Contrary to the prevailing sentiments of the last few decades, it is OK to be a guy.
Men born after World War II had the misfortune of growing up during the only era of recent western history in which it was not always a good thing to be male. This was primarily the result of two significant family and social changes in the post war era: (1) boys were disconnected from their fathers and other healthy male role models, and (2) boys were forced to seek approval from women and accept a female definition of what it meant to be male.
As a result of these two dynamics, many boys and men came to believe that they had to hide or eliminate any negative male traits (like those of their fathers or other “bad” men) and become what they believed women wanted them to be. For many men, this life strategy seemed essential if they wanted to be loved, get their needs met, and have a smooth life.
Due to the continuing social change of the last half of the 20th century, this belief system is no longer limited to just men of the baby boom generation. I frequently observe men in their thirties, twenties, and teens, with strong Nice Guy traits. It seems that each successive generation of men are becoming more and more passive.
This social conditioning effects Nice Guys in many ways:
- Nice Guys tend to be disconnected from other men.
- Nice Guys tend to be disconnected from their own masculinity.
- Nice Guys tend to be monogamous to their mothers.
- Nice Guys tend to be dependent on the approval of women.
1 – Nice Guys Tend To Be Disconnected From other men.
Many Nice Guys have difficulty connecting with men because of the limited positive male contact they experienced in childhood. Because these men did not have a positive bond with their father, they never learned the basic skills necessary to build meaningful relationships with men.
Another common trait among Nice Guys is the belief that they are different from other men. This distorted thinking usually began in childhood when they tried to be different from their “bad” or unavailable father. In adulthood, Nice Guys often create a similar dynamic with men in general. Nice Guys may convince themselves they are different from (better than) other men because they believe:
- They aren’t controlling.
- They aren’t angry and rageful.
- They aren’t violent.
- They are attentive to a woman’s needs.
- They are good lovers.
- They are good fathers.
As long as Nice Guys are disconnected from men or believe they are different from other men, they cut themselves off from the many positive benefits of male companionship and the power of a masculine community.
2- Nice Guys Tend To Be Disconnected From Their Masculinity :
I define masculinity as that part of a man that equips him to survive as an individual, clan, and species. Without this masculine energy we would have all become extinct eons ago. Masculinity empowers a man to create and produce. It also empowers him provide for and protect those who are important to him. These aspects of masculinity include strength, discipline, courage, passion, persistence, and integrity.
Masculine energy also represents the potential for aggressiveness, destructiveness, and brutality. These characteristics frighten Nice Guys — and most women — therefore Nice Guys work especially hard to repress these traits.
Most Nice Guys believe that by repressing the darker side of their masculine energy they will win the approval of women. This seems logical considering the anti-male climate that has permeated our culture since the 1960s. Ironically, these same men frequently complain that women seemed to be attracted to “jerks” rather than Nice Guys like them. Many women have shared with me that due to the absence of any discernible life energy in Nice Guys, there is little to be attracted to. They also reveal that their tendency to be attracted to “jerks” is because these men have more of a masculine edge to them.
As Nice Guys try to avoid the dark side of their masculinity, they also repress many other aspects of this male energy force. As a result, they often lose their sexual assertiveness, competitiveness, creativity, ego, thirst for experience, boisterousness, exhibitionism, and power. Go watch little boys on the playground and you will see these qualities. I am convinced that these are good things worth keeping.
One of the most visible consequences of the repression of masculine energy in Nice Guys is their lack of leadership in their families. Out of fear of upsetting their partner or appearing too much like their controlling, authoritarian, or abusive fathers, Nice Guys frequently fail to be the leader their family needs. Consequently, the job of leading the family often falls on their wives. Most of the women I talk to don’t want this job, but end up taking it by default.
3- Nice Guys Tend To Be Monogamous To Their Mothers
Becoming and remaining monogamous to their mothers is a common pattern for Nice Guys. This unconscious bond is the result of a normal childhood developmental phenomenon gone amuck. Let me explain.
All little boys naturally fall in love with their mother and desire to have her all to themselves. Healthy mothers and fathers help their sons successfully move through this normal developmental stage. As they do, the young boy individuates from his mother, bonds with men, and becomes available for an intimate relationship with another woman in adulthood.
Each parent plays a significant role in facilitating this healthy transition. First, the mother must know how to give enough to meet the child’s needs without creating dependency. She must also know how to get her own needs met so she is not tempted to use her son to fill the void. Second, the father must be present and have a healthy bond with his son. This connection helps the little boy move from the cozy lap of his mother to the challenging world of men.
As stated above, most Nice Guys do not report having had close a relationship with their father in childhood. As a result, many Nice Guys were forced into an unhealthy bond with their mother. This bond might have formed if they had to please an angry, critical, or controlling mother. More often than not, the bond was the result of being forced to take care of a needy, dependent, or smothering mother.
Without a supportive father, these boys had to negotiate an impossible situation on their own.
Both childhood situations — trying to please an angry or controlling mother, or becoming mother’s little partner — created a dynamic in which Nice Guys unconsciously became monogamous to their mothers and did not individuate in a healthy way.
When a Nice Guy has been conditioned to be monogamous to his mother in childhood, his adult partner will know at some level that he is not really available. The partner may not consciously connect this to his bond with his mother, but she knows something is missing.
4- Nice Guys Tend To Seek The Approval Of Women
Due to their family and social conditioning, Nice Guys tend to seek the approval women. Even as they are trying to become what they believe women want them to be and doing what they believe women want them to do, Nice Guys tend to experience tremendous frustration in gaining the approval they so intensely desire.
This frustration is due to the reality that in general, women view men who try to please them as weak and hold these men in contempt. Most women do not want a man who tries to please them — they want a man who knows how to please himself. Women consistently share with me that they don’t want a passive, pleasing wimp. They want a man — someone with his balls still intact.
Getting Your Testicles Back
Avoiding relationships with men and seeking the approval of women prevents Nice Guys from getting what they really want in love and life. In order to reverse the effects of the Nice Guy Syndrome Nice Guys have to reclaim their masculinity. The process involves coming to believe that it really is a good thing to be a man and embracing all of their masculine traits. Reclaiming one’s masculinity involves:
- Connecting with other men.
- Getting strong.
- Finding healthy male role models.
- Reexamining one’s relationship with one’s father.