The Man With No Spine - A parable for "Nice Guys"
There once was a man without a spine.
He was a very likable guy. The advantage of not having a spine was that he
could fit himself to anyone, and he frequently did. He could flex this way
But he couldn't stand up ...
...and being kinda mushy and flat most of the time, people often walked on
him without realizing he was there.
So he got sad, having this dreadful absence of a spine, and he was
resentful too. He wondered why other people couldn't fit themselves to him
the way he fit himself to others, but that was silly because he never felt
he had the right to ask anyone directly to fit themselves to him. He was
formless, what was there to fit to anyway? In cyberspace he talked tough
as if he had a spine, but people could clearly see by his rage and
resentment that he didn't have one in real life, and he perished in the
flame wars he provoked and only came out feeling more ashamed and
He wished he could be with a woman, to help him the way a spine would. If
he clung to a woman with a spine, he could stand up, but women didn't like
it when he did that. He often called them "bitches" for the women with
spines coldly asked him to let go of them, or unceremoniously shrugged him
and his issues off onto the ground telling him to get his own spine.
If he fancied a spineless woman, on the other hand, he couldn't get her
interest because they were looking for men with spines that they could
cling to. But the spineless women would hang around with him for
sympathy, and he'd be their platonic male friend and play "therapist"
though he was as sick as they were. He'd often call himself a "feminist"
and lecture these spineless women how to stand on their own when he had
no idea of how to stand for himself.
With all the bending and flopping around he did, a spine never could get a
chance to grow.
Then one day he had a brainstorm, he decided he'd make himself a spine.
He took a long stick.... and he put it far up his ass.
It was an improvement, though uncomfortable. It was the first time in his
life he could walk tall, if not a bit stiff. He found he could have
opinions at odds with others, and stand for them. He found out that he
didn't have to be liked, that the world didn't end if he pissed someone
off. He didn't want to fit easily with other people anymore, in fact he
People commented on the change, some people didn't particularly like him
with the stick up his ass but they did notice him more. Some people felt
that at least they could respect him, even if they didn't always like him
because he did less whining. At least nobody stepped on him by accident.
However relationships still didn't come easy, it was hard for a woman with
a spine to love him with the stick up his ass. He was stiff, cold,
brutally opinionated, condescending, and self-righteously hostile. But
eventually he did attract a very pretty woman without a spine who saw him
as a tower of strength to cling to.
At first he loved this woman, he thought the stick up his ass was the
answer to his dating problems. He was finally being loved the way he once
loved others. At first it was great, and then it was good, and then it was
ok, and then it was uncomfortable, and by the end of a year it was
infuriatingly suffocating. The spineless woman clung like a
straightjacket. The horror!!! The horror!!!
But the stick up his ass made him so inflexible he didn't know how to get
the spineless woman off of him, If only he could bend. He was trapped,
upright in his "obligations", "duty to her", "guilt", "pride in his
commitment", he spent months with his arms helplessly flapping about
trying to get her off of him and trying not to look like he was doing
He was hoping that she would leave by hinting her indirectly, he used
sarcasic tones, said mean things that were "just a joke", neglect,
"constructive" criticism intended to insult. He only made the spineless
woman feel more insecure, so she clung HARDER.
Spineless men envied him, called him a jerk for the way he was treating
her, just the way he remembered how he used to envy other men before he
had the stick up his ass (when he'd play consoler to their teary-eyed
spineless girlfreinds). If only they knew what it was like to be on the
receiving end of a spineless person's embrace they'd understand. He wished
she'd leave him for one of the spineless men who envied him. He felt
ashamed for the way he must have made women feel in the past when he was
trying to cling to them, he knew that they weren't so evil after all.
One day he decided that there was only one way to be free of the spineless
woman once and for all, the stick up his ass had to go.
So he pulled the stick out, and to his amazement a miracle happened:
he was still standing! All of the years of inflexibility allowed
him the chance to grow a spine. At first he was still a bit stiff but
eventually he had the flexibility to contort a bit and yet maintained the
firmness to struggle, push, and wriggle from the spineless woman's grasp (though she
protested much). He stayed far out of her reach and the reach of other
spineless women so that he could never be grasped by one again.
He was overjoyed with his new-found freedom; he could bend sometimes
like he used to (but not too far) and also he could stand tall. He went
out, partied, enjoyed life to the fullest, and eventually found a woman
with a normal spine like his.
They stood together as separate individuals giving mutual support and
enjoying time alone too, and lived (relatively) "happily ever after"...
The end :)