. That reminds me of yet another series. Lupin III. Specifically the way that Lupin Fujiko and Jigen interact with each other. Fujiko tries to manipulate Lupin, Jigen tells Lupin he is an idiot because Fujiko almost always betrays them, and Lupin is going to try and woo Fujiko anyway despite knowing how it usually turns out. It is a hilarious dynamic in the show. However quite simply put in real life most women are not Fujiko. I think a lot of disgruntled men much like Jigen see people get hurt and become in the words of Jigen himself ” a card carrying misogynist”. What is really interesting though is that when push comes to shove Jigen has stood up for and protected Fujiko and vice versa.

    Interesting things to think about.

    • Anon

      It’s interesting how the ones who make a huge deal out of being “nice guys” are usually the biggest jerks. I can think of a couple more examples from movies.

      Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast”: tries to impress Belle with his hunting trophies, handsome face, and how renowned he is by the town, but he is actually a conceited, sexist, arrogant jerk who wants to marry Belle because she’s beautiful – and because he wants a live-in maid to bear him seven sons. Contrast this with the Beast, who starts out as a beast in every sense, but changes and becomes a truly good man as he and Belle get to know each other.

      Prince Hans from “Frozen”: presents himself as the perfect prince: kind, chivalrous, and noble, yet underneath, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He uses Anna to worm his way onto Arendelle’s throne and thinks nothing of killing both her and Elsa to make himself king. Compare this to Kristoff, who starts out as a grump but turns out to be a selfless guy who loves Anna for who she is.

      Judge Claude Frollo from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”: acts like a righteous church official, yet is actually cruel, deeply prejudiced, misogynistic, and lustful. The prejudice shows in his hatred of the Gypsy people in Paris, and his lust and misogyny show in his interactions with Esmeralda. He lusts after her and wants her for himself, but blames her for his lust (which eventually leads to his burning down much of Paris to find her and burning her at the stake, even attempting to blackmail her into sleeping with him in order to avoid her death). By contrast, both Phoebus and Quasimodo are flawed in their own way (Phoebus is a little arrogant, while Quasimodo has his physical deformity), they are both decent men with true nobility.

      • Lisa Johns

        I’ve been married to one of those “nice guys” for a few too many years. It ain’t pretty.
        Just a point of interest: in the book Your Family, Your Self, the author describes one of the minor “roles” in a family system as “the little angel:” a person who is always doing something for or against one or another family member while constantly striving “to appear saintly.” Sound like one of those “nice guys,” much?

    • Anna G

      And Titan/Tighten from Megamind was the same way. Cinema Therapy has a video on YouTube about it.

      • Codec

        All of those previously mentioned are excellent examples as well. Titan and Gaston in particular are phenomenal examples.

  6. Suzanne

    Was JOY taught to mainly girls? I have never heard of it before but shew, just hearing it made me cringe. Give all of yourself to Jesus and to others until there is no more of you left to give is what that sounds like. Awful.

    Incels are scary, incels, red pill guys, the manosphere, PUA’s (pick up artists), are all men who loathe women, yet still want women for what they offer to men, beauty and sex. Its sad that many Christian men slide right into this group, probably not realizing that is what they are doing by thinking of women as less then men, expecting high beauty standards of their wives but not expecting it of themselves, believing they are owed sex. Scary, it is scary. I am always looking for good ways to show truth to my kids and to teach my daughter to be confident, to not allow abuse or brow beating and to watch out for the bad guys hidden in “good guys” clothing. I will get her this book. She is so far extremely good at caring for herself, and if her pushback doesn’t work she goes and finds a safe adult for help, I am so proud of her for that. I am very aware of my son and what he is seeing and learning and hearing. He has a great father who is a good influence and good friends with good families but I can’t see his reading this book and learning about what girls hear and should hear as a bad thing so hello summer reading!

    • Codec

      I want to note that while I do not agree with pua, Redhill, and blackpill the groups are distinct and are at odds with each other.

      Pick up artist believe that seduction can be boiled down to a sort of science based on a lot of manipulation tactics and musapplications of evolutionary psychology. They talk a lot about how to get into people’s pants but often are not interested in relationships really. They treat encountering people like a stage play and you have to learn the right lines and motions. They do not tend to like redpill guys.

      The red pill takes its name from The Matrix. They see themselves as understanding reality. According to them and this can be flipped to a male or female perspective the opposite sex has rigged the system but you can become aware of that and by improving yourself and rejecting certain ideas you can rig the odds to be in your favor. You can become an alpha. There is a desire for improvement which is a true good that is often coupled with misogyny or misandry. Red pill guys often see pick up artist as con men who want to make people pathetic “beta males”. Conversely puts see red pill guys as lacking charisma and a sense of romance.

      Blackpill guys and girls are often really depressed and have a lack of social skills. This can get worse if they start thinking in nihilistic deterministic and often misogynistic/misandristic ways. Where Redhill guys may try to become “Chad” blackpool stuff embraces a sort of desperate nihilism.

      I know this stuff because I have looked into some of it. It is spooky.

    • Angharad

      J-O-Y was taught to all of us when I was a kid. It’s one of those simple ideas that can be used either well or badly. The way we were taught it when I was little was that if you just want to please yourself all the time, you’ll be miserable, but if you put Jesus first, then everything else flows from that. (Which I think is true, because if our focus is on Jesus, we are naturally going to have the right attitude toward others and we’re also going to be providing the right care for ourselves, because this is what he wants too) We were never taught that we didn’t matter, just that we shouldn’t be treating ourselves as the most important person. For me, it’s something that was very helpful growing up, but that was because good teaching was built around it. I can see how, in legalistic settings, it could end up being a very dangerous idea.

      • Amy

        Thank you for saying this so well. I don’t think the idea was to never think of yourself at all. It’s a great way to live if it’s done in the context you’re describing.

  7. Boone

    I took a continuing ed seminar a few years ago on Nice Guy Syndrome. It was based on Dr Robt Glover’s book, No More Mr Nice Guy. The condition is a good deal more complicated than is covered in the pod cast.

    We learned that most nice guys are at worst abuse survivors and at best products of homes where the parents were impossible to please. The nice guyness was a coping mechanism to minimize damage , keep some control of the situation and to keep on the abuser’s good side. Also done in an attempt to gain approval in a world where the goal post keeps moving. The nice guy becomes manipulative in an attempt to achieve these goals. These traits tend to bleed over into adult relationships due to the fact that the nice guy feels inferior to everybody.
    In can also have adult onset in relationships where the nice guy is never good enough and is constantly rejected emotionally and sexually.
    The cure was to find the fortitude to evaluate the relationship and end it if necessary. To inform you’re partner that you’re no longer going to put up with the situation and that you’re no longer going to settle for whatever crumbs that you’re offered to keep you in line be they emotional, sexual or financial even if it means junking the relationship.
    It was more complex than that but that’s the gist of it. The knowledge has come in handy in several divorce cases.

    • Suzanne

      Can you expand on “the nice guy is never good enough and is constantly rejected emotionally and sexually”. It almost sounds like you are trying to justify the manipulative behavior and make the “nice guy” who isn’t really a nice guy, the victim because he has faced rejection. Maybe I am reading that wrong.

      • Boone

        Suzanne, this happens in relationship situations where nothing the nice guy does measures up. The goal post keeps moving. There’s always one more thing. He begins to manipulate the circumstances to keep the peace. Often in these relationships emotional love and sex are granted or not by the female partner on a reward/punishment basis. The nice guy will try to manipulate events to gain whatever emotional and/or sexual crumbs the wife will dispense.

        There are way too many aspects of this to explain here. I would suggest that you check into Dr Glover’s book.

        • Suzanne

          Your “nice guy” and the one being talked about don’t seem to be the same person. The nice guy who thinks he is owed a relationship because he is “nice” then lashes out when the person he is attracted to doesn’t share that attraction. The the “nice guy” turns into the unsafe jerk he always was because he thinks his being “nice” means he is owed something from a woman. Name calling, claiming women only like bad boys or the @ssholes. I have read reviews of the book you mentioned and from those reviews I am not interested.

    • Boone

      Oh, the hostile response upon rejection comes from the fact that the nice guy is already rejected in his mind before he even makes the effort. It’s really a defense mechanism. He already accepted that he’s going to fail.

    • Lisa Johns

      Those are all really good points. And you described my husband to a T.

  8. Bernadette

    Giving up everything includes giving up the gifts that Jesus gave you… gifts that perhaps He wants you to use?

    • Codec

      I thought the parable of the talents was about using our gifts.

        • Mara R

          Women with gifts and talents being squashed by the church is very common.


          So much so, these stories are everywhere. Part of taking up your cross is denying the very gifts God gives you, if you are a woman in the church. At least according to certain parts of the church.

          Not trying to be snarky to you, Codec. You said nothing wrong. Just confirming that Bernadette’s experience really is that common for women.

          • Codec

            No problem. I just find it weird that someone would tell people not to use the gifts God gave them.

    • Julie

      50:38 – “Girls go to the bathroom in groups of five”

      I know this isn’t the point you were trying to make, but I always speak out when women/girls are shamed for going to the bathroom in groups.

      NEWFLASH – We aren’t gossiping about you. We stick together because it is often NOT SAFE for us to go to the toilet alone. I always invite other women to come along with me. And if I’m asked, I will say yes.
      It’s great that guys can go to the bathroom and not have to worry about being attacked. That’s not my reality.

      • Angharad

        Yes to this. Especially in churches, which often have the toilets down very long, isolated corridors.

  9. Nessie

    My kid is one of those very socially awkward kids. He has little desire to learn how to be less socially awkward, though some things are non-negotiable. He had a hard time keeping his body to himself when little due to sensory needs so we started young with the concept of consent. “Did that person say you could hug them? No? Ok, then you cannot hug them.” Nobody’s body (male or female) is ok to touch without permission.

    My 10 year old finally learned this. Certain “adult” men should give it a try, too.

    • Estelle

      Great principle or all to live by and which works for opposite sex or same sex atraction.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nessie. And good for your son!

  10. Wild Honey

    Regarding putting another’s needs before your own, I really like what Richard Foster wrote in his book “Celebration of Discipline.” In his chapter on submission, he said we’re called to submit to someone else’s needs “unless it becomes destructive.” I’ve found this a helpful guideline that’s flexible enough to actually be practical.

    • Lisa Johns

      That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Wild Honey

    Speaking of merch and Rebecca’s quote, Sheila’s expression on the Theology in the Raw podcast where Preston is talking about neuroscience being politicized is meme-worthy.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ha! Now I have to go back and look.

    • Andrea

      Speaking some more of merch, is Rebecca’s comment on the nice guy syndrome – “I swoon, you lack-of-a-rapist” – too much to put on merch? I know it’s harsh, but it is women’ reality, and it was brilliantly stated.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        HAHA! I will ask her.

  12. Laura

    Very interesting podcast! I didn’t know about nice guy syndrome, but it makes perfect sense. Years ago, I read a “Christian” book about dating and relationships called “Marriable” by Haley and Michael DiMarco which had some very unChristian views. Here are some of the chapters:

    3.- Men Lie to Get What They Want
    4.- Nice Guys Really Do Finish Last
    5.- Don’t Marry Your Best Friend Unless You’re Gay

    In this book, the authors claim that girls

    2. friends cannot be soul-mates because there will be conflicts with other friends.
    3. this chapter basically says that all men are liars seeking only sexual contact.
    Contrary to Eph. 5:28; Prov. 19:22; 1 Tim 1:10; Rev. 21:8
    4. All kind-hearted or nice guys are emotional and emotion is a feminine trait. Always marry a bad-boy.
    CHRIST was gentle (Matt 11:29; Matt 21:5; 2 Cor 10:1)
    We are to be gentle (Gal 5:23; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12)

    Some of this is from a one-star Amazon review. I remember the chapter about “Nice Guys Really Do Finish Last” and from some of this stuff I read, I was shaking my head. I don’t think the authors were referring to the nice guy syndrome conversation in this podcast. They were referring to men who are genuinely kind-hearted and consider the needs of others in addition to their own. What they meant by “nice guy” was a shy guy who lets the woman make the first move. Without actually saying it, these writers (a husband and wife team) seem to think that toxic masculinity is synonymous with being a Christian. They talked about how men should be bold in a way that sounded intimidating to me. Men have to be the pursuers; if women are, it’s unChristian.

    Of course, I heard the term “incel” and kind of knew what it meant. I just didn’t know what it was short for. Another new thing I learned from this podcast. I knew of a man in my hometown who fit that bill of an incel. Seven years ago, some random woman I knew through various church functions wanted to fix me up with this man. She hardly knew me and she did not know this guy well. To make this shorter story, I met the guy and just wasn’t feeling it, but he was a nice guy and I felt obligated to accept a date with him which thankfully never happened. He got my phone number without my knowledge and had a stalker-type mentality. Almost a year later, he got arrested for carrying a gun to church (not one I went to) and threatening single women who refused to date him. He thought he should get a wife and church hopped around town. Several churches would not allow him to return because he made a lot of women uncomfortable. That example sounds close to the nice guy syndrome from this podcast.

  13. No name today

    Recently I watched a video on incels and realized that the thinking behind being an incel is pretty close to matching my husband’s thinking. So I brought it up to him.
    A few points:
    – He wants me to only count his “now” behavior as him, as in, only the last 3-6 months. He doesn’t want to remember the decades of marriage before that where his behavior has destroyed things. He thinks that I’m not being fair when I remember those years, “Because he’s changed”.
    -He never really understood the impact of his multiple betrayals and porn use on me. He minimizes it by saying he’s not like that anymore, even though he never really put in the work to rebuild trust other than he hit his mid forties and his sex drive dropped.
    -He has built his life upon “women should make me feel comfortable at all times” and “people should give me things” (like he thinks he should be offered a better job without applying for it or interviewing for it. It should just drop into his lap. Which is why he is still at his low paying job all these years.)

    Today, after listening to this podcast, he came back to me and said, “You know, if you hadn’t married me, I would have been an incel.” I was like, dude, you still are. You brought incel energy into our marriage. I’ve been dealing with it for years.

    This weekend sucks because I’m realizing again (so many revelations this year) that this marriage isn’t gonna make it. Even if he does the work, which he has refused to do for decades, it isn’t going to be in time. I’m done. I’m done rescuing him. I’m done mothering him. I’m done being his therapist.
    I told him recently, “I treat you the same way I treat my patients… I just realized that I don’t have sex with patients.” That was it for me. I don’t want to have sex with this man-boy anymore. It literally isn’t sexy to be someone’s mom, therapist, nurse and then try to have sex with that person. Ew.

    Anyone think I can manage a few more years until the youngest is old enough to not have to have custody worked out in court?

    One last note- tonight I realized yet again that I’m single parenting. I’m working through a lot of stuff with multiple teenagers at home. They do not turn to their dad for emotional support because he has never ever been a safe person for them. So even though I have my own issues to deal with, I’m also having to make some pretty major decisions about the teens without any support. All I have is the research I’ve done on how to handle these situations. Each one of them has a therapist because, well, I know I’m not enough, nor do I want to be. But what I don’t have is a spouse who has also independently done their own research and has the ability to identify their own emotions and the emotions of others.

    Maybe I shouldn’t wait until the youngest is past custody age.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry. It sounds like you’re a really strong, respected, capable woman, and you’re showing up and you’re carrying so much. That’s really, really hard.

  14. Lucy

    On the subject of boundaries –

    I was never taught how to assert myself saying ‘No’. When I was growing up, the issue of ‘boundaries’ and ‘consent’ was never discussed. So when there was a situation I didn’t feel comfortable in, I didn’t know how to say no. I grew up calling him uncle even though we’re not related. He is quite old, and is married with children who are a lot older than me, and has been in the church ministry for many years. He has done a few things that I’ve thought were odd, like sending me pictures of himself in swim trunks and sunglasses in a pool; and telling me that the guy I’d been seeing would ‘find someone else’, (because he was younger than me) the day after we broke up. My problem is that he seems to think he should get a kiss from me (on the cheek, not on the lips) sometimes. (Not when there are other people around). He recently assisted my widowed mother with some house repairs, and the last time we were running errands, he wanted to kiss me on the cheek when we were saying goodbye. I didn’t want him to at all, but didn’t know how to politely refuse, or think of an excuse quickly enough. Later, my Mum told me that when she and him were alone in her house, he asked her for a kiss when he was leaving. But she said no. When I mentioned this to my sister, she said that when she was a teen, this ‘uncle’ always liked to give her a kiss on the cheek. She had always disliked it massively, but had never said anything. She just chalked it up to his age and generation, and wants to think he is harmless. I want to think he’s harmless too, but it weirds me out to read emails from him where he says he ‘loves me dearly’ like he’s my father or something. I do not see him as a father figure. Basically, he makes me feel uncomfortable, but then I wonder if maybe I’m overreacting or something, so I feel kind of funny even writing this. Like I shouldn’t even be talking about it, because he doesn’t mean any harm. Fortunately, he doesn’t live in the same town as me, but I dread being left alone with him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, and I appreciate all the help he’s given, but I don’t see why I should let him kiss me when I don’t want him in my personal space.

  15. Christine

    I am so grateful that you continue to call out Shaunti’s dangerous messages in her books, even with how hard she tries to deny it. Don’t stop pointing out harmful messages!


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