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.
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
- Telling white lies, or even big lies
- Walking on eggshells (being afraid of saying the "wrong" thing)around the partner
- Not being yourself around your partner (wearing a mask)
- Saying things you do not really mean to make your partner happy
- Holding in anger and other negative emotions
- Always doing what your partner wants to do on dates, and it feels out of obligation
- Making general assumptions about women
- 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
- 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).
- Feeling that all your hard work does not pay off
- 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")
- Only feeling relaxed around friends, family, or by yourself
- Feeling exhausted after interactions with your partner (of course wearing a mask is exhausting!)
- Desperation ("I'm working so hard yet nobody wants me.")
- 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"
- 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"
- Openly acknowledging your thoughts and emotions, positive and negative, even if you disagree with your partner
- 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
- Being honest with answers or (politely) refusing to answer when communicating with your significant other
- Making time for work obligations, school, downtime, and friend time as well as time with your significant other
- Not saying romantic, mushy, "sensitive" things unless you mean them (insincere sentiments are nauseating)
- Ending a relationship you're unhappy with instead of doing passive-aggressive actions to "make" the girl dump you instead
- Frequent self-evaluation to keep your impulses to misrepresent yourself in check
- 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.
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