1325: Rejection

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Perhaps you need a crash course in taking hints. Here's your first lesson: We're not actually walking somewhere together; I'm trying to leave this conversation and you're following me.
Title text: Perhaps you need a crash course in taking hints. Here's your first lesson: We're not actually walking somewhere together; I'm trying to leave this conversation and you're following me.


This strip portrays Cueball's (and likely Randall's) reaction to a very specific male complaint: that of self-proclaimed "nice guy" complaining about his lack of romantic success.

There's a stereotype, in popular culture, of women claiming they want to date nice guys, but actually dating men who are rude and/or treat them badly. This has given rise to a cliche about men who assume themselves to be nice guys, insisting that women reject them for being too nice. In reality, there are many reasons why a person might experience a lack of romantic success, but the notion that it happens as a result of being too nice is ridiculously simplistic and self-serving.

The Cueball-like guy on the left in this picture is complaining (presumably because he has been romantically rejected) that women, as a group, are either lying or self-deluded about what they really want. Cueball's sarcastic interjection is that this very response to the situation shows a) an inability to accept rejection and b) a disrespect for both the judgment and self-awareness of any woman who isn't interested in him. This behavor is passive-aggressive at minimum, and arguably both arrogant and misogynistic.

The thesis of the strip appears to be that the men who complain most loudly about being rejected for being 'too nice' are generally displaying that they're less nice than they imagine. While they may not be as overtly aggressive as other guys, responding to rejection by assuming there's something wrong with the person who rejected you (or with their entire gender, as in this case), is in fact both rude and condescending. The joke is that the guy is likely not nearly as nice as he imagines, and if being impolite were truly attractive to women, he'd be much more successful romantically.

The title text continues the "conversation", with Cueball implying that he believes that the first guy is bad at taking hints. He offers a "crash course" in hint taking by clarifying outright that he is trying to end the conversation while the first guy continues to follow him.

The concept of the self-identifying "nice guy" who actually may have less than admirable motives is also explored in 513: Friends. See also the concept of "negging" as used in 1027: Pickup Artist: you belittle chicks to undermine their self-confidence so they'll be more vulnerable and seek your approval.


[Cueball is walking, and a Cueball-like guy follows him.]
Guy: Women say they want nice guys, but what they really want are—
Cueball: —Guys who respond to rejection by belittling their judgment and self-awareness?
Cueball: If so, don't worry — you'll be fine.

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How do we know which one is Cueball and which one is “guy”? 08:18, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

I was wondering the same thing. Is there some kind of assumption that Cueball is always the "smart" stick figure? 15:12, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Cueball has a bigger head. Please notice the difference. 14:59, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
That last post makes no sense. Neither of these guys are Cueball in Randall's view, since Cueball is a concept made up on explain xkcd. But it is usually considered that the protagonist of a story is Cueball. And in this case this is obviously the front guy who corrects the guy behind. See my post below from this date. --Kynde (talk) 12:39, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

First of all we dont know that the first guy has been recently rejected, that is actually an assumption made by the second guy. Also, the "they choose jerks over nice guys" argument is wrong not because it lacks judgement and self awareness, it is wrong because it belittles the woman's judgement and self-awareness. 08:44, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

I think the first guy is a jerk and the girl rejected him because he's a jerk. The second guy is quite blatantly pointing out that the first guy's a jerk, but the first guy is so self-absorbed that he just doesn't get it - and probably never will. This is indicates a personality disorder/character flaw. The first guy is incapable of accepting that he is a jerk and therefore has to blame the girl by falling back on a cliche about girls only wanting nice guys. This is OK for the first guy because he thinks nice guys are losers. 09:29, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Uhm... Some of the above may be correct - but not the last sentences. The first guy thinks he is a nice guy, and he is about to use this to explain why he has been rejected since girls only say they want nice guys but really want something else. She probably doesn't want a jerk! But may rather go for a sporty/strong/hansom type without considering how nice he is. So the guy she chooses may or may not be nice to her (and may even be a real jerk). All this is of course just part of the stereotyping of women. Kynde (talk) 10:19, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm having trouble editing the article. I am trying to change the explanation to:

In popular culture women supposedly go for jerks instead of "nice guys". The guy on the left in this picture is frustrated and complaining as he has just been (presumably) rejected by a girl, and thinks it's because he's the "nice guy" type. However, there are many other reasons why a woman might reject a guy who isn't a jerk. (Though this guy just might be a jerk.) Cueball is trying to tell this guy that there are many, more complicated, reasons, and that saying "women don't like nice guys" and presuming to know what women "really want" is showing a rejection of that woman's agency, which might be the real that reason she rejected him.

The Alt Text continues the "conversation", with Cueball implying that he believes that the first guy is bad at taking hints, offering a sarcastic "crash course" in hint taking, with Cueball outright saying that he is trying to end the conversation while the first guys continues to follow him.

but it won't save. Can someone help me or copy/paste my changes themselves? 10:37, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Nevermind. Found the captcha check while posting the above. 10:39, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Dear, You could create a userid and login -- that way your explanation would also appear in the history nicely with your name against it Spongebog (talk) 14:34, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

It's about "negging" by pick-up-artists. See http://xkcd.com/1027 The theory is that putting a woman down somehow makes her more attracted to you. 11:18, 3 February 2014 (UTC)DivePeak

Exactly, "Nice guys" is a pick up artist phrase, especially in conjunction with the "what women really want" type of line. One of the techniques they use is "negging" which is exactly what Cueball describes. It isn't about being passive-aggressive. Very often they constitute the "missing stair" in a group. --Ioldanach (talk) 13:42, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

What is particularly interesting is the assumption by Randall that ALL woman are self aware enough to know what they really want in a man. The cartoon generalizes that self proclaimed "nice guys" are in error and whining needlessly and cluelessly about their situation. But it is this exact sort of generalization that has lead to the popular cultural conception of woman going for "jerks" over "nice guys." In reality, there are men who are rejected by woman who have poor judgement in men, as well as men who perceive themselves to be "nice guys" but do not have the introspection and awareness to respect a woman's judgement, even if it could be poor. Tardyon (talk) 14:44, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

In fairness, if your judgment is poor your judgement shouldn't be respected regardless of gender. It should be pointed out to you, such as is happening here. That being said the primary issue the generalization."Guy" can speak about only one person, the woman he knows. And it'd still be estimation, but it'd probably be a deeper insight into the girl than all women everywhere. 17:16, 3 February 2014 (UTC)Rheios

Consider a parallel comic: "Harvard says they want well-rounded students, but what they really want are - " "Applicants who respond to rejection letters by belittling Harvard's judgment?" Suddenly it's not so amusing. 20:03, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Suddenly? I actually find that equally amusing. Your parallel is a bit off thou, as guy talks about women generally rather than a specific one, so rather than Harvard it would be universities and then cueball's response would be more helpful, as in that guys current response won't help him and perhaps he need to self analyze to find out why he failed and change to do better with the next application (or woman). 16:55, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

I actually don't see your point. Are you saying Harvard doesn't want well-rounded students? I'm sure they do; if you go there with a 5.0 GPA but nothing else to recommend you, you probably won't get in, and if you do get in you won't be successful.

When girls say they want "nice guys", they want someone who will treat them well. What would something like that look like to Harvard? Maybe - someone who respects the institution, the staff and the property, someone who won't plagiarize, who won't use the facilities for illegal or unethical activities. Someone who isn't going there just so they can say "I'm going to Harvard". Can you measure these things ahead of time? No, probably not. Even if you could measure them, by themselves, would they make you attractive to Harvard, or likely to succeed there? No, they would not. Harvard wants intelligent, well-rounded, hard-working individuals who can actually demonstrate that they are worthy of acceptance. So yes, of course they want "nice guys", but that doesn't mean shit unless you bring everything else too.

1. Yes, girls want guys who will treat them well, instead of badly. And they shouldn't really have to say it.

2. Being a "nice guy" has almost nothing to do with getting the girl. You have to bring more than that.

3. It is necessary, but not sufficient. 19:18, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

How do we know that the girl did not go with someone who is more jerk than the character who thinks to be a nice guy? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Doesn't matter. "Nice Guy" said "they", not "she", so he is generalizing. If he specified his last girlfriend, he might have case, but he did not, so he does not. Anonymous 19:37, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

I found the girl's response to be rude and belittling his judgement. She cut him off before he could finish. He could have said something like "what they really want are interesting, exciting guys" as if he was making a discovery on the matter. He could have said that girls used it as a casual expression.

Or he could have said that girls want the "bad boy", which could mean muscular, but not character-wise bad. 13:45, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Ugh Randall. Your presumption that the woman is acting fully rational because people act rational, is countered by the fact that you believe the guy in front of you is not acting rational. Can't you just admit for once that all people act irrational. The guy complaining could very well be right about the particular girl he is talking about. 15:35, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Except nothing in this indicates that he is talking about a specific event or person, hence why the first thing we see him say is "Women say-" not "She says-" or "This girl said-". This comic is addressing a common trope and attitude, not a particular person. Additionally, it's not rationality that's in question here, it's agency and self awareness. A person may reject the advance of another because they are not interested, and the resulting "Women say they want-" nonsense is attacking their agency (in implying that their choice is faulty and/or should be vetoed, even though it is entirely the person's choice that no other authority need be considered) and their self awareness (by claiming that they don't know what they want, which is ridiculous). -Pennpenn 06:35, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. In this case the Cueball walking in front is the protagonist of the story and hence it makes sence for our community to call him Cueball, so this has been kept in the explanation. But it has been made clear that the other character is Cueball-like. --Kynde (talk) 12:39, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

My first parsing of "...respond to rejection by belittling their judgement and self awareness" was that it was referring to the proposistioner criticizing themselves, which, in the context, would have made the comic really dark. 15:48, 21 September 2019 (UTC)