How Broken Boundaries Will Eventually Break Mr Nice-Guy

I’m sat alone in a large bar in the west end of Glasgow with a beer in one hand. I’m checking the time again. My date is late and my mind is doing backflips.

Did I get the wrong place? Did I get the wrong time? Maybe she changed her mind and stood me up?

Just before I get up to leave, I send her a text….

She responds a few minutes later saying she is doing her hair and she’ll be there soon.

I thought this was a bit weird but was relieved she hadn’t stood me up. I did what I was taught was the nice thing to do – I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Fast forward 2 years, we’re living together and we are (she is) running late. In her eyes this is my fault because I’m not helping her get ready. I’m not doing a good enough job of being a boyfriend. I must try better next time, I thought and gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Leap forward 5 years and the kids are late for school nearly every day.

Now it’s their fault.

By this time I’d come to my senses and realised that this repeated and almost daily lateness was nothing to do with me (nor them) as I had exhausted everything I could have possibly done to make sure we were on time. The lack of ownership, accountability and responsibility from my “better half” was clear as day. And it spilled out into all the other things that she sabotaged – money, communication and family plans.

The thing that kept me hooked was the make up sex, but by this time it wasn’t enough to sustain. I considered hanging on until the kids left home, however, my health had deteriorated and I’d even contemplated suicide.

It became so impossible to function that I chose to leave my marriage, something she still holds against me without any visible effort to improve her contribution. I’d left several times but came back because I didn’t want to leave the kids in a dysfunctional household with someone who wasn’t capable of self-reflection.

I’d thought marriages were collaborative until I married my #1 competitor who needed me to fail in order for her to feel good.

Now, as an almost 40 year old guy with a 10 year marriage, 2 years separated, 8 months divorced and 2 kids under my belt, I decided I wanted to do something about attracting better relationships.

But I was still co-parenting and struggling with the same tug of war over my time.

Today, my coach dropped a huge bombshell…

Even though I’d got back to proactively working on myself and taking radical responsibility for my fulfilment in life, I was still falling short in this one area.

Setting and maintaining boundaries.

This revelation is like a knife to the heart.

After all the books I’ve read, workshops I’ve attended, teachings I’ve studied and men I’ve aspired to be like; I was still experiencing the same problems I had a over decade ago on that first date in the bar where my one day wife showed up 45-minutes late and I didn’t even blink an eyelid.

I was much better, but I was still making mistakes and it was hurting me.

Internally I would berate myself as I believed my now ex-wife’s criticisms to be true.

“Is this something I should just learn to put up with?”

“Am I being too harsh?”

“Are my expectations too high?”

I kept asking myself these questions as if there was something wrong with me. The self doubt was high, while the confidence in my own judgement had diminished over the course of our marriage.

But I wasn’t what I thought a typical “nice guy” was, at least not any more since it had been a few years since I’d read Dr Robert A. Glover’s book, No More Mr Nice Guy. I’m 6’4”, go to the gym, in good health, successful in business, highly skilled, and I’m mostly confident in social situations.

So when my coach brought to my attention what was happening, the man within me stood up and took notice. I was still caretaking, choosing poorly and undervaluing myself..

There was an upper limit in terms of what I felt I deserved.

Truthfully, I felt worn down to the point of just accepting someone else’s poor time management just to avoid another argument that went round in circles. The thought of having to explain why impacting my time has an adverse effect on my life was exhausting.

As a high achiever, I like to be in charge of my day instead of the day running away from me and feeling like I have to catch up. Yes, life happens and things don’t always go to plan all the time but if it happens too often, it takes me off track and has a detrimental impact on the flow of my day.

Having the ability to speak openly and honestly with a coach who could relate to my hardwired patterns opened up a space to realise this one subtle but crucial distinction when it came to setting boundaries. I was aware of my boundaries, good at setting them but not so good at maintaining them. I was not being consistent and this took me out of integrity.

Why? Because of the fear of what might happen. An age old conflict avoidance strategy that I’d formed as a teen was still dictating the outcome of my life.

Fuck that shit.

Now if you asked anyone who knew me what I was like they would probably say something along the lines of “he’s polite and well spoken – a nice guy”. Not right now my friend.

Here and now, I pledge that I will no longer be treated like I don’t matter or that I’m not worth the effort. I must better choose where I put my energy, I must trust my judgement when it comes to the nature of others who continue to let me down and I must honour my boundaries as I am the captain of my ship. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that in order to have an amazing journey (as cliché as it is to say that’s what life is), it’s imperative to have the right crew. That goes back to the old adage that you are the average of the top 5 people you spend your time with.

It also brings up a valuable lesson – “the fastest way to increase your standards is to lower your tolerance”.

Along with working with a coach, I’m going to continue to immerse myself in learning so as to increase my awareness and obliterate any notion that there must be something wrong with me. I’ve just picked up some really bad habits from people who quite honestly didn’t know what they were doing and don’t have the type of life I want, which is rule #1 when it comes to qualifying advice or feedback.

The next audiobook I’m going to listen to is The 50th Law by Robert Greene & 50 cent which a friend recently recommended to me. When I read the description it instantly jumped out.

“The 50th Law combines the unique talents of hip hop and pop culture icon 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) and Robert Greene, best-selling author of The 48 Laws of Power. This is a “bible” for success in life and work based on a single principle: fear nothing.”

But it is an inside job and it’s a journey. A book can’t call you out or offer valuable feedback the way a skilled and experienced coach can.

We are not to blame for our traumas but we are responsible for our healing. If you’re going through something similar regardless of what age you are, it is never too early, nor too late to heal and rebuild yourself.

To accelerate and effectively implement these teachings, I thoroughly recommend reaching out to Faisal if any of my sharings resonated with you.

Disclaimer: Faisal did not ask me to recommend him, however, I don’t see the point in writing candidly about my challenges and for others not to experience the level of transformation I’m fortunate to experience through our work. Thank you brother.

Rooting for ya,
Recovering Nice Guy