Are you a nice guy?
I used to be, but I’m not anymore.
Here’s why I changed.
11 devastating signs of nice guy syndrome
1) You live your life for the benefit of others
What is nice guy syndrome?
It’s where being a “nice guy” or nice person is your guiding motivation in life.
You live your life in an attempt to please others and do what is expected of you.
There may be many reasons why you get infected with nice guy syndrome:
It can be a result of your upbringing, your cultural values, your genetics, your psychological disposition or even just a simple habit.
The idea of having someone dislike you or strongly disagree with you terrifies you.
You just want people to think well of you and accept you. So you live your life the way that seems “right” or easygoing in the eyes of others, even if it means abandoning your dreams or your interests overlooked.
The result is that…
2) Your life keeps going in circles
When you suffer from nice guy syndrome, your life keeps going in circles.
The reason is simple:
You may have some success pleasing others, but even when they’re happy you do what they want, you end up over and over back at square one.
What do you really want for your life? Who do you really want to be with? What’s your mission in life apart from pleasing others?
You may have a few ideas, but the more you continue to be drawn to conforming to the standards and expectations of others, the harder it is to break out of a cycle of disempowerment.
Here’s the brutal truth with zero sugar-coating:
Being nice doesn’t get you anywhere in life. It really doesn’t.
It can even make you lose respect for yourself!
3) You feel powerless and helpless
As Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown says in his video, “when we’re making an attempt to look after other people’s feelings, what we’re actually doing is we’re living our lives according to the values and standards of other people.”
This leads to living life backward and living how we “should” behave to please others.
It constantly leaves you back at square one.
The path forward is simple, actually. It is to discover your purpose and then go after it with your whole being, even if that makes some people hate you.
4) You go against your own interests
If you decide that your purpose can wait or that it’s really better to do what those around you seem to expect, one of the impacts can be quite severe:
You end up often going against your own interests.
This can become a literal problem.
For example, at work you may put your head down and do everything your boss says despite several ideas you have to enormously improve your company’s success.
You don’t want to rock the boat and you know it would be a risk to speak up, so you stay quiet.
Then your outspoken coworker speaks up with a very similar idea, braving the boss’ anger and ending up getting a huge salary raise and promotion to a position with more autonomy.
You, meanwhile, are still at the bottom of the totem pole shuffling papers because you were too scared to ruffle any feathers.
Other examples include being so nice to your girlfriend that you become more of a “friend” to her than a romantic partner and end up watching her brazenly cheat on you and break up with you.
5) You get taken advantage of
Another one of the most devastating signs of nice guy syndrome is that you frequently get taken advantage of.
Being kind and considerate of others is a positive thing, but being a “nice guy” is when you act as a doormat.
You desperately want to avoid displeasing others or going against what you imagine their standard to be.
For this reason, people see that you can be manipulated quite easily by simply pressuring you with being potentially disliked, disagreed with or shunned in some way.
Personally and professionally, you get taken advantage of by people who don’t mind acting in their own interests and clashing when necessary.
They may feel guilty for exploiting you at times, sure, but to many it’s like you almost bring it on yourself by being so seeking of the validation of others.
So a sizable portion of those you interact with will decide to benefit from your own lack of solidarity with yourself.
6) You get friendzoned in relationships
If you’ve been friendzoned, then you know it’s no laughing matter.
Nobody has any obligation to take a romantic or sexual interest in anyone else, certainly, but being friendzoned is a very particular experience.
It’s when you have romantic feelings for someone but they see you as only a friend, even though they might have once considered you as potentially more.
It’s when a connection that you see how it could have been romantic, instead turns platonic.
Being friendzoned is not getting what you want.
And that’s the thing about nice guy syndrome:
It’s not only that you don’t get what you want, in most cases you don’t even know what you want and would be too scared to go after it even if you did.
That’s what I call a lose-lose.
7) You end up being a doormat for others’ problems
Another one of the devastating signs of nice guy syndrome is that you end up becoming a doormat for others’ problems.
Because you’re so afraid to let anyone down or be “bad” in others’ eyes, you end up being that understanding person who’s always there to listen.
Maybe you give advice, maybe not, but either way people seem to see you as someone who has endless hours to hear them out on the phone or in person about the drama going on in their lives.
On the one hand, it’s touching that people trust you with their personal issues, but on the other hand you eventually realize that they’ve relegated you to a purely functional role.
You’re the guy or girl who listens to all their issues when they’re down.
But you’re not the one they party with when they’re up.
And that really says it all.
8) You get overworked and underpaid
One of the most devastating signs of nice guy syndrome is that you get overworked and underpaid.
The world of employment and money can be pretty ruthless. And people who don’t stick up for themselves tend to get taken advantage of by various unscrupulous employers.
Part of stopping being a nice guy is learning to know your value and stand up for it.
This is true in your romantic relationships and personal life, but it’s also very true in your work life.
If you try too hard to please superiors, coworkers, and those you work for, you can end up becoming nothing more than a corporate doormat.
When you allow your own desires and purpose to fall by the wayside just to please the work expectations of others and get a paycheck, you lose a part of yourself.
And getting it back isn’t easy.
9) You get manipulated into unhelpful belief systems
Another of the quite devastating signs of nice guy syndrome is that you tend to get manipulated into unhelpful belief systems.
What I mean here is not that you get tricked to join cults and “weird” religious systems. After all, one person’s cult could be another person’s utopia.
What I mean is they are objectively “unhelpful” in that you become convinced to join and financially and personally contribute to groups which end up leeching your time, money and energy and giving nothing in return…
…Spiritual and religious pyramid schemes, which however valid or invalid, end up leaving you with a feeling of having been used.
Being a nice guy can lead to you shelling out thousands for slick gurus who end up promising you the secret to happiness only to demand another thousand dollars just before they drop the real, ultimate, final truth.
And so on…
Be careful how much you trust spiritual gurus and belief systems which demand a lot of you and tell you that your worth and validity is low or broken.
10) You get put as a last priority and canceled on a lot
Another one of the time-wasting and devastating signs of nice guy syndrome is that you end up getting canceled on a lot.
People know that you’re a nice guy, so they don’t worry as much about making commitments and get togethers with you and then canceling them.
You’ll understand, right? It’s all good, no?
You wouldn’t get upset or rock the boat in any way, so why stress?
But you’ll notice that these same people don’t treat others in such a disrespectful way.
Why is that?
They know they won’t get away with stringing other people along and leaving them as a fallback plan.
11) You end up losing respect for yourself
A loss of respect is one of the key problems that happens with a person who is too nice.
Romantic partners, bosses, work colleagues, friends, family and even strangers, may easily come to see you as a person who doesn’t really believe in themselves.
Consciously or unconsciously, being overly nice and pleasing to others comes across as saying: I need your validation to live my life, tell me what to do.
Being too nice is actually subtly aggressive, because you are demanding that others validate and appreciate your “good” behavior.
But that’s not how life works, and people often don’t behave in the way we’d like them to or the way we may believe we “deserve” them to act.
If you hinge your hopes on outer expectations, you’ll end up strangling yourself in the tangled webs you weave.
Well-intentioned as some may be, eventually even those closest to you will lose some respect for your demand to be validated externally.
And the saddest thing is that being too nice and too much of a people pleaser eventually leads to losing respect for yourself as well.
No more Mr. Nice Guy
As rocker Alice Cooper sang in his 1990 song “No More Mr. Nice Guy:”
“No more Mister Nice Guy!
No more Mister Clean!
No more Mister Nice Guy!
He said you’re sick, you’re obscene!”
Now, you don’t need to become a rockstar who wears red leather pants and go back to thirty years to stop being a “nice guy.”
But you can take the basic message of the song to heart:
Stop trying to meet the expectations of people around you, and start trying to meet your own expectations.
The devastating signs of nice guy syndrome start to happen more and more if you live your life on everyone else’s terms.
Start living life on your own terms, empowering yourself and pursuing your purpose instead of waiting for others to give you permission first.
You’ll be a lot happier and more energized as you commit to living your dreams instead of living for someone else’s.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.