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Nice Guy Syndrome

To get the relationship you want: stop being such a nice guy!

There is a very self-defeating pattern of behavior which some men get locked into. Any man who happens to suffer from it finds it very difficult to establish a romantic relationship with a woman. I like to call this behavior Nice Guy Syndrome. Men who suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome tend to have lots of women friends, but rarely have a sexual relationship with any of them. Such a man may be a very good listener, and perhaps articulate and expressive in how he talks. He may make a women feel, “At last I have found a man who can listen!”. Or perhaps, “Wonderful, this a man who can express his feelings!”.

However, for the woman there is also something missing. Even though a woman may sense that the man is attracted to her, as she gets to know him, she comes to realise that she can only be friends with him. She may at ease with this, or she may get into despair around it. She may wonder, “What is wrong with me? He is a decent guy why don’t I fancy him!”.

What is missing from guys with Nice Guy Syndrome?

What is it that is missing? Men with Nice Guy Syndrome are for the most part kind, reliable, safe and dependable. Isn’t that what women are looking for in a mate? Well, yes, but… That is not all of what they are looking for. Women are also looking strength and confidence in a potential mate. She wants both sides; she wants a man show can be sensitive, but she also wants him to be able to be strong. Nice Guy Syndrome causes a guy to always show his softer side and not show his strength. He has probably become untrusting and wary of his own maleness.

A woman friend of a Nice Guy will often be aware of what a hard time he has ‘finding the right woman’. She will probably get to hear lots of stories about it! If not, she will sense it from his demeanor and general behavior. A man stuck in Nice Guy Syndrome may just as well have that fact stamped on his forehead. That pattern can easily come across as ‘neediness’ and general lack of confidence which it a real turn off for the woman he meets. Yes, the will be friends with him, they may even become very good friends (after all Nice Guys have many fine qualities – just no manly ones).

The positive qualities of a Nice Guy can actually work against him. The  ‘openness’ which he has, which many men lack, can backfire. The women he meets get to hear about his concerns and anxieties, which just confirms in their mind that he is a ‘bit insecure’. “What is wrong with that?”, you may wonder. It is just that women do not get to hear enough of the other side. They do not get to hear enough about he ways he is secure (and strong and bold and courageous). He is bonding with women through his vulnerabilities not through his strengths. That can work in a friendship, but it does not spark sexual attraction.

In essence Nice Guy Syndrome causes a man to got locked into the ‘soft’ side of his nature and has somewhat disown the ‘harder’ aspects of his own male energy. This is understandable in some ways as many men are trying to redefine maleness and what that is about. Yet sometimes a man will let the pendulum swing too far the other way. A man exploring their soft side can sometimes find it difficult to find his way back to a balanced state and reclaim other aspects of himself.

The Nice Guy will often be open to self-development and have little resistance to looking at his issues and improving himself. However, his self-development may be focussed on areas that don’t really help him find a mate. He may do a course on listening skills (when he is already a good listener), or in communication skills (when he is already fairly articulate) or he may do a course in the arts, meditation, yoga, interpersonal psychology, or whatever. These are all very good and useful things, but do not really touch on the issue of improving his love life.

The Cure for Nice Guy Syndrome is Balance

What the guy with Nice Guy Syndrome most needs is balance. He needs to develop those ‘hard’ qualities that counterbalance his well-developed soft qualities. Those hard qualities are things like confidence, boldness, assertiveness and the like. What he needs is to get into some kind of rugged sport, martial art, assertiveness training, or something along those lines. Even simple things such as jogging or running can help shift him out of being in his ‘soft’ mode so much. Maybe he could get a drum kit and give it a regular bash, work with clay, do sculpture, or some other kind of art which has a strong physical aspect. In this way he can expresses himself in a dynamically. Or, he could pick up a guitar and play some heavy rock, or power blues, rather than too much ‘sensitive’ stuff. Whatever else he does, he needs to reclaim the full range of his masculinity if he wants to be healthy and balanced.

When a nice guy is locked into being ‘just friends’ with a woman who he really wants to get more involved with it is slow torture for him.  He may not fight with her about it and instead avoid her or become moody and petulant. But maybe that’s his mistake – by not fighting for what he wants he loses any chance to get it. Of course, she might still not be interested. Yet, he will have stood up for himself and that is a lot sexier than just backing down or slinking away.

If he really has the hots for her he may grin and bear it and hope his luck will turn. However, he is forgetting that women are natural experts at picking up on body language and tone of voice and will figure out what is going on with him. She will see that he wants something from her but will not take responsibility for it. He is not respecting his own needs and that does not impress her. She may still like him – as a friend – but she might wish he was more manly. It also makes it harder for her to trust him. Trusting a friend is not the same thing as trusting a mate. Yes, she trusts the Nice Guy not to attack her but there are other kinds of trust that she needs to feel.

The Nice Guy cannot usually be trusted to stand up to a woman when that is what she needs. Is he strong enough to contain her anger? A woman once said about a Nice Guy, “I like him, but I could not fight with him”. What she meant was is that she could not be sure that he would stand up to her when she needed someone to bounce off. She and the Nice Guy got on fine for the most part, but what would happen if she were furious with him and really let fly? Could he handle it? Would he be deeply hurt and offended by something she would come out with in the heat of the moment? Would it would destroy their relationship? A woman can only trust the wilder parts of herself with a man that can hold and contain the wilder parts of himself. She has to know that her mate can stand up to her, and hold his own, when that is what the relationship needs to move forward. A man who cannot do that is not going to be a suitable mate; even if he is a kind and caring friend.

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