The nice-guy syndrome

Shy, quiet, nice guy, are among the most popular terms that people use to describe me – at least, people whom I know fairly well. The shy-and-quiet description is a given. Thats just who I am, and its not likely to change significantly in the near future.

The nice-guy label is not accurate, however. The truth of the matter is that if people feel Im a nice guy, then its only due to me misrepresenting myself and misleading them. The fact is that Im far from being the nice guy I portray myself as. Im actually a fake – a phony.

In reality, Im very insecure, and I am constantly going out of my way to avoid conflict and to please people. I need to have everyone like me. If Im viewed as being a nice guy, its for my own selfish reasons, not because I truly am a nice guy.

I am, in fact, so insecure that I over-nice people to avoid even the slightest possibility of there being any conflict, or negative judgment against me. Playing the nice-guy role ensures that Ill never be challenged or criticized (because I have no opposing views) – and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that. Why? Because I am insecure and thin-skinned – I cant take the truth that real-life throws at all of us; its too painful and damaging to my well-being. So, in fact, the nice guy phoniness is actually a protection mechanism to ensure I will never have to deal with that.

You could say that my whole life is phony. My very core is fake because Im scared to expose the real me to the world.

Those who have actually gotten to know me have commented on how different my personality is, compared to when they first met me. Well, thats not surprising considering the person they initially met was as phony as a three dollar bill.

Thats not to say that I am a nasty person at the core; Im just not the nice guy everyone thinks I am. I truly wish I had the capacity to handle a little more real-life criticism and the opposing views of others. If I could manage to be more true to myself, Im sure my personality would be re-kindled and Id open a door to a much more fulfilling life.

Lets face it, I might be a nice guy to most people, but Im probably also very boring and predictable. In fact, the whole nice-guy syndrome is robbing me of the chance to really bond with the rest of society.

Even though I know Im not doing myself any favors by carrying on this charade, I am helpless to do anything about it because it is part of my comfort zone. As long as I avoid confrontation, I am safe within my comfort zone.

Im missing out on so much and I want to experience my life to the fullest, but I cant do that while Im taking part in this charade. I need to start being true to myself and to show the world the real me – not some sterilized, idealistic version of someone I think I should be.

The nice guy does not exist, and the sooner I realize that, the better. It is an unhealthy mask that forbids me to partake in the real, spontaneous, unpredictable and truly wonderful aspects of life.

10 thoughts on “The nice-guy syndrome

  1. SA Dave

    Drew,

    My thought on this is that there is nothing wrong with being the nice guy. I’m sort of like that too. As I’m relatively thin-skinned and sensitive by nature, I need to be liked and go out of my way to make people accept me. Deep down I know I’ve got a not-so-nice side (filled with envy, ego, greed, bitterness, etc.), a side I’d rather not share with anyone. But guess what? So does every “nice guy” (person) you meet. Every time you hear about some axe murderer, the neighbours all say the same thing, “He was such a nice guy; I can’t imagine how he could have done this!”

    The thing is, those neighbours do not appreciate that that axe murderer can be a nice guy too. The two are not mutually exclusive traits.

    As for what makes people go out of their way to be the nice guy? I suspect that the majority are just like you or me, they want to be liked and they fear that if others saw them for who they “think” they really are, those others would not like them.

    The thing is, we are all those things. Being the nice guy is not a charade just because you think there’s a reason behind your being nice. It’s just part of your make-up. Does that make sense?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, instead of judging yourself for why you think you need to be the nice guy, maybe it would be better to embrace the nice guy within and try to accept that, for whatever reason, it’s a part of who you are. Being a “nice guy” isn’t such a bad thing, in my books. We could be a lot worse, right?

    Just my thoughts.

    SA Dave

  2. Drew

    Well put, Dave.

    Yeah, I tend to be very hard on myself (aren’t we all?) and I agree that the “nice guy” part of me is certainly a positive thing.

    I do, however, wish that I had more control over when I display this trait. Many times I feel that I use it under false pretences, and for the wrong reasons.

    I wish I could ditch the ulterior motives.

  3. Farren

    Drew,

    I can really relate to this entire thread, especially:
    “I truly wish I had the capacity to handle a little more real-life criticism and the opposing views of others. If I could manage to be more true to myself, I’m sure my personality would be re-kindled and I’d open a door to a much more fulfilling life.

    Let’s face it, I might be a nice guy to most people, but I’m probably also very boring and predictable. In fact, the whole nice-guy syndrome is robbing me of the chance to really bond with the rest of society. ”

    Just substitute “nice girl syndrome” for “nice guy”. I tend to be overly nice and accommodating, in order to not ever ruffle any feathers. I do not present opposing viewpoints. I do not, in general, interact with the greater part of society in a real, meaningful way, and live in constant fear that I will be “found out” but someone more authentic – and willing to call me on my phoniness. I was talking to a friend the other day, a mother of three, and “jokingly” told her I don’t think I’ll be able to handle having kids because my ego is too fragile. They would actually shatter my illusions of myself. Maybe that’s just what I need, though. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  4. Sue

    Hi Drew
    I logged on because of the “over analyzing” subject. But connected with other subjects—I was always called “shy and quiet” too. Also I call my social persona “Mr. NIce Guy”—and feel that I need to be that way in order to be liked—I have never been able to handle people not approving of me—then I feel I wouldn’t have any self esteem—since I don’t like myself—and I don’t know why? I must have been an expert at trying to please everyone in High School because I was voted class president and cheerleader and homecoming queen.
    After High School, when I was out of my comfort zone—I had difficulty making any friends because of clinical depression due to circumstanes and heridity, I was diagnosed manic depressive at 21.
    Any way—I feel I sold my personality to please everyone and never developed one. Now my over analzing of people– after being with them– and feeling I said something or they said something that bothers me. I went to an elctrodermal clinician and she gave me Bach flower remedies for some emotional concerns. One was identified as me being “intolerant” of others—That was a surprise since I thought I was the tolerant one. Then I thought about it more and I could identify that I was intolerant of alot of things—-that was part of my overanalyzing. And I realized we all are alittle intolerant of each other, you know? In different ways, big or small. Well–I just wanted to share that I relate to you and others and hope to read more about the “over analyzing ” subject. Sue

  5. Ragnarkisten

    If you are anorectic, if you have reading disabilities, or struggle with a bad knee, you are not portrayed as being selfish, you are portrayed as being sick. Why then do people who obciously suffer from a disease, such as this being portrayed as bad persons rather than sick persons?

  6. Ragnarkisten

    I’ll say even more. The thing is, if a guy falls into the category of a person suffering from “the nice guy syndrome” the real problem i think is that the guy is taking the womans place in stereotypical genderroles. The woman is the one to be sensitive, needy, shy, insecure and passive. The man is the one who is supposed to be dominant and secure. Thus women often find guys like that repulsive. If you think of, there are a lof of women who would fall into the “nice guy syndrome” category but they have no problem finding themselves a partner. ’cause men tend to choose women from the way they look, as well as that the behaviour is typically feminine. Greater acceptance for people being different is in order. Saying that a ‘people pleasing’ man is selfish, does’nt make any sense. If you know that you get what you want by the exact opposite behaviour, isn’t that just as selfish, or even more so? And if you take into consideration that selfishness, is putting youre own needs in front of other persons needs, why then don’t a selfish guy suffering from this syndrome stop his behaviour, and replace it with an even more selfish behaviour when confronted with it in articles such as this? And to which extent do you actually think a person is able to control his own insecurity and thin-skinnedness? Have any of you people ever thought that there might be a reason behind a destructive behaviour? i certainly think so. maybe a person who avoids conflicts was brought up in a home with a father who would beat your brains out if you confronted him even the slightest? Just for naming one reason. It is so sad that people have such a low tolerance for other people. And it’s really sick that there are actually woman who would rather prefer a man who beats he rahter than a man who tries to please here, even if his behaviour might be annoying sometimes. What about giving people a chance rahter than mocking them? Maybe their overnice behaviour ceases to exist?

  7. Jim

    I think that this article is cynical and oversimplified. If you are have hypocritical tendencies to be nice don’t assume that others that carry the nice guy persona are hypocrities as well. If your not happy with your behavior then change your behavior and be who you want to be. Also, it is unrealistic to believe that only women can be shy, passive, and generous. There is a thing called individualism and not every men is going to act according to his gender sterotype. Those that carry the nice guy persona should be able to assert their own individuality without being labled a hypocrite.

  8. Jim

    If you are have hypocritical tendencies to be nice don’t assume that others that carry the nice guy persona are hypocrities as well. If your not happy with your behavior then change your behavior and be who you want to be. Also, it is unrealistic to believe that only women can be shy, passive, and generous. There is a thing called individualism and not every men is going to act according to his gender sterotype. Those that carry the nice guy persona should be able to assert their own individuality without being labled a hypocrite.

  9. AJ

    spot on man!!
    you might as well have described me. i realized all of it a few weeks ago.
    Any success with methods for cure? I feel I still revert to my old ways if I don’t watch out

  10. noaydi

    There is no cure, simply because its not a disorder. Its more a personnality, a way to aprehend life. You guy make me laugh with all these new “disorder” (incel, nice guy, love shy…).

    You cant become a bad boy, dont trick yourself ; but you can become more assertive. The key is just to try the max to stop identifying with other, and try to be in contact with your own need/goal. Even if with this you will perhaps dont get more girls and money, its a way to become healthier and assertive and MORE IMPORTANTLY “self-creative”, and thats more important than having 10000 girls a month.
    Try to understand and stay in contact what you feel in each moment, learn to say “no” if not “fuck” ectectect (common advices).

    I suspect too that many of “nice guy” are actually not really cooperative and somewhat aggressive inside, and are unable to have the correct “mask” IRL comparing to these real emotion (thats my case, but only at work for some reason. Work world seems to be full of faker who absolutely want to lose their ideal and make other lose it too).

    Typologically speaking, nice guy/girl can be male or female INTj or INFj (cause of Se point of least resistance, INFj more probably due to Fi sensitivity), or perhaps ISFj sometime. For those who are interrested about this, learn about socionic.

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