To nice or not too nice? That is the question I would like to pose to all the “nice-guys” out there.
Let’s address the elephant in the room shall we?
As a man, I feel that we’ve been taught from a young age to aspire to be that charming prince. The self-sacrificial hero that risks it all for true love. We were brainwashed into believing that it was a fair transaction. It was simple: You slay the dragon and you get the princess. Having acquired the princess, you do all you can to make her happy even if it means sacrificing the things and actions that would make you happy. We were led to believe that it was fair. Never being allowed the presence of mind to question it. You were so lucky to get the girl, any bad or unfair treatment after that is just paying up for the prize you already won.
Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t get a prize without slaying the beast. You don’t reach the elusive goal without overcoming obstacles. Its baked into the way the world works and that’s absolutely fair. Why should we expect to get what we want without effort.
The question is not whether effort should be put in to achieve our goals. You deserve to push your limits of achievements. It’s more a question of whether the goals are really ours. Are they good for us? Are they really worth the effort? And this is where we as men need to seriously reconsider our view of the world around us.
I started off with the example of the prince feeling the need to sacrifice self in acquiring the princess and then spending the rest of his life sacrificing in an effort to please. It happens to a lot of men out there and of course they silently accept it as a way of life and it becomes normalized to the point where it is not even considered a problem. After all, “happy wife equals happy life”. There’s no “happy spouse equals happy house”. Don’t forget the old “my money is my money but his money is our money”. Feel free to suggest some more. Maybe I’ll publish a list one day.
It doesn’t only happen in the “nice guy’s” relationships, of course, but that’s one of the examples where its so blatant, prevalent and normalized, I couldn’t help but use it.
Be the “nice-guy”. It’s a social contract… of doom!!
But fear not. If you agree to live by these terms and conditions, you will be bestowed with the honor of being called a “nice guy”. One of the most manipulative destructive social contracts we face. But we buy it from a young impressionable age and live with the consequences from then onward. We are made to believe that being a “nice guy” is what we should aspire to be.
But how exactly does the nice guy disease manifest itself in real life? Well in relationships, as mentioned earlier, we tend to give our-selves the short end of the stick and we feel a moral obligation to do so. We feel guilty to negotiate on our own behalf in basic things. Why shouldn’t our opinions matter just as much as the wifey in everyday life; in household decisions, where we want to go out, vacations, shopping. Because you’re a “nice guy”. Its what you are trained to do. Just shut up and accept it.
To the “nice guys”, being nice is the same as being good and moral. Doing the nice thing is always the same as doing the right thing. What’s worse though, is the belief that not doing the “nice” thing mean that you’re a bad guy. And that right there is the notion we need to destroy completely and work hard to remove it from our mind.
The trouble with breaking the “nice guy” ceiling
Getting rid of this disease doesn’t come without its challenges. When you start acting in your own interest, and on your own agenda, it might feel like you’re doing something wrong or being selfish. You run the risk of losing your hard earned, precious social acceptance and getting in people’s bad books. And that’s a scary thing. Well firstly, let me just say that social acceptance is overrated. Hard to believe that right, considering the constant pandering on social media to get likes for that perfect selfie, which was taken in the bathroom of a restaurant because the lighting was just too good to waste etc.
But anyway, let’s assume the worst. Suppose you are, by definition, selfish for acting in your own interest even if it means suspending plans or rejecting other offers. Is this really a bad thing? The “nice guy” probably has it in his head that it is. Well maybe it is bad and hurtful etc. But its surely a lot better than facing the resentment, self-loathing and bitterness that you’ll inflict on yourself if you keep putting YOU after everyone else.
How about next time someone (whoever it is) asks you to do something or suggests that you do something, take a minute to think about it instead of immediately jumping to do it. Ask them a few questions of your own about it. Decide whether you really want to or if its beneficial to you or your agenda. Its a simple step but so empowering.
At some point the “nice guy” must make a choice about whether he wants to be the best he can be or not.
Change is hard but we owe it to ourselves to make the change.