[Deep Summary] - No More Mr. Nice Guy! - Robert Glover
Originally published as an e-book, No More Mr. Nice Guy! addresses the “Nice Guy Syndrome”—the tendency for some men to be overly eager to please others to gain approval and feel good about themselves. Psychotherapist Robert Glover, the author, explains how unfulfilled Nice Guys often lash out or become resentful, and provides advice for these men on how to have more satisfying relationships.
The book is aimed at helping Nice Guys set better boundaries, express themselves emotionally, improve their sex lives, build closer male friendships, tap into their potential, and gain self-acceptance. It is a self-help guide based on Glover’s experience counseling Nice Guys and his process of overcoming his Nice Guy tendencies. Though the book takes a male-centered perspective, Glover notes that many women also find it helpful for gaining insight into their Nice Guy partners or themselves.
The Nice Guy Syndrome is the belief that if Nice Guys are good, caring, and generous, they will be happy, loved, and meet their needs. However, Glover argues that this strategy ultimately fails and leads to frustration, with Nice Guys often becoming “anything but nice.” The book provides tools and advice for Nice Guys to stop seeking approval, meet their needs, and improve their lives.
Bill feels needed by constantly helping others but never gets as much in return. He has trouble saying no.
Gary avoids confronting his wife's anger and verbal abuse by apologizing even when he has done nothing wrong. He is afraid of conflict and wants to please his wife.
Rick came to counseling to help his alcoholic wife but feels responsible for holding everything together. He hopes that by helping her get sober, he will finally have a good relationship.
Lyle is devout Christian who struggles with a secret pornography addiction that he tries to control through prayer. He is terrified others will find out.
Jose has been in a relationship with a woman he sees as needy and dependent for five years. He has tried leaving her several times but always returns out of guilt. He tries to figure out how to go without hurting her.
These men believe that if they are "good" by eliminating perceived flaws, hiding needs, and becoming what others want, they will be loved, and life will be easy. They are:
Givers who seek approval by being generous to feel good about themselves.
Fixers and caretakers who solve other people's problems.
Avoid conflict to keep the peace.
Hide perceived mistakes and flaws to avoid angering others.
Seek the "right" way to live a happy life.
Repress feelings and prioritize other people's needs.
Often try to be opposite of unavailable or abusive fathers. More comfortable with women.
Need help prioritizing their own needs. Emotional happiness depends on partner's pleasure.
While "nice", they are often dishonest, secretive, compartmentalized, manipulative, controlling, give to get, and passive-aggressive. They express frustration indirectly in hurtful ways despite promises never to do so.
So in summary, these "Nice Guys" portray themselves as kind but have many unhealthy traits and behaviors stemming from their core belief system. Their niceness is a misnomer.
Here's a summary:
Nice Guys often deny getting angry but have repressed rage that erupts unexpectedly.
Nice Guys frequently engage in addictive behavior to relieve stress, alter moods, or numb pain. Sexual compulsiveness is common.
Nice Guys struggle to set boundaries and say no. They feel like helpless victims and blame others.
Nice Guys are often isolated as their behavior makes it hard for others to get close.
Nice Guys are attracted to "fixer-upper" people and situations. This tendency leads to constantly putting out fires and managing crises.
Nice Guys frequently struggle in intimate relationships. They are poor listeners, dishonest to avoid conflict, and choose "diamonds in the rough" as partners then blame the partner when unhappy.
Most Nice Guys are relatively successful but fail to reach their full potential.
The traits of Nice Guys seem appealing initially, but their negative qualities emerge over time, causing a "Jekyll and Hyde" effect.
Recovery involves becoming "integrated" - accepting all parts of oneself, the good and the bad. Integrated men are self-confident, responsible, comfortable with themselves, have integrity, lead, communicate, nurture others, and set boundaries.
Paradigms are the mental roadmaps we use to navigate life. Inaccurate paradigms lead to frustration and ineffective behavior. The Nice Guy paradigm is "If I hide my flaws and be what others want, I'll be loved and have an easy life." This paradigm causes frustration when it doesn't work but is hard to challenge.
The alternative to the Nice Guy paradigm is to become integrated by accepting oneself as imperfectly perfect. This means taking responsibility, nurturing oneself, setting boundaries, and finding purpose/passion.
The summary outlines the key traits and behaviors of Nice Guys, the damage caused by their ineffective paradigm, and the path to overcoming the Nice Guy syndrome through developing an integrated self.
Jason had an emotionally difficult childhood with unrealistic demands from his father and emotional dependence from his mother. His father demanded perfection and was critical. His mother was emotionally needy and smothering but unavailable when Jason needed her.
To cope, Jason developed beliefs that if he could meet all demands and hide any mistakes, he could gain love and approval. However, these beliefs never worked and only distracted them from his complicated feelings.
In adulthood, Jason applied these beliefs to his marriage, but they needed to be more effective. His wife was critical and controlling like his father and emotionally needy like his mother. No matter what Jason did, his wife sometimes remained unhappy with him.
To recover, Jason had to do things differently, such as:
Learn from mistakes
Stop seeking approval
Make his needs a priority
Be honest and direct
Deal with problems directly
Ask for help from safe people
Recovery requires revealing oneself to safe others and receiving their support. Jason should start with men, not women, and consider options like therapy groups, 12-step groups, or close male friends.
The recovery process challenges everything Nice Guys believe and will significantly impact relationships. Reading the book with a partner can help them understand the changes.
The reasons Nice Guys develop are that, in childhood, they received messages that it was not OK to be themselves. They learned to hide parts of themselves to feel safe and loved. The most impressionable time is from birth to age 5. Nice Guys likely felt abandoned in some way and sacrificed themselves to regain love and approval.
Children have two essential characteristics: 1) they fear abandonment and see it as life-threatening, and 2) they are ego-centered and believe they cause everything that happens to them.
When children experience abandonment, they incorrectly believe they caused it due to their ego-centeredness. This can lead to toxic shame, the belief that one is inherently wrong or unlovable.
To cope with abandonment and shame, children develop survival mechanisms to: 1) cope with distress, 2) prevent future abandonment, and 3) hide their shame from themselves and others. These mechanisms are often ineffective and illogical.
The "Nice Guy" paradigm develops due to abandonment, shame, and the survival mechanisms to hide flaws and gain approval. Three examples show how this can create differently based on family experiences:
Alan: Oldest of 3 in a single-parent family. He always tried to avoid problems. Father was abusive and abandoned the family. Mother was critical. Alan developed the belief he was a "sinner" and worked to be perfect to earn love and avoid "punishment".
Jason: He saw his childhood as "Leave it to Beaver," but parents lived through the children and used them to meet their needs. Tried to live up to the image of perfection portrayed by his parents but always felt inadequate.
Jose: Successful but avoids intimacy. He parented his younger siblings. Father was angry, abusive, and controlling. Mother was manic-depressive. Jose developed a need for control and recognition to cope. Is attracted to dependent partners he feels needed to "take care of".
So in summary, the Nice Guy paradigm begins in childhood as a way to cope with difficult experiences, gain approval, and hide perceived flaws or inadequacies. The specific experiences differ but the outcome is a set of beliefs and behaviors focused on pleasing others.
Alan, Jason, and Jose had difficult childhoods that led them to develop similar beliefs that they were not acceptable as they were and had to please others to be valued.
As children, they experienced various forms of abandonment, neglect or abuse that communicated they were not worthy of love and acceptance.
They internalized toxic shame, believing something wrong with them caused these experiences.
To cope, they developed survival mechanisms centered around hiding their perceived flaws and becoming what they thought others wanted.
Their coping mechanisms resulted in a life paradigm in which if they could hide their flaws and please others, they would find love, meet their needs, and live a happy life.
Though flawed and ineffective, this life paradigm continued to guide them in adulthood.
Nice Guys tend to fall into two categories: "I'm so bad" Nice Guys who believe they are inherently evil, and "I'm so good" Nice Guys who repress that belief and try to prove their goodness.
Though different in awareness, both types operate from the same life paradigm of hiding flaws and pleasing others.
Understanding the origins of these patterns helps change them.
The key points are that childhood experiences of abandonment or abuse led to beliefs of unworthiness and coping mechanisms of people-pleasing and hiding perceived flaws. These patterns persist into adulthood and are rooted in "Nice Guy Syndrome". Gaining insight into their origins is vital to overcoming them.
The social dynamics of the mid-20th century, including the loss of fathers, the rise of feminism, and growing up in a female-dominated school system, led many boys to internalize the message that they were not acceptable as they were and needed to please women to be loved. These dynamics produced many "Nice Guys" - men who are disconnected from other men, comfortable having their manhood defined by women, and dependent on women's approval.
Many Nice Guys did not have close relationships with their fathers and saw their fathers negatively. They were raised primarily by their mothers and learned to be men from a female perspective. Spending their early years in a female-dominated school system reinforced this.
Nice Guys end up in therapy due to problems in their intimate relationships. They believe their unhappiness is due to their partner's faults or behaviors and think fixing this will solve them. However, their relationships suffer from a lack of genuine intimacy. They have a hard time connecting with their masculine energy and vitality.
The social changes of the mid-20th century led many boys to believe they had to hide parts of themselves to be loved. They became "soft males" - gentle, ecologically-minded men who lacked vibrancy and vitality. They often have strong, energetic women who take on a matriarchal role.
In summary, challenging experiences in childhood combined with significant social changes caused many men to adopt a "Nice Guy" persona based on seeking approval through pleasing others. Addressing this and reconnecting with their true selves can help them build healthier relationships.
Nice Guys seek approval and validation from others to feel good about themselves. They believe they are not inherently worthy or lovable, so they rely on external validation.
Todd, for example, will become whatever he thinks others want him to be to please them. He is not in touch with his authentic self.
Nice Guys use "attachments" to convince themselves and others of their worth, like their looks, intelligence, nice car, cute child, etc. These are necessary to know how else to feel valuable.
Being "nice" is the ultimate attachment for Nice Guys. They think if they are good and do the right thing, that will make up for their perceived flaws.
Nice Guys especially seek the approval of women, seeing a woman's approval as the ultimate validation. They monitor women closely for signs of support or unavailability. This gives women power over Nice Guys and their moods.
Seeking women's approval also leads Nice Guys to rage toward and resent women when women don't meet their expectations. The Nice Guys either try harder to please them or lash out in anger.
The solution is for Nice Guys to learn to validate themselves instead of relying on external approval. They must accept themselves as they are and detach their worth from what others think of them. This is the only way to have fulfilling relationships.
The key message is that Nice Guys must stop seeking external validation and learn to please themselves. They must become aware of and break free from their need for attachment and approval. This is necessary for their emotional health and well-being, and authentic relationships. The summary covers the primary reasons why their "nice" behaviors and people-pleasing backfire and cause problems. The solution of self-validation and self-acceptance is stated clearly.
The Nice Guy syndrome stems from a belief that one must please others and seek their approval to be lovable and avoid shame. As a result, Nice Guys put women on a pedestal to win their support. However, this worship turns to rage sooner or later when these women fail to meet the Nice Guys' expectations.
To break free from this syndrome, Nice Guys should:
Stop caring so much about others think and seek self-approval instead. Identify behaviors aimed at seeking external validation and work to change them. For example, go on a moratorium from an approval-seeking behavior for some time to build self-confidence from within.
Take good care of themselves through positive self-talk, spending time alone, and revealing their true selves to trusted others.
Accept that people will still love them despite their imperfections and flaws. Recognize that intimate relationships are built on sharing one's humanity, not projecting an image of perfection.
Stop hiding perceived mistakes, flaws or anything that makes them feel flawed or shameful. Mature people take responsibility for their actions and work to repair any damage. They do not make excuses or turn the tables to dump shame onto others.
Tear down emotional walls that prevent real intimacy and connection. Though the walls may feel protective, they ultimately lead to isolation and deter others from genuinely knowing the Nice Guy.
In summary, the Nice Guy Syndrome is characterized by a lack of self-love and over-reliance on the approval of others. Healing involves validating and caring for oneself instead of constantly seeking external support. By accepting one's imperfections, taking down emotional walls, and ceasing behaviors to hide perceived flaws, Nice Guys can break free from this syndrome and build the genuine connections they desire.
Taking good care of yourself and practicing self-care is essential to overcoming the "Nice Guy Syndrome." Things like exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, relaxing, and engaging in enjoyable activities help Nice Guys start to believe they deserve good things and are worth it.
Doing things for yourself that make you feel good can bring up uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, guilt, and confusion due to cognitive dissonance. The old beliefs that you aren't good enough clash with the new actions and thoughts that you deserve good things. Continuing to practice self-care helps replace the old ideas over time.
Positive affirmations, especially when combined with other techniques, can help change negative core beliefs into more positive ones. Repeating affirmations like "I am lovable," "My needs matter," and "I can handle this" helps reinforce a healthier self-image.
Spending alone time is essential for getting to know yourself, discovering what you want, and learning not to rely on others for approval or distraction from discomfort. Retreating from usual surroundings and social contacts helps reveal habits like people-pleasing and allows you to observe your true self. Keeping a journal during this time can lead to meaningful insights.
Revealing yourself to trusted others helps overcome the belief that you must hide your flaws and humanity to be accepted. Finding a support group or counselor and gradually opening up about fears, shame, and secrets in a safe space allows for receiving accurate feedback that helps correct negative self-views. The process requires building trust and courage but can be profoundly healing.
In summary, self-care, affirmations, solitude, and sharing vulnerably with safe people are all ways Nice Guys can move past external validation and learn to approve of themselves from within. The process is challenging but rewarding.
Based on your description, it sounds like Nice Guys commonly struggle with believing it is OK for them to have needs and that others want to help meet them. Instead, Nice Guys seem to develop the belief from childhood that needing others or expressing their needs will drive people away. As a result, Nice Guys tend to hide their deficiencies, choose unavailable partners, be unclear in defining conditions, push others away when conditions are met, and sabotage getting needs met.
Some questions for reflection:
• Do you believe at your core that it is OK for you to have needs? If not, what beliefs do you hold about having needs?
• Do you believe others genuinely want to help you meet your needs? If not, what are your beliefs about others' willingness to meet your needs?
• How did these beliefs develop from your childhood experiences? How did critical people in your life respond to you expressing needs?
• What strategies do you use to hide your needs, choose unavailable partners, be unclear in expressing conditions, push others away, or sabotage meeting needs? How do these strategies negatively impact you?
• What would it look like to start believing it is OK for you to have needs and that others want to help meet them? What would change in your relationships and life?
• What steps can you start addressing these limiting beliefs, become more comfortable expressing your needs, and allow others to meet them? Working with a counselor could be helpful.
The key is developing awareness of these patterns, understanding where they come from, and taking action to transform them. It will be uncomfortable initially, but learning to express your needs clearly and allow others to meet them can be life-changing. You deserve to have your needs met, and some people want to help you.
• Covert contracts are unconscious agreements that Nice Guys use to meet their needs indirectly. They give to get something in return. This prevents them from clearly communicating their needs and often leads to resentment.
• Caretaking is a common way Nice Guys use covert contracts. They focus on others' problems to feel valuable or avoid their issues. While Nice Guys see it as loving, caretaking has little to do with caring. Caring is giving what the other person needs, while caretaking shows what the giver needs to offer.
• The victim triangle is the cycle of the craziness created by covert contracts and caretaking. The Nice Guy gives, feels frustrated when their needs aren't met, and then lashes out in anger or other negative behaviors. They then start the cycle over again. These outbursts are referred to as "victim pukes."
• To break this cycle, Nice Guys must recognize their covert contracts and caretaking behavior. They must learn to communicate their needs and set healthy boundaries. Giving should be done without expectation of return, and the Nice Guy must learn to care for themselves as much as they care for others.
• While the world contains both abundance and scarcity, a mindset of abundance will serve the Nice Guy better. Believing in abundance allows one to give freely without fear of loss and pursue their needs and desires. A scarcity mindset, on the other hand, sees life as a zero-sum game where to win, someone else must lose. This fuels covert contracts, caretaking, and the victim triangle.
So in summary, the Nice Guy's view of the world as a place of scarcity, where they must use covert means to meet their needs, prevents them from living in true abundance. By breaking free of this mindset and the associated behaviors, Nice Guys can build healthy relationships where everyone's needs are met through honest communication and mutual caring.
• Recovering Nice Guys must learn to become genuinely selfish by prioritizing their needs. This is essential for breaking out of the victim triangle.
• Putting themselves first allows Nice Guys to meet their needs, become less needy and more attractive, give judiciously without resentment, and feel fully alive.
• Making their needs a priority is terrifying for Nice Guys because they fear it will lead to being disliked, unloved, and abandoned. But it leads to healthier relationships.
• To get their needs met, Nice Guys must believe that having needs is normal, they can ask directly for help in meeting them, others want to help them, and the world has enough for their needs.
• Three examples show how Nice Guys benefited from putting themselves first for a week. They felt less anxious, slept better, had more energy, inspired others, felt less smothered, and had better intimacy.
• The hardest part is deciding to put themselves first. Doing it is relatively easy since there is only themselves to consider in making decisions.
• Nice Guys have believed the myth that is giving themselves up and putting others first will get their needs met. The only way to change this is by putting themselves first.
This summary highlights the key messages around becoming truly selfish by prioritizing your needs. The examples provide concrete illustrations of the benefits of putting yourself first and how complex yet transformative that process can be. The summary reinforces that overcoming the belief that self-sacrifice will meet your needs requires courage and commitment to self-care. But the rewards of healthier relationships, less anxiety and neediness, and a fuller life make facing the challenges worthwhile.
To overcome feeling like a powerless victim, Nice Guys must surrender and let go of trying to control life and make it smooth and problem-free. This means accepting that life is chaotic and unpredictable, and releasing the belief that they are responsible for how other people feel and behave.
Surrendering requires letting go of ineffective coping mechanisms from childhood that keep Nice Guys stuck in fear and helplessness. It means facing difficulties and adversities with confidence instead of avoiding them. Surrendering allows Nice Guys to see life challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than threats.
By surrendering, Nice Guys can break free from their need to please others and be in control. They discover their strength and resourcefulness. They realize they will be OK no matter what happens. This allows them to set healthy boundaries, express their truth, and reclaim their power.
In summary, the critical steps to reclaiming personal power are:
Surrendering - Letting go of the need to control life and accepting what you can't change. Releasing old beliefs and coping mechanisms that keep you stuck.
Dwelling in reality - Seeing situations as they are instead of how you wish them to be. Accepting that life includes difficulties.
Expressing feelings - Voicing your authentic emotions instead of repressing or caretaking other people's feelings.
Facing fears - Having courage in the face of adversity instead of avoiding problems. Meeting challenges head on.
Developing integrity - Operating from your core values and truth rather than what you think will please others. You are being honest and direct.
Setting boundaries - Saying "no" when you need to protect yourself. You are not allowing others to take advantage of your niceness.
Discovering inner strength - Realizing you will be OK no matter what happens—developing confidence in your ability to handle life's ups and downs and no longer needing to depend on others for safety or self-worth.
The relationship between Gil and Barb began to improve as Gil stopped trying to fix Barb's problems and stopped reacting to her moods. Gil started to see Barb as helping him work through issues with his angry father. A year later, they decided to get married. The turning point was when Gil accepted that he couldn't control whether the relationship worked out. By letting go, he got what he wanted.
Gil's story shows how dwelling on reality and accepting situations as they are instead of how you want them to be can help reclaim personal power and make difficult but necessary decisions. Expressing feelings openly and honestly also helps in this process. Emotions are not threatening, even if Nice Guys see them that way due to childhood experiences. Support groups and therapy can help Nice Guys learn to express feelings healthily.
Fear is a normal human emotion, but for Nice Guys it is deeply ingrained from childhood. Their fears originate from not having emotional needs met as children and discouragement of risk-taking and change. Facing fears helps Nice Guys overcome unhealthy anxiety and reclaim personal power, even in small steps. The key is starting with less frightening situations and building courage and confidence through success and support.
The author calls fear from childhood experiences 'memory fear'. This fear causes 'Nice Guys' to approach life cautiously and avoid risks.
To avoid suffering and discomfort, Nice Guys tend to stick to familiar situations and procrastinate. An example is Nolan who was unable to decide on divorcing his wife due to memory fear of the unknown consequences. By confronting his fears, Nolan gained courage and contacted a lawyer.
Facing current fears helps to overcome memory fear. Each time a Nice Guy confronts fear, he builds the belief that he can handle the situation. This makes life seem less threatening and builds confidence.
Nice Guys often lie or withhold the truth to avoid conflict but believe they are honest. This robs them of personal power. The author defines lying as anything less than the truth. Developing integrity by deciding what is right and doing it helps Nice Guys reclaim power.
Setting boundaries allows Nice Guys to stop feeling like victims and gain power. Nice Guys usually have weak limitations and let others exploit them. Learning to set proper boundaries helps change this. Boundary setting is about changing your behavior, not others.
The example of Jake shows how tolerating bad behavior can damage relationships. By setting boundaries, Jake saved his relationship with his wife Jenny.
In summary, overcoming memory fear, developing integrity, and setting boundaries are critical to helping Nice Guys become empowered. Confronting concerns, telling the truth, and not tolerating disrespectful behavior from others are essential skills for Nice Guys to develop.
Jake and Jenny went out to a bar where Jenny spent the evening dancing and flirting with other men. Jake told Jenny she was drunk and needed to go home. She refused and Jake called her a “bitch.” The next day, Jenny gave Jake the silent treatment. Jake apologized for calling her a bitch.
Jake talked to his support group about the incident. The group told Jake that he was enabling Jenny’s behavior by tolerating it. They said Jake needed to change for Jenny to change.
Jake confronted Jenny and told her he would no longer tolerate her dancing with other men, demeaning him, or her drinking problem. Jenny initially refused to change but called Jake and agreed to get treatment to save the marriage.
The key points are:
Jake had been tolerating Jenny’s intolerable behavior.
His support group told him he needed to change for Jenny to change.
Jake set boundaries and told Jenny he would no longer tolerate certain behaviors.
Jenny initially refused to change but then agreed to get treatment to save the marriage.
Nice Guys often did not have a close relationship with their father in childhood and instead formed an unhealthy bond with their mother. They had to please an angry, critical or controlling mother or become their mother's caretaker.
Without a supportive father, Nice Guys had to negotiate this difficult situation on their own and became "monogamous" to their mother, failing to become independent in a healthy way.
As adults, the wives and girlfriends of Nice Guys sense that the Nice Guy is not fully available to them because of his bond with his mother. The wife may feel jealous of the mother-in-law.
Nice Guys tend to seek the approval of women due to their upbringing and conditioning. However, most women do not respect or want a man who tries to please them. Women wish to be confident men who please themselves.
To overcome the Nice Guy Syndrome, Nice Guys must reclaim their masculinity by:
Connecting with other men. This involves making time for male friendships, doing "guy things" together, and being vulnerable. Developing these relationships helps Nice Guys become less dependent on women's approval and less resentful in relationships.
Getting strong through exercise. This boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Finding healthy male role models to emulate.
Re-examining their relationship with their father. Forgiving their father and finding a way to connect emotionally can help break the bond with their mother.
Developing male friendships helps undo a Nice Guy's unhealthy bond with his mother. When Nice Guys get their emotional needs met by other men, they become less dependent on their partner and less susceptible to seeking women's approval. They can stand up to angry or manipulative partners without resorting to "peacekeeping" behaviors.
Friendships with men provide intimacy and depth without a sexual agenda. Nice Guys feel less pressure to please or appease other men. This helps break dysfunctional relationship patterns common with women.
In summary, Nice Guys must reconnect with their masculinity by building healthier relationships with other men to overcome their unhealthy dependence on women's approval and break free from the "monogamous" bond with their mothers.
The boyfriend is overly bonded with his mother and puts her needs first. This makes it difficult for him to commit to a romantic relationship fully.
This type of upbringing has conditioned him to be a "Nice Guy" who struggles to set boundaries and prioritize his own needs.
There is hope for change if he can build connections with other male role models and embrace his masculinity. Joining the Marines and connecting with other men there has helped him break free from his mother's emotional control.
Recovering from being a Nice Guy involves:
Taking better care of your physical health through diet, exercise, and limiting drugs/alcohol. This builds confidence and strength.
Identifying healthy male role models to observe and learn from. Look for men with the traits you want to develop.
Re-examining your relationship with your father and seeing him as he is - a flawed human. This can help you accept yourself and embrace your masculinity.
Expressing feelings of anger or disappointment with your father. This can be an essential step even if he is no longer living.
Finding the balance in how you view your father, not seeing him as all good or all bad. See the spectrum of traits and how you may be similar or different.
The key steps are building connections with other men, embracing physical and emotional strength, and re-framing your view of the masculine role models in your life, especially your father. This allows you to accept yourself as you are and define your healthy masculinity.
Nice Guys often get counseling due to problems in their intimate relationships. They tend to blame their partner for the relationship issues and see the solution as either stopping a behavior that upsets them or getting their partner to change.
However, the real issues are:
Nice Guys tend to pick partners who recreate the dynamics from their childhood. They are drawn to partners who are angry, withholding, or controlling like their mothers or who need to be rescued like their fathers.
Nice Guys lack a strong sense of self and personal boundaries. They rely on their partners to determine how they should feel about themselves. They have a hard time openly expressing their needs and desires.
Nice Guys cannot connect with their partners authentically and intimately. They use covert contracts, lack transparency, and dishonesty to manipulate their partners into fulfilling their needs.
Nice Guys see themselves as victims of their partner's moods and behaviors. They blame their unhappiness on their partner instead of taking responsibility for their choices and the lack of intimacy they help create.
Nice Guys have unrealistic expectations of relationships. They believe their partner should make them happy and meet all their needs. They need to understand that they must meet many of their own needs.
The solutions are for Nice Guys to:
Develop a stronger sense of self through assertiveness, self-care, honesty, and boundary setting.
Choose partners for healthy reasons and learn to see partners as they are rather than as recreations of their parents.
Build intimacy through direct, honest communication, emotional vulnerability, and meeting their partner's needs.
Take responsibility for their happiness and needs fulfillment rather than blaming their partner.
Develop more realistic relationship expectations by understanding that they must meet many of their needs. Their partner cannot "make" them happy. Happiness comes from within.
In summary, Nice Guys must work on themselves and their relationship approach rather than trying to change their partners to build healthy, intimate relationships. The key is self-responsibility rather than blame.
Nice Guys often struggle to get the love they want due to the following:
Their toxic shame and fear of vulnerability. Intimacy requires vulnerability which terrifies Nice Guys as it means exposing their perceived flaws and inadequacies.
Dysfunctional relationships they co-create. To balance their fear of vulnerability and abandonment, Nice Guys pick equally wounded partners. These relationships protect them but frustrate all parties.
Patterns of enmeshment and avoidance. Enmeshing Nice Guys makes their partner their emotional center and makes them give up themselves. Avoiding Nice Guys seem unavailable to their partner while being nice to others. Both prevent real intimacy.
Recreating familiar childhood dynamics. Nice Guys are attracted to the normal dysfunctional dynamics from childhood like caretaking needy partners or being with an angry, controlling partner. They may even force their partner into these dynamics.
Remaining monogamous to their mother. Nice Guys find ways to maintain a bond with their mother like over-involvement in work or hobbies, emotional enmeshment with mother, idealizing mother, frequent contact with mother, etc. This prevents bonding with a partner.
Being "bad enders." Nice Guys end relationships abruptly without closure or hang on to unhealthy relationships long after they should have finished them. Both make intimacy difficult.
In summary, Nice Guys struggle in their intimate relationships due to deep-seated personal issues, the unhealthy dynamics they create and perpetuate, and their inability to break away from dysfunctional relationships with their mothers. Real intimacy will continue to elude them until these underlying patterns are addressed.
Creating relationships with people who need fixing
Addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, etc.)
Sexual dysfunction (lack of desire, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, etc.)
Forming relationships with unavailable partners (angry, sick, depressive, compulsive, addicted, unfaithful, etc.)
Avoiding intimacy (avoiding sex, taking vows of celibacy)
Difficulty ending bad relationships (trying to fix non-workable situations, ending relationships indirectly)
• Nice Guys and their partners often see their relationship dysfunction as the other person's fault. But healthy people are not attracted to unhealthy people, and vice versa. In truth, both partners contribute to the dysfunction.
• The author and his wife created a dynamic where she was portrayed as the "broken" one and he was the "healthy" one. This allowed them to play familiar roles but prevented real intimacy. They had to acknowledge they were both "messed up" to change this.
• Nice Guys should examine why they chose their partner and what needs the relationship meets. This helps them see their role in the dysfunction and make changes. For example, Karl saw his critical wife as helping him work through issues with his critical mother. This shift improved their relationship.
• Reinforcing undesirable behaviors in your partner makes them continue. Like training a dog, giving attention to behaviors you want to eliminate increases them. For example, Joe reinforced his wife's silent rages by constantly trying to fix them. When he stopped, the behavior decreased.
• When starting new relationships, Nice Guys should choose partners who don't need fixing. They often pick troubled partners they can rescue, hoping the person will become ideal. This rarely works. It's better to choose someone already responsible for themselves. Look for partners with qualities like passion, integrity, happiness, intelligence, sexual assertiveness, financial responsibility, and pursuing personal growth.
• While evaluating a current partner this way may be unsettling, the Nice Guy does not necessarily need to end the relationship. But he should be aware of the dynamics that attracted him to this person so he can make better choices in the future.
Nice Guys often struggle with getting enough sex or having satisfying sex. This is mainly due to their shame and fear around sexuality. They have many unconscious negative associations with sex from childhood experiences, family dynamics, social/religious messages, and past failures.
To avoid dealing with these complicated feelings, Nice Guys employ avoidance and distraction mechanisms that prevent them from having good sex lives. The mechanisms include:
Avoiding sexual situations and opportunities. They find ways to avoid putting their penis in their vaginas (a term called “vagi phobia”). For example, a Nice Guy named Alan would flirt with women but prevent intercourse.
Trying to be a “good lover.” Nice Guys may focus on pleasing their partner to avoid shame and inadequacy. For example, Terrance tried to give women the best orgasms to feel valuable.
Hiding compulsive sexual behaviors. Nice Guys may engage in secretive and compulsive masturbation, pornography use, affairs, etc., to avoid intimacy.
Repressing their life energy. Some Nice Guys claim low sex drive due to repressing their vitality and desires.
Settling for lousy sex. Nice Guys may have unfulfilling sex lives but settle for it, believing any sex is better than none.
To have better sex lives, Nice Guys must face their shame and fears around sex, set boundaries, ask for what they want, and practice self-care. Recovering Nice Guys can go on to have intimate and fulfilling sex lives by implementing the lessons in the book.
Terrance suffers from premature ejaculation, damaging his relationship with his fiancée. He tries very hard to please his partner sexually by stimulating her orally and vaginally to multiple orgasms before ejaculating himself. However, he frequently ejaculates before she reaches her final orgasm which is frustrating for both of them.
Many "Nice Guys" like Terrance use sex to distract themselves from negative feelings or feel loved and connected to their partner. However, their compulsive sexual behaviors and need for approval prevent them from experiencing genuinely intimate, fulfilling sex. The more a man relies on external support, the more he feels he has to hide his sexuality.
When boys become teenagers, many adopt a "nice guy" strategy to attract women and gain their sexual favor due to a lack of other systems and low self-esteem. They continue this strategy into adulthood even though it does not work. Being overly "nice" and seeking approval cuts men off from their life energy and passion, making them less attractive and unable to arouse their partner.
Settling for nasty sex also prevents men from experiencing good, fulfilling sex. They may nag their partner for sex, focus entirely on their partner's pleasure while ignoring their own, and feel resentful or empty after sex. They have trouble climaxing without fantasizing by not connecting with their arousal and needs. They end up stuck in a cycle of nasty sex and frustration.
The solution is for men to stop compulsive sexual behaviors, reconnect with their life energy and passion, focus on their pleasure and partner during sex, and work to build true intimacy with their partner. This will allow them to start having the fulfilling sex they crave finally.
Here's a summary:
The process of helping recovering Nice Guys experience satisfying sex includes the following:
Coming out of the closet: Release shame and fear around their sexuality by opening up to supportive others. Revealing secrets, talking openly about desires and experiences. This allows them to accept themselves as sexual beings.
Taking matters into their own hands: Practice healthy masturbation by focusing on pleasure without distraction or fantasy. Learn to be responsible for their arousal and satisfaction. This builds comfort with sexuality and the ability to receive pleasure from partners.
Saying «no» to nasty sex: Stop tolerating unsatisfying or emotionally unconnected sex. Learn to communicate desires and set boundaries. Wait for sex that feels good physically and emotionally.
Following the example of the bull moose: Cultivate confidence and take a bold approach to pursue potential partners. Make their sexual interest known respectfully. Be willing to face rejection and try again. Develop an abundance mentality - there are many possible partners.
The key is overcoming shame and fear, taking responsibility for their needs, communicating authentically, and developing confidence through action. This allows Nice Guys to have more frequent and higher-quality sex.
Fantasizing during sex is seen as counterproductive by the author. It distracts from the experience and is used to cover up lousy sex or deal with shame and fear.
Healthy masturbation can help to recover nice guys and improve their sex lives. It helps remove shame and fear around sex, puts them in control of their needs, removes dependence on unavailable partners, teaches them to please themselves, permits them to have good sex, and puts them in charge of their pleasure.
An example is given of Terrance, a nice guy who started focusing on his own needs and practicing healthy masturbation. This improved his connection with his fiancée, and they were able to have a better sex life.
Nice guys tend to settle for nasty sex. They must be willing to give up lousy sex to have good sex. Good sex is defined as two people taking responsibility for their needs, being present and connected, focusing on their own and their partner's pleasure, and having no goal or agenda.
An example is given of Aaron, a nice guy who went on a 6-month sexual moratorium to improve his relationship. During this time, he reclaimed his power, did his things, shared his feelings, and became more honest. After the moratorium, he felt less resentful, more connected to his wife, and could have better sex.
A sexual moratorium is recommended to break dysfunctional cycles, release resentment, gain independence from sex, see how one settles for nasty sex, and learn the meaning of sexual impulses.
• Nice Guys often don't live up to their full potential or create the life they want due to fear, trying to do it right, trying to do everything themselves, self-sabotage, a distorted self-image, and deprivation thinking.
• Fear is a core factor holding Nice Guys back. They fear mistakes, failure, success, criticism, increased expectations, losing control, etc. So they settle for mediocrity.
• Trying to do it right and be perfect robs Nice Guys of creativity and productivity. Seeking approval keeps them stuck. Hiding flaws prevents risk-taking. Following rules makes them rigid and cautious.
• Nice Guys believe they have to do everything themselves. They are bad at receiving or delegating. This ensures they never reach their full potential.
• Nice Guys sabotage their success by wasting time, making excuses, not finishing work, caretaking others, having too many projects, procrastinating, lacking boundaries, etc. Success invites scrutiny of their flaws.
• Nice Guys see themselves as unimportant or not good enough due to unmet childhood needs. Those who cared for needy parents feel incredibly inadequate, unable to please or fix them.
• This distorted self-image and belief in their inadequacy keep Nice Guys from pursuing a fulfilling life, work, and career. They feel unworthy or incapable.
• In summary, fear and a poor self-image caused by childhood dynamics keep Nice Guys in mediocrity. Recognizing these patterns and building self-worth can help them achieve their goals and purpose.
The Nice Guy experienced depression and criticism from his father as a child, which led to feelings of inadequacy and defectiveness. As an adult, this caused some Nice Guys to try too hard to please others in hopes their flaws wouldn't be discovered. Others just gave up. This limiting self-perception prevented the Nice Guy from reaching his potential or trying new things. He had an "emotional and cognitive glass ceiling."
The Nice Guy also developed a mindset of scarcity and deprivation, believing there wasn't enough of what he needed. This made him manipulative, controlling, and prone to settle for less. He recreated dysfunctional relationships and jobs from childhood and saw himself as a victim.
To overcome this, the Nice Guy must face his fears, confront uncomfortable situations, set boundaries, develop honesty and self-belief, recognize dysfunction, and take responsibility for improving his life. An example was Charlie, who faced fears, quit blaming others, changed jobs, confronted family messages, got his pilot's license, allowed the celebration of himself, and found a better job. The keys were stopping being a victim, setting boundaries, developing self-belief and honesty, recognizing dysfunction, and believing in his ability.
The Nice Guy must chart his path to the life he wants rather than accepting what he is given. He must take conscious responsibility for his life's direction. This is difficult for most people and Nice Guys to grasp, as they feel powerless, but taking action and confronting fears is critical.
Phil believed he had to do everything himself and had difficulty asking for help from others. This prevented him from achieving many of his goals and dreams in life. Some of Phil's faulty core beliefs were:
He didn't believe he deserved to get what he wanted.
He didn't believe his needs were important to other people.
He believed the surest way to avoid getting his needs met was to ask clearly and directly.
Phil's lack of sex with his wife was a symptom of these underlying beliefs. When Phil asked his wife directly for sex, she was happy to oblige and said she enjoyed sex with him but didn't think he was interested because he hadn't asked in a long time.
Asking his men's group for help replacing his windows was difficult for Phil but ultimately very rewarding. The men gladly helped him complete the project.
These experiences helped Phil see that:
His needs were critical.
People wanted to help him meet his needs.
The best way to get help was by asking directly.
With this new paradigm, Phil gained the confidence to share his plan to start a new business, and a friend offered to help him get started.
The key lessons are:
Letting go of the belief that you have to do everything yourself.
Recognizing that your needs are essential and that people do want to help you.
Learning to ask for help in clear and direct ways.
Gaining the confidence to pursue your goals and dreams by building on your experiences to meet your needs.
An old friend offered to financially back him so he could start his own landscaping business. His wife volunteered to find a job that provides health insurance. Some men offered to help him write a business plan and set up bookkeeping.
At first, Phil struggled because he tried to do everything himself. His life improved once he started asking for help and letting people support him. He is now working towards the life and career he always wanted.
The author has worked with many "Nice Guys" over six years and gained much experience helping them improve their lives.
He has seen many relationships improve and unhealthy ones end. He has received much positive feedback from the men and their partners.
The insights and tools in the book have been proven to work in helping Nice Guys recover and build better lives.
The author encourages readers to re-read the book, do the exercises, find support, and share insights with partners. Working through the program can lead to self-acceptance, freedom, and healthier relationships.
The author, Dr. Robert Glover, is an expert on the Nice Guy Syndrome. Through his book, classes, coaching, and groups, he has helped many Nice Guys become empowered and build the lives they want.
Did you find this article valuable?
Support Literary Insights by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!