How can you learn to be both assertive and kind?
Imagine yourself in this scenario:
You’ve just had a lovely first date with a woman. The conversation was exciting, the food was wonderful, and your whole vibe together has been excellent.
You’re driving her back to her place when she suddenly digs out a pack of cigarettes from her purse and asks, “Do you mind?” before she lights one.
Internally, yes, you very much do mind.
But can you say it out loud? Or would you grit your teeth, roll down a window, and tell her to go for it?
If you’re in the second boat, today’s article is for you.
We’re going to…
- talk about why being a “Nice Guy” has become a stereotype,
- use that stereotype to identify characteristics you’d like to change, and
- empower you to make those changes.
Here’s a hint: it’s all about enforcing personal boundaries while still staying respectful and kind! :)
What do we mean by being a “Nice Guy,” and why might you want to change that?
For the purpose of this post, we are defining a “Nice Guy” as someone who either has trouble defining his own boundaries or enforcing them.
A Nice Guy can often feel like people walk all over him while he never gets what he wants.
This comes from a place of wanting to be nice to women… Which on the surface is a great thing.
But it can sometimes go too far when fear gets involved.
A Nice Guy may do everything possible to avoid conflict out of the worry that others might abandon him or be upset at him for enforcing his boundaries.
The idea is to get to a place where you can have the best of both worlds. We want you to feel able to act assertively and confidently so you can have your needs met, yet retain that genuine desire to be good to others.
Truly, the goal is to become the embodiment of the phrase “benevolent badass!”
Why has being a Nice Guy become an internet trope?
If you search the phrase “Nice Guy” on the internet, you’re going to find memes. A lot of memes.
Surprisingly, many of the characteristics portrayed by those self-proclaimed nice guys aren’t very nice at all.
The Nice Guy characters are often shown sulking or blaming women for not being attracted to them even though they’ve been so “nice.”
(We’re not saying you or any other men are like this. We’re just explaining what you’ll find if you research the term.)
Put on your psychology hat for a second, though, and you’ll see why those memes exist.
What happens if a person spends his whole life bending over backward for others, so afraid of asserting himself and asking for what he needs that he grows resentful of others not being able to read his mind and meet those needs?
A frustrated and sullen internet Nice Guy.
Identify Nice Guy tendencies in yourself that you’d like to change.
More than likely, you don’t have a critical case of Nice Guy syndrome.
You probably don’t spend all night sulking that the woman you held open the door for never gave you her phone number, for example.
But looking at caricatured extremes like the ones you’ll find in memes can actually help you find subtle undertones of that behavior in yourself. (Everyone in the world can find things about themselves that they want to work on!)
It’s a silly (yet effective!) way of introspecting.
We’re willing to bet that you can think of at least a few occasions where you resisted the temptation to ask for something you truly needed from someone, and instead smiled and played “nice” and hoped they would understand what you needed without you having to ask.
Did it work?
If you’re reading this post and nodding along to some of these scenarios, chances are it didn’t.
Unfortunately, even the most well-meaning of women can’t read minds.
To have your needs met, more often than not, you’ll have to be open about what those needs are.
Now that you’ve identified the aspects of yourself you’d like to work on, what’s next?
Give yourself permission to become more assertive.
Deep down, you already know what to do. What’s holding you back is likely not a lack of information, but some feeling inside that you’re harming others by standing up for yourself.
Contrary to the meme trope we just discussed, you’re probably a really thoughtful person.
After all, that’s why you fell into your Nice Guy tendencies in the first place. You care about others and you want to continue taking care of them.
That’s great! We just need to make sure you’re taking care of you, too.
That means we can skip the lecture on not becoming too assertive. Some people may overcompensate or begin to prioritize their own needs over others’. If your desire to be kind comes from a genuine place, you don’t need to worry about this.
You can feel safe in the knowledge that you have a lot of room to be more assertive without straying anywhere near “selfish” territory.
Recognize that it can be a scary thing to speak up for yourself when you have conditioned yourself to believe that doing so will lead to conflict or to others leaving you.
One thing that helps many people is to start treating yourself as if you were talking to a friend about something in his life instead.
When you find yourself in a situation like the one at the beginning of the post, and you’re worried (for example) that your date might decide not to see you again if you spoke up and asked her not to light up a cigarette in your car, ask yourself:
What would you tell a friend to do in this exact scenario?
- More than likely, you would tell him to gently, politely ask his date not to smoke while she’s in his car.
- You’d remind him that it’s perfectly okay to have concern for his lung health and upholstery.
- And you’d reassure him that if she decides not to date your friend over his polite request, she’s probably not someone your friend would have been compatible with in the long run anyway.
The hard part is following your own advice. ;)
It’s okay to exist in this world. You have a right to take up space, to have your own wants and desires, and “even” to enforce personal boundaries.
Open your mouth, say the sentence that needs to be said, and give yourself the same permission you would have given your best friend.
Conclusion on how to stop being a Nice Guy and stay a gentleman:
Happily, tapping into your gentle but assertive nature will get easier with practice.
Speaking up can feel awkward or even selfish at first. In time, you can learn to establish healthy boundaries and enforce them while still staying the kind gentleman you pride yourself on being.
So, let’s recap.
Today we covered…
- Identifying characteristics that lead to Nice Guy syndrome by taking a meme break,
- Discovering undertones of those behaviors in yourself that you’d like to address, and
- Giving yourself permission to (politely and respectfully!) ask for what you need.
You can especially make great strides when you have the right help and support. That’s why we’ve created our Magnetic Confidence program to help introverted men just like you to once-and-for-all overcome “nice guy” tendencies and develop an unshakeable sense of self, all while attracting the right women for them. Join us here!