Summary of No More Mr Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover

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  • Post last modified:December 11, 2023

Chapter Three: Learn to Please Yourself

Just about everything a Nice Guy does is consciously or unconsciously calculated to gain someone’s approval or to avoid disapproval.

All of them change their personalities around other people to be accepted. Because Nice Guys don’t believe they’re lovable as they are, they do something to become lovable and get the approval of everyone, including strangers and people they don’t like.

This something is called attachments (dressing well, being overly nice, etc). Without them, Nice Guys wouldn’t consider themselves worthy of love due to their toxic shame.

They believe that if anyone really got to know them, they would also think they’re bad people.

Breaking Free: Activity 4: In which ways do you seek approval?

– Having one’s hair just right
– Being smart
– Having a pleasant, non-threatening voice
– Appearing unselfish
– Being different from other men
– Staying sober
– Being in good shape
– Being a great dancer
– Being a good lover
– Never getting angry
– Making other people happy
– Being a good worker
– Having a clean car
– Dressing well
– Being nice
– Respecting women
– Never offending anyone
– Appearing to be a good

Write any other ways that may not be written.

Nice Guys seek approval in any situation, but they seek it more in their relationship with women because their approval is the ultimate validation of their worth. Approval from women takes the form of sex.

When women pay attention to Nice Guys, they think this is a mark of approval. When she’s in a bad mood, Nice Guys think this is a sign of disapproval.

Seeking a woman’s approval requires Nice Guys to constantly monitor the possibility of a woman’s availability.

Nice Guys think a woman needs to be in a good mood prior to having sex, so they won’t do anything that will upset them.

Many Nice Guys copy the mood of their partner: if she’s happy, they’re happy too. This gives women power over Nice Guys’mood. When women deem Nice Guys “jerks” or “bad”, the Nice Guys will believe it.

Seeking women’s approval constantly creates rage toward women as they eventually fail to give the Nice Guy everything he requires from her.

Breaking Free: Activity 5
Consider this: If you did not care what people thought of you, how would you live your life differently? If you were not concerned with getting the approval of women, how would your relationships with the opposite sex be different?

Since Nice Guys do not believe they are OK just as they are, they see any mistake or perceived flaw as proof that they are bad and unlovable.

So, Nice Guys hide their flaws, their mistakes (being late, not understanding, forgetting, feeling depressed, in pain, etc), and their needs such as:

  • Their sexuality
  • They are getting older

Breaking Free: Activity 6
Write down examples of situations in which you have tried to hide or distract attention from any of these perceived flaws. How effective do you think you are in keeping these things hidden from the people you love?

Ways Nice Guys use to hide their mistake:

  • Lying: Most Nice Guys think they’re nice and honest, but they’re all fundamentally dishonest.
  • Drawing On Their Account: Since Nice Guys make so much effort to be nice, they think that the good things they do compensate for the bad things they do.
  • Fixing: When mature people make a mistake, they apologize. Nice Guys try to fix it at any cost to prevent the other person from getting angry.
  • DEER Response: DEER stands for Defense, Explain, Excuse, Rationalize. It’s a strategy Nice Guys use to get other people to focus on something else than their mistakes.
  • Shame Dumping: When the Nice Guy is confronted with a mistake he made, he experiences toxic shame and will try to trigger it in the other person too as a defense mechanism. Eg: blame, bringing up the past, deflection, and pointing out the other person’s flaws.
  • Walls: Nice Guys build walls to avoid others getting too close to them as they would see “who he really is”. Eg: addictions (food, work, sex), humor, sarcasm, intellectualism, perfectionism, and isolation.

While the Nice Guy desperately wants to be loved, the above behavior achieves the exact opposite. It keeps people at bay so the Nice Guy doesn’t connect with anyone in the end.

Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.

Breaking Free: Activity 7
– Do you believe that people can see your human imperfections and still love you?
– How would you be different if you knew the people who care about you would never leave you or stop loving you—no matter what?

To stop being a Nice Guy, you need to stop seeking the approval of others to seek the approval of yourself.

Ironically, when Nice Guys begin focusing on pleasing themselves, they actually begin to experience the intimacy and connection with others that they have always desperately craved.

Let’s see how you can start looking for your own approval.

Identify Approval-Seeking Behavior

Do you hold the door for people? Do you dress amazingly nice hoping to gather comments?

What do you do to gain approval?

Start paying attention. Every time you notice, turn your attention inward. What do you want to do? Don’t think about what other people want you to do. What do you want to do?

Breaking Free: Activity 8
Go back to Activity 4. Choose one of the ways you try to get external validation and do one of the following:
1. Stop doing it. Tell the people around you what you are doing. If you slip, tell a safe person about it. Use the slip as information about why, in that particular moment, you felt the need to get external approval.
2. Consciously do more of this behavior. This may not make logical sense, but it is a powerful way to explore any dysfunctional behavior. Observe how you feel when you consciously try harder to get external validation.

Take Care of Yourself

If a Nice Guy believes he isn’t worth much, his actions toward himself will reflect this belief.

Take better care of yourself. Most Nice Guys can’t find one or two things to do for themselves.

Here are a few options:

  • Exercise, work out, go for a walk
  • Eat healthy food
  • Get enough sleep
  • Relax, play, goof off
  • Get a massage
  • Go out with buddies
  • Buy a new pair of shoes
  • Get shoes polished
  • Get dental work done
  • Listen to music

As the Nice Guy does something good for him, he will feel uncomfortable because he is implying that he has value indeed, which contradicts his feelings about himself. With time, one of the two beliefs will win – so keep on taking care of yourself.

Breaking Free: Activity 9
Begin with the list above and add good things that you can do for yourself. Put the list up where you will see it, and choose at least one thing per day and do it for yourself.

Positive Affirmations

Affirmations alone won’t help you, but they will if you use them with the other strategies.

Breaking Free: Activity 10
Make a list of positive affirmations about yourself. Write them on note cards and place them where you will see them regularly. Change the cards often so they stay fresh. When you read affirmations, close your eyes and fully embrace the meaning of the words. Observe any tendency of your mind to reject the affirmations in favor of old, deeply held beliefs. The following are some possible affirmations:
– I am lovable just as I am.
– I am perfectly imperfect.
– My needs are important.
– I am a strong and powerful person.
– I can handle it.
– People love and accept me just as I am.
– It is OK to be human and make mistakes.
– I am the only person I have to please.

Spend Time Alone

When alone the Nice Guy will be less likely to caretake, seek approval, sacrifice himself, or try to fix someone’s problems.

Spend time alone to find out what you really like to do.

Spending time alone also teaches you that it’s okay to be alone, you won’t die from it.

Write in a journal too.

Breaking Free: Activity 11
Plan a weekend trip to the mountains or beach. If possible, plan a vacation or retreat for a week or longer by yourself to a place where no one knows you. Visit a foreign country by yourself if at all possible. Use this time as an opportunity for self-observation and reflection. Keep a journal. Practice good self-care. Spend time doing the Breaking Free exercises. When you return home, observe how you are different and how long it takes for you to begin returning to familiar patterns.

Reveal Yourself to Others

When Nice Guys try to hide their humanity from others, they reinforce their core belief that they are bad and unlovable. Changing this core belief requires that they bring their humanity out into the open, release their toxic shame, and receive more accurate messages than the ones internalized in childhood.

Do this with people you trust, and that won’t hurt you.

Get Rid of the Nice Guy

As you release your toxic shame and seek your own approval, you will realize that:

  • You are not a bad person
  • You don’t have to do anything to get others’ approval
  • You don’t need to hide your flaws
  • People can love you as you are

Nobody wants to connect with perfect people. As you accept yourself as you are and reveal yourself as such, you will attract many people.

Nobody likes “chameleon”.

Chapter Four: Make Your Needs a Priority

Nice Guys generally focus their attention on meeting everyone else’s needs while trying to be “low maintenance” kinds of guys themselves.

When a child’s needs aren’t met, the child comes to believe that it’s because he doesn’t deserve it. Some also believe that others leave them precisely because they have needs.

They develop the following coping mechanisms.

Appearing Needless

For Nice Guys, trying to become needless and wantless was a primary way of trying to cope with their childhood abandonment experiences. Since it was when they had the most needs that they felt the most abandoned, they believed it was their needs that drove people away.

The natural outcome of these was that they learned to expect not having their needs met on one hand, and suppressing them completely on the other.

But you can’t live without tending to your needs. So they figured out a way to have them met in covert ways (manipulating, lying, cheating, etc).

Not Receiving Anything People Want to Give Them

Nice Guys can’t receive or get their needs met because this contradicts what they learned in childhood.

Nice Guys are extremely uncomfortable when they actually do get what they want.

They maintain these principles by having relationships with needy and unavailable people.

This shows in the ways Nice Guys get their sexual needs met. They choose partners that struggle to be sexual, ensure to meet their partners’ needs before having them met, make passive-aggressive comments, etc.

Breaking Free: Activity 12
Ask yourself if you believe it is OK to have needs. Do you believe people want to help you meet your needs? Do you believe this world is a place of abundance?

Using Covert Contracts

Nice Guys use covert contracts to have their needs met without anyone’s notice (they hope).

That’s how the contract is written.

I will do this …………………..(fill in the blank) for you, so that you will do this……………………..(fill in the blank) for me. We will both act as if we have no awareness of this contract.

Eg: saying “I love you” to get an “I love you” back.

The primary paradigm of the Nice Guy Syndrome is nothing more than a big covert contract with life.

Breaking Free: Activity 13
Identify at least one covert contract between you and a significant other. What do you give? What do you expect in return? Share this information with the other person. Ask the person how it feels to respond to an unclear agenda.

They Caretake Others to Get Their Needs Met

Nice Guys caretaker others to feel valued, then hope others will spontaneously take care of them (or hope doing so means they won’t have to deal with their own problems).

Taking care ≠ caretaking.

Taking care:

  • Gives others what they need.
  • Doesn’t expect anything in return.
  • Come from abundance.


  • Gives others what he needs to give
  • Comes from a place of scarcity
  • Always expect (at least unconsciously) something in return

Nice Guys give in the way they’d like others to give them.

Breaking Free: Activity 14
Identify two or three examples of your caretaking behavior. In order to stimulate awareness of your caretaking, do one of the following for a period of one week:
1. Go on a caretaking moratorium. Because Nice Guys have a difficult time differentiating between caring and caretaking, stop giving completely (except to young, dependent children). Tell people what you are doing so they won’t be confused. Observe your feelings and other people’s reactions.
2. Consciously try to caretake more than you already do. As odd as this assignment may sound, it is a very effective way to create awareness of your caretaking behavior. Pay attention to how you feel and how other people react to you.

Covert contracts only lead to frustration because the Nice Guy, despite his best efforts, never gets his needs met.

This cycle creates the victim triangle.

The victim triangle.

Breaking Free: Activity 15
Observe the ways you hurt the people you love.
– Do you make cutting remarks or hurtful “jokes”?
– Do you embarrass them in public?
– Are you frequently late?
– Do you “forget” things they’ve asked you to do?
– Do you criticize them?
– Do you withdraw from them or threaten to leave?
– Do you let frustration build until you blow up at them?
Ask the significant others in your life to give you feedback about your caretaking. This information may be hard to hear, and may trigger a shame attack, but it is important information for breaking out of the victim triangle.

Since Nice Guys learned to sacrifice themselves in order to survive, recovery must center on learning to put themselves first and making their needs a priority.

In other words, you need to learn to become selfish.

Mature people make their needs a priority. You should too. It’s not other people’s job to take care of your needs, and it’s not your job to take care of others’ needs.

Yet it feels to Nice Guys like the quickest route to being disliked. They think people will get angry at them, and think that they’re selfish. But it’s actually the only route to be liked. Consider that when you take care of your own needs, you:

  • They increase the likelihood of getting what they need and want
  • They can give judiciously—giving what people really need
  • They can give without resentment and expectation
  • They become less needy
  • They become more 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.

You Need to Take Responsibility for Your Own Needs

You need to shift your mindset. Tattoo the following principles in your brain:

  • 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.

Nice Guys must put their needs first not only to have them met, but to reclaim their power. When they do so, everyone around them benefits because everything becomes clearer. No more covert contracts or manipulation.

Try it. Put yourself first for at least a week and see what happens.

Making the decision is the hardest part. Doing it is quite easy.

Breaking Free: Activity 16
Make a decision to put yourself first for a weekend or even a whole week. Tell the people around you what you are doing. Ask a friend to support you and encourage you in this process. Pay attention to your initial anxiety. Pay attention to your tendency to revert to old patterns. At the end of the time period, ask the people around you what it was like for them when you put yourself first. Remember, you don’t have to do it perfectly. Just do it.

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