The Nice Guy Syndrome and How You Can Cure it

Do NOT let the title fool you.

This is not an article that uses "evolutionary" pseudoscience to bolster jerks and guys who treat their partners like dirt. This is not an article that will shame kind words and actions. This article is meant to address an issue that truly raises my hackles: the tendency of many guys to conflate being nice (kind) with making themselves (and their partners) miserable by insincerely representing themselves.

Disclaimer: Guys who do kind things because they want to and are completely honest with their significant others, please disregard this article (unless you want to show it to someone who you think may have this tendency, of course). Men who do kind things are highly valued in our society and in my opinion, and I do believe a relationship is greatly enhanced when both parties often do kind things for one another.
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This article is a result of personal experience and other anecdotes. I have worn a "mask" in some of my high school years because I was terrified of people not liking me as I was, so I sympathize with those who still feel that pressure today.

"How can someone not like a nice guy?" one may ask. "Isn't being 'nice' what a person is supposed to do?"

Here is the deal: most people want a partner who is kind. This is where the term "nice" comes in. Somehow down the line, many men have been taught, either by media, social circles, parental examples, or even simple inference, that a man must be submissive and basically selfless (sometimes self-loathing and emasculated) to make a partner happy.

Some Harmful Practices Of The Person Suffering From "Nice Guy" Syndrome

  1. Telling white lies, or even big lies
  2. Walking on eggshells (being afraid of saying the "wrong" thing)around the partner
  3. Not being yourself around your partner (wearing a mask)
  4. Saying things you do not really mean to make your partner happy
  5. Holding in anger and other negative emotions
  6. Always doing what your partner wants to do on dates, and it feels out of obligation
  7. Making general assumptions about women
  8. Actions lacking in sincerity

Sounds terrible, right? It feels like you're being controlled by an evil witch!

The sad part is that many guys do this to themselves (unless, of course, they are dating abusive partners). Embracing the self-defeating "nice guy" leaves people drained, unsatisfied, and with possible complexes. Some men will push this "nice guy" persona on a partner, even after she expresses concern that she feels he is not being his true self around her. A partner will usually sense the silent anger and resentment building up within the "nice guy."

The kind words and gestures (flowers, gifts, etc., things she did not ask for) either feel unnecessary, done at an inappropriate time, mechanical, and/or done out of obligation.

Side Effects of the "Nice Guy" Syndrome

  1. Resentment
  2. Anger
  3. Passive-aggressive jabs at your partner about her body, her weight, etc. as revenge for "making" you do this (because she is a woman, according to "Nice Guy" logic).
  4. Feeling that all your hard work does not pay off
  5. Bitterness toward any woman who does not accept a date or relationship with you (thus, according to the "nice guy" train of thought, she must be a "b*tch" and like "jerks")
  6. Only feeling relaxed around friends, family, or by yourself
  7. Feeling exhausted after interactions with your partner (of course wearing a mask is exhausting!)
  8. Desperation ("I'm working so hard yet nobody wants me.")
  9. Dissatisfaction with your relationship or relationships in general

Now, be honest. Do you recognize any of these patterns within yourself? If you do, take a deep breath. This does not mean you are a bad person. You most likely did not mean to cause any harm, and are deeply suffering yourself. This is fixable, and this solution will help you feel better about your future relationships and yourself.

So, where do we start on helping you pave the road to happiness, confidence and sincerity? The answer sounds a lot more simple than it is. You need to be yourself. This is very tough, but you need to stop trying so hard to impress a girl, thus showing her your true self. A girl who is worth it will appreciate you for you, and most likely like your true self more than you imagined ideal.

Dismantling The "Nice Guy" And Transforming Into The "Kind, Confident Guy"

  1. Asserting your right to be an individual, not a prefabricated version of what society, your insecurities, friends, and/or a past lover say a boyfriend "should be"
  2. Openly acknowledging your thoughts and emotions, positive and negative, even if you disagree with your partner
  3. Accepting that you, like every other person on this planet, can never act "perfect," an artificial construct you built in your head; an impossible "ideal" that is actually unhealthy and stifling to your relationships and personal growth
  4. Being honest with answers or (politely) refusing to answer when communicating with your significant other
  5. Making time for work obligations, school, downtime, and friend time as well as time with your significant other
  6. Not saying romantic, mushy, "sensitive" things unless you mean them (insincere sentiments are nauseating)
  7. Ending a relationship you're unhappy with instead of doing passive-aggressive actions to "make" the girl dump you instead
  8. Frequent self-evaluation to keep your impulses to misrepresent yourself in check
  9. Taking turns to do things that you like versus what your partner likes in a relationship

For instance, if your partner asks you an uncomfortable question, you are well within your rights to say "I don't feel comfortable answering that." Your partner can never make you lie; that is part of the "nice guy" trap.

You don't have to suffer any more if you have been afflicted with "Nice Guy" Syndrome. It may be hard to make the initial changes, but letting your true colors show is a liberating process that leaves you with a freer, easier life. If you need extra help, therapy can also be a great resource to overcome this social hurdle.

More Discussion On The Topic
Check out more discussion on one of the most popular subjects "Nice Guys vs Bad Boys?"

The Nice Guy Syndrome and How You Can Cure it
Add Opinion

Most Helpful Girl

  • why-makoto-kun
    You missed the whole point of this article. A "nice guy" (notice the quotations here) is usually insincere and can even be toxic.

    I have dated verbally/physically abusive men, and guess what-- I did not like being abused, and I left. Not to mention that the relationships were quite short. The signs were difficult for me to see, and by the time I realized something was wrong, I went headfirst into blaming myself, "fixing" what I did, trying to make him happy, and things got even worse.

    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Guy

  • asdaven
    Trouble is a lot of women have made general assumptions about nice guys and that they are the type of guy mentioned above. And think just because a guy is kind means he is desperate and a pushover and therefore unattractive. I'm kind to women not because I feel like I have to but that I choose to and that's who O am. I've been taken as insincere when I have been sincere because they assumed I'm that type of person just because I'm nice.
    Is this still revelant?
    • circlebill

      asdaven - I think your comment gets into the REAL problems of actual nice guys much more than the take! The whole notion that being nice is some kind of "syndrome" mental disorder has gone too far! To listen to all this junk about "nice guy syndrome", if a man helps an old lady crossing the street, he's just looking for payback! How did we get to the point where genuine kindness becomes a psycho personality defect?

    • asdaven

      I don't get how "walking on eggshells" is necessary a bad thing? Ur cautious and/or your shy. I do it to show I'm respectful to women and that I'm not a bad guy. Yeah women usually go for more outgoing guys but a lot of them can be bad too. Social Anxiety plays into. I have some of it. But, only when first getting to know people. It can be over come without help actually in my opinion. And social anxiety dosent necessary make you have the "nice guy syndrome ". It just means you have anxiety in social situations and you kind ve seize up and get nervous. You overcome that by being around people more, face the fear. And if it's more specific to talking to girls, then be around women more. it helps

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • tadpole25
    agreed. the nice guy is really no better than the a**hole/jerk. because most nice guys really aren't all that nice. they are just desperate and want action from the first woman who talks to them, because they don't talk to many women. and this is usually done by cheap flattery.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Though, I must say, there was a time in the not-so-distant past in which I subconsciously felt I had to "earn" a man's love through good deeds and favors, kind of like the "nice guy," though they were genuine and I enjoyed doing them. Yet I would be sad when such deeds were never returned, despite me asking nicely. It never occurred to me that being myself was lovable enough, and that everything else nice I did was a bonus, not a requirement.
  • why-makoto-kun
    "OMG he's being disrespectful" when he looks there. Ladies need to realize that if you're going to show something off, don't do it unless you *want* guys, especially your date, to look. But now I'm going off topic.

    As for the compliments? I must be an oddball because I love complimenting my hypothetical man (genuinely). In fact, from what I read, I wonder if it pushed previous men away from me (in relationships) because it was viewed as "pursuing." Same with random acts of kindness and stuff.
  • why-makoto-kun
    I agree about the texting 100%. Instant communication is sometimes a huge impediment to relationships because it hurts more when someone doesn't respond quickly, and other times you just want to be left alone.

    As for the sexuality point, I think girls want to be sexually desirable to their men yet they don't want to be objectified. I find it perfectly reasonable, but some are unreasonable about it. An unreasonable example would be a woman wearing a low-cut shirt and push-up bra then screeching
  • OpenClose
    For instance, there is a bit of a bind whenever women want to be called sexy, but don't want to be sexualized.

    And ever bigger, the golden rule doesn't work on women. That is, us guys don't get many compliments, and have a competative attitude towards each other. I would like to be called sexy randomly, so it would make sense to call a girl sexy, resulting in a bad result. Many guys don't know how to treat women, because a woman wants to be treated better than how men treat each other.
  • OpenClose
    Brilliant article. I try to preach many of these points to guys who are caught in this snag.

    One thing to note is a sharp rise in this behavior, it seems. Which comes from a couple things:

    -Text-based communication and social separation are the norm nowadays.

    -It seems like everyone is talking about how rude men are to women, how big of jerks they are to women, and refuse to mention how they would LIKE to be treated.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Thanks for all the positive feedback!

    Dragunuv: I have heard that theory before. It's sad because I find it isn't true for most people. Though I do believe that issue is somewhat separate because it has to do with sexuality, it does seem that women are generally more sexualized in Western culture than men. As for who is regarded as what, that is a stickier topic. I do believe it is good to have sufficient chemistry in a relationship so that neither party feels "unsexy."
  • why-makoto-kun

    Also, I think staying true to yourself helps bolster confidence. But turning everything around and becoming confident is a huge struggle within itself that goes deeper than curing "nice guy" syndrome. I also think honesty/sincerity is one of those genderless personality concepts, though maybe men and women have different ways of feeling comfortable with pursuing that. You brought up a lot of things to think about. :)

    Perhaps if I wrote a book, I could go into more detail hehe. <3
  • why-makoto-kun
    Settingemstraight: Thanks! I would agree, except that the selflessness of a "nice guy" isn't done out of joy, but mere obligation. Thus is creates resentment. Selflessness should be genuine, not an act.

    Anthony87: Thank you :) Yeah, I wasn't sure how to go into that without going all cognitive-behavioral therapy, so I just rec'd therapy. Honestly, I don't even know how exactly I got to the point of staying genuine. I think the mask just got too stressful for me and I stopped caring.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Thanks! I'm so glad you all like it. And sixstring; I completely agree. I didn't spell that out in the article but it is definitely part of Nice Guy Syndrome. I also do believe a lot of girls often want a man who takes charge, and the submissive nice guy role pretty much forces them to have the "masculine" energy in the relationship. It's sad because nobody gets what they want. I think "nice guys"sometimes settle for girls even they don't want that much sometimes because they feel they "should."
  • sixstring
    There is something I'd like to add. Correct me if I'm wrong, but girls in general prefer guys that take charge. I feel that a lot of nice guys really lack in that part as well, always asking what she wants to do, if it's okay if they do this or that, etc.
  • EscapedLunatic
    Too many young men have grown up without a father's influence and tend to see women as authority figures - bosses rather than partners and thus we have a generation of men that doesn't have any idea how to handle themselves properly in a relationship. Your article is right on the money and very insightful, it should be required reading for young men.
  • asdaven
    Im a "nice guy" but not by the definition of this article. I act nice because I want to or I am reciprocating how the other person treats me. When I like someone, I treat them good because I want to make their day, not because I feel like I have to. I don't lie either because I believe honesty is best. But, however, I do have trust issues with girls sometimes. I tend to get treated as the nice guy because of this stereotype , so ladies just cause a guy a nice guy doesn't always mean he is this.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Really, coldheartedking? That's fascinating because the "nice guys" I know are ones that have not gotten many dates but I decided to give them a shot anyway because they seemed like they would treat me well. Guess what-- I was wrong!

    Thanks for your insights. :) Love hearing your comments, folks.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Konnour, reread my article. Don't twist it into fitting some agenda. The "nice guy" is a boy who actually doesn't treat a woman kindly-- at least not sincerely. Passive-aggression is not kind.

    Newsflash-- I do know that there are guys who do nice things because they want to. However, they are rare. Many women are searching for this type of man, but they are fooled then burned by the "nice guys" and even varieties of people in serious need of a sense of empathy.
  • why-makoto-kun
    I think affectionate girls want a guy who is affectionate because he WANTS to be, not because he think he HAS to. I have had "nice guys" make jabs at my body/personality, give me guilt trips, and accuse me of lying.

    Either "nice guys" ignore you and claim they're just giving you space "like you wanted," or they are in your face 24-7. These guys blame all of their problems on their girlfriend and refuse to look at their own controlling behavior.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Exactly VoR (can I use that?)! It's about being your own person and going for what YOU want, not what other people think you should want. I had my moments in high school, where I felt pressure to conform and suppress what I was like, almost like treating your life and self-concept as a Facebook page that needs to be "perfect."
  • VoiceOfReason
    Very insightful and informative. I think a lot of guys tend to feel under too much pressure to conform to the needs of some women and end up either living a life manipulated by them or being tossed into the friend zone. Perhaps if they could read and gain insight it could go a long way in leveling the dating field for some of them. It's always admirable to treat a woman with dignity and respect, but the key is not to lose yourself in the process. He and she must be on equal levels always
  • why-makoto-kun
    Exactly. It doesn't even necessarily just mean "you owe me sex" but it can also mean things like "I bought you dinner, so you must cater to me like my mommy when we're not out 6 days of the week" and what have you. Placing a girl on a pedestal, idealizing her, not seeing her as she really is, etc., then hating her because she isn't her ideal. Or maybe he dates girls who are not his type because he is so desperate for -a- girl, but makes fun of the girl he has for not being his "ideal."
  • blackwaterhattie
    I like this article. I feel it makes valid points. I also think that there is a nice-guy phenomenom wherein a guy uses being nice as a way to manipulate- instead of being nice because he wants to be nice, he uses nice as a sort of currency... thinking if he puts enough nice in, he can reasonably expect sex to come out. And... not so much. (Women aren't vending machine.) I would expound but am running out of room.
  • cerise333
    I have to agree with the article on some aspects like communication and whatnot, but on the bad guy/ nice guy thing I think that's personal. Some girls like "bad guys" so to speak more than "nice guys" which I'd classify more as kind guys. There are some bad boys that are actually "nice guys" and really mean to girls in general like they're the "bitchy attitude" but in a guy and that's annoying to some people while others dig it... Still the being yourself part is always useful and very true.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Sure, jerks and domineering passive-aggressive guys can keep a girl for a while, but not for the right reasons. Pick up artists may be successful, but they get a self-loathing girl who's with him because she thinks she can't do any better. That's not success, IMO. But thank you.
  • AlexNAVY
    This article is just great. I love it. Though there is a thing there I don't completely agree with you. In the first paragraph you mentioned the evolutionary pseudo-scientific explanations as an example of what this issue is NOT about. I think it has everything to do with it! There's this seminar I've been to where they say exactly what you say there and use social darwinism to back that up.

    On the bottom line you're correct - this "nice guy" thing is a schizophrenic and devastating behavior.
  • why-makoto-kun
    You missed the entire point of this article. Plus, most girls don't place "looks" as a top priority, but it's insanity to ask people to date those that they are not attracted to. We don't tell guys to date girl they aren't attracted to, so fair is fair. Keep trying, but stop making generalizations that leave you bitter and ready to attack any woman who doesn't want to date you.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Both types may very well abuse a woman emotionally and physically, but while the "bad boy" may say "so what?," a "nice guy" may rationalize it or say it cannot be happening because he is a "nice guy." Or the "nice guy" will frame himself as being "better" than other guys, so due to the crap that other men supposedly dish out, the woman is supposed to be ever-grateful he is only an a-hole sometimes. Sick and twisted logic indeed.
  • why-makoto-kun
    A bad boy may pursue his dreams, be confident, never smother the girl, etc. Meanwhile a "nice guy" will sit around, maybe be passive in other aspects of life (never accomplishing anything) and may expect supermodels because they are "nice" (aka haven't committed any awful crimes or what have you). But maybe the "nice guy" is so angry, resentful, and entitled deep down that he doesn't have any bright positive qualities (let alone an inner peace/contentment ) that attract women.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Thanks. I only use that term because of what it's called. "Nice Guys" are like the "Bad Boys" in essence in that they behave in destructive ways. The reason why women go for bad boys is because they are more true to themselves, do what they want, and aren't clingy despite treating the woman badly or at least not treating her well enough.

    The "nice guys," on the other hand, are insincerely nice, passive-aggressive, clingy, and basically worse than a bad boy in the dating world.
  • sirhoward90
    Great Article. Though I disagree with the nomenclature of "Nice Guy Syndrome". In my opinion, the "Bad Boy Mentality" is exactly the same in practice. This article strikes me as being more about honesty with your partner and yourself, and about healthy communication. I completely agree with the steps guys need to take in order to better communicate and be more honest and straightforward (there is a few I catch myself on), though I think that applies equally to women about their expectations.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Japanblitz: the point of the article is not to not BE nice, it's not to pose as nice then act passive-aggressive. You missed the whole point of the article.

    Jager66: heh, you could say that they act like wet blankets. But what is game theory? If it's that pickup-artist stuff I strongly disagree that it's good to use.
  • asdaven
    Some women get suspicious of a guy whos nice from the get go. I'm one of the uncommon guys who is sincere and genuine in that. A lot of guys who are nice off the bat are either players or the insecure type "nice guys ". Yeah I've hung around a lot of bad girls . I've told by a lot of people I know, I'm perfect who I am , I've just been involved with the wrong girls who don't deserve or appreciated me.
  • anthony87
    very keen article. Your description of the personality symptoms is spot on. However the last part about transforming is kindve weak. And to be honest, I don't think a girl can really understand what makes a guy turn into the nice guy or how to transform into a honest guy. In the same respect I don't think a guy can fully understand a girl(or will ever be able to).

    Dont get me wrong, I really liked the first section of your article, its just the end that I found weak.
  • SilentEarth
    I think you hit the nail right on the head. By no means should you misrepresent yourself for attention, affection, etc. The sincere "nice guys" aren't the ones who constantly complain about not getting anything out of their "deeds" or whatever. Very well put.
  • acealmighty13
    This used to be me. But I had never been in a relationship before. Two years later and a girlfriend later, I'm a much calmer, confident man that has learned many of these ideals through that relationship and being happy with myself.
  • Konnour
    This article is kind of weird, "the nice guy syndrome"'s a paradox!

    A big, f***in' paradox!

    You see - I (and probably most of guys) want a girl who not only gives affection, but also can receive it, I don't want a girl who LOSES interest when she's treated good, I don't want a girl who wants the guy MORE when he ignores or/and abuses her!

    But perhaps you understand something different with "a nice guy"
  • why-makoto-kun
    Wow, what a horrible thing to say. I personally have had people close to me die of cancer.

    Also, since this seems to be such a hot-button issue for you, you buoyant have no confidence, thus cannot get a date. Therapy is in order, buddy-boy.
  • Jager66
    this isn't about "nice guys" this is about wet blankets! most men who are nice guys are nothing like this.

    there is a reason why game theory works, why don't you address why game theory is so effective in your next article I would like to read that.
  • why-makoto-kun
    There are absolutely women out there who will not appreciate a genuinely nice guy, or use them and treat them horribly. I don't understand them or meet many girls who do that, but some are like that, sadly. :~\
  • why-makoto-kun
    It's hard to read people from the get-go, but I will get a bad feeling from a so-called "nice guy" then see the insincerity and actions pile up. If you are genuinely nice, maybe you aren't meeting enough people. Or, you may be pursuing mean girls.
  • Dragunuv
    very helpful but we need to add a side effect of guys not being equal to woman such as feeling depressed of seeing woman bodies as sexier than guys what I mean is men feel woman are not turned on by guys bodies and feel inadequate and teaching guys how love themselves I see that in a lot of people. who feel inferior to woman.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Yes, thank you, it is definitely something that can happen for both genders. I just see it so much in the "nice guy" form that I had to address it. Not to mention my personal experiences, lol.
  • Markezzo
    Story of my whole freaking childhood =P

    It's always nice to revisit these thoughts every now and again to keep my sight focused on what I want in life.

    Nice read ;-)
  • why-makoto-kun
    You're welcome :) I've had the fortune of meeting several assertive yet genuinely kind men. This article is not for them. This is for the passive-aggressive takers and patronizers.
  • RedSmartie
    Great article! Every guy needs to read this. Girls honestly want guys to be themselves and do good things because they want to, not because they feel they have to.
  • why-makoto-kun
    I freakin' love you for using Disney characters as a comparison for "Nice Guys." xD

    And YES, that guy trolls my comments and other girls' comments saying how "ugly" he is.
  • likepubichair
    I'm not going for any of this. I am a good guy but was a womanizer in the past so have been trying to make up for it with woman by appreciating them about what I like in them. All they have done is use it against me. In other words taking my kindness as a weakness. I'm so tired of losing what I have because of it. I am done with them because I'm to the point where it is disrespect to my gender and will have to resort to hurting them to get my dignity back for my gender.
  • BiffWebster
    nice article ^^
    sadly it happens way too often and the dude with the mask is very good at playing the game lol
  • why-makoto-kun
    Yay! Yeah guys who can't be themselves/act passive-aggressive are just not boyfriend material. Change needs to take place first.
  • why-makoto-kun
    Yes! Exactly! And it feels so insincere and "fake." Most, if not none, of the women out there like fake, half-assed comments from a desperate guy lol.
  • dancingelf
    Interesting... I would say this is gender blind in my experience, for example a girl can feel like she must do what her significant other wants because he cares so much for her and does things for her (ie is a really nice guy), even if those things aren't necessarily what she likes or wants. The most important part falls under point one I believe, you need to be self confident enough to speak up. If something isn't right or you don't want to do something, you have to say so.
  • Settingemstraight
    alll good cept for being selfless which to me is probably the most desirable characteristic a person can have. Being a hero not so you can be a hero but because the thing is what is necessary