We have all heard the saying before, "Nice guys finish last." As men, when we listen to women describe the guys they dated and later broke things off with as "nice guys," we can't help but cringe because we understand what they really mean.
Well, not exactly. I'm certainly not suggesting that you be a bad guy.
Most nice guys are pushovers and cannot establish healthy boundaries that allow them to live better lives. In most cases, nice guys seek the validation of those around them and attempt to please others to gain favor and be liked by them. This can often result in men hiding who they are, which impedes them from having their needs met.
Sound familiar? Well, take comfort in knowing that I was once a nice guy and spent so long chasing women and longing for friends by trying to be someone I wasn't. But that's just no way to live.
For me, at first, learning to dress well, being physically fit, working hard in my job, and building wealth were initially pursuits that I used to try and impress others and sell myself to them so that my needs could be met; a selfish quest altogether. I thought these qualities made me more attractive, desirable, and engaging.
Getting what we want in life feels great, but there are right and wrong ways to go about this. Humans value some level of control, and when we think that we are in control of our destiny and become more confident, we begin to unlock our full potential and better see our lives clearly, all while getting our needs met in a dignified fashion.
Here are 10 "nice guy" habits we should all endeavor to break if we have not already done so.
1. STOP SEEKING THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS
As previously mentioned, I wrestled with seeking approval from everyone I met for the longest time. I wanted their attention, their friendship, and their respect. The funny thing is that when we say and do something to win favor, people instinctively see through this disingenuous behavior, ultimately leading to the opposite of them liking us.
Our value is not dictated by what others think; it is based on our decisions and who we choose to be. By seeking the approval of others, we relinquish our power because we allow them to decide who we are. This is exhausting and unhealthy.
Dishonesty, in any capacity, is never attractive, and we ought to avoid giving away our power to others, instead opting to work hard to be the best version of ourselves because it is what we want, not because we think it will make others happy.
2. STOP HIDING WHO YOU ARE
When we try to hide who we are from others, it is usually out of fear of abandonment. We are afraid that people will not love us for who we are and that this will further feed our loneliness and longing for acceptance. The truth is, it's exhausting to hide all the time. We become a more honest version of ourselves when we can learn to be secure with who we are.
People who do not accept us for who we are don't need to be in our lives. It is challenging to reveal things about ourselves that we don't initially want others to know. So long as we abstain from self-destructive indulgences that hurt ourselves and others, there is nothing wrong with us. We ought to be honest with others about who we are and find things to appreciate about ourselves.
The harsh reality is that we have to be willing and ready to be judged by the people who don't understand or like what we like, but this can be good because the alternative is working tirelessly to gain approval from people who probably don't belong in our lives, to begin with. When we find others with the same values and interests, we are generally happier and more honest with them and ourselves.
3. STOP SAYING "YES" ALL THE TIME
Being a YES man is hardly ever a good thing; more specifically, saying YES to people who pressure us to do things we don't want to do only to prolong unhappiness.
I believe that a part of showing up for ourselves in life is setting healthy and necessary boundaries in work, friendships, and romantic relationships. Say NO to the things that do not add value to your life, and say YES to the things that can enrich your environment and the environment of those around you.
Work hard to find your voice and learn to say NO when necessary. It will undoubtedly be uncomfortable and awkward at first. Still, in the end, only you can dictate how you react to a given situation, and if you have an opportunity to set limits in your relationships with others by keeping the negative things out of your life, then you should do just that.
4. STOP PLAYING IT SAFE ALL THE TIME
Take more risks in life, but be smart about it! If we don't toss our hat in the ring, then nothing will ever happen to us. Stepping out of our comfort zones makes us brave, and when we take measures to branch out in life, we allow for more opportunities to grow.
Nice guys who play it safe all the time are selling out. The best things in life come with hard work; in most cases, paths that require hard work are often those less traveled by most people. We can live comfortably if we choose, but doing so places us at risk of allowing life to push us around. We must take the plunge and branch out to maximize our full potential. This inevitably means taking some risks now and again.
Moving outside of my community in the Atlanta area to places like New England and Southern California was both new and scary, but they were some of the best decisions I could have ever made. Had I not done so, I would have never met my wife; frankly, I wouldn't be even half the man I am today without her.
What's more, when we learn to assume some risk and step outside of our comfort zones, we learn so much about ourselves (I certainly did), and in the pursuit to uncover who we are, we can begin to determine better who we want to be.
5. STOP DISLIKING WHO YOU ARE
Stop hating yourself. Our self-hate detracts from our ability to give love to those we want (and perhaps need) to receive it.
The truth is, no one in life is all THAT put together. We may look at others and think how perfect they are, but the reality is that everyone has baggage in life.
Nice guys often fixate on what they believe to be wrong with themselves, which is pathetic. This leads to a fear that can ultimately cause us to become dishonest with others and ourselves. We begin to hide, make excuses for ourselves and others, and tarnish relationships by severing connections and burning bridges, which leads to unhappy and unfulfilling lifestyles that can take a tremendous toll.
For the longest time, I secretly hated who I was. I never quite thought myself anything special or talented. I was not too fond of my physical appearance and began losing my hair during my first year of college! But instead of continuing to choose to be unhappy, I focused on the things I knew I could control.
We must focus on what we can control and stop dwelling on what we cannot. Furthermore, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. There will always be someone better looking, more wealthy, much taller, in better shape, better dressed, you name it. But we shouldn't try to be better than they are, just better than we were yesterday.
6. STOP GIVING TO GET
Another hallmark of your typical nice guy is giving to get.
When we love others, we must learn to do so unconditionally. That means refraining from practicing conditional love.
Understand that sometimes what isn't said can often speak the loudest; that is to say that our actions can echo more heavily than words.
Love, in any capacity, is a risk and thus requires tremendous strength and vulnerability. We will climb the highest peaks and cross the most treacherous lands for love. Because of this, love is the most powerful force on earth.
When we give only to receive, we spit in the face of love because our intentions are only meant to serve our interests, whether we choose to admit it or not. The most loving acts are those we commit that are selfless and for which we ask nothing in return. They are genuine and honest, two qualities that invite the best types of people into our lives.
Nice guys give a lot to others but only so that their needs, whatever they may be, are eventually met. This is typically out of fear, but that is no excuse for this behavior.
True love is sacrifice, kindness, and patience; therefore, it keeps no record of wrongs and abstains from maintaining any score. Remember this well and set no conditions for what you choose to give.
7. STOP STAYING STRANDED
We have to stop choosing to stay stuck in our lives. Whatever demons we have, we can never cast them aside; instead, we must learn to live above them and push away the past to make room for the future. All the ways to shed our nice guy tendencies are building blocks to helping achieve this monumental feat. If we don't like how we look, we can change it; there are ways to do so healthily. If we don't like our behaviors, we must commit to being better and seek help from friends, family, and professionals.
So many nice guys choose to stay stranded on the island called "hopelessness." We never wanted to get left here; it just happened. Our intentions were pure, or so we thought... All we ever wanted was pride, love, friends, something to champion our lives with, or the feeling of being needed. If you are someone who is in this position, then only YOU have the power to change your trajectory in life. No one will do it for you; you shouldn't expect them to. We're owed nothing; we earn everything.
Life isn't fair, and at the end of the day, we all have two choices: to allow our demons to drag us further down or garner the strength to live above them and look towards the future—time to dig deep, men. We can't do it by ourselves, so choose to get help. This is your life to live and to take responsibility for.
8. STOP FORGETTING TO THINK OF YOURSELF (ON OCCASION)
It's good to be selfish sometimes. I understand that there are cultures of people who believe that it's essential to be unselfish all of the time, but take it from me: success and fulfillment in life are just as much predicated on how well we stack the deck in our favor as it is how selfless we choose to be. If you can't take care of yourself, you will never be able to care for others; this applies to anything.
Nice guys are notorious for thinking they must please everyone because it's the "right thing to do." If we're being honest, this is a bit self-righteous. As humans, we are designed for self-preservation to a certain degree.
Giving to others and expecting nothing in return is arguably the epitome of being selfless, which can be beautiful. However, nice guys typically don't know when to stop, disrupting the balance.
Don't be fooled, and don't be taken advantage of. Remain selfless and keep your heart open, but occasionally, stack the deck in your favor.
9. STOP SETTLING FOR LESS
Nice guys often settle for less in their lives because they accept dysfunctional relationships, which are recreations of what they often experienced when they were young. Whether they realize it or not, nice guys recreate these relationships with friends and lovers, ultimately leaving them dissatisfied. Instead of moving on and taking the high road, nice guys will continue to fall into what is familiar to them, expecting the situation and relationships to be different the "next time."
Let's start becoming a part of the solution. We should prioritize giving time to those who will enrich our lives and reciprocate our generosity. Set standards for people with you to pursue positive relationships by demonstrating your self-worth and working hard to earn their affection without selling out. Invest in yourself to be a good man so that you can do good for others.
Make it a priority to trim the fat in your life. Not everyone needs to be your friend; not every beautiful or intelligent woman will want to date you, and if you work hard to stay happy and choose to appreciate yourself, those who choose not to acknowledge it have no place in your life. This doesn't make those people evil, and it is not harmful to turn your attention away from them, but rather the best thing you can do for yourself in the long run.
Be kind, courteous, and open to learning from everyone you meet, but also know when to walk away and never settle for less than what you deserve. Remember to work hard and remain honest with yourself to earn the best, and you shall have it.
10. STOP TRYING TO GET EVERYTHING RIGHT ALL THE TIME
Nice guys don't know how to roll with the punches. It is entirely sensible for people to value control over their own lives, but to think that we can anticipate and predict everything that will happen to us is a trap that nice guys often fall into. Nice guys must understand the value of relinquishing control to a certain degree and allowing this crazy life journey to run its course.
Trying to get everything right ultimately causes nice guys to experience nearly all the habits mentioned earlier. By focusing on being perfect, nice guys force themselves to be someone they aren't, which causes them to hide who they are, leading them to become fearful of assuming risks because they are scared of what might or might not happen to them, which prevents them from learning to adapt on the fly, and in turn, deprives them of their ability to give in to the sometimes serendipitous nature of life because they are now forced outside of their comfort zones.
RECOMMENDED READING TO HELP SHED NICE GUY TENDENCIES
No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend