I’ve worked with hundreds of men over the last 15 years. Over that time I’ve seen a lot of the same traits in men looking for change and happiness. I’ve looked at Nice Guy syndrome and researched, personality traits, decision making processes, social dynamics and human interaction. So there’s a lot of different places to pull information from. I’ll do my best to reference where I can but I can’t remember exactly where all the detail came from. On top of that, a lot of this is completely observational and my own theory.
My Definition Of A Nice Guy
I have a few of these, some are based on observation, some are based on what I’ve read and some are context dependent.
- A guy that wants to be popular but doesn’t have the confidence in himself to just be himself
- A guy that will always do things for others and put himself last but end up resenting not getting any credit
- A guy that doesn’t know who he is yet as a character or person
- A man that tries to please everybody in order for acceptance
- A man who will suppress his sexual desires and preferences through fear of putting off a potential partner
- A man who will avoid conflict and awkward conversations
- A guy that will tell people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear
- A guy that will attract emotionally damaged women into his life to try and fix
- A man that wants to help, genuinely help but is getting frustrated about getting shit on all the time and no thanks being offered
- An intelligent and intellectual man who knows what he wants but doesn’t know how to live in the present or enjoy himself
- A man that doesn’t make friends too easily but values the ones he has
- A guy that feels that he can do better but never quite fulfils his potential
If any of these sound familiar chances are you’re a nice guy too. The reason I have so many of these definitions is that I’ve lived virtually all of them to one degree or another. In my opinion and through a lot of the books I’ve read. I have come to my own theory as to why the nice guy comes into existence.
The Trigger To Become A Nice Guy
It starts back as a kid. My theory is that nice guy syndrome will affect the first born child. Reason being, I’ve been to support groups for recovering guys (these are not about learning to be a dickhead either) and a few of them were 1st born children. Also as new parents I believe they want their first born child to be a shining example of their parenthood and achievement as 1st time parents.
I know that for me personally I was always told to be polite, to be a good boy and not to make a scene. The rules for me were a lot stricter compared to what my younger brother had. As I mentioned in my blog post about spiritualism the child will always seek the approval and acceptance of their parents. For young boys in particular it’s the approval and acceptance of their dad. My dad was a phenomenal sportsman, athlete, he’s super smart with words and numbers and he’s a good looking chap to boot. My dad is also a man’s man. He’s not really a lad, but he is a man. He doesn’t really show emotion, he is very Switzerland when it comes to giving opinions.
The reason I mention all this is because I wanted to be like him in every single way I could. I wanted to be a good footballer but I wasn’t, I wanted to be amazing at maths but I wasn’t, I wanted to be good a building and fixing stuff. Which I was but, not as good as him, even to this day. To put it bluntly, I had my dad on a pedestal and there is nothing wrong with that till a fly away comment crushes you.
There was one incident that I only came to me as a flash back recently. Let me rewind to roughly 1989… I loved performing when I was little, I loved singing and dancing around the house, being in school plays and having the attention. When I was 8 I would have full blown grown up level conversations with fully grown adults. On my school reports it would say Dean is 8 going 80, he’s got a wise head on his shoulder beyond his years. The reason I mention the performing and loving being on stage etc. Is because it got shut down with one fleeting sentence from my dad. He didn’t mean it to be malicious, but as a child that really looked up to his dad and always sought approval. This comment crushed a whole side of my personality.
Allow me to set the scene. Little 5 year old me goes into the kitchen at home because I heard an Elvis song on the radio. I’d been playing my little guitar and was pretending to be Elvis Presley in my bedroom. I start singing a song in the kitchen that I’d been practicing in my room. My mum, Nan and dad were doing something, talking or cooking whatever in the kitchen. The song I had been practicing was different to the song on the stereo. My dad comments of “Why’s he singing that one? That’s the wrong one.” Just like that I didn’t want to sing or play guitar any more. This was the beginning of my nice guy journey seeking approval of my actions by others.
The Nice Guy Evolution
Young boys are very much influenced by and want to win the approval and affection of their dads. To a young boy or girl, parental acceptance and love is the most important thing in the world. It’s a hard wired behaviour pattern that goes back to us as cavepeople. If we didn’t have the affection or acceptance of the parents or elders, we didn’t eat. So it’s partly survival based why we do this, however, this gets programmed into our subconscious brain. That subconscious stays with for the rest of our lives. It’s a seriously powerful unit too.
Before world war two a lot of young boys would be out working in the fields with their dads, uncles, and older men. A young man was raised by men, fast forward to the 1960’s and now most men are working in an office. Now young boys are spending the majority of their time with their mothers, auntie’s, grandma’s or female friends of their mother. In early years school they’re taught by women. A young boy now has a lot of female influence in his early development years. There is a huge scope of potential for the young boy to hear women moaning about their man. How the man does or doesn’t do things, forgets things, doesn’t buy gifts for her and doesn’t make the grand romantic gestures.
The young boy now thinks the way to win over a women is to remember all the small details. To shower women with gifts, to be attentive to her every whim. To not be like the man that he’s hearing women moaning about. Enter the nice guy! Now the young lad is on a mission to not piss off women, to not be like one of the lads because he wants to be with women. Then let the frustration enter, the nice guy wants to be one of the lads, he wants to be with the popular crowd. But now he’s getting rejected by the other boys because he’s been spending too much time with the girls.
Let The Resentment Begin
Continuing to seek the approval of others and looking after others is a common driver to nice guys. They’ll often put the needs and wants of others before their own. The reason they do this is for the approval and acceptance of other people. People they consider to be popular or people the nice guy looks up to. Quite often this behaviour pattern becomes expected by others in the peer group. Then the nice guy not wanting to rock the boat or have an argument through fear of rejection. Keeps up with the façade that he’s happy to keep doing it. This will transfer over into relationships as well.
A nice guy generally tends to love women and loves sex. However he’s under the impression that women love the grand romantic gestures all the time. That women love the slow romantic sex and are delicate sensitive creatures that need to be rescued or looked after. The reality is a lot different, I’ll do a separate blog on sexual desires for both men and women.
Through fear of rocking the boat and potentially putting off his partner. The nice guy doesn’t really express his true sexual desires. As a result he gets into a routine, gets bored and reaches for the porn. Once he gets bored with the porn he starts seeking thrills elsewhere. Blaming his partner for not being sexually adventurous enough. There is a term that I found in Dr Robert Glovers book ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ that I love. It’s vagiphobia, this is when the nice guy will flirt and exchange massive amounts of sexual energy with anyone that shows him interest. But he won’t go as far as physically doing anything because that would be wrong.
The resent for the nice builds and builds because he hasn’t been taught how to have honest and open conversations. I know 1st hand this is the case for a lot of men, not being able to have a disagreement and conflict is a big problem.
Why The Nice Guy Finishes Last
The nice guy has always wondered why the arsehole gets the girl. I’ll tell you why. Women are hard wired by evolution to find the strongest genetic suiter. She will be attracted to men who are setting themselves apart from the crowd. Whether that guy dresses differently, acts like he just wants to fuck and leave, or looks like he can handle himself in a fight. She will be attracted to that. Women are attracted to men who are go getters and will be a prover. Again another hard wired thing that women look for by evolution.
Nice guys in my opinion are finishing last because of some of the following reasons.
- Absent male role models in early life
- Not taught how to have disagreements and stand their ground
- Got the message early from parents to be nice and good so that others will like them
- Told that women are sensitive beings and need to be treated delicately
- Heard a lot about what women don’t want or what women don’t like in a man
- A thought process that says “if I do all these favours for people, they’ll like me”
- Buy into the idea of Disney and Hollywood for how women want to be treated
- Think that by trying to please everyone that they’ll have load of friends
- A lack of confidence in themselves as a cool guy that people want to spend time with
- Been told that emotions are a sign of weakness, or its not manly to cry and express emotions
This list isn’t the full thing because that involves a lot more words and probably a whole book to itself. But based on my own personal experience as a recovering nice guy. Combined with the experience I’ve had coaching hundreds of men. Nice guys are getting left behind because they’re afraid of conflict, afraid of rocking the boat and upsetting people. They’ve had the message from childhood that being nice and polite and good is the way to win people over. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with doing nice things and putting other people first. But after you’ve taken care of your own needs or wants.
Summing It Up
This is a massively complex subject that people work with therapists for years to resolve. Like I said a lot of this post is my observations and research summarised. If you’re looking for more in depth help with any of the issues that I’ve highlighted in this post please Email me and I’ll help you out as far as my scope of practice allows. Beyond me, you’ll need to work with a mental health professional to resolve a lot of these issues.
Books that I’d recommend you read to further your knowledge on this subject include.
- No more Mr nice guy by Dr Robert glover
- The subtle are of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson
- How to be a modern man by Danny Wallace
- 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey
I hope this post has helped highlight a few things.