Our journey away from the nice guy and into a healthier, more masculine life is a long one.
One of the many things that Faisal has taught me is that we achieve lasting change through repetition and habits.
Little by little, we slowly edge towards this better life and before you know it we’re there or we’ve overcome something we thought impossible a couple of months or years ago.
It’s like watching your hair grow. You’ll never notice the length until the day you need to see the barbers.
But this post today isn’t about habits per se, but more to do with relationships. The relationships nice guys have with their fathers, women and social relationships.
As we all know, nice guys are people pleasers.
We need to be accepted into the group, we need to impress and we need to make people happy at the expense of ourselves. This hopefully pays off with the love and adoration we have so desperately worked hard for.
This need to be accepted into the group or by someone is understandable. Back in caveman days, if you weren’t accepted in the tribe, you’d be cast out and this would mean certain death.
Nowadays the stakes aren’t that high but there is still a price to pay i.e. If you’re not liked by your boss you might lose an opportunity to move up the career ladder. Or, maybe the girl you fancy finds your hobby weird or lame and therefore discounts you as a potential partner. Or, die alone as everyone finds you either too weird or irritating because you quote Chuck Norris jokes unironically in 2022.
But with our upbringing and our need for love and acceptance, we can barely bring ourselves to take that risk. Our upbringing hasn’t been a masculine one and this has led to beliefs and boundaries that are counterintuitive to what we are trying to achieve, which is healthy social and intimate relationships.
Example? Let’s take yours truly, but let’s preface this.
Like all nice guys, I didn’t have a father who was all that present when he was bringing up his kids. My dad isn’t a bad or evil person.
My dad came to this country back in the 60s by himself to work and find a life for himself and he did that. So he definitely wasn’t letting life just happen.
He made sure we had a roof over our heads and tried to provide for us and I am grateful to him for pushing us to be better. He also had guy friends from the old photos he’s shown us, so he was originally very social.
However, as a father, he thought his way to run the household was to be the strict unreasonable enforcer of the rules, to send us upstairs every night at 6pm to do our homework with no chance to socialise after school and he always worked to a point where he was never really there (intentional or not).
He never truly got to know his sons and when they shared an interest that wasn’t in line with what he liked, he would insult it, think of it as a waste of time and suggest to us that we are too old for it and should go read a book despite not enjoying reading himself. The hypocrisy of it all!
I don’t think I can recall a truly memorable father-to-son conversation with him or any kind of shared bonding experience.
We all eventually gave up on this idea of a father-son relationship when we realised he was rarely a man of his word when it came to a lot of things.
He didn’t need to give us tons of pocket money or lavish things (though it would have been nice), we just needed him to be honest with us and not let us down when we asked him to take us to play or watch football or share our interests. All I saw during adolescence was an authority figure and not someone I would want to be when I grew up.
I’m not sure what it was but marriage or something else made him very isolated. He rarely ever contacted or saw his friends and never took an interest in his kids except when they weren’t reaching his lofty standards for grades.
For that, I didn’t have much to go on for being a man and most of my upbringing came from my mum.
So you can see the makings of a nice guy coming through.
An absent masculine figure leaves us with no real way to navigate relationships in a masculine way or how to be a man in general. This in turn makes us less comfortable around male mates as opposed to female ones.
Furthermore, the absence of his friendships and his idea that socialising was only with family had a knock-on effect.
By only having his relationship (intimate) with my mum, we effectively have grown up with one compartment for all relationships: Intimate and social became one and the same; there was no distinction.
So not only have we ended up not valuing friendships as much as we should, our friendships veer towards females and I discovered I find it difficult to make friends as I’m mixing the two types up and now am fighting my way out of this unhealthy pattern.
We can extend this further by looking at the nice guy’s dating strategy.
We are obsessed with dating and finding that one true love to love us unconditionally. Nothing else matters. I for one was considered one of those guys who always had a dating story to tell, that’s how much time I spent trying.
This leaves us with no space or bandwidth for social relationships. Even if we do have male friends, we’ve all heard the story about the second the guy gets into a relationship, he ends up leaving those friendships by the wayside until he is a single man again.
So to come back to the original topic, which was my beliefs running counterintuitive to my needs: the desire for more male friends but my discomfort in doing so due to viewing intimate and social relationships being in the same box.
To break our people-pleasing ways is to find the self-love within and I don’t mean jerking off your ding dong! I mean in the way that you value yourself.
You people please because you don’t believe yourself, as you are, to be worthy because during childhood being yourself was never enough. It’s not your fault and it should be stated that you are not your mum or dad.
This means maintaining both social and intimate relationships, being present and working on yourself.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts and at the start of this one: good habits, discipline, pushing out of your comfort zone and ultimately showing up for yourself builds character and when that character is built, people will see and feel it in how you act.
This is charisma.