What Is The Nice Guy Syndrome And Why It Makes Your Life Unbearable

Updated: May 20, 2020

"Nice Guys may appear to finish last, but they are running a different race." -Ken Blanchard



“She has no idea who she just rejected,” he said after getting friend-zoned.


“How could she do that, after all I have done for her? All the romantic gestures, dinners, and me being nice. Screw that. I guess she just needs some arrogant idiot who will screw her and then throw her away. Then she will realize what she could have with me. Well, it will be too late for her!”


This was my high school classmate's rant after getting friend-zoned by yet another girl.


He was one of those men who were nice to the point of physical exhaustion.

He did whatever it took to become what he had thought others wanted him to be so he could get love, success and live a problem-free life.


He was constantly on guard and lived in chronic fear of rejection.


And he hid his true desires, frustrations, anger while secretly believing he was better than others - no one just had a chance to find out yet.


I did not understand it back then, but now I see it was a perfect example of what Dr.Robert Glover calls Nice Guy Syndrome.



Good Men are good to everyone. Nice Guys are nice to their targets.

To recognize a Nice Guy, you need to know what to look for. Here are the most common traits of Nice Guys:

  • Nice Guys feel, they are givers and they are proud of it. They see themselves as those who give freely to the world, but secretly they expect the world to give back to them. The world does not seem to appreciate it and it frustrates and resentment. They will buy a girl dinner, saying it’s nothing, but secretly hope that they will get affection or sex from her.

  • They seek approval from others. The approval allows them to feel safe and good about themselves. However, they want to get approval so bad, they become fixers and caretakers for those around them. They have difficulty making their own needs a priority because that would feel selfish. Conflict is a big risk of losing the approval and therefore is avoided at the cost of their own authenticity.

  • They believe that they must hide their perceived flaws and mistakes so that others will love them. They think, there is always a “right way” of doing things so that others do not get upset. They will break their own integrity just for the sake of pleasing others. This obviously results in decreased confidence and self-esteem.

  • They analyze their feelings instead of expressing them in order to get things "right". They suppress their true feelings because open emotional expression would mean a risk of rejection and losing others' approval. This causes a lot of repressed emotions that very often get triggered at the least appropriate moments.

  • They believe that their partner is the key to happiness in their lives. They often make their partner an emotional center and base their happiness upon them.


All these behaviors are stemming from the key beliefs, they hold:

  • If I am nice, giving and caring, I will in return be happy, loved and fulfilled.

  • If I am nice, I will be loved, get my needs met and live a problem-free life.

When this strategy fails to produce results, they want, Nice Guys tend to do more of the same strategy even if it does not work because it is the only thing they know.



When Nice Guy loses his patience, the devil shivers…


Nice Guys are nice only on the surface. If you dig deeper, you will quickly discover that Nice Guys are anything but nice.


Here are some examples of how they are actually not nice:

  • The attempt to be good whatever it takes typically involves trying to eliminate or hide certain things about themselves and become what they believe others want them to be. This obviously makes them dishonest as they hide their mistakes, avoid conflict, say what others want to hear and lie about their true feelings. They will hide information that would be a threat to their self-image. They can even bend truths. They would harmonize contradictory pieces of information and rationalize so that they can feel good about themselves despite breaking their own integrity. Eg. man who created his own definition of infidelity because he cheated on his wife.

  • They are controlling and manipulative. They tend to manipulate the other person to get what they want because they are scared to ask for it directly. They expect the world to give them back for being nice and if it does not happen, they seek it indirectly. Even though they claim they give unconditionally, they secretly feel frustrated about giving so much while seemingly getting so little in return.

  • They are passive-aggressive. Due to not expressing their emotions as they come up, they have a lot of suppressed anger and they express their frustration and resentment through the indirect, roundabout and not so nice means. This includes being unavailable, forgetting, being late, not following through, not able to get an erection, climaxing too quickly, etc. As a result, they are full of rage. They deny ever getting angry, but this repressed anger creates a pressure cooker of anger which tends to erupt in the most unexpected and seemingly inappropriate times.

  • They struggle with relationships. They tend to be terrible listeners because they are too busy figuring the other person out. They fear conflict leaving them rarely able to work their way through the problem. They struggle with setting boundaries, which is key to healthy relationships. They feel they want the closeness of other people, but their behaviors make it difficult for other people to get truly close to them. As a result, they often feel like victims and see other people as a source of their suffering.

  • They are often attracted to people and situations that need fixing. It is one of their strategies to receive approval so that they can feel loved and appreciated.

  • They are only relatively successful. There is a limit to their potential success because they are incapable of taking bold risks and greater responsibility. Doing so would be a threat to their approval from others.


Even though the behavior traits seem to be complex and unrelated, they all have one common denominator, stemming from their childhood.



How does a healthy young man become a Nice Guy?

"I am a Nice Guy, I swear to fu*king God..." -Kristen Roupenian


All children are born in an imperfect world. They are dependent on others to recognize their needs and act appropriately. So their greatest fear is abandonment. For children, abandonment means death.


All children are also born ego-centered. They are experiencing the world without any reference and past judgment. They believe they are the center of everything that happens around them.


As every child is born into an imperfect world and imperfect family and every child has abandonment experiences. They wrongly interpret their actions as being the cause of abandonment because they have no other way of understanding the world.


Due to these dynamics, these children create a belief that it is not acceptable for them to just be who they are because it causes important people in their lives to abandon them. They do not understand that their abandonment experiences are not caused by something about them, but by the people who are supposed to recognize and meet their needs.


This creates feelings of toxic shame. Toxic shame is a belief that one is inherently bad, defective, different, or unlovable. Toxic shame is very often accompanied by feelings of guilt, that one did something inherently wrong or bad.


Once the child has enough of these painful experiences, it starts to create survival mechanisms that will prevent similar situations from happening again. They effectively start to hide from the world.


As a result of these efforts, the key Nice Guy belief emerges:

If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.

Nice Guys have been using their strategies from a very young age and they really know nothing better. So once the strategies turn dysfunctional, they just do more of the same thing. This is what keeps them stuck.


Even if it might sound like a dead end, there is a way out.



Do not fix yourself!

“Trying to appear needless and wantless prevents Nice Guys from getting their needs met.” -Dr. Robert Glover


If you find yourself being a Nice Guy, there is one thing you need to know. Nice Guy Syndrome is not really a syndrome.


Because all children go through abandonment experiences, all of them have an aspect and behavior traits of Nice Guys within them. The difference is only a degree to which these patterns and beliefs are active. No matter how much a person is a Nice Guy, there is always a way to outgrow their current reality.


There are 2 common myths that Nice Guys struggle with before they decide to take on the journey of outgrowing their Nice Guy Syndrome.


Myth #1: I need to become a Selfish Jerk.

This is the typical Nice Guy´s worst fear. Both of them are extreme forms of behavior. While Nice Guys pay all the attention to others' needs and emotions, Selfish Jerks are paying zero attention to others' needs and feelings. The way to overcome your Nice Guy Syndrome is not becoming the other extreme. As someone pointed out, the opposite of crazy is still crazy.


Myth #2: I am broken and I need to fix myself.

One of the main obstacles for Nice Guys is the belief: I'm broken. Their internalized shame makes them believe that something is wrong with them. Very often, what they do in the process of personal growth is fixing themselves. Not only does this belief keep them from growth, but it is also not true.


Thanks to years of approval seeking, Nice Guys developed great sensitivity towards the emotions and needs of others. They have well developed sensitive aspects of their personalities and they can be good at reading social situations.


The only thing they need is to grow the area they are stuck in. This process will not fix them but rather integrate the parts of themselves, they suppressed a long time ago in order to survive. Once they integrate these suppressed parts, they will take on a journey towards becoming an integrated man.


Being an integrated man means being able to accept all aspects of one's self, including their power, their courage, their passion, mistakes, imperfections, their feminine side, and their dark side.


An integrated man makes sure that his needs are met. He likes himself just the way he is. He is comfortable with his sexuality and he has integrity which he acts upon. He is open in an expression of his feelings and vulnerability. He knows how to set boundaries and is not afraid to step into tension and work his way through conflict. He knows he can "handle shit when shit hits the fan" and he spreads joy throughout the world by first being genuinely joyful himself.


Becoming an integrated man is not an overnight process. Some of the patterns and beliefs are rooted deeply in the unconscious.


However, there are tools that can help you with overcoming your dysfunctional patterns and beliefs. One of them is to read the book by Dr. Glover, <