Summary of “No More Mister Nice Guy”: This book provides good-natured men with some practical advice on how to put their needs before those of others and to no longer put up with the frustration that this excessive kindness causes in their lives.
By Robert A. Glover, 2005, 257 pages
Note: This guest column was written by Hervé Lero, from the blog changeons.fr whose purpose is to help people (even the most shy) to become extremely sociable.
Chronicle and summary of “No More Mister Nice Guy – the far too nice syndrome”:
The French version of the book, titled Trop gentil pour être heureux, opens with a preface by Christophe André (*). In the delivery of the content, it conveys the purpose of the book (I love this author and books).
This preface is poignant and tells the story of Martin, a former schoolmate of Christophe André, who, much to everyone’s surprise, killed himself. However, whilst he researched the book, Christophe discovered that Martin was affected by the far too nice syndrome, and his outward kindness hid a profound unhappiness.
It is this internal unhappiness that all the suave and polite guys on earth have in common. The outer image they portray is a perfect, smooth and trouble-free character, but inside it is often just the opposite. Frustrations build up, and their lives are not happy.
No more Mister Nice Guy will explain to us who the good guys are and how they work. It explains why this syndrome can only lead to an unhappy life and provides practical options to help deal with it.
It’s the perfect book that can, subconsciously, be used as a form of shock therapy for those who suffer from this disorder. If you read it at the appropriate moment in your life, it can change it. That’s why I want to share it with you.
If you don’t have this condition, you probably know someone who does. Once you have read it, not only will you be more likely to understand them, but also either help them or let them borrow the book. It may change their life.
* Christophe André is a French psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has written many books, including “Imperfect, free and happy” or “Meditate day after day, 25 lessons to live in full consciousness”.
Chapter 1: the good guy syndrome
Who are the good guys?
They are men who love to make other people happy and who hate conflicts. Their kindness puts them in a position where, in order to feel useful, they have a strong urge to put the needs of others ahead of their own. Secretly they hope to gain something back but are frequently left frustrated as there is no response to their kindness.
However, you will see that the definition is clearer than that, here are a few points to help you determine if you (or someone you know) has this condition:
- you give a lot and you are confident that others will love you because of it
- you like to take care of others and fix their problems before your own
- and you seek the support and approval of others at all times
- you avoid confrontation (above all big arguments!)
- you are convinced that you must conceal any shortcomings or faults you may have
- try to do things the correct and proper way
- you control your feelings and true desires
- you may want to appear to be different from your father
- and you are more relaxed in the company of women than men. And yet, your love life is not great.
- you don’t like to put your own needs first
- you use your partner as your main focus of attention
Many of these considerate types have these characteristics in common. Nothing to worry about initially, the fact that you’re too kind can’t hurt after all… Except….if you look more closely, the scenario is not so rosy.
These characteristics are also associated with a significant number of negative traits:
- Nice guys are deceitful because they hide their feelings and say what they think others want to hear
- They nurture secrecy, and cover their mistakes: guard against the day when someone discovers them!
- They compartmentalise their lives
- And they are manipulative because they never directly tell you what they want, they tend to coax people to get what they want
- They want to control everyone and everything around them
- give to get something back in return, although they think otherwise
- They often have a problematic gender issue
- Typically they only have limited success, in both their personal or business lives.
- They let frustration build-up until the pressure causes them to explode.
These characteristics may suggest that good guys are rare. Yet, many people have or have had this condition. Since I read this book, I have been able to relate it to many of my past actions, which correspond to the author’s analysis. I can now spot nice guys, and I meet them regularly.
Some may be your friends, your spouse, your colleagues or your neighbours. This condition is not rare, and if they read this book, this gives them the chance, maybe for the first time, to understand that they have a problem and can try to resolve it.
Chapter 2: How do you become a good guy?
The distorted world of the good guy
Good guys base their approach to life on unnecessary philosophies (in this article, we will refer to philosophy as a portrayal of their world).
It causes them to follow a foolish path, which leads nowhere. Rather than reconsider their actions, they keep on the same track and try to be even nicer and give even more, which just makes things worse.
A good guy thinks that he can resolve a problematic relationship with a temperamental friend if he lets them behave how they want, even if he comes off worse himself. If it’s unsuccessful, he’ll continue on the same path, convinced that it’s the right strategy to stabilise the friendship.
Robert Glover’s opinion is that, generally, the reason you become a good guy is down to a mistaken notion on life during childhood. Before the age of 5, most childrens’ philosophies that shape their lives, are already developed. Good guys are led to believe that you always need to be nice so that you can be loved. This is generally attributed to a dysfunctional parental role model or a mistaken perception about how society works.
This is usually linked to 2 factors: the fear of abandonment (if I am not nice, my parents will abandon me or not give me attention) and the belief that it is risky to be who we really are (which leads to the concealment of their hopes and desires).
Even what appear to be happy childhoods, can cause the basis of good guy characteristics to be formed. But when you research it, a common factor for children is that they feel they were only loved on condition; to be good at school, to be nice to their brother or a parent, not to cause problems for anyone, etc.
Lack of parental guidance?
Note: This part of the book “No more Mister Nice Guy” can be summed up briefly without too much detail: this section is not sexist, but attempts to explain why the amount of good guys has risen and they behave as they do because of how society has changed. To me, this section lacked conviction as it was theory as opposed to proof with evidence to back it up. However, it still has its merits, whether you agree with the author’s theory, or not.
In the author’s view, the good guys lacked guidance. Sometimes their father was absent, violent, or did not fit the definition of someone who treated them well. For a few decades now, society has attempted to homogenise the sexes, which has changed how we now define masculinity. In many cases, women teach young boys how to become men.
Because of this, a large number of good guys have developed a feminine perspective of masculinity. This explanation is reflected by the fact that in adulthood they are more likely to be friends with women, rather than lovers. Women tell these men: “You’re the perfect guy and whoever gets you will be so lucky”, but they would never choose to be with them.
This kind of remark will just encourage the good guy to stay on the same path and he is convinced it will eventually lead to the perfect spot. He endeavours to be even nicer than before but is too blind to see he is still on the wrong track.
Chapter 3: Learn to enjoy yourself
In his pursuit to be loved, a good guy will do everything to keep his audience happy: with his knowledgeable friends, he will make intelligent remarks, for his mother he will act as the perfect son, with his father he will only talk about sports, with his workmates he will be cool and swear.
A veritable chameleon. But underneath this disguise, he is afraid that others won’t like him if he reveals his real self. The other thing is that he isn’t even sure who he is himself, as he thinks he needs to be all things to all people, all the time.
This continuous pursuit of approval can overwhelm and causes people who are overly kind to feel sad and lonely.
Sometimes, good guys will make sure that they look perfect on the outside, be it material goods (beautiful car, beautiful clothes) or their loved ones (his adorable little girl or his attractive wife). They are especially captivated by the recognition of women.
The issue is that because they feel they need women’s approval, it leads them to empower the women to set the tone of the relationship and they put up with their partners’ moods, which ends up with both unhappy. A good guy can’t admit his own mistakes. He feels so ashamed that he can’t say, “I messed up, I will fix it!”.
Quite the opposite, he will do everything possible to keep it hidden:
- hide the proof
- falsify accounts
- defend, explain, apologise and reason
- turn things around
- create a barrier between him and others
In order to recover from this potentially chronic condition, good guys must alter their philosophies. Rather than seek approval from others, they must adapt and make themselves happy first. Once you learn to enjoy yourself, it’s the start of the journey.
Learn to enjoy yourself, the first step to recovery for good guys
This is never easy because it’s hard to openly express your wishes and how you aim to achieve them. To do this they have to learn to be themselves rather than behave as they believe other people expect them to do.
Robert Glover suggests to come up with a list of ways you behave to gain the approval of others, and to examine it in two ways: either stop it for a week and/or completely exaggerate it so that you understand how unnatural it appears to be.
If they assert themselves and spend time alone, it’s a good strategy to free themselves from the role of the good guy and gives them the chance to learn to control their fear of loneliness or rejection. They have to accept that they make mistakes, like all of us do, and that this does not make them bad or unlovable, and that it will not preclude them from the love of others.
Chapter 4: learn to put their needs first
Though it may seem strange, good guys can’t prioritise their needs. For them, their friends’ problems, the concerns for their great aunt, or even their workmates, come before their own. So they find themselves in a peculiar situation, where they spend a lot of energy in an attempt to solve other people’s problems but have no time, energy or inclination to do the same for their own problems.
It may seem like a mad and mixed up situation, but I experienced this myself for years and I can confirm the descriptions laid out in the book as real. I consistently put the needs and requirements of others ahead of my own which, in the long run, led to huge amounts of frustration.
It’s not wrong to have needs and aspirations or to achieve them. It’s difficult for a good guy to grasp. But it is an essential part of the process, as they have a real tendency to not say what they want, and doing everything in their power to make themselves unhappy.
For instance, many men say they are very interested in sex, but how they approach it rarely sees them achieve the result that they claim they want.
Result, a major frustration.
They make secret agreements with their family and friends, as this is how they operate: “I do this and that for you, and in exchange you will do this for me. We’ll both pretend that we know nothing about a deal.”
Over time, if you operate this way, based on unspoken and emotional blackmail, it will end badly. A good guy will only ever say “I love you”, in order to hear someone say “I love you” in return.
The way he acts is circumstantial, ambivalent and manipulative, though he isn’t aware of it. He treats as he would like to be treated. The reason he takes care of others is because that’s what he would like them to do for him.
It’s not kindness for kindness’ sake and it always ends the same way:
- He gives to others in the hope to get something in return
- As he doesn’t get as much as he would like in return, he feels frustrated and resents his family and friends
- Once the frustration reaches its peak, he turns angry, grumpy, argumentative, goes into his shell and may even be aggressive or violent.
After the end of the cycle, he starts a new one that follows the same path. The recovery process depends on needs and the ability to be able to sort them out. This is a paradox for him because he regards it as selfish if he puts his needs ahead of others.
He has to understand and accept that it’s inherent for humans to have needs, and that there is no shame in it. A practical exercise put forward by Robert Glover is to try and prioritize your own needs for a week (but to inform your loved ones first), to write down how you feel, and then to ask your loved ones for their feedback on the experiment.
Chapter 5: Rediscover your inner strength
Robert Glover is a former good guy. He realised that the good guys are “wimps”, as he calls them. In fact, they believe that they are the victims, and it’s other people that are the cause of all their problems. Luckily, it’s possible to learn to not be a wimp.
No one calls me a wimp! Marty McFly
The only thing that you have to learn to do is rediscover your inner strength and use it. What this means is that you need to place yourself out of your comfort zone and have the confidence to overcome the challenge.
You need to be able to let go, as it’s an important element to help cure the condition. It gives the good guy time to reflect that life doesn’t have to involve arguments and angst but can be used as a playground or a laboratory where they can play, experiment and enjoy themselves.
Glover advises to get a grip on real life, i.e. don’t place other people on a pedestal, a mistake often made by people who are too kind. Accept that others are imperfect and that you are too. Another good way to assert yourself is to set boundaries for others..
How you express how you feel
In order to heal you need to know how you express how you feel, not hide or suppress it. Good guys hate to be in a situation where feelings are involved, whether it’s their own or others’ because they are no longer in control of it.
An easy method to improve is to reflect on how they feel instead of focus on others. Good guys who want to find a cure will also have to confront their demons and deal with them, not bury them deep down in their hearts.
As we touched on earlier, good guys often deceive others when faced by certain situations. They are deceitful as they don’t tell the whole truth and they withhold facts that embarrass them.
It’s important that they learn to tell the truth and to accept mistakes rather than hide them. If they put all this into practice they can start to live life as it is, not the strange world that they have imagined until now.
Chapter 6: Reconnect with masculinity
Good guys, because they haven’t grown up with positive male role models, rarely socialise with other men. They don’t find it easy to develop close friendships with men, who they find to be of less interest than women.
This leads to a disconnect with their own masculinity and they are not sure of their position in life. They constantly seek the approval of women and have often idolised their mothers, which can lead to relationship issues later in life.
A good guy who wants to recover must, according to Robert Glover, reconnect with men, become strong, find positive male role models, think about the relationship he had with his father. He has to take these things on board to restore a good life balance, and not let others walk all over him.
Chapter 7: Find love
The fear of shame felt by good guys can prevent love. Intimacy causes vulnerability, and the fact that they open themselves up to their partner’s scrutiny and judgement is taken as a threat: he doesn’t want his flaws and weaknesses to be discovered.
Good guys will often choose to be in a relationship with a woman who is unsettled, which means the attention is on her problems, not his. He will constantly have to balance his fear of vulnerability, loneliness, and abandonment, which will often create major issues:
- either the good guy gets so involved in the relationship that he ruins his own life
- or he doesn’t give his partner emotional support (whilst everyone around them thinks he is the perfect companion).
This means that either he puts all his emotional focus on his partner’s life and completely dominates them, to fill the void he feels, or choose a strategy which enables him to spend as little time as possible in private with his partner.
Both of these routes will prevent true intimacy between them, which is good for neither. Most people will change but not the good guy: he will follow the same path to nowhere, with more and more effort in search of a destination that doesn’t exist.
To develop healthy relationships, good guys need to:
- be happy with who they are and what they have
- put their needs ahead of others
- open up and confide in people they trust
- eradicate secretive and covert deals and relationships they regularly opt for
- satisfy their needs, their desires
- learn to let go
- be realistic, rather than their skewed vision of how they think others see them
- improve their integrity, truth and honesty rather than lies
- know when and how to set boundaries
- incorporate a level of masculinity into their lives
Along with these techniques, the author includes some additional strategies to try to find love and develop healthier relationships:
- focus on the relationship, rather than the partner
- stop behaviour that annoys people
- do something different
Robert Glover uses an analogy between humans and pets. If a dog urinates on your carpet and you give him a treat he will continue to do it all his life.
If good guys don’t set boundaries, this is exactly what they do. And, if their partners do something wrong, they don’t reprimand them, they flatter and give them attention instead. Each time he does this, his partner takes this action as an indication of ‘the worse I behave the nicer they will be’.
In other words, relationship problems are generally caused by the good guys.
Chapter 8: Good guys sex life
It’s often very problematic. If the good guy doesn’t express his feelings, it causes:
- huge amounts of frustration.
- pretence that he is satisfied with his sex life when it’s not the case at all
- sexual disorders (impotence, premature ejaculation)
- the total lack of sex life
- or conversely obsessive sexuality (addiction to pornography, compulsive masturbation).
Strange as it may be, good guys will subconsciously make decisions that will enable them to prevent a sexual relationship that makes them feel awkward. But they will still feel frustrated that they don’t have a healthy sex life. Yet they feel a strong resentment that they don’t have a healthy sex life. At some point, they decide to accept a mediocre sex life.
With the focus on the sexual pleasure of their partner, rather than their own needs, there’s a sexual disconnect between both their sexual needs and desires and what they experience.
Chapter 9: Live a good life
Only you can fulfill your own needs. Good guys need to understand this if they are to turn their lives around. Robert Glover encourages them to learn how to live a good life. It’s not just their relationships that hinder them: they’re hampered at work, in their dreams and goals. Fear, the desire to always get everything right and self-sabotage, are a daily threat.
If you want to improve you have to be prepared to give it your heart and soul. To do that you have to face your fears. As a rule, good guys will accept the role they have in society, rather than challenge it, as they don’t believe that it’s down to them to create a fun, productive and enjoyable lifestyle for themselves.
The acceptance that you are vulnerable and make mistakes will help to cure this condition. The focus groups have improved the lives of many of the former good guys. They also have to identify their self-destructive attitudes, and to change the related philosophies, so that they get a more balanced view of life.
Book critique of “No more Mister Nice Guy”:
In my opinion, this book is hugely beneficial to help all those men who suffer from this condition. Robert Glover is a former good guy who turned his life around and has subsequently met and helped lots of other men who are far too kind.
Unfortunately, good guys often suffer in silence, oblivious to the devil inside them. They put up with a life of frustration and mediocrity. They make up a big group of silent people whose issues are barely understood or noticed by others.
Robert Glover’s book is a great introduction to how we should approach the problem, the associated deviant behaviours and practical solutions to solve it. I have a confession: I used to be a good guy, and I find that very difficult to admit.
When I read No more Mister Nice Guy; I connected and identified with lots of the unhealthy scenarios and useless subsequent steps; that I had put myself and others through in the past. My only regret is that I discovered it after I had found my own way (sometimes at a painful cost); to many of the suggestions put forward in this book.
So, in my case, it didn’t hold too many surprises; but it did confirm that my thoughts were correct and helped me to better understand why I behaved as I did in the past and the traps to avoid; so as not to repeat my mistakes. For anyone who is currently a “good guy”; No more Mister Nice Guy could well be a revelation and change their life.
Ever since I read No more Mister Nice Guy and confirmed I have this condition, I have noticed many others who suffer from it. They are a big minority, it’s not rare.
Hopefully, this article will spark your interest in the subject; and help you if you are a good guy or you know one. Personally, I read it again every 2 years; to remind myself of who I really am and so that I don’t repeat my past mistakes.
- A revelation for people who aren’t aware that they have this condition
- Gives you a clearer insight into the incentives and behaviour of people who appear to be overly kind
- Challenges you and makes you question yourself
- Contains practical exercises to question and help to improve behaviour
- Can genuinely and tangibly change the daily lives of good guys and those they love
- The term “good guy” is not very meaningful compared to the English version “mister nice guy”; which might mean some people who are interested won’t read the book
- The psychological arguments put forward sometimes lack conviction (not enough solid evidence)
- Some repetition in the testimonies and the text
- Only for men (although women who live with a good guy could find it beneficial).
My rating :
Have you read “No more Mister Nice Guy”? How do you rate it?
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