No More Mr. Nice Guy – By Robert Glover – A Review
Okay, here’s the deal. I have been fretting and overthinking for the past almost 2 weeks trying to decide what I wanted to put “out there” as my first review. And I don’t know if I’d really call this a review, more of a sharing of how awesome a book I think it is. Over the course of my life I have read many self improvement type books. Okay, before you start to start rolling your eyes too much I’m talking about self improvement type books in a wide variety of topics. From SPIN Selling books to Paleo diet books to meditation books to how to plan for retirement books. It’s all over the board, not just in one area like how to pick up chicks. No More Mr, Nice Guy, by Robert Glover, came across my radar at the right time in my life when I was not in a good place inside my own head. So from a timing perspective it was spot on. The fact that I have re-read the book about 8 times over the last 4 years and still refer to it on a regular basis probably tells you how much of an impact it made on my life in general. I learned core principles about how I operated in terms of the world that I still am conscious about to this day. It was truly a great epiphany in life that woke me the f**k up, kicked my butt to put a stake in the ground and start changing my life a day at a time to get myself to a happier, more complete place.
An Overview Of No More Mr. Nice Guy
Depending upon where you read it the book was published in either 2000 or 2003 by Dr. Robert Glover. He is a psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy and a leading authority on the “Nice Guy Syndrome”. Besides working with hundreds of nice guys individually he has also worked in couples therapy and conducts seminars across the country regarding breaking free of the “Nice Guy Syndrome”. What is the Nice guy syndrome you ask? Well, this quote from the book sums it up nicely:
“Nice Guys believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, he will in return be happy, loved, and fulfilled. Sounds too good to be true? It is”
The problem with nice guys is that they operate from the broken set of rules that if they are nice, good, and do all the right things all the time like keeping the peace, avoiding conflict, hiding mistakes, seeking approval, and in general people pleasing then they will be loved, get their needs met, and in general live a problem free life. So they do nice guy things as a way of functioning in the world and try to be what everyone wants them to be or what THEY THINK other people want them to be. Then they wonder why they aren’t getting what they want by doing all the “nice” and “right” things. So they try even harder. By trying harder they still don’t get what they want so they start to manipulate to get what they want. They hide things like drinking or porn or stupid crap no one cares about. They give to get which means they will do things for others with the expectation someone will do something for them instead of just asking for it. Doing the dishes and vacuuming the house in order to (hopefully) get a roll in the hay? Sound…..ahhhh…..nervous laughter……familiar? They wind up doing all sorts of approval seeking behavior in order to get what they want. They try to project what they think others want and it becomes a frustrating way of dealing with life in general and in particular getting what they want. Dr. Glover says that Nice Guys are like Teflon Men. By working so hard to be smooth they become boring and slippery. It is our rough edges and imperfections which actually gives all of us something to connect with.
Characteristics of a Nice Guy
The working paradigm of a nice guy is as follows: 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.
You see nice guys everywhere. He is the friend who does everything for everyone but whose own life is a mess. He’s the buddy who lets his wife run the show top to bottom. He’s the guy who let’s people walk all over him because he doesn’t want to cause a scene. He’s the dude who’s wife or girlfriend gets frustrated because he is afraid of conflict so therefore nothing ever gets solved. He’s the guy who doesn’t seem to have a hard line opinion……on anything.
Characteristics of nice guys include:
- Being a giver – they are natural givers and believe it is a sign of how nice a person they are.
- They fix and caretake – If someone, especially a spouse or girlfriend, is in a bad mood or depressed or sad nice guys typically jump right in to attempt to solve the problem or fix the situation, many times without being asked. This was a HUGE issue for me to overcome. Many guys, by nature, are fixers. The “nice guy” takes it to a whole new level. To an extreme (and this was me) nice guys feel like they are responsible for other people’s happiness. If someone in my life was upset or sad or unhappy, I felt it was up to me to get them to a happier place. Talk about exhausting. And a no-win situation.
- Nice guys avoid conflict – they want to keep their world’s smooth and problem free. As such they avoid doing things that upset their little world. They keep the peace, oftentimes to a detriment in relationships.
- They are often more comfortable relating to women than men – due to childhood conditioning many nice guys have few male friends. And since they seek the approval of women so much they like to believe they are different from other men.
- Many times they make their partner their emotional center – Many nice guys report that they are happy only when their partner is happy. They emotional tie their happiness to the happiness of their significant other. This is dangerous ground right here.
- Seek approval – A universal trait of nice guys is the seeking of outside validation from others, in particular women. Almost everything a nice guy does is calculated to gain someone’s approval or avoid disapproval in some way.
- Nice guys believe they must hide their perceived flaws and mistakes. They believe someone will get mad at them, or shame them, or even leave them if their shortcomings and/or mistakes are exposed. This introduces us to the concept of self-acceptance. A HUGELY important concept!
- Don’t make their needs a priority – Nice guys tend to feel they are selfish if they put their needs first. They think it’s a virtue to put others needs before their own.
- Nice Guys typically repress their feelings. They frequently try to keep their feelings on an even keel, not too high, not too low. They are masters of analyzing things and in my case, “thinking” my feelings. Being very rational about how I “should” feel instead of simply allowing myself to feel.
What’s Wrong With Being A Nice Guy?
Well, in many ways, nothing is wrong with being a nice guy. As a matter of fact at one point in his book Dr. Glover suggests striving to be a “Nice Guy with an edge”. Nothing wrong with that. But………the problem is many nice guys are actually anything but nice. It’s that they appear to be nice on the outside but what’s under the hood isn’t so nice. Once you get closer and are around them more you see that many nice guys:
- Are dishonest – they tend to hide their mistakes, avoid conflict, repress their feelings, and say what they think others want to hear. These traits make them fundamentally dishonest.
- Are secretive – because they seek approval so much nice guys tend to hide things that they feel might upset anyone.
- Are controlling – a huge part of being a nice guy is keeping their world smooth and even. This makes nice guys try to control things and people around them to keep their world harmonious at all times.
- Are passive – aggressive – nice guys tend to express their frustration and resentment in indirect and not so nice ways. They are forgetful, late, unavailable, and bad at follow through. When called on these behaviors they acknowledge the issue and promise to change but rarely do.
- Are addictive – this behavior serves the purpose of relieving stress or self medicating. Since they keep so much stuffed down inside it typically has to come out somewhere and many times does in addictive behaviors.
- Frequently isolated – even though nice guys want to be loved and liked their behavior makes it difficult for the people in their lives to get close to them. They hide a lot of things and behaviors and in general tend to lead somewhat secretive, lonely lives.
- Are full of rage – even though nice guys typically deny getting very angry the very fact that they keep so much bottled up inside and keep the fake smile on their face tends to create a pressure cooker that blows from time to time.
- Give to get – means just what you’d think. Even though nice guys are generous givers many times it comes with subconscious and unspoken strings attached. They want you to like them or do something for them since they did something for you.
- Have trouble setting boundaries – one of my personal favorites. Many nice guys have a hard time saying “no” or “I won’t do that” or “I won’t tolerate that in my life”. They often feel like helpless victims that see other people as the cause of their problems. I will explore this one in more detail in a while as it is such an important concept.
Chapters & Steps to Fight Being a Nice Guy
After providing an overview of what the nice guy syndrome is as well as the making of a nice guy Dr. Glover goes on to explain specific steps to address nice guy behavior. I love the way these chapters are set up. Each one offers some of the background of how these different aspects could have come to be. He also offers a clear and concise explanation of each of the behaviors that need to be addressed. Finally he has “breaking free” exercises in each of the chapters that I highly recommend completing. It is one thing to read about something, it is quite another to take real action to not only look inside yourself at how that behavior affects your life but also ways to take specific steps to combat it.
I won’t go into a deep dive here but an overview of the chapters are as follows. After that I will share some of the characteristics and habits of nice guys that really resonated with me.
Chapter 3 – Learning To Please Yourself
Chapter 4 – Make Your Needs a Priority
Chapter 5 – Reclaim Your Personal Power
Chapter 6 – Reclaim Your Masculinity
Chapter 7 – Get The Love You Want
Chapter 8 – Get The Sex You Want
Chapter 9 – Get The Life You Want
Key Concepts That Woke Me Up
Several concepts introduced by Dr. Glover in No More Mr. Nice Guy made a huge impact on me. In part because I saw so much of myself in his writings and partly because when I actively did things to STOP doing that behavior it led to very positive results. As a matter of fact it’s not uncommon when you read a review about the book or someone you know has read the book for their response to be ‘It’s freaky how he seemed to be writing about me”.
DEER Response – Acronym for Defend, Explain, Excuse, Rationalize. These are all fear-based behavior used to distract others from focusing on nice guy mistakes. It also makes you appear weak. When you are challenged on why you did something or why you made a decision there’s no need for you to defend your actions. You are a grown man and you are quite capable of making a decision for yourself or your family. Guess what? You don’t have to defend your actions – it just makes you look unsure of yourself. Not a high quality feature. Watch yourself to see how often you find yourself doing this.
Covert Contracts – These are unconscious, unspoken agreements that are the primary way that nice guys get their needs met (at least to some degree). Basically it’s the unspoken agreement “If I do ________ for you, then you will do _________ for me.” This is where you get into the guys that does things like housework with the unspoken belief that this entitles them to sex with their wife. I mean, why wouldn’t it, right? I just cleaned the house for 2 hours, you should get naked for me!!
Caretaking – this is when nice guys spend an inordinate amount of time and energy taking care of someone else’s needs, problems, or feelings in order to feel valuable, get one’s own needs met, or avoid dealing with with their own feelings. The problem here is that the “loving gesture” is not purely given, it’s given with an expectation of something in return or to feel valuable, not for the simple reason TO WANT TO. It takes a bit to sink in but just think of the times you’ve done something for someone else so they will do something for you. The problem with doing this is that it leads to long term resentment. It’s the guy that blows up after years of doing things for other people EXPECTING someone to give back to them equally but it never seems to come back. Ooooooh boy, watch out.
Boundries – this one is massive. It’s a bit tough because it can slip into the realm of ultimatums if you aren’t used to having boundaries. Basically boundaries are limits you put on how you will live your life or how you will be treated. Nice guys are usually much more comfortable giving in and keeping the peace, it’s the whole “I don’t want any conflict” deal. But by doing this you allow people to treat you in ways that really aren’t very nice. What about that friend that is always negative to the point you don’t like being around them? Well instead of offering the ultimatum that you won’t hang out with them when they are being negative (which would be all the time) you tell them you are working on creating more positivity in your life and are limiting negative influences. If they continue to be negative around you then you simply stop being around them. It’s what you are willing to tolerate in your life. You teach people how to treat you. Here’s a good one to remember – What you put up with, you end up with.
Self – Acceptance – Now there is not a specific section dedicated to self-acceptance in the book. However, many of the parts of the book are in one way or another referring to getting away from actions and things that nice guys hide and to simply be yourself. Pretending to be something you are not is tiresome. Pretending to be what you think someone else wants is exhausting. And as nice guys lose the concept of feeling ashamed and telling the truth and speaking how they feel and asking for what they want they slowly grow to accept themselves for who they are, warts and all. In the get the sex you want portion of the book he references the alpha male and the bull moose in nature. They don’t sit around trying to figure how to get the girls to like them, they are just themselves, fierce, strong, competitive, sometimes smelly, and overall just proud. It is self-confidence in oneself that is the most powerful – to yourself and others.
The Goal – An Integrated Male
Hanging on to the concept of self acceptance Dr. Glover talks about the goal for breaking free of the nice guy syndrome. The goal is to become an “Integrated Man”. What this means is that the integrated man is able to accept all aspects of his life. He is able to embrace everything that makes him unique: his power, his assertiveness, his courage, his passions, his mistakes, his imperfections, and as importantly, his dark side. Some attributes of the integrated male include:
- Having a strong sense of self, he likes himself just as he is
- He takes responsibility for getting his own needs met
- He is comfortable in his masculinity and sexuality
- He has integrity
- He is a leader who is willing to provide and protect those that are important to him
- His is direct and clear about his feelings
- He can be giving and supportive WITHOUT care taking or problem-solving
- He knows how to set boundaries and is not afraid to work through conflict
I Can’t Say Enough Good Things About This Book
I have a handful of books that I have read in my life that have truly given me a paradigm shift in my world and this is at the top. I can’t say enough good things about No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover. He has an easy writing style and the chapters are well laid out and most of them resonate. I think many guys will relate to at least some if not many of the portions of the book. I learned so many great concepts that I was unaware of that I could relate to. And more importantly I worked to put much of the book into practice in my own life. Like any big life shifts the changes take time and you have to put the consistent effort into it in order for the changes to become effective. This is true of any new habit. I also know many, if not most, people, and in particular men, don’t really do much self improvement. Change is hard, that’s all there is to it. But if you are interested in constant improvement and believe as I do that life is an ever learning adventure you have to keep your heart, mind, and soul open to new things that can bring fresh perspective and exciting new things to you life.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book No More Mr. Nice Guy and give it a read. Then, if parts of it strike a chord within you, give those sections another read. Then maybe even do something with your newfound wisdom. And I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding No More Mr. Nice Guy – please share!
All my best!!