What Is a Nice Guy? Nice Guys and Addictions (Part 1 of 2)

what is a nice guy

Nice Guys repress their feelings and needs for the sake of others. It’s a recipe for resentment. Nice couch, though, right?

I’m writing this in the Seattle-Tacoma airport very early in the morning, preparing to board a plane to return home to the Los Angeles area. This past weekend, I participated in a professional certification workshop with Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.


It was a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to do another training with him.


When I first read the book a few months ago, I knew that I had to do some training with him. Why?


In writing about “nice guys,” Dr. Glover understands well the toxic shame that many addicts, especially sex and porn addicts, struggle with on a daily basis. Many of my clients have told me that they resonate strongly with his book.


But what is a “nice guy”? It’s worthwhile understanding what a “nice guy” is, what they’re like, and why they’re vulnerable to addictions. Especially sexual addictions.


What is a “Nice Guy”?

Nice Guys are a breed of men who have been conditioned to seek the approval of others. They’re concerned about looking good and doing everything “right.”


They are okay when others are happy; when others are not happy, they tend to become anxious and try to “fix it.”


Nice Guys will go to great lengths to avoid conflict and try very hard to make everyone happy. They’re especially concerned about pleasing women.


As Dr. Glover writes in his book, “In a nutshell, Nice Guys believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, they will in return be happy, loved, and fulfilled” (p. 13).


How to Spot a Nice Guy

Once I began learning about Nice Guy syndrome, I began to recognize Nice Guys everywhere, especially in my practice (and yes, in myself). But how do you know that you’re a Nice Guy?


Dr. Glover lists a number of typical characteristics of Nice Guys (pp. 22-23):

  • Nice Guys are givers, believing that giving to others is a sign of how good they are and that their giving will make people love them.
  • Nice Guys fix and caretake, so that if someone else has a problem or is hurting, sad, or upset, the Nice Guy will often attempt to fix the situation.
  • Nice Guys seek approval from others, seeking their validation (especially from women).
  • Nice Guys avoid conflict like the plague. After all, the last thing they want to do is to upset anyone.
  • Nice Guys believe that they must hide their perceived flaws and mistakes. They’re afraid that others will shame them, find them lacking or inadequate, or become angry with them if a shortcoming is exposed. They believe this because of their experiences in their families of origin.
  • Nice Guys seek the “right” way to do things. Nice Guys believe that if they could find the “right” way to talk to their spouse, to do the dishes—everything—then everything will go right in their lives.
  • Nice Guys repress their feelings. Nice Guys repress their feelings and often second-guess or “edit” themselves because they don’t want to express any emotions that may ruffle someone else’s feathers.
  • Nice Guys try to be different from their fathers. Many Nice Guys state that they had unavailable, passive, absent, abusive, neglectful, or addicted. These men set out (often unconsciously) to be different from their fathers.
  • Nice Guys are often more comfortable relating to women than men. Nice Guys typically don’t have many male friendships. They tend to seek the approval of women and convince themselves that they are unlike other men. They prefer to think that they are not selfish, angry, or “jerks”—characteristics they associate with other men.
  • Nice Guys have difficulty making their needs a priority. I’ve heard many times from clients that meeting their needs feels selfish. Nice Guys believe that it is noble and virtuous to put others’ needs instead of themselves, frequently martyring themselves for their sake.
  • Nice Guys often make their partner the center of their emotional worlds. Nice Guys are only happy when their partners are happy. They will pour their energy into their intimate relationship at the expense of other relationships, which are generally few.


“Well, That Doesn’t Sound Too Bad, Right?”

What’s wrong with being a Nice Guy, anyway? Some of the above doesn’t sound very healthy, I know.


But, as my clients often ask me, isn’t it a good thing to be kind and caring, as Nice Guys often are? Or, if their fathers were absent, abusive, or rageful, is it really so bad for Nice Guys to try to be different? Surely, it’s not mistaken to caretake others, is it? And finding the “right” way to do things is wrong? Really?


Yes, really.


Being a Nice Guy means convincing yourself that it’s not so bad to be a Nice Guy. But as we’ll find out in our next post, Nice Guys ain’t so nice. They’re prone to anger and resentment, vulnerable to isolation, and they’re often manipulative, among other things.


And, you guessed it, they often struggle with addictions. Especially sex and porn addiction. We’ll explore why in my next post.


**By the way, the link to Dr. Glover’s book in this blog post is an affiliate link.


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Jeremy Mast

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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