No More Mr. Nice Guy! - by Robert Glover


Being integrated means being able to accept all aspects of one's self. An integrated man is able to embrace everything that makes him uniquely male: 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.

Breaking Free Activity #1 Write down three possible safe people or groups that might be able to provide support for you in your recovery from the Nice Guy Syndrome.

Breaking Free Activity #5 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?

Nice Guys believe they must hide or distract attention from any perceived shortcoming . . . · If they forget something. · If they are late. · If they break something. · If they don't understand something. · If they do something wrong. · If they are depressed. · If they are in pain. · If they generally mess up. The Nice Guy's need to hide is often the most pronounced in areas that are just part of being human and alive. · That they are sexual. · That they have bodily functions. · That they are getting older. · That they are losing their hair. · That they have needs. · That they are imperfect.

Breaking Free Activity #6 Look over the list above. 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?

Teflon Men

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.

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."


I strongly recommend that Nice Guys take trips and retreats by themselves to places where no one knows them. In this context, the Nice Guy has fewer reasons to try to win people's approval, and there is less of a need to try to hide faults and mistakes. While alone, Nice Guys can reflect on themselves and their life direction.

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. Take along this book and 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.

Make Your Needs a Priority

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.


Breaking Free Activity #17 Look over the following list of ways Nice Guys try to create a smooth, problem-free life. Write down an example of how you used each coping mechanism in childhood. Then, next to each, give an example of how you use this strategy to try to control your world in adulthood. Note how each of these behaviors keeps you feeling like a powerless victim. Share this information with a safe person. · Doing it right. · Playing it safe. · Anticipating and fixing. · Trying not to rock the boat. · Being charming and helpful. · Never being a moment's problem. · Using covert contracts. · Controlling and manipulating. · Caretaking and pleasing. · Withholding information. · Repressing feelings. · Making sure other people don't have feelings. · Avoiding problems and difficult situations.

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. Reclaiming personal power includes: · Surrendering. · Dwelling in reality. · Expressing feelings. · Facing fears. · Developing integrity. · Setting boundaries.

Breaking Free Activity #18 Think about one "gift" from the universe which you initially resisted but can now be seen as a positive stimulus for growth or discovery. Are there any similar gifts in your life right now to which you need to surrender? Share this information with a safe person.

Breaking Free Activity #19 Pick one area in your life in which you routinely feel frustrated or out of control. Step back from the situation. Is the difficulty you are having with the situation the result of you trying to project the reality you want to believe onto it? If you had to accept the reality of this situation, how might you change your response to it?

Breaking Free Activity #20 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." • Don't use feeling words to describe what you are thinking, as in "I feel like Joe was trying to take advantage of me." 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." Try to avoid the crutch of saying "I feel like." As in "I feel like you are being mean to me."

Breaking Free Activity #21 List one fear that has been controlling your life. Once you decide to confront the fear, begin repeating to yourself, "I can handle it. No matter what happens, I will handle it." Keep repeating this mantra until you take action and stop feeling fear.

Breaking Free Activity #22 Choose one area in which you have been out of integrity. Identify your fear that keeps you from telling the truth or doing the right thing. Reveal this situation to a safe person. Then go and tell the truth or do what you have to do to make the situation right. Tell yourself you can handle it. Since telling the truth may create a crisis for you or others, have faith that everyone involved will survive this crisis.

Breaking Free Activity #23 Before you can start setting boundaries, you have to become aware of how much you back up from your line to avoid conflict or to keep the peace. For the next week, observe yourself. Do you say "yes" when you would rather say "no"? Do you agree to do something to avoid conflict? Do you avoid doing something because someone might get upset at you? Do you tolerate an intolerable situation, hoping that it will just go away? Write these observations down and share them with a safe person.


Breaking Free Activity #25 List three men whom you would like to get to know better. Next to each man's name list a possible activity you could do together. Next to this, write down a date and make a commitment to contact him by this day.

Breaking Free Activity #27 Visualize what you think a healthy male would look like. What personality traits would he posses? Write these down. Do you know anyone who has a number of these traits? How could you use this person as a healthy role model?

Breaking Free Activity #29 How can you provide a healthy male support system for the boys and young men you know? List three boys along with an activity you can participate in with them.


Doing something different also means refraining from being sexual in new relationships. Nice Guys must give themselves a chance to accurately evaluate the traits listed above by staying out of bed with a person until they really get to know her. Once the sex begins in relationships, the learning stops. Sex creates such a powerful bond that it is difficult to accurately evaluate the appropriateness of a new relationship.

Breaking Free Activity #31 We tend to be attracted to people who have some of the worst traits of both of our parents. Instead of blaming your partner for your unconscious choice, identify the ways in which she helps you recreate familiar relationship patterns from your childhood. Share this with your partner.

Breaking Free Activity #34 Are there any areas in your personal relationships in which you avoid setting appropriate boundaries? Do you: · Tolerate intolerable behavior. · Avoid dealing with a situation because it might cause conflict. · Not ask for what you want. · Sacrifice yourself to keep the peace. If you applied the Second Date rule or the Healthy Male rule to these situations, how might you change your behavior?

Breaking Free Activity #35 The next time you find yourself feeling frustrated, resentful, or rageful at your partner, ask yourself these questions: "Why have I invited this person into my life?" "What do I need to learn from this situation?" "How would my view of this situation change if I saw it as a gift? "


Breaking Free Activity #40 Look over the list below. Choose one of the items and name a tangible fear from your life. Write down how you will confront that specific issue. 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

Breaking Free Activity #41 What do you really want in life? What prevents you from making it happen? Write down three things you want to make happen in your life. Then write a personal affirmation that will take you where you want to go and post it on a sheet of paper where you can see it. Share your dreams and your affirmation with a safe person.

Breaking Free Activity #43 Do you believe your needs are important? Do you believe other people want to help you meet your needs? On a sheet of paper, make a list of helpers you have in your life right now. These can be friends and family members. They can be professionals such as doctors, lawyers, therapists, and CPAs. After making the list, answer the following questions: · What kind of helpers do you still need? · How can you use these helpers more effectively? · How do you prevent these people from helping you? Start looking for opportunities to ask these people for help. Build networks. Before asking for help, repeat the affirmation: This person wants to help me get my needs met.

Breaking Free Activity #46 Read over the list of rules below. Try a few of them on for size. Add to the list your own personal rules. Write these rules on note cards and put them where you can see them every day.

  1. If it frightens you, do it.

  2. Don't settle. Every time you settle, you get exactly what you settled for.

  3. Put yourself first.

  4. No matter what happens, you will handle it.

  5. Whatever you do, do it 100%.

  6. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.

  7. You are the only person on this planet responsible for your needs, wants, and happiness.

  8. Ask for what you want.

  9. If what you are doing isn't working, try something different.

  10. Be clear and direct.

  11. Learn to say "no."

  12. Don't make excuses.

  13. If you are an adult, you are old enough to make your own rules.

  14. Let people help you.

  15. Be honest with yourself.

  16. Do not let anyone treat you badly. No one. Ever.

  17. Remove yourself from a bad situation instead of waiting for the situation to change.

  18. Don't tolerate the intolerable -- ever.

  19. Stop blaming. Victims never succeed.

  20. Live with integrity. Decide what feels right to you, then do it.

  21. Accept the consequences of your actions.

  22. Be good to yourself.

  23. Think "abundance."

  24. Face difficult situations and conflict head on.

  25. Don't do anything in secret.

  26. Do it now.

  27. Be willing to let go of what you have so you can get what you want.

  28. Have fun. If you are not having fun, something is wrong.

  29. Give yourself room to fail. There are no mistakes, only learning experiences.

  30. Control is an illusion. Let go; let life happen.