During many years from my early adult life, I felt lost. I knew that something was wrong with me but never managed to put a finger on anything tangible that might have caused such feelings of being adrift. I still had a good life situation, but I clearly didn’t know who I was. Even if I had decent successes and relationships with women coming from my social circles, I felt somehow unfulfilled with my romantic and sexual life. I had hard times establishing emotional connections with other men. I doubted about my sexuality, lacked strong inner self-confidence. I was behaving in a way that didn’t seem aligned to what I really wanted, but I didn’t know what to change, nor had any idea on what I really wanted at all. My mind was full of constant anxiety that created havoc in my nervous system, but I was not aware of it at all at that time since I was completely disconnected from my emotions, living only in my head on closed dysfunctional thought patterns. I was struggling with chronic fatigue. I made some attempts here and there to talk to a psychotherapist, but it didn’t lead anywhere. I felt isolated with my inner struggles and didn’t have any direct support from my surroundings. After a while, I kind of believed that nothing could be done to change my life situation and to finally feel at ease with myself. Maybe everybody was kind of feeling the same after all? I put my head in the sand and worked like hell for years. At least when my mind was occupied solving never-ending complex logical problems, I spent less time worrying about what seemed unsolvable personal issues.
And then I stumbled upon this book
No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Robert Glover.
Wow, that was something. It was like the author was reading in my mind like in an open book, interpreting so clearly my dysfunctional patterns of behaviors, and deeply comprehending why I was so dissatisfied with my life situation, even far beyond my own understandings. His insights were radically eye-opening for me since the book stated very rationally what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t have fulfilling and deeply connected relationships with men and women, why I felt disconnected from my core self. Everything made crazy lot of sense, and it was like suddenly switching on a spotlight in the pitch-black room of my own existence. The book also gave me some keys on how to break free with dysfunctional Nice Guy traits, not to mention the online community I found with hundreds of men who were sharing their own struggles and recovery processes which resonated so intensely in me. It was certainly the beginning of a huge life transition for me.
Because of childhood and social conditioning, Nice Guys believe that they will be loved and get their needs met only if they make everyone happy and never cause any problems for others. This attempt to be good typically involve trying to eliminate or hide certain things about themselves (mistakes, needs, emotions) and become what they believe others want them to be (generous, helpful, peaceful, etc.). Nice Guys want approval, but don’t think they deserve it, resulting in cognitive dissonance, self-loathing and internal frustration. The Nice Guy’s desire to obtain approval from everyone (especially women), causes him to actually behave in very un–nice ways. This includes dishonesty, passive-aggressive and overcontrolling behaviors, and being secretive.
Here are some of their typical characteristics: they are givers, avoid conflicts, repress their feelings, are often more comfortable relating to women than men, have difficulty making their needs a priority, try to always fix their women, have shame and fear about being sexual. In general, Nice Guys do not report having had close, bonded relationship with their father in childhood. As a result, many Nice Guys were forced into an unhealthy bond with their mother. They also tend to be disconnected from other men and disconnected from their own masculinity, repressing at all cost the darker side of their masculine essence. Nice guys are clearly not integrated men.
Breaking free from the Nice Guy Syndrome involves a radical change in perspective and behavior. It involves working on many aspects of your life and requires determination and persistence.
Here is what I have been doing to recover from the Nice Guy Syndrome over a period of 6+ years:
- Connecting with men. Since I grew up without strong connection with male figures, I had not learnt how to emotionally connect with men. I realized that I had too many female friends and decided that I had to interrupt most of them. At the beginning, it felt quite awkward to invest and spend more time with male friends, especially when it came to expose them my vulnerability, but it is a key part of the process. I have also been involved in men’s groups which constitute perfect containers for this kind of work and joined powerful men’s gatherings and communities (in particular the Mankind Project that I would definitely recommend for Nice Guys). It has also helped me out significantly to get in touch, acknowledging, and expressing my emotions. I became a strong believer in the importance of brotherhood, since it became so important to get validation from my brothers instead of from women, to get their honest and phallic feedback without sexual or romantic agenda behind the scene, and to establish strong mutual support system with them. It is also about acknowledging and feeling love for my brothers.
- Taking full responsibility for my well–being. I started to take full responsibility for improving my nutrition, my sleep, my health, drastically reducing my alcohol intake, and my grooming. Even more importantly, I realized that I was addicted to stress hormones. I was living in a state of almost constant worry and was creating stories in my head to get my shots. Stress hormones actually act as opiate-like substances in your body. And when I started to get aware of it, I decided I wouldn’t let my anxious mind controlling my life anymore. I realized that my addiction to stress was a way to medicate the pain rooted from much deeper issues in my psyche, so I had to take full responsibility to address them as well.
- Hitting the gym. In the past, I always kind of despised men working-out at the gym, I thought it was childish to be willing to show off with your muscles, and that only rednecks would rely a such body features to attract women. Oh god, how come I got stuck so many years with such an immature Nice Guy mindset? Hitting the gym has definitely been a key game changer for me. First, it forced me to feel and acknowledge strong masculine energies at the gym. At the beginning, it felt awkward to be surrounded by all these huge men sweating testosterone and moaning like animals when pumping iron. Yes, some guys push it too far for sure, but it actually felt really good after a while to connect with this kind of energy. When I finally started to get results, I felt my inner strength, appreciated my new body shape, felt more self-confident, and became more aware of my body’s boundaries to reclaim my physical space. I felt more masculine, a feeling I had actually craved for years without knowing it. Not to mention that girls started to appreciate seeing me in skin-tight t-shirts, or when I got naked. And you know what? I even started to finally enjoy looking at my body in the mirror as well! If you don’t get obsessed about it, and when it’s about enjoying the result of your investment and dedication to the work, it’s actually healthy. And I finally realized that working-out became integral part of my lifestyle and will most likely remain a life-commitment for me from now on.
- Swallowing my fear of rejection. Nice Guys are very ego-invested, and strongly believe that they are better than most men. “Ahh, if only women could recognize my amazing qualities, then they would realize how exceptional and loveable I am”, they would believe in their cute little heads. I was no exception. So, starting daygaming, (i.e., cold approaching attractive women in the street) was an excellent remedy to break the legs of this fucking belief. And surprise, surprise, it turned out that most women didn’t actually give a shit about fucking me. At the beginning, I took all these rejections very personally and it was draining emotionally. Each time, it was like cutting open with sharp knives my little childish sense of self. It was tough, but I intimately knew that it was a necessary evil. And then, over time, slowly but surely, I started to feel more and more desensitized to rejection. I started to realize that women were not rejecting my core self that they knew nothing about, but simply a tiny projection of myself in this clumsy and awkward moment of our interaction. Maybe my self-love wasn’t dependent on validation from women after all? And at the end of the day, rejection becomes no big deal, just a sign that I have to move on. Attractive women can be found in great abundance on this planet.
- Showing up. As a Nice Guy I had the tendency to isolate myself and disconnect from the world when I didn’t feel like showing up. I didn’t want people to see me when I wasn’t at the top of my game. However, I learnt to show up no matter how I felt, especially with my close male friends. It is about practising self-acceptance just the way I am in the present moment.
- Embracing my masculinity. Nice Guys try to avoid the dark side of their masculinity, and also repress many aspects of their masculine essence. For me, embracing my masculinity meant to accept my inner aggression and my capability to get dangerous if I had to. On this path, my next move he’s been to start martial arts by the way. It has also been about accepting the animalistic side of my sexuality. And acknowledging my need for exhibitionism and be seen. And I simply want more tough adventures in nature. I want to go hunting wild game in deep Siberia with my rifle. I want to shoot a porn movie. I want the sweat at the gym and lift hard. I want to shoot guns. Aspects of my core self that I had been repressing for too long.
- Practicing sexual escalation. As a Nice Guy, I was super fearful of sexual escalation with women. Just to give you an extreme example to illustrate how ridiculous it could be. I met this girl from an online dating site for a first evening date. I wouldn’t have minded fucking her at all. And it was ‘on’ between us. After a couple of drinks, she invited me to her place. Once in her living room, she was standing for a while in the dark just in front of me, with her kitten in her hands. She was simply begging me to take the lead and kiss her. But I didn’t. I was too scared that she might think it was bad to show that I had sexual intents. We ended up talking. When she got tired, she asked me to leave… Jeeze, how such a situation is even possible at all? I think it’s a perfect example of the power of wrong and limiting belief systems though. Just amazing to see how past conditioning can impair your existence at such an absurd level. And I can tell you that it never happened again. Fast sexual escalation is a skill that can definitely be learnt.
- Connecting with my sexual energy. As a Nice Guy I tended to sexually overperform and be exclusively focused on the pleasure of my partners. Being a good lover was used to feel valuable and to convince myself that I was different from other men. Therefore, I had to learn to get in charge of my own sexual needs. It started alone with healthy masturbation, i.e., without using porn nor fantasies in my head, but simply for the sake of acknowledging and observing sexual energy flowing in my body. Masturbating in front of a mirror was also a good tool to face my shame and fear of being sexual. I also participated to tantra workshops for men during which we ended up all naked and honoring the blessing of our cocks. It might sound a bit weird from an outside perspective, but a Nice Guy must work on accepting himself as he is, as well as his cock. Later on, I ended up practicing more advanced tantric practices and semen retention that clearly open up new ways for taking care of my own pleasure without feeling bad about it. Sex is raw, powerful and wild, and I learnt to fully embrace these qualities.
- Exploring open relationships. Even before knowing anything about open relationships with women, I knew that something was wrong with me in monogamous relationships, it just didn’t feel right for me. But for a Nice Guy, there might be nothing more frightening than telling a woman you love that you need sexual diversity. So, exploring with open relationships was about taking finally care of these needs. It was also about clearly communicate them to my lovers, without fearing that they would stop loving me. It was also about fully acknowledging my needs for freedom.
- Prioritising my needs. I learnt to make my own needs a priority and accept that there is nothing wrong in doing that. It might appear selfish at first for a Nice Guy, but then you start to realize that when your needs are met you simply can support people you love much better.
- Accepting that some people will never like me. This is quite a hard one for a Nice Guy since he wants everybody to like him by putting on his nice people pleaser mask in any circumstances. I haven’t worked on anything special for this one, but its internalization came naturally when I started to develop self-love and self-acceptance along my recovery process. Indeed, when I started to feel and nurture such feelings, I gave much less fucks to what other people thought of me, it was none of my business anymore. When you have also put on place a better support system with other men and trust the fact that it’s their job to like you, you can deal much easily with adversity.
- Understanding male and female polarities and biology. I used to put women on a pedestal, just as many Nice Guys tend to do. And understanding differences in our gender qualities and flaws on an equal footing was revealing. ‘The Way of the Superior Man’ by David Deida was certainly one of the most influential books for me on that matter. I highly recommend it. It is also a lot about not putting your lover(s) at the center of your life. It has never been a real issue for me since I always knew that my freedom was more important than any kind of commitment with my romantic partners. However, it’s worth mentioning since a lot of men are very conditioned to follow their woman’s expectations even if they completely contradict their own. Another hard pill to swallow for me was about understanding female biological imperatives. Indeed, even if culture and social conditioning dictate significant parts of our behaviors, the fact remains that biology still command behind the scenes. These ideas have been mainly exposed by the ‘manosphere’ online subculture. In particular, the idea of hypergamy (women always seeking for men of higher status for satisfying obvious evolution imperatives), or the fact that women tend to prefer fucking alpha bad boys when ovulating, while looking for nice providers the rest of the time who will invest in taking good care of the progeny. Contrary to what most of the bitter men apparently following this manosphere subculture believe, there is no need to be angry about these evolutionary optimized strategies. And by the way, the one adopted by men willing to spread as much of their semen in many young and fertile vaginas is certainly not less primitive. However, understanding what’s at stake here helped me knocking out women from the pedestal, and internalising a more balanced and mature perspective on women’s behaviour.
- Taking responsibility at work, embracing chaos, and negotiating my salary. Part of my recovery involved taking the lead at work by focusing on my personal growth. It not only meant taking fully the lead of new projects on my own, but also to reject the ones that were not aligned with my new personal plans. At the beginning, it felt painful to say ‘no’ to my co-workers, since it went completely against the Nice Guy’s mindset. I also shifted my interests from engineering to people management and community building. When people management became a key aspect of my work, I learnt to accept people’s unpredictable nature. As a Nice Guy who tended to be over-controlling, it was a good practice to let go of aspects that I couldn’t control at all, and to find creative ways to resolve issues by negotiations. Finally, getting involved in salary discussions was also an important part of the process. As a Nice Guy I was too agreeable to handle such complicated negotiations in the past, and even didn’t think about putting this topic on the table at all. Moreover, it involved acknowledging my self-worth and capabilities that were valuable on the workplace.
- Past integration therapy and journaling. With the help of a therapist and several books, I worked a lot on understanding the influence of my past. It encompassed journaling about past events from my childhood and understanding how defense mechanisms I developed at that time were negatively impacting my adult perception of the world. My journaling implied a bit of analytical thinking to bridge the gap between past events and present emotional triggers, but the purpose of the therapy was more about connecting to these past painful feelings via regressions. For instance, I managed to connect with a deep sadness that was stuck in my unconscious about the lack of emotional connection with my father as a kid. For the emotionally disconnected man that I was at that time, it was quite a breakthrough. And it was even before I discovered psychedelics! Once these past emotions are brought back to your adult consciousness, they start to lose their grip on your adult’s psyche. Working with your abandonment issues is an important part of the Nice Guy recovery process as well. The books and practices that helped me at that time: ‘Reclaiming your Life’, by Jean Jenson; ‘Taming your Outer Child’ by Susan Anderson; ‘Past Reality Integration’, therapy developed by Ingeborg Bosch. By doing this work, I also realized with some compassion that my parents were wounded people and rationalized their dysfunctional behaviors that exacerbated my Nice Guy syndrome, which is the first step towards forgiveness. I had also to admit that most likely my main motivation for investing many years in an unfulfilling academic career might have come from my unconscious willingness to validate my worth to my parents. Even if I had some fun years on the way and definitely learnt many skills, my initial motivations to take the academic way were not anchored to my purpose. “Live as if your father were dead. A man must love his father and yet be free of his father’s expectations and criticisms in order to be a free man”, David Deida writes.
What a journey it has been! After all these years of hard work and shifts of perspective though, I can finally say that most of my dysfunctional Nice Guy traits are definitely gone. And I am so very glad of this achievement, since I wouldn’t have believed 10 years ago that it could have been possible at all. It turned out that my Nice Guy traits did not define who I was. It showed that even deeply rooted dysfunctional behaviors and immature perception of the world can be shifted if you commit to the process with dedication and persistence. And I am today much closer to the man I finally want to be.
Afterthought, could I have done something better?
It certainly took me several thousands of hours to implement this process over some 6+ years. And even if all its aspects were determinant and complementarily contributed to my recovery, which ones were the most important, and what could I have done better? And there’s one thing I can think about. Indeed, the first years of my process were mainly dedicated to deeply dive into introspection by reading psychology books, scrutinizing my past, analyzing my daily emotional triggers, and increase my awareness. All good and very necessary stuff for sure. But by putting a lot of hours on these aspects at the beginning of my recovery process, I kind of slightly postponed working on my daygame. Indeed, I might have been using my needs for deep introspection and willingness to fix my inner game as an excuse to avoid getting really challenged and uncomfortable with cold approaching attractive women in the street. And it turned out that daygame actually covers so many aspects of the Nice Guy recovery process. Indeed, it implies that you have to face your fears of rejection. That you must fully embrace being rejected. You have to clearly show your sexual intents and stop hiding your cock. You must embrace strong uncomfortable body feelings when you talk to hot girls and when you push hard for physical escalation while staying calm and grounded. You must learn to speak slowly and clearly and sustain a strong and open posture. You must embrace the chaotic nature of women’s behavior. You must connect with your emotions in the present moment, otherwise women will reject you right away for acting like a dry boring robot (women are your mirror). You start to break the legs of the scarcity mindset by realizing that attractive women with whom you can connect and have sex with can be found in abundance. You embrace the fact that most women don’t give a shit about you and will give you unfiltered honest feedback about your behavior. You have to understand social dynamic between genders and calibrate your intents according to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of your interactions with women in the real world. For all these reasons, I would definitely recommend Nice Guys at the beginning of their recovery process to prioritize taking actions in the street with daygame. Yes, it is scary and seems really dangerous at first. Yes, the learning curve of daygame is fucking steep, and is clearly a strong emotional roller-coaster over the long run. But it’s clearly worth it, and I believe contributed significantly to my recovery process.
Some deep work remains to be done though
According to Robert Glover, it is common for Nice Guys to have experienced abandonment one way or another in their early lives. To children, abandonment means death, and because children are totally ego-centered, they believe that they are the cause of everything that happens to them. In consequence, Nice Guys develop later on Toxic Shame, the belief that they are inherently bad, defective, or unlovable. It is a deeply held core belief that one is bad. In order to work on defusing such deep belief, I had to work hard on myself and my past issues, as described above with therapies and deep introspection via journaling. However, new abandonment issues on which I am still working on were recently brought up to my consciousness. So the work is not completely done, and I am currently planning to dive deeper into these issues.
And finally, when I consider the cost in terms of time and energy for implementing my recovery process, I am wondering how and where I found the resources to keep me on the right track for so long? Because dedication to the work on the long run of sorting ourselves out is a key quality to nurture for men. Why some will succeed, but most will simply give up before seeing concrete results? I will keep asking myself this question, and hopefully find ways to motivate more men to commit to do the work.