In my work as a coach who specializes in helping men overcome Nice Guy Syndrome, one of the main issues I hear about (and have personally experienced myself) is the dilemma that not being a Nice Guy means being an asshole.
Nice Guys generally view the world in black and white terms a lot of the time. This is because it’s easier and simpler, and easy/simple is the Nice Guy’s dream life. So if a guy views himself as “nice”, then he automatically assumes that a) there is only one alternative, b) that alternative is the opposite of being nice, and therefore c) non-nice guys are jerks.
When the weary Nice Guy gets sick of the shitty life that comes from constantly trying to please others – especially women – and getting nothing in return – especially from women – he asks himself, “Should I just give up and be a jerk instead?”
He doesn’t even really understand that there are other options available. So when he gets desperate enough, he’ll do what I call a “pendulum swing”, where he swings from one extreme to the other – from Nice to Nasty.
In this article I’m going to give yo 27 steps you can take to overcome nice guy syndrome, but first let’s learn a little more about it.
What is a Nice Guy?
In case you’re not familiar with the psychological definition of the term Nice Guy, as coined by Dr Robert Glover, a Nice Guy is a man with a consistent people-pleasing personality framework.
Nice Guys range in traits and characteristics, but they consistently score highly for most of these following elements:
- Try to be liked as a primary motive during social interactions
- Avoid confrontation and conflict
- Avoid risk of rejection
- Chameleon Effect – adjust who they are to suit their audience’s preferences
- Either show off (extrovert) or remain quietly agreeable (introvert) to gain approval and avoid disapproval
- Obsessed with sex, seeing it as the ultimate form of validation
- Use “covert contracts” – expect people to treat them a certain way without asking for it directly
- Are especially submissive to attractive women and high status/dominant men
- Disrespect themselves to prioritize the needs and wants of others
- Use dishonesty and any other form of manipulation required to control the emotional state of others (to ensure that they are liked by them)
What is a jerk?
Jerks, assholes, players, douchebags… there are many names that Nice Guys have for the “others” – the guys who are not “nice” and are therefore deemed to be the opposite.
Nice Guys assume that other men who are successful in the areas that the Nice Guy is not – primarily with women, career, social status, and enjoyment of life – must be using devious tactics and harming others to get this success.
It’s ironic that Nice Guys assume other guys are the manipulative nasty ones, when it’s the Nice Guy who callously and consistently plays other people with deception to get what he wants!
But jerks do exist in an objective sense.
There are guys out there who are high in psychopathic traits and low in traits like kindness, generosity, considerateness, respect, love, honesty and compassion. And yes, these guys can often be materially successful, such as becoming financially wealthy or sleeping with multiple women frequently.
What do they have in common?
What the Nice Guy is unwilling to admit is that jerks are just a mirror image of themselves. Nice Guys and jerks have way more in common than they have differences. In fact, the Nice Guy has simply applied a slightly less successful version of the same basic formula for “success”.
- Both are dishonest.
- Both are manipulative.
- Both view people more as resources and sources of validation than as individual human beings.
- Both consider approval and validation to be the same thing as love.
- Both are willing to cause suffering to get what they want.
- Both believe they are the victims and that life is unfair to them.
The only real difference is that jerks are confrontational and willing to be disliked by some people to get what they want. Jerks are more comfortable with causing awkward social interactions or provoking painful emotions, and therefore are able to utilize a greater range of manipulative tools.
The reason jerks do “better” with money and women than Nice Guys is because they are able to push and pull emotions to a greater extent and take bigger risks. Nice Guys can’t bring themselves to cross the line into potential rejection or confrontation territory, which is absolutely necessary to do well with socializing and career progression.
However, the so-called “success” of the jerks isn’t all it appears to be…
What do neither of them have?
The jerk might be getting paid and getting laid, but the idea that he’s living an enjoyable life – that his inner world is satisfying – is an illusion. I’ve spent much of my life working closely with psychopathic criminal personalities, and beneath the arrogant facade is almost endless suffering.
The jerk might have a bevy of women at his beck and call, but if you look closely you’ll see some cracks on the surface.
For a start, it will be highly unlikely that any of these women are confident and emotionally secure or healthy. Scratch the shiny surface and you’ll find that without exception the women that a jerk brings in are psychologically damaged and traumatized to a significant degree, and that their “relationships” are fraught with conflict, infidelity, abuse, lies, and emotional drama.
The jerk might have more cash in the bank or more followers on Instagram, but this is more often than not built on a foundation of sand that threatens to collapse at any moment. Their money and status are usually acquired through scams, manipulation, and intimidation, and the longevity of this approach is minimal. It only takes a few brave victims to speak up and take them down.
Neither the Nice Guy or the jerk have healthy relationships with high-quality, confident people. Neither of them have an inner circle of friends who will die for them. Neither of them is self-confident or love themselves without conditions. Neither of them is truly happy with their lives.
So is there a guy who can do better than either of these options?
The confident, masculine and healthy man
Let’s do a little math – what happens when you keep all the positives of being Nice or a jerk, and remove all the downsides. What are you left with?
From the Nice side of things, we get: compassion, empathy, ability to connect, generosity, kindness, social intuition, ability to read people, and emotional intelligence.
From the jerk, we get: attractiveness, assertiveness, risk-taking courage, self-respect, charisma and charm, the capability to be radically honest, and the freedom of not giving a fuck what people think of you.
Can you see the possibility of all of these traits existing inside a single man?
And see also how a man can be all of these things without resorting to the downsides of being scammy, manipulative, dishonest, emotionally fragile, self-loathing, callous, cruel and psychopathic.
This is what I call “the third option”. When the Nice Guy is stuck in a false-dichotomy, thinking that Nice and jerk are the only options, I’ll challenge him to think of a third option that isn’t either of the other two.
But how do we become such an amazing guy?
How to Overcome Nice Guy Syndrome
What Behaviors to Stop
In order to overcome Nice Guy Syndrome, you first need to ditch any behaviors that are motivated solely by neurotic and insecure Nice Guy goals. Often, the issue isn’t so much the action you’re taking but why you’re doing it.
1: Stop doing anything that is designed to make people think of you as something better or different to what you truly are.
2: Stop doing anything that is designed to avoid or prevent conflict about issues you do care about.
3: Stop prioritizing other people’s wants over your needs.
4: Stop changing who you are to be better accepted, loved, approved of, and validated.
5: Stop doing anything that’s solely designed to improve your reputation, particularly if this is something you would prefer not to do if you felt like you had the choice.
6: Stop agreeing automatically with everything that someone you like, are attracted to, or perceive as higher status says.
7: Stop behaving differently with different people.
8: Stop expecting people to know what you want when you haven’t asked directly.
9: Stop trying to make people feel “good” or happy.
10: Stop adjusting your beliefs and opinions to suit those around you.
What behaviors to adopt
Of course, stopping behaviors isn’t an overly helpful approach, because as a Nice Guy you’ll just end up doing nothing at all – most Nice Guy behavior is motivated by insecurity!
To eliminate Nice Guys Syndrome, you should instead start adopting new behaviors that only a confident guy would do. This might feel like you’re being a jerk, but this isn’t really what’s happening, as we’ll explore in the final section below. There is crossover between confident and jerk behaviors, but a confidet guy and a jerk are nowhere near the same person.
1: Do what you believe in and enjoy, especially when it might get disapproval from others.
2: Speak your mind at all times, even if it causes conflict.
3: Focus on doing things that will make you proud of yourself rather than making others like you.
4: Let people hate you, if that’s an inevitable consequence of you being authentic. Let them believe whatever they want to believe about you, even if it’s wrong.
5: Explore your own core values and beliefs about right/wrong, and follow these principles no matter how they differ from those around you.
6: Reject and cut out anyone who doesn’t massively improve your life.
7: Let people feel whatever they want to feel, and focus on managing your own ability to ride your emotions.
8: Ask for what you want directly.
9: Stand up for what you believe in and agree or disagree with. This doesn’t mean you have to fight to the death on every issue, it just means never pretending to agree or never staying silent on an important issue.
10: Become an army of One, rather than trying to make the army support you.
What behaviors to avoid adopting
How do we implement these changes without becoming a jerk? It simply means not crossing over into insecure and psychopathic ways of being a strong, confident person.
1: Don’t use manipulation to win arguments, just be honest and willing to admit when you’re wrong or unsure of yourself. Confront without trying to win. Back down when you’re wrong, stop fighting when you’re right and have already said your point.
2: Don’t try to convince or seduce people into liking you. Show them who you really are – the highs and the lows in balanced measure – and let them judge for themselves.
3: Never take revenge on someone for harming you. Just cut them out of your life and move on. The best revenge, as Marcus Aurelius once said, is to not be like them.
4: Never disrespect another person, but don’t confuse respect with submission. Let them be whatever they want to be, but don’t let them interfere with you living by your own values. Agreeableness is not the same as respect.
5: Be direct about what you want but back down when you get a “No”. Don’t play games or try to turn people around. Let them live with their decision – if their No was just part of a game they’re playing, they’ll change it to a Yes if they see you’re willing to walk away.
6: Most importantly, the single greatest change you can make to become more confident and masculine without becoming a jerk, is to just try to be honest about everything at all times. This doesn’t mean dumping your issues on people like they’re your therapist, it just means calmly but powerfully speaking your mind at any given time no matter what the consequences might be.
7: Be willing to lose outcomes in favor of living with integrity. That’s the only thing both Nice Guys and jerks aren’t able to do.
Thanks for reading guys. I hope this helps you overcome nice guy syndrome and if you have any other advice for overcoming nice guy syndrome then please share with us in the comments below.
And if you want additional support for eliminating nice guy syndrome, check out my latest program on Menprovement X called The Nice Guys Recovery System. There’s 34 HD video lessons and multiple downloadable resources and I will be available personally to help get you to the strongest,