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Breaking Free: Overcoming Nice Guy Syndrome After 50

A sign that says Let's start Over

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Nice guy syndrome (NGS) is a problem that plagues a lot of guys. Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy, wrote his book after working as a group therapist with men who have this problem. He discusses how some men who try too hard to please others and neglect themselves end up feeling resentment and unhappy.


Perceived as a negative trait, Nice guy syndrome masks deeper issues of self-esteem, passive-aggressiveness, and unfulfilled personal desires.  As men reach their fifties, shifts in lifestyle can trigger or make these symptoms worse, leading to feelings of invisibility, frustration, and unreciprocated kindness.


Younger guys taught by society to be nice often find it tough to get the girl or get what they want. As you get older, after a lifetime of frustration,  it is a direct impediment to regaining your edge and is something that should be addressed. However, the signs of this problem are not always obvious to outsiders but remains a frustration for those that find themselves stuck in a cycle of people-pleasing and fearing rejection if they assert their own desires. Recognizing these signs is the first step towards change and empowerment.


Understanding Nice Guy Syndrome

The Symptoms of Nice Guy Syndrome

Nice Guy Syndrome is characterized by behaviors that seek approval and avoid conflict.  These behaviors are often based on low self-esteem and fear of rejection and lead to showing excessive niceness and putting others’ needs ahead of their own. As a result this behavior brings resentment when their ‘niceness’ isn’t reciprocated.


Societal Influence and Expectations

The idea in society that ‘nice guys’ are good partners, reinforces a stereotype that leads to certain types of behavior. This brings about a difference between one’s real self and the role they feel they need to play, creating internal conflicts and preventing genuine relationships from developing. Individuals influenced by the expectations of society may prioritize niceness in their actions, even when it goes against their true feelings. This leads to unfulfilled relationships and unhappiness.


Identifying a Nice Guy Personality

Understanding characteristics of a nice guy personality helps one recognize and become aware of the problem.


  • Excessive People-Pleasing: Prioritizing others’ needs excessively, often at the expense of one’s own well-being.
  • Conflict Avoidance: Shying away from confrontations to maintain harmony, even when personal values are compromised.
  • Approval Seeking: Engaging in behaviors primarily for validation and acceptance from others.


These traits may arise from a fear of rejection and a lack of self-worth, leading to superficial kindness and not sharing expectations.


The Nice Guy Paradox

The “Nice Guy Paradox ” relates to men’s willingness to be the nice guy and treat women well, thinking that is what women want. Although women say they want a nice guy, they prefer the not-so-nice-guy when given the choice. 


Although it seems like a paradox, it really isn’t since women’s mating preference is for the better looking, taller guy who will provide better genes for her offspring.  A woman would also prefer one of these guys being a nice guy. Since an attractive guy doesn’t need to be nice to attract women, this is a nice “bonus” for a woman looking for a mate.


Man handing over a box with face covered - nice guy syndrome


The Two Types of Nice Guys

There are two types of nice guys, the one who is wholeheartedly good and likes to help others or be of assistance to others. They genuinely enjoy helping others and don’t expect anything in return.  The other type are those who mask their needs, want to appear agreeable and will do things for others expecting their actions to be reciprocated. 




Strategies for Overcoming Nice Guy Syndrome

If you are a nice guy and are tired of being walked over and ignored, stop expecting things from others and focus on yourself.  


  1. Focus on your needs and wants: Recognize and prioritize what you need over others. Take a stand on what’s important. Negotiate on what’s less important.
  2. Understand why you do what you do: Think about how you act towards others and why you act that way. Align these actions with your values. Stop expecting things from others. 
  3. Build up other areas of your life: Take care of improving yourself.  Focus on your grooming, your fitness and health. Work on your finances and improve your professional prospects. Improve your posture, your physical bearing and how you dress. Build your self esteem.
  4. Stop focusing on things beyond your control: Recognize what you can control and let go of what you can’t,
  5. Set Boundaries: In your relationships make sure others know what you stand for and where your boundaries lay.  If someone crosses those boundaries make it clear in not so uncertain terms that you won’t stand for it.  If you tell them politely, you won’t be taken seriously.
  6. Be a man: Understand and use healthy masculine traits like assertiveness, integrity (don’t compromise your beliefs), and strength.
  7. Stop pretending – be authentic: Build deeper connections by being authentic with others. Some will like who you really are. For those who don’t – fuck ‘em.
  8. Do things that you like: Identify what motivates you and pursue those interests.
  9. Hang out with other guys: Join a men’s social club or support group. Go to the gym and go for a drink with buddies regularly – you don’t have to ask permission. 


Regain your edge – take steps towards living a life that reflects who you are and/or what you want to be.


Conclusion: Embracing Authenticity

In order to regain your edge you need to be honest with yourself.  Your life is a careful balance between your physical, mental and relationship health. If one suffers you will suffer, impacting other areas of your life. It is time to leave behind the façade of the ‘Nice Guy’ to build better relationships and your own self-respect. It involves asserting one’s needs, working on improving your self esteem and reflecting on what you want out of life. This is not about becoming someone else but about being the person you are supposed to be so you can lead a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Check out 12 Micro Habits to Improve Your Life: Regain your Edge.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the support and guidance of your physician when you are unsure about any health issues.


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Alcohol? Red Wine is the Better Choice

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Check out Easy Choices Hard Life, Hard Choices the Best Life.

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