The most striking thing I notice that guys who lack confidence and struggle to attract the women they want in their lives have in common is Nice Guy Syndrome. This affliction is characterised by the constant seeking of approval from other people (especially women), an intense fear of rejection, and a misguided belief that we can get our needs met by always being unfailingly “nice” and inoffensive to other people.
Dr. Robert A. Glover is a therapist who works primarily with men who are suffering from Nice Guy Syndrome. As a recovering Nice Guy himself, he has a special insight into Nice Guy Syndrome, and why it is such an ineffective way of getting our needs met as a man. I first heard about his book No More Mr. Nice Guy on one of David DeAngelo's Interviews With Dating Gurus series, and immediately recognised the Nice Guy traits Dr. Glover described, in myself. One of the most telling things was actually a quote from his ex-wife, who told him: “How do I know that you will stand up for me, if you can't even stand up to me?”
The basic working paradigm of the typical Nice Guy that Dr. Glover describes is this:
- 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.
When the paradigm doesn't appear to be working, Nice Guys typically just try harder, putting more and more energy and effort into strategies that don't work; until eventually we burn out, explode with frustration, or wind up depressed with how our life is going.
Dr. Glover points out that the problem for Nice Guys isn't just the way they act; it's the result of a flawed belief system in which we think that other people, and women in particular, will respect us if we always act in ways which are inoffensive. There are several problems with this belief system, not the least of which are that women are biologically wired to seek out men who have the capacity to protect them physically. Nice Guys are typically afraid of conflict of any sort, and hence don't usually display such a capacity. When everything we say and do is filtered by the premise that we mustn't offend anyone because we want everyone to like us, we end up reduced to a narrow, boring, conservative lowest-common-denominator with other men; which leaves nothing unique to stand out for a woman to be attracted to.
Nice Guys might seem like great providers and caring partners, but even when Nice Guys do get into relationships with women, there's very little excitement or “edge” about them to keep the relationship interesting and engaging for the woman. Women say they want men who are kind, generous and thoughtful, all of which might sound like Nice Guy traits, yet they often fall for “bad boys”, much the the bemusement, disdain and confusion of guys who on the surface would actually appear much better for them. But women also need some spontaneity and excitement to keep things interesting in the long haul.
Dr. Glover points out that Nice Guys aren't actually as thoughtful as we may first appear; we're actually thinking primarily of ourselves whenever our actions are motivated by the need to get other people to like us. In fact, Nice Guys are actually quite selfish, fundamentally dishonest, and manipulative in their covert attempts to win other people's approval and get our needs met.
In addition to outlining what's wrong with the way Nice Guys view and interact with the world, this book also outlines an action plan for dealing with it. Every activity in the plan is likely to challenge and confront the typical Nice Guy, encouraging us to change our thinking, step outside the comfort zone we build around ourselves, and start doing things differently. He highly recommends joining a men's group, and getting support from other men in dealing with issues like shame and fear that stop men from being authentic and overt about their needs and about what they want from women and the world in general.
I've often wondered what it was that I had been doing wrong in my interactions with women, and why the women I liked often ended up being so angry and resentful towards me, even though I was trying so hard to be nice to them. Dr Glover's book highlights exactly what I've been doing wrong all this time, and what to do about it. Since I've been applying some of the advice in this book, I've noticed a marked difference in the way that women are responding to me. It turns out that a lot of what us Nice Guys believe about women and what they want from us is not just wrong; it's actually completely backwards!
Some books aimed at men who want to be more successful with women just try to cover surface issues like pick-up lines and the mechanics of seduction; not this one. The thing I really liked about this book is that it goes to the root cause of the problems that many of us guys have in relating to women, and encourages us to deal with the underlying fears that cause us to act in ineffective ways. The payoff from this approach is much broader than simply having more potential female partners; it means more confidence generally, better relationships with men and women, better career skills, and a whole host of life benefits.
When we habitually avoid offending other people we tend to attract other friends who do the same, and these people are the least likely to confront us about our ineffective beliefs and behaviours. You may not realise what you're doing wrong until someone, or a book like this, points it out to you. Even if you don't identify with the “nice guy” concept, I highly recommend this book for any guy who hasn't had the success with women, dating, sex and relationships that he wants; and wants to know why, and what to do about it.
Dr Glover also has a website with online courses to help you break free of Nice Guy Syndrome.