Understanding Nice Guy behaviors that make them finish last

"For Nice Guys, the ultimate form of acceptance from a woman would be sex."

In Chapter 3 of Robert Glover’s No More Mr Nice Guy, Robert Glover breaks down the many reasons and methods that the Nice Guy employs in order to please everyone. As a guy recovering from Nice Guy Syndrome, I can very much identify with all the problems that Robert is addressing.

As explained in my previous post which detailed Chapter 2 of No More Mr Nice Guy, the Nice Guy is defined as someone who believes he is not OK just as he is. He grew up believing with this core belief that he was bad, and he developed a toxic self-shame that he almost never wants to confront.  Because of this, the Nice Guy is forced to seek approval from almost everybody that he comes across. How does he do this?

Attachments

Robert Glover defines attachments as value-seeking mechanisms. These attachments are certain behaviors or actions that the Nice Guy does because he thinks that it makes them worthy and valuable, especially in the eyes of others.

For me my own attachments were:

 

  1. Always being dressed immaculately

  2. Being extra polite to people

  3. Never getting angry at anything at all.

 

When all these behaviors and actions are all combined together they become the ultimate attachment. And that is being the Nice Guy.

By being the Nice Guy, Nice Guys genuinely believe their commitment to “good” and doing things “right” is what makes them valuable AND compensates for their internalized core belief that they are bad.

In my own life, I genuinely believed MY commitment to doing “good” was enough to excuse all the seemingly unforgivable flaws(academic failure, social awkwardness, lack of sexual experience) that I had. Which is why I stuck to the attachments i developed for so long.

What i couldn’t understand as a Nice guy was that people would actually like me WITHOUT any of my attachments at all. My reliance on attachments is built around the belief that these attachments will continuously get the approval from other people. And with this approval I would get the love I wanted, all my needs met and have a problem-free life.

how-to-stop-being-a-people-pleaser-1.jpg

 

How do Nice Guys use Attachments?

I’ll use myself as an example of how i use my own attachments. One big attachment I would commit myself to previously would be how well I dressed and groomed myself. I would put in a lot of effort and money in buying the nicest and most stylish clothes, and the best grooming products. It was an absolute must that I look my best every time I went out. The external validation I was hoping to get was from the people noticing the stylish outfit I always had on. I believed that people recognizing me as a stylish and well-groomed person would increase my value and worthiness in their eyes.

Naturally this value-seeking mindset carries over to how Nice Guys interact with women. Nice guys seek the approval of women as a woman’s approval would be the ultimate validation of their own worth.

For Nice Guys, the ultimate form of acceptance from a woman would be sex. Because of this, they are constantly seeking a woman’s availability. Here is how it all works inside a Nice Guy’s mind.

 

Belief 1

Sex from woman → ultimate form of acceptance.

 

Belief 2

Woman in good mood → woman wanting sex.

 

Belief 3

Woman with bad feelings → woman will not want sex

 

Conclusion 1

Always make sure women are in a good mood → women possibly wanting sex with you. →  road to ACCEPTANCE.

 

The possibility of a woman’s wanting sex with you is described by Robert as the Nice Guy’s subjective measure of a woman’s sexual availability.

Nice Guys want sex from certain women, so they wouldn’t dare risk doing anything to ruin the mood of women they desire. However, the same goes for women they don’t desire. Robert believes that society has conditioned Nice Guys to never upset a woman, and that explains why Nice Guys can be ultra-responsive to the moods and feelings of any woman.

As a recovering nice guy, I can say that this is a huge problem I’m trying to correct.

Example 1: Woman that I Desire.

It was about almost a year ago I went on a first date with a woman I had approached on the street. We were both strangers to each other. I was extremely nervous as I had never been on a blind date with someone I only had a minute of conversation with. On top of that, I was extremely nervous that the woman had none or little interest in me at all.

The date started off with drinks ordered almost immediately, and standard opening conversation about our backgrounds. It was only after a couple of minutes did I start feeling very uncomfortable. I had no idea what to say next. I was constantly checking for signs whether she liked me, or if she was responding well to what I was saying. I was blanking out and just staring at her. And this seemed to make her uncomfortable. In response, I began feeling uncomfortable as well. Her lack of interest began making me feel more and more nervous, and on top of that it made me doubt what I could offer during the date.

The date ended horribly fast, and finished under an hour. :(

This perpetual state of anxiousness I began to feel was because that I constantly felt I had to respond to the emotions of the woman I was on a date with. And this affected me in a way in which I couldn’t relax and just have fun.

My example is of a nice guy seeking a woman’s approval. And the classic Nice guy behavior of putting her thoughts and emotions on a pedestal.

As a result, Nice Guys will always find themselves doing their best to align their behavior or thoughts to a woman’s thoughts and behavior. If a woman says that this guy is a “jerk”, because he did something that was “bad”, a Nice Guy will believe she is right based on the fact that she’s a woman even though he might initially disagree with her.

Nice guys will also develop a certain rage or resentment towards women. This happens when the women they put on pedestals (goddesses with unrealistic traits) fail to live up to the Nice Guy’s expectations. The more failed expectations that a Nice Guy experiences, the more intense his resentment would be.

how-to-stop-being-a-people-pleaser-2.jpg

Cover-up Artists

Nice Guys are cover-up artists. This is a result of a Nice Guy doing everything in order to win approval or avoid disapproval.

Recently I had my father constantly hounding my ass to convert my U.S. license to a local license. Because of the complicated set of documents required to convert the local license, I was highly discouraged to continue with the process.

It wasn’t long before I was annoyed of my father’s constant reminder of finishing the license conversion. On top of that I was extremely nervous of him seeing my reluctance and procrastination.  Because of this, I made up a story about someone else owing me the right documents to complete the process, and shifted slowness of the process onto someone else.

As a Nice Guy, I did not believe I was ok as I was. In fact, I believed if my father saw my laziness (self-perceived flaw) in converting the license, that I would experience some sort of hurt, shame or abandonment from his judgement.

This lack of diligence or laziness was a self-perceived flaw or shortcoming that I was desperate to hide. And it's the same for every Nice Guy out there.  

Some other common nice guy flaws or shortcomings are:

  • Arriving late

  • Being forgetful

  • Messing something up

  • Being over emotional/depressed

  • Doing something wrong

 

How We Hide The Evidence

Lying

Nice guys will do anything to hide their flaws. They will lie, manipulate the truth, tell partial truths, or even omit information.

When sharing with my friends about a certain project that i’m working on, I would usually tell them only the good things about on my progress with the project. I would purposely leave out details about struggles or procrastination just to avoid looking incompetent and lazy.

 

Drawing on their account

Nice guys build up an account of good acts or qualities that they believe will wipe clean any wrongdoings or mistakes that they make. Whenever they can, Nice Guys will draw on the account of goodness so no one will notice the few self-perceived flaws that they have.

When I was around my friends, I would do my best to always make sure they were having a good time when they were with me. I believed that as long as I kept doing things that made them feel good, I would continue being their good friend. I built up this account of good acts just so others could see I was a good friend and never see the worst side of me.

 

Fixing

As fixers, Nice Guys don’t necessarily focus on fixing problems, but on people’s emotions. Once again, this is a step towards gaining people’s approval. A Nice Guy may have made a mistake and made someone upset, however instead of focusing on how to fix the mistake and avoid doing it again, a Nice guy will focus on making the person less upset.

 

Turning the Tables

Sometimes when a Nice guy makes a mistake, someone will confront him about it. This confrontation will trigger a shame within the Nice Guy that he won’t be able to handle. By directing the attention away from his own mistake or flaw, the Nice Guy would go trigger the confronter’s shame. Robert calls this shame-dumping.

A Nice Guy shame-dumps by:

  • Blaming the other person for the mistake

  • Bringing up past mistakes the other person made

  • Deflection

  • Pointing out the other person’s flaws.

I would always hate when my mother would bring up the fact of how rude of a son I was, and how our relationship was damaged because of how “I’ve changed as a person”. This made me very angry as it implied that I wasn’t a good son at all. The shame belonged to the fact that I didn’t believe I was a good son.

In return I would bring up my mother’s relationship with her parents. Which wasn’t the best as well. In fact it might have been worse than my mother’s relationship with me. And because of this it worked well in shifting the attention and blame towards my mother.

 

Walls

Nice Guys build up walls so people can’t discover their flaws. As a result this doesn’t allow for people to get close to them, or understand their true nature. These walls could include:

  • Humor

  • Sarcasm

  • Intellectualism

  • Perfectionism

  • Isolation

As an introvert coping with loneliness and the desire for connection and love, I had built up many walls around my life. My natural introverted self would prefer isolation (which I still think is justified). However, I was also making things difficult for myself in social situations. The humor and sarcasm i would inject into my interactions seemed to make the people around me engaged and happy. And I stuck with that behavior because it seemed to make others approve of me.

 

Teflon Men

This is a term in the book referring to the “smoothness” that Nice Guys invest into their behaviors and interactions.

There is a still something deep inside me where I would believe that I would have to behave very smoothly in an interaction in order for people to like me. If i choked on a word, or didn’t know what to say, or not known what to do in the interaction, I would have been terrified.

So what I did was invest in learning what to say, what to do in any possible interaction at all. I would do this so I would avoid the embarrassment of not knowing what to do.

This perfectionist smooth behavior is a reflection of a Nice Guy’s lack of understanding that people aren’t attracted to perfectionism. But to shared interests, shared problems and an individual’s life energy.

how-to-stop-being-a-people-pleaser-3.jpg

 

Moving towards Self-approval

Unlearning behaviors backed by core beliefs can be the hardest thing to do. The Nice Guy believes that is not OK for him to be just as he is. How can this core belief be broken?

 

Spending Time Alone

Spending time alone may seem daunting for anybody. Why? Because of the fear of loneliness. But spending time alone can actually produce great benefits.

Nice guys who spend more time alone form the habit of giving priority to their needs.

This could be done through:

  • Sleeping whenever he wants.

  • Eating whenever they want.

  • Going wherever he wants.

Through this process of independent small actions that strictly prioritizes his own needs, the Nice Guy will be less likely to cater to other people’s needs, or feel like they need to seek other’s approval.

Taking trips or retreats to places where no one knows you also helps a lot. This is putting the Nice Guy in an environment where there are fewer reasons for the Nice Guy to win someone’s approval, and less reason to hide his faults or mistakes from people.

Lastly, being alone for extended periods of time will train the Nice Guy to deal with loneliness itself. Through surviving loneliness, Nice Guys learn that they don’t have to stay in toxic relationships or tolerate intolerable behavior in order to get his needs met.
 

Finding Safe People

In order to feel OK just as he is, a Nice Guy needs to practice being who he is around people he feels safe with. This revealing of the Nice Guy’s toxic shame and his true nature will allow him to develop a new understanding of how the world perceives his true self.

Finding these safe people or person is no easy task. In fact, it is very difficult. In order to reveal his deepest darkest secrets and feelings to a person, a Nice guy must trust that person. And this takes time.

The first safe person I was able to find was my therapist. And it was easy for me to open up to her because I really needed someone to talk to.

However, it was not the same with the close friends that I had in my life. I had no idea how they would react to what I was going through. It felt like my friendships with them were built on a lie. A lie that came from Nice Guy attachments that I thought made me as a good friend to them.

But this wasn’t the case at all. All of my friends I opened up to were so relieved and happy for me that I could open up to them about my problems. They were happy that I was seeking help for my problems. And because of this I felt more connected to them. Over time, it felt easier and easier to share my problems and feelings with them. The toxic shame, pain and self-doubt that I thought would drive my friends away, was accepted just as normal human behavior.

And this was a huge relief. It was relief knowing that my friends wouldn’t turn their back on me even though I had problems that I was ashamed of having.

how-to-stop-being-a-people-pleaser.jpg

 

Affirmations

Positive affirmation will help the Nice guy change the negative core beliefs about himself. It is important to note that affirmations will only be effective when used along with the above processes. They serve to replace the old and inaccurate messages about the Nice Guy’s worth with new and realistic ones.

Old Messages

  • I’m perpetually lazy and my friends will look down on me for it.

I’m always scared of other people judging me for being lazy and seeing me as unworthy.

Positive Affirmation

  • I am good enough for my friends just as I am, even if I may be lazy sometimes.

So i apply this positive affirmation to myself constantly whenever i’m feeling down or negative.

And as a result...

New Message

  • I may be lazy but my friends won’t look down on me because i’m lazy.

This new message reveals to me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am around my friends.

 

 

The first steps of change require that the Nice Guy understand the behaviors as to how he operates. Make a list of attachments and methods of hiding your flaws. Then you will see what you need to work on.

Start planning on activities you can do alone, and find those safe people. It is a journey that will take time. There is no shame in unlearning a lifetime of negative core beliefs. It is a task that requires endurance. But it will be worth it.