They got so used to its lack and living with compensation mechanisms, that sudden exposure to love and affection becomes scary.
(I wrote about the Nice Guy pattern earlier. This article explains why men who run the Nice Guys pattern struggle with accepting love.)
Nice Guys struggle with receiving love.
Because their worlds are largely built upon past experiences leading to a belief system, where they have to chase approval from the outside.
They "have to" earn love by being good, obedient, and polite.
That's why they're nice even at the cost of being fake.
They have internalized and normalized this behavior.
For them, the idea that they are good exactly the way they are is extremely difficult to accept.
They got so used to chasing love and approval, that when they suddenly face a possibility of receiving unconditional love and approval...
Their inner guilt and shame get triggered.
When they receive love BEFORE they did something "nice" to deserve it, they immediately start to compensate retrospectively:
"I MUST do something so that the other person doesn't feel bad."
They get in their head and start thinking about how to "make it right".
And so they reject compliments, make jokes to deflect tension from receiving gifts, all while being anxious about failing for an unexplainable reason.
These men's relationships suffer because from the outside it appears as if it was impossible to get close to them. As if they were unreachable.
However, these men, too, suffer, because from the inside it appears that no matter how hard the try, they always fail.
It's a tough vicious circle.
The good news is, though, that the unconscious wanting approval that is driving the men with the Nice Guy pattern can be released.
This mechanism is not a birth defect, it's not a genetic dysfunction and it's not karmic wrath of God (for the overly religious folks).
It's an unconscious pattern activated by positive emotional tension.
Emotional tension is a signal for the nervous system and brain that something "important" is happening in the person's environment.
Men who run the Nice Guy pattern automatically avoid emotional tension, because their minds automatically interpret all tension as a threat (learned in early childhood for most men).
Their minds step in and start to analytically evaluate what's "the optimal thing to do" - whether it's positive emotional tension (receiving love) or negative one (discomfort from stepping outside the comfort zone).
Without tension there is no emotion - neither good, nor bad. Avoiding emotional tension, therefore cuts away not just the "bad juice" but ALL JUICE from Nice Guy's life.
Anytime he'll experience positive emotional tension, he will get in his head and try to think his way out of the situation - e.g. giving "love" back so he doesn't have to feel guilt, even if it's not authentic and fabricated just to escape the situation.
It happens quickly, and it happens often.
The sad news is, that most men who run this pattern will live with it for the rest of their lives, because they normalized the pain of inauthenticity and living their life out of their head. The pattern probably runs in the family for generations and for these guys, it's normal.
For those, who seek the way out, though, this is what the way out looks like:
Understanding emotional tension, so that you know the difference between when your body fights for survival and when it just releases tension.
Improving emotional literacy, so you know how to correctly interpret emotional tension and understand yourself better. Just self-education in this area improves your ability to handle tension.
Learning emotional releasing, so you can enjoy the positive tension and release the negative tension immediately.
If you're struggling with receiving love, you need to understand that there is nothing wrong with you in the first place. Every single human being on Earth was wired to receive love and derive great pleasure from it. I've heard a beautiful quote: "Receiving with grace is giving."
Therefore, rest assured that once you root out your unconscious dysfunctional patterns, you'll be able to give love and receive love freely - just the way you were designed.
PS: Nice Guys also reject honesty, because they're afraid they'll be cruel. They have so much repressed anger, that idea of being honest immediately brings up cruelty. Your nature is loving, not cruel. This "fear of cruelty" happens, because it is the opposite of extreme consideration of others. From the Nice Guy's perspective: "Either I'm super-considerate or I'm cruel." Psychology calls this overcompensation. It's all part of the pattern.
If you're interested in learning how you can resolve your own specific life situation, book a free session with me and I'll help you craft a step-by-step game plan to get out of your patterns. Click here and book the session in less than 3 minutes.