The Book in Three Sentences
In this summary of No More Mr. Nice Guy, you’ll learn about Nice Guy Syndrome which is when a man tries too hard to the point that he ignores his own needs. Nice Guy Syndrome prevents you from getting what you want in life and it causes resentment and unhappiness. In the book, Robert Glover teaches you to stop seeking approval and create a lasting and meaningful relationship.
No More Mr. Nice Guy Summary
Social change and shifts in the traditional family created men who constantly looked for the approval of others. The author calls them Nice Guys. Nice Guys want to look good, they live to please others, and they avoid conflict. Their ultimate goal is to please women because they think that by doing so, they’ll be happy and loved. Sadly, this is a recipe for disaster and Nice Guys end up frustrated and resentful. Nice Guys believe a myth the author refers to as Nice Guy Syndrome. This is the idea that if you’re “good”, you’ll get everything you want.
Chapter 1: The Nice Guy Syndrome
When you’re a man who believes that being “good” and doing the “right” things will get you the love you want, you’re a Nice Guy.
Here are some common characteristics of Nice Guys:
- Nice Guys are givers
- Nice Guys fix and take care of things
- Nice Guys look for the approval of others
- Nice Guys avoid conflict
- Nice Guys hide their flaws and mistakes
- Nice Guys look for the “right” way to do things
- Nice Guys repress their feelings
- Nice Guys want to be different from their fathers
- Nice Guys are more comfortable relating to women than men
- Nice Guys rarely make their needs a priority
- Nice Guys are happy to make their partners their emotional center
These are the Not-So-Nice Traits of Nice Guys:
- Nice Guys hide mistakes, avoid conflict, and repress their feelings
- Nice Guys are secretive
- Nice Guys are compartmentalized
- Nice Guys are manipulative
- Nice Guys are controlling
- Nice Guys give to get
- Nice Guys are passive-aggressive
- Nice Guys are full of rage
- Nice Guys have addictive personalities
- Nice Guys have difficulty setting boundaries
- Nice Guys are frequently isolated
- Nice Guys chase people and situations that need fixing
- Nice Guys have problems in intimate relationships
- Nice Guys have issues with sexuality
Despite what people think, Nice Guys aren’t healthy males. Nice Guys seem like a good catch at first, but their negative traits soon take over and ruin their lives and relationships. As a consequence, these men go from nice to not-so-nice. The alternative to being a Nice Guys isn’t to be a “bastard” or a “jerk”. The alternative to being a Nice Guy is to become an integrated male. Being integrated involves accepting all aspects of oneself.
Integrated males have the following traits:
- They like themselves as is
- They take responsibility for meeting their own needs
- They are comfortable with their masculinity and sexuality
- They have integrity
- They are leaders
- They are clear, direct, and expressive when it comes to feelings
- They are nurturing without problem-solving
- They set boundaries and aren’t afraid of conflict
Everyone follows a map to navigate life. We call these maps, paradigms. Paradigms often work unconsciously, but they dictate everything from our attitude to how we interpret life experiences. The problem is that outdated or inaccurate paradigms set us back in life. We develop our paradigms when we’re young and we rarely update them.
Nice Guys’ paradigm has the following tenet: “If I hide my flaws, then I will be loved.” When this paradigm doesn’t work, Nice Guys try harder. To break free from Nice Guy Syndrome, you need to do things differently and you need safe people.
Chapter 2: The Making of a Nice Guy
Why would a man hide things about himself? Because the alternative (being who he is) feels unsafe and unacceptable. From an early age, certain men think that to be loved, they have to be “good”.
When kids come into the world, they’re helpless, so they rely on their parents to take care of them and cover their needs. For children, abandonment means death. Children are ego-centered which means that everything revolves around them. This combination of helplessness and an ego-centered nature makes children feel like they’re the cause of what happens to them, including abandonment. Abandonment comes in different forms, such as neglect, abuse, or putting unrealistic expectations on children. It’s worth pointing out that all children experience abandonment at some point. This leads to the belief that children can’t be who they are. We call this psychological state, toxic shame, and it results in the idea that one’s bad, defective, different, or unlovable.
Due to this, children develop survival mechanisms to:
- Try to deal with abandonment physically and emotionally
- Try to prevent these events from repeating
- Try to hide the toxic shame
All Nice Guys have less-than-ideal childhoods. They often have perfect images of what a family’s supposed to be and they want to live up to that image. The more they describe their early years, the more problems come up. All Nice Guys believe that they are not right, so they have to become someone else to survive. All Nice Guys are abandoned somehow and they all believe that their needs are secondary.
There are two types of Nice Guys. The “I’m so bad” Nice Guy internalized the idea that he’s not right which makes him inferior to everyone else. The “I’m so good” Nice Guy represses the idea of worthlessness and behaves well. Nice Guy Syndrome started in the baby boom generation due to several social changes. Suddenly, a lot of boys didn’t have prevalent male role models, they were raised by women, and radical feminism spread the idea that men were bad.
Chapter 3: Learn to Please the Only Person Who Really Matters
Nice Guys do everything they can so that people like them. The problem is that by trying to please everyone, they end up pleasing no one. They use value-seeking mechanisms to win people’s approval which may include their intellect, acting nice, or having a nice car. The author calls these mechanisms attachments.
Nice Guys use attachments to convince people they’re valuable. Your dependency on external validation prevents people from getting to know the real you. External things don’t say anything about who you are as a person. Your identity and value don’t stem from external things. Nice Guys seek external validation from everyone, but their primary target is women. For some Nice Guys, the ultimate form of acceptance is sex, so they’re constantly looking for it. Since Nice Guys look for women’s approval, women are the ones in charge of the relationship. This adoration toward women soon turns into resentment.
Nice Guys feel the need to hide their flaws or mistakes. They do this by lying, fixing situations, or trying to trigger someone else’s shame. Soon, all of these strategies backfire and prevent others from getting too close. To recover from Nice Guy Syndrome, Nice Guys must look for the approval of the only person who matters: themselves.
To do this, Nice Guys should:
- Identify how they look for approval: become aware of how much time and energy you spend trying to get the approval of others. To avoid this, determine what you want, what feels right, and what makes you happy. Also, for a while, stop doing all the things you think will get you attention or validation from others.
- Take care of themselves: taking care of yourself is the best way to approve of yourself. This involves doing things like drinking water, flossing, taking a trip, buying something you’ve always wanted, eating healthy food, playing, going out with friends, buying new clothes, sleeping eight hours a day, or exercising.
- Say positive affirmations: positive affirmations can help you replace inaccurate messages
- Spend time alone: when you’re by yourself, you discover who you are and what you like. Whenever possible, decide when you go to bed and wake up, when and what to eat, where to go, and what to do. Being alone is the best way to face the fear of loneliness and isolation. Notice unhealthy tendencies related to busyness, sex, food, or alcohol consumption. Journaling is particularly useful when you’re by yourself.
- Be genuine to safe people: find a safe person and tell them how you feel. This is the best way to rewrite the narrative you’ve built for yourself. Talking about your fears, shame, and regrets is therapeutic and the best way to get better.
Chapter 4: Make Your Needs a Priority
Making your needs a priority and finding ways to meet those needs is important. Although it might seem selfish and self-centered, it isn’t. We all have needs and that’s part of the human condition. When you go through life appearing needless and wantless, you’ll never get what you want. The healthiest way to solve this is by expressing what your needs are and being a good receiver of those needs. Unfortunately, most Nice Guys treat relationships in a transactional manner where they do something for someone else, but they expect something in return.
To avoid dealing with this issue, Nice Guys often focus on someone else’s problems, needs, or feelings, rather than their own. This is called caretaking and it’s different from caring. Caretaking is giving others what you want to give. It comes from a place of emptiness and it’s conditional. Caring, on the other hand, is giving others what they need. It comes from a place of abundance and it’s unconditional.
All of this leads to frustration and resentment and what the author calls the victim triangle. The victim triangle follows a predictable pattern:
- The Nice Guy does something and expects something in return
- When he doesn’t get what he wants, the Nice Guy experiences resentment and frustration
- These negative feelings build up and come out in terrible ways (shaming, blaming, criticizing, rage attacks, and so on).
By making yourself a priority, you’ll be more attractive because you’ll be more confident and self-assured. Other side effects include being more mature, being able to express yourself more clearly, and being able to help others meet their needs as well.
Chapter 5: Reclaim Your Personal Power
Nice Guys have a victim mentality. They grew up not having their needs met, so deep down, they feel abandoned, neglected, used, or smothered. As they get older and they start relationships, the paradigm they develop puts them in a place of powerlessness. Nice Guys want life to be easy, but human existence is anything but. Even if you do everything right, life can still go wrong. The solution to this conundrum is to reclaim personal power, a state of mind where you can handle whatever happens.
Reclaiming personal power involves:
- Surrendering: to get personal power, you first must surrender. This is accepting that most things in life are outside of your control. You don’t have to fix all problems (especially other people’s), so just let go.
- Dwelling in reality: Nice Guys want to control the world. To do so, they create belief systems not based on reality. In other words, they lie to themselves about the situations and people around them.
- Expressing feelings: Nice Guys are terrified of feelings but they must find ways to express those feelings healthily. By hiding their feelings, Nice Guys are trying to keep everything under control. Feelings don’t kill though and embracing them is the first step toward being powerful, assertive, and energized. It’s also a way to connect with those around you.
- Facing fears: everyone experiences fear at some point, but Nice Guys experience fear all the time. This fear originated in their childhoods because they didn’t have their needs met. The author refers to this fear as memory fear. Nice Guys go through life confused, paralyzed, and overwhelmed. To overcome your fears, you must face them. Most things in life can be solved, as painful as they are. Once you confront your fears, you’ll have more confidence.
- Developing integrity: Nice Guys consider themselves honest and trustworthy, but this is often not the case. Deep down, we all know what’s right, so do what’s right and you’ll soon be a person of integrity.
- Setting boundaries: boundaries are an essential part of all relationships. When someone crosses a boundary, it’s not someone else’s problem, it’s yours. Don’t teach people around you that they can break your boundaries. Setting boundaries is the best way to survive and grow a relationship.
Chapter 6: Reclaim Your Masculinity
To have a good life, a lot of men grew up trying to please women and this led to numerous side effects. To solve this, reclaim your masculinity. You do this by connecting with other men, getting strong physically and emotionally, finding male role models, and examining your relationship with your father.
Chapter 7: Get the Love You Want
Most Nice Guys have problems in their intimate relationships and this encourages them to look for professional help. That said, most Nice Guys can’t connect intimately with another person due to their internalized toxic shame.
Intimacy requires vulnerability, but toxic shame makes this impossible. On top of that, Nice Guys tend to pick women who have challenges in their lives (anger issues, addiction, depression, overweight, intimacy problems, and so on). This is a way to focus on someone else’s flaws rather than your own. Nice Guys have two patterns of avoidance. Enmeshers become so involved in the relationship that they neglect themselves because they focus solely on their partners. Avoiders are emotionally unavailable, so they put anything else before the relationship. Nice Guys also become too close to their mothers. This makes having an intimate relationship with a partner difficult. Finally, Nice Guys can’t end relationships and it takes them several tries to do so.
No relationship is perfect, but you can have a healthy one nonetheless. To do this, there are several things Nice Guys can do:
- Approve yourself: live the life you want. Don’t give up your passions for someone else and don’t try to please your partner all the time. Set time aside for the things you love.
- Set boundaries: stand up to the people you love because that’s how you create healthy relationships. Setting boundaries makes your partner feel safe, secure, and loved. To determine if certain behavior is problematic, use the Second Date Rule. Essentially, you ask yourself if you would have allowed the behavior had it taken place on the second date. Another useful strategy is the Healthy Male Rule. Here, you ask yourself how a healthy male would handle the problem.
- Focus on the relationship, not your partner: don’t judge your partner or compare the other person to you.
- Don’t reinforce undesirable behaviors: don’t react positively to a behavior you want to eradicate. The best way to get rid of undesirable behaviors is to ignore them. Resist the impulse to “fix” other people and let them work on their problems by themselves. Give people space. Solving their problems isn’t your responsibility.
- Do something different when you start a new relationship: All relationships have problems, but you don’t have to make things more difficult than they have to. If you ever find yourself in a position where you are ready to start a new relationship, do things differently than you used to. It’s not about picking the perfect person, but if choosing a “diamond in the rough” didn’t work before, chances are it’s not going to work now. The best traits to look for in the other person are passion, integrity, happiness, intelligence, sexual assertiveness, financial responsibility, and growth.
Chapter 8: Get the Sex You Want
For Nice Guys, sex is a problem because abandonment experiences and toxic shame are magnified during sex. Usually, these problems come in the form of not getting enough sex, unsatisfying sex, sexual dysfunction, sexual repression, or compulsive sexual behavior.
The problems Nice Guys have with sex stem from two issues: shame and fear. To deal with these problems, Nice Guys use different avoidance and distraction mechanics.
- Avoiding sexual situations: this is never initiating sex or avoiding it altogether.
- Trying to be a good lover: Nice Guys try to be good lovers to feel valuable. The problem is that they focus too much on their partners to ignore their shame and fear. As a consequence, the sex gets boring quickly. The solution is to be passionate, spontaneous, or intimate.
- Hiding compulsive behavior: the nicest guys hold the darkest sexual secrets. Since Nice Guys think they’re bad for wanting sex (a basic human need), they hide their sexual impulses. These impulses have to come out somehow and it’s usually in the form of pornography addictions, strip bars, sex chat rooms, or something sexual.
- Repressing their life energy: many young men don’t know how to attract women, so they become Nice Guys as a way to stand out from the crowd. Being nice robs them of their life energy.
- Setting for bad sex: Nice Guys are too indirect about sex and their partners are often unreceptive. Nice Guys also focus solely on their partner which makes them empty and resentful.
Since sex is a basic human need, you should do your best to make it as satisfying as possible. To do this:
- Come out of the closet: the greatest barriers to getting good sex are internalized shame and fear. Accept you’re a sexual creature and don’t ignore your shame and fear. The best way to become more accepting is to have accepting people around you. Everyone should have a safe place where they can discuss their sexual issues.
- Take matters into your own hands: change the little things and the big picture will soon follow. Learn to be sexual by yourself before you can do this with someone else. The author calls this healthy masturbation and it isn’t about reaching an ultimate goal. Glover believes pornography is bad for men because it causes addiction, creates unrealistic expectations, can become a replacement for sex, and amplifies shame. Also, try not to fantasize during sex because this distracts you from the shame and fear.
- Say “no” to bad sex: bad sex is pornography, convincing unavailable people to have sex with you, and compulsive masturbation. Sex isn’t supposed to be passionless and mechanical. Good sex is where two people take responsibility to meet their desires. It’s about people behaving in intimate and vulnerable ways, and it’s about connection. Sex is unpredictable, spontaneous, and memorable. Nice Guys must let go of some preconceived ideas to get good sex: don’t try to be a great lover, be clear and direct, and choose available partners.
- Be yourself: don’t try to figure out what is going to make people like you. The greatest aphrodisiac is self-confidence. To attract others, be comfortable with who you are. Have self-respect, courage, and integrity.
There are no rules for sex and that’s what makes it both exciting and terrifying.
Chapter 9: Get the Life You Want
Most Nice Guys aren’t living life to their full potential. Since these men spend so much time looking for approval, they never get to live the life they want. Most Nice Guys are dissatisfied with their job, career, or life.
This happens due to several reasons:
- Fear: this is the most common factor affecting Nice Guys. Usually, it’s not fear of failure, but fear of success.
- Trying to do things right: as part of life, one must let go of control. Since Nice Guys lived their entire lives following the rules, they don’t see this as an option.
- Trying to do everything themselves: Nice Guys grew up thinking that having needs is wrong, so they rarely ask for help or delegate.
- Self-sabotage: Nice Guys waste time, make excuses, don’t finish projects, focus on others, choose chaotic relationships, procrastinate, and don’t set boundaries.
- Having a distorted self-image: Nice Guys feel they’re not important or good enough. Despite all the talent they have, Nice Guys don’t like to make themselves visible, make changes, or do something good.
- Deprivation thinking: this is the idea that whatever it is you need, there isn’t plenty of it to go around.
- Staying stuck in familiar systems: this is why Nice Guys always choose dysfunctional relationships. Also, they can’t leave relationships and instead, they do more of the same.
To break this cycle, you must discover your passion. Accept yourself, do what you love, and face your fears. This can be love, money, fame, or someone else. The first step toward doing this involves facing your fears. This means going back to school, quitting your job, starting a business, asking for a raise, or confronting someone. Getting what you want in life isn’t a matter of luck, but about charting your path. Even if your talents are ordinary, you can make a difference.
Whatever you end up with doesn’t have to be perfect. Give up this belief and things will soon fall into place. Let go of “perfect” and embrace “good enough”. Asking for help is also important. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Learning to ask for help directly can make all the difference. For most things to happen, you first have to ask for them.
Most Nice Guys self-sabotage in one way or another. This often comes in the form of wasting time, procrastinating, starting projects and never finishing them, spending time trying to fix other people’s problems, and so on. Identify ways in which you sabotage yourself and stop. Once you’re aware of the barriers you put in front of yourself, you’ll soon realize they’re just excuses.
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