Here are my favorite passages from the book.
“Being integrated means being able to accept all aspects of one’s self. An integrated man is able to embrace everything that makes him unique: his power, his assertiveness, his courage, and his passion as well as his imperfections, his mistakes, and his dark side.
An integrated male possesses many of the following attributes:
- He has a strong sense of self. He likes himself just as he is.
- He takes responsibility for getting his own needs met.
- He is comfortable with his masculinity and his sexuality.
- He has integrity. He does what is right, not what is expedient.
- He is a leader. He is willing to provide for and protect those he cares about.
- He is clear, direct, and expressive of his feelings.
- He can be nurturing and giving without caretaking or problem-solving.
- He knows how to set boundaries and is not afraid to work through conflict.
“Over the last several years, I have watched countless men “do something different” by applying the principles contained in this book. These men have transformed themselves from resentful, frustrated, helpless Nice Guys into assertive, empowered, and happy individuals.”
“Jose was highly educated and had a stressful, high-powered career. He was physically active, and his idea of recreation was taking a hundred-mile bike ride or climbing a mountain. He repressed his anger and tried to never say anything that would upset anyone. He saw himself as controlling, and acknowledged that his drug of choice was “recognition.”
■If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be, then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life
“The “I’m so bad” Nice Guy is convinced everyone can see how bad he is. He can give concrete examples of bad behavior in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that support his core belief about himself. He can tell of breaking windows and getting whippings as a little boy. He will reveal running afoul of the law and making his mother cry when he was a teenager. He will tell tales of smoking, drinking, using drugs and carousing as an adult.”
“Radical feminism implied that men were bad and/or unnecessary. The messages of radical feminism furthered the belief of many men that if they wanted to be loved and get their needs met, they had to become what they believed women wanted them to be. For many men, this meant trying to hide any traits that might cause them to be labeled as “bad” men.”
“In general, the Nice Guys I have worked with do not report having had a close, bonded relationship with their fathers in childhood. Sometimes this was a result of their fathers working long hours, being withdrawn, or being passive. More often than not, Nice Guys describe their fathers in negative terms. They often see them as controlling, rageful, angry, absent, abusive, unavailable, addictive, or philandering. It is not unusual at some point in childhood for Nice Guys to have made a conscious decision to be different from their fathers.”
“Radical feminism in the ’60s and ’70s projected an angry generalization about men. Some feminists claimed that men were the cause of all of the problems in the world. Others asserted that men were merely an unnecessary nuisance. More than likely, the majority of women during this era did not feel this way about men. Nevertheless, enough angry women were significantly vocal to contribute to a social climate that convinced many men that it was not OK to be just who they were.”
“From a different perspective, Camille Paglia comments on how the social changes of the last five decades have changed the roles of men and women. “The hard-driving woman has to switch personae (sic) when she gets home. She’s got to throttle back, or she’ll castrate everything in the domestic niche. Many white, middle-class women have dodged this dilemma by finding themselves a nice, malleable boy-man who becomes another son in the subliminally matriarchal household.”
“I’m a chameleon,” revealed Todd, a 30-year-old single Nice Guy. “I will become whatever I believe a person wants me to be in order to be liked. With my smart friends I act intelligent and use a big vocabulary. Around my mother, I look like the perfect loving son. With my dad, I talk sports. With the guys at work I cuss and swear . . . whatever it takes to look cool. Underneath it all, I’m not sure who I really am or if any of them would like me just for who I am.”
“Just about everything a Nice Guy does is consciously or unconsciously calculated to gain someone’s approval or to avoid disapproval.”
“Since Nice Guys see sex as the ultimate form of acceptance, and they believe a woman must be in a good mood before she will have sex, these men are constantly diligent to not do anything that might upset a woman whom they desire. In addition, if a woman they desire is angry, depressed, or in a bad mood, they believe they must do something quickly—lie, offer solutions, sacrifice self, manipulate—to fix it. The possibility of availability extends beyond just sex. Since Nice Guys have been conditioned by their families and society to never do anything to upset a woman, they are hyper vigilant in responding to the moods and desires of women they don’t even plan on having sex with.”
“Nice Guys build walls that prevent others from getting too close. Understandably, this affects their ability to be intimate, but it also protects them from the consequences of being found out. These walls might include: addictions (food, sex, T.V., alcohol, work, etc.), humor, sarcasm, intellectualism, perfectionism, and isolation.”
“Nice Guys have a difficult time comprehending that in general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy.”
“Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting. I often refer to Nice Guys as Teflon Men. They work so hard to be smooth, nothing can stick to them. Unfortunately, this Teflon coating also makes it difficult for people to get close. It is actually a person’s rough edges and human imperfections that give others something to connect with.”
“Most Nice Guys are astonished when I tell them that it is healthy to have needs, and that mature people make getting their needs met a priority. Sometimes I have to repeat this truth many times in order for it to sink in. For Nice Guys, having needs means being “needy,” and needy represents a one-way ticket to abandonment.”
“Most Nice Guys will really like the last benefit on the list. Helpless, whiny, wimpy, and needy are not attractive on a man. Confidence and self-assurance are attractive. Most folks are attracted to men who have a sense of self. Putting the self first doesn’t drive people away, it attracts them. Putting the self first is essential for getting what one wants in love and life.”
“This shift includes coming to believe:
- Having needs is part of being human.
- Mature people make meeting their own needs a priority.
- They can ask for help in meeting their needs in clear and direct ways.
- Other people really do want to help them meet their needs.
- This world is a place of abundance.”
“Lars Lars, introduced at the beginning of the chapter, went home after the group and told his wife that he was going to make his needs a priority for the following week. She was initially resistant to his proclamation, which added to his anxiety. To boost his courage, Lars called a couple of men in the group. Their encouragement gave him the support he needed to follow through with his commitment. Lars decided to keep it simple. His plan for the week involved making time every day to go to the gym and work out. Before his children were born, Lars had been physically active. The demands of job, home, and children had put an end to that. Lars decided to alternate his workouts before and after work. When he shared his plan with his wife, she applied a little guilt. “That’s not fair that you get to work out and I don’t,” she proclaimed. Lars was tempted to back down. He had an impulse to try to find a solution so his wife could work out, too. Instead, he reflected on her concern and told her he was going to work out anyway. During his first couple of trips to the gym, Lars was overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety. Nevertheless, he persevered. After the third day, his wife actually asked him how his workout went. As the week continued, Lars began to feel more energized and optimistic about life. He started sleeping better. At the gym, he enjoyed being around other people who were also taking good care of themselves. Surprisingly, after his first week, his wife told him that he had inspired her to start taking better care of herself. She told him that she was going to start dropping the kids off at the daycare center at the gym and begin an aerobics class for herself.”
“Much to his surprise, at the end of the week Racquel reported she felt a lot less smothered by Shane and actually looked forward to spending time with him. She even called late one evening after the kids were in bed and invited him over to make love.”
“As a result of these childhood experiences, feeling like a victim feels familiar for most Nice Guys. These men tend to see others as causing the problems they are experiencing in life. As a consequence, they often feel frustrated, helpless, resentful, and rageful. You can see it in their body language. You can hear it in their voices: “It’s not fair.” “How come she gets to make the rules?” “I always give more than I get.” “If she would just. . . . ” A Paradigm Of Powerlessness In an attempt to cope with their childhood abandonment experiences, all Nice Guys developed the same paradigm: “If I am good, then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.” Unfortunately, this paradigm not only produces the opposite of what is desired, it guarantees nothing but feelings of perpetual powerlessness.”
“Even though Nice Guys are obsessed with trying to create a smooth, problem-free life, two major factors prevent them from attaining this goal. The first is that they are attempting the impossible. Life is not smooth. Human existence is by nature chaotic. Life is filled with experiences that are unpredictable and beyond anyone’s control. Therefore, trying to create a predictable life in which everything always goes as planned is an exercise in futility.”
“I define personal power as a state of mind in which a person is confident he can handle whatever may come. This kind of power not only successfully deals with problems, challenges and adversity, it actually welcomes them, meets them head on, and is thankful for them. Personal power isn’t the absence of fear. Even the most powerful people have fear. Personal power is the result of feeling fear, but not giving in to the fear.”
“Ironically, the most important aspect of reclaiming personal power and getting what one wants in love and life is surrender. Surrender doesn’t mean giving up. It means letting go of what one can’t change and changing what one can.”
“Letting go doesn’t mean not caring or not trying. Letting go means letting be. It is like opening up a tightly clenched fist and releasing the tension stored inside. At first the fingers will want to return to their former clenched position. The hand almost has to be retrained to open up and relax. So it is with learning how to surrender and let go.”
“A year later he announced to his men’s group that he and Barb had set a date to get married. He reported that they were getting along better than he would have ever imagined. He shared that the turning point seemed to be when he made the decision that he didn’t care whether they made it together or not. That decision represented a conscious letting go of trying to control something that was clearly not in his control. Ironically, he shared that the process of letting go allowed him to receive what he really wanted.”
“Les, an unassuming man in his late thirties, had a brief affair with a coworker. During his initial therapy session, I asked Les why he thought he had an affair. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I guess I just wanted some attention.”
“To listen to Les talk about his wife, it was evident he had her on a pedestal. It was equally clear that he was not dwelling in reality when it came to his marriage. When I asked specific questions about his wife, Les revealed how Sarah had gained 60 pounds since they married, refused to cook, was depressed, no longer wanted to have sex with him, treated him with contempt, and would rage at him without provocation. In spite of all these things, Les maintained that his wife was the woman of his dreams, and that he loved her dearly. Throughout the next few months of therapy, I consistently held up a mirror of reality to Les in regard to his wife and his relationship with her. This was a slow and difficult process. Les needed to see Sarah in a certain way because of his fear of being alone. To dwell in reality might mean he would have to do something frightening or difficult.”
“As Les began to face his fears of abandonment he also began to see his wife more accurately. This change allowed him to start asking for what he wanted, set boundaries, and express his feelings of resentment and anger. It soon became apparent that Sarah had no desire to look at her role in the relationship or make any kind of changes. Though it was painful and frightening, accepting things as they really were allowed Les to make the decision to move out and file for divorce.”
“I frequently tell Nice Guys, “Your feelings are just feelings, they won’t kill you.” Regardless of whether a Nice Guy is feeling anxious, helpless, shameful, lonely, rageful, or sad, his feelings aren’t life threatening.”
“Feelings are an integral part of human existence. By learning the language of feelings, recovering Nice Guys can begin to let go of a lifetime of unnecessary baggage. As they do, they experience a newfound energy, optimism, intimacy, and zest for life.”
Some guidelines about expressing feelings:
- Don’t focus on the other person, “You are making me mad.” Instead, take responsibility for what you are feeling, “I am feeling angry.”
- Instead, pay attention to what you are experiencing in your body, “I’m feeling helpless and frightened.”
- In general, try to begin feeling statements with “I,” rather than “you.”
“Fear is a normal part of human experience. Everyone experiences fear, even those people who seem to be fearless. Healthy fear is a warning sign that danger may be approaching. This is different from the fear Nice Guys experience on a daily basis.”
“Because of the memory fear created in childhood, Nice Guys still approach the world as if it is dangerous and overpowering. To cope with these realities, Nice Guys typically hunker down and play it safe.”
“Most Nice Guys pride themselves on being honest and trustworthy. In reality, Nice Guys are fundamentally dishonest. They have the ability to tell a lie or withhold the truth and still believe the illusion that they are basically honest people. Since dishonesty is a fear-based behavior, telling lies and withholding the truth robs Nice Guys of their personal power.”
“Sometimes after telling the truth, Nice Guys will report that it was a “mistake” because someone reacted with anger. Telling the truth is not a magic formula for having a smooth life. But living a life of integrity is actually easier than living one built around deceit and distortion.”
“Many Nice Guys have difficulty connecting with men because of the limited positive male contact they experienced in childhood. Because these men did not have a positive bond with their father, they never learned the basic skills necessary to build meaningful relationships with men.”
“These aspects of masculinity include strength, discipline, courage, passion, persistence, and integrity. Masculine energy also represents the potential for aggressiveness, destructiveness, and brutality. These characteristics frighten Nice Guys—and most women—therefore Nice Guys work especially hard to repress these traits.”
“This frustration is due to the reality that, in general, women view men who try to please them as weak and hold these men in contempt. Most women do not want a man who tries to please them—they want a man who knows how to please himself. Women consistently share with me that they don’t want a passive, pleasing wimp. They want a man—someone with his balls still intact.”
“Both Alan and his wife Marie believe Alan’s conscious decision to connect with men saved their marriage. Alan had made his wife his emotional center. His life revolved around trying to please her and make her happy. Due to his ineffective covert contracts, Alan never believed Marie gave as much to him as he gave to her. As a result, he was often resentful and passive-aggressive. When Alan began to get his emotional and social needs met with men, it took a lot of pressure off his wife. As Alan reclaimed his masculine energy, he also began to look more attractive to Marie. Even though it was initially difficult to tell her that he was going to spend time with his friends, she respected him when he did. This newfound respect rekindled the feelings she first felt toward Alan early in their relationship.”
“Matt’s mother had always portrayed his dad as a villain while representing herself as a victim. While talking with his father, Matthew came to the realization that even though his dad had problems, he wasn’t bad like his mother had made him out to be. From this encounter, Matthew also realized that he had created a similar scenario with his wife, identifying her as the villain and himself as the victim. Not only did that phone call to his father begin to change his relationship with his dad, but also with his wife.”
“Unfortunately, our culture provides few rituals in which adult males help boys leave the comfort of a nursery ruled by women (home, preschool, school) and enter the world of adult manhood. Robert Bly discusses the importance of these rituals in his book”
“This reciprocal process requires time and interaction. Fathers need to take their sons hunting and fishing, work on cars with them, take them to work, coach their teams, take them to ball games, work out with them, take them on business trips, and let them tag along with them when they go out with the guys. All of these activities help boys move successfully into the male world. This process is not just limited to a man’s biological sons. Nice Guys can get involved with young relatives, scouts, sports teams, school activities, or big brothers.”
“This terrifies Nice Guys, because being known means being found out. All Nice Guys have worked their entire lives to become what they believe others want them to be while trying to hide their perceived flaws. The demands of intimacy represent everything Nice Guys fear most.”
“The enmeshing Nice Guy makes his partner his emotional center. His world revolves around her. She is more important than his work, his buddies, his hobbies. He will do whatever it takes to make her happy. He will give her gifts, try to fix her problems, and arrange his schedule to be with her. He will gladly sacrifice his wants and needs to win her love. He will even tolerate her bad moods, rage attacks, addictions, and emotional or sexual unavailability—all because he “loves her so much.”
“Strategies For Building Successful Relationships There are no perfect relationships. There are no perfect partners. Relationships by their very nature are chaotic, eventful, and challenging. The second part of this chapter is not a plan for finding a perfect partner or creating the perfect relationship. It is simply a strategy for doing what works. By adapting the points below and changing the way in which they live their lives, recovering Nice Guys will change the way they have relationships.”
Nice Guys can:
- Approve of themselves
- Put themselves first
- Reveal themselves to safe people
- Eliminate covert contracts
- Take responsibility for their own needs
- Dwell in reality
- Express their feelings
- Develop integrity
- Set boundaries
“I show Nice Guys, often with their partners watching, how to step up to their line and set boundaries. On more than one occasion, I have had the partner of a Nice Guy applaud during the demonstration. The Nice Guy will turn, slack-jawed, and say, “You mean you want me to stand up to you, dear?” “Of course I do,” she will respond. “I don’t want to be married to someone I can walk all over.” Then I warn him. “Your wife is telling you the truth. She doesn’t feel safe knowing she can push you around. She wants to know that you will stand up to her. That is how she will feel secure in the relationship. But, here’s the catch. She has to test to see if she can trust you. The first time you set a boundary with her she may react intensely. She will push against it. She will tell you that you are wrong for setting that boundary. She will do her best to find out if your boundary is for real.”
“In many ways, humans aren’t much different from pets. People often behave the way they have been trained to behave. For example, if a person gives his dog a treat when he pisses on the carpet, the dog will keep pissing on the carpet. The same is true for humans. If the Nice Guy reinforces his partner’s undesirable behaviors, she will keep behaving in undesirable ways.”
“That evening, it seemed as if a miracle had occurred. Joe’s wife came home from work in a good mood and asked Joe if he wanted to go for a walk. While walking she told him how she had resolved the previous day’s problem. Joe revealed to his wife how uncomfortable it had made him to not try to fix her problem, the previous evening. She responded by telling Joe that she didn’t want him to try to fix her problems and that she liked it better that he had given her some space to work it out on her own.”
“only one problem. I come too fast. She turns me on so much, I just get too excited.” Terrance went on to describe how hard he worked to please his girlfriend when they made love. Whenever they had sex, Terrance would try to make sure his girlfriend had two or three orgasms by stimulating her orally before he put his penis inside her vagina. He then tried to bring her to one more climax vaginally. Unfortunately, he frequently ejaculated before she had her final orgasm. Terrance was so seemingly selfless that he told his fiancée that he didn’t care if he never had an orgasm, as long as she was satisfied.”
“When a boy reaches adolescence, he must begin negotiating the turbulent seas of learning to relate to the opposite sex. If he is to have any hope of securing a girlfriend and someday having sex, he must figure out what it takes to get a female to notice him and approve of him. For some boys this process seems to come fairly easily. If they happen to be good looking, a star athlete, or from an affluent family, attracting females may not be overly difficult for them.”
“Aaron also reported that his wife had made some sexual advances toward him. She revealed to him that since he was not pursuing her, she felt freer to move toward him. She also expressed that she liked being able to have sexual energy with Aaron, without it always having to end up in intercourse. After six months, Aaron reported feeling less resentful and much closer to his wife. He also discovered how to get his needs met and express his feelings more directly, instead of through sex. Most importantly, when he and Hannah did start having sex again, he felt much more connected to his wife.”
“nature, the alpha male and the bull moose don’t sit around trying to figure out what will make the girls like them. They are just themselves: fierce, strong, competitive, and sexually proud. Because they are what they are and do what they do, prospective mates are attracted. As in nature, the greatest aphrodisiac is self-confidence. As recovering Nice Guys become comfortable just being themselves, they begin to look more attractive. Self-respect, courage, and integrity look good on a man. As recovering Nice Guys chart their own path and put themselves first, people respond. I’ve listened to recovering Nice Guys tell of “selfishly” putting their needs first and then being surprised when a seemingly unavailable partner expresses a desire to be sexual. One client, who hadn’t had sex with his wife in 14 months, shared in a Nice Guy group that he was tired of listening to his wife complain about her work problems. That night, for the first time in 15 years of marriage, he told his wife that he was too tired to listen. Even though she was initially angry, later that night she asked him if he wanted to make love.”
“They settle for scraps and think it is all they deserve. They create all kinds of rationalizations to explain why they will never have what they really desire. Because of their self-fulfilling beliefs, Nice Guys rarely live up to their potential or get what they really want in life.”
“They often see themselves as helpless victims to these situations. Rarely do they see why they need these systems to be the way they are, and that they have the choice to leave. Unconsciously re-creating familiar family patterns in their jobs and careers keeps Nice Guys stuck and dissatisfied. While they are perpetuating the dysfunction of their childhood, they rarely do what they really want or rise to the top of their chosen vocation.”
“1. Very first, before anything else could happen, I had to stop being a victim. 2. I began by setting boundaries. At first they were small ones and they grew with time. 3. From the boundaries being set and respected, I started believing in myself. 4. Honesty came along somewhere during this time. 5. Believing that I am an adult, I have an education, and I am qualified to take on the role of an industrial engineer. 6. I always knew that my previous employer was dysfunctional, and that it was comfortable for a reason. When I finally realized and accepted that I did not need that system to survive, I could finally move on. Charlie
“I encourage Nice Guys to visualize creating a life where they do what they love and get paid for it. Most of them have difficulty with this concept. They act as if I am asking them to believe a fairy tale. Occasionally they will dismiss the idea with the excuse, “Not everybody can be lucky like you (referring to me) and have a job they really love and get paid well for it, too.” For a while, I accepted this logic until it dawned on me that the life I was living had nothing to do with luck.”
“Earning a Ph.D. involved a conscious decision, persistence, and hard work—not luck. Building a counseling practice involved facing fears, quitting a secure, well-paying job, making sacrifices, working a second job to pay bills, learning by trial and error, and a living through a period of poverty—not luck. Developing my skills as a therapist involved a commitment to personal growth, constant evolution, and a financial investment in my own therapeutic process—not luck. Writing a book, building a website, and getting published required persistence and the confrontation of numerous fears—not luck.”
“Then, take a small step toward facing that fear. Ask someone to encourage and support you. Don’t try to do it alone. Remember, no matter what happens, you will handle it.
- Ask for a raise or promotion
- Quit an unsatisfying job
- Start your own business
- Go back to school
- Confront a conflict situation
- Promote an idea or something you have created
- Pursue a lifelong goal
- Spend more time with a hobby or interest
“I realized that I had gotten away from my original goal—to write a few insights that would help a few men live better lives. Once I let go of the burden of having to get published, be a best-selling author, and appear on Oprah, everything changed. I went back to my original agenda. From then on when I wrote, I only asked myself one thing: “Will this help my clients find answers to their problems?” I also kept reminding myself that my clients would never get a chance to benefit from my insight if I never finished the book.”
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.