I have to get something off my chest.
I am a “nice guy”.
Let me rephrase that. No, not just a nice guy, I am a person with the “nice guy syndrome”. Let me explain.
World renown psychotherapist, Dr. Robert Glover, labeled the “nice guy syndrome” as a set of beliefs and paradigms of the world that he kept seeing in his male patients. The same beliefs made these men try hard to please others while neglecting their own needs. This caused them to be unhappy and resentful.
Men with the “nice guy syndrome” appear to be nice to the world but tend to harbor a ton of frustration and anger inside. Since they are always catering to other people, they hardly ever get their own needs met. This leads them to be extremely passive aggressive and resentful. They often release their irritations and lash out at their loved ones.
Quick question. Have you ever dated or hung around a people pleaser? A person who is constantly saying yes and trying to make you happy? A person who is passive aggressive to get what they want because they feel they are supposed to be nice and to always help others get their needs met?
To be clear, I am not implying that those who are people pleasers are passive aggressive; however for the purposes of this article, let’s focus on that trait that can manifest itself at times.
In theory, helping other people get their needs met sounds great. However, when you take it to the extreme and always prioritize other people, you will never get your own needs met.
The Origin of A Nice Guy
I hate to say it but…I have the nice guy syndrome. Now, I know what you are thinking. Since I know I have the “nice guy syndrome”, why don’t I just stop having it?
It is a lot more complicated than that. It feels so ingrained in my identity now that it feels like I am challenging who I am as a person….
The syndrome sprung from a domestic violence incident when I was a child. My father went to jail one night and it left me with a lot of childhood trauma. This trauma naturally caused me to inhibit a lot of abandonment issues.
An ineffective roadmap was lodged into my head on how I should live my life to prevent myself from ever being abandoned. In other words, I became a people pleaser. I thought if I was nice to everybody, they would never leave my life.
That is operating under a covert contract.
A covert contract is an unwritten, tacit agreement that one believes they have with their spouse, friend or a coworker; the only issue is that the other person has no idea that a contract is even in place.
“If I am nice to you, you will like me back and get my needs met”
This was a belief I operated under. I did not understand that a person had no obligation to like me just because I am nice to them. I was always too afraid to ask for anything that I wanted. I have a hard time accepting that I am a human being that is allowed to have his needs met as well.
A side effect of being so invested in serving other people will result in guys like me being co-dependent in the relationship. I can tell you from experience, that is not healthy for a relationship.
After all these years of knowing I have the nice guy syndrome, I have improved leaps and bounds. I still struggle with being okay with getting what I want in life, prioritizing my needs, expressing my emotions, and embracing my masculinity.
It feels uncomfortable to ask myself what I want, but I am taking baby steps to make it a habit to get my needs met.
Here is my advice to any men who my story affects them in some deeply personal and emotional way… Get help. If my story is relatable to you, get help. I sought out therapy in college to help me better express my emotions and work through my ”nice guy” habits. I am still chipping away at it, day by day, but I can tell you I have improved so much with some professional help.
Other men can also learn more about overcoming the “nice guy syndrome” by checking out Dr. Robert Glover’s book, No More Mr. Nice Guy. Here he lays out a roadmap to overcoming the nice guy syndrome.
I have been struggling with this my whole life. This year, I promise I am going to make myself a priority.
Written by – Brandon Leuangpaseuth
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