5 Steps To Stop Being A People Pleaser: Nice Guy Syndrome 101
We’ve all heard the words ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’, but have you ever wondered how and why this phrase came into existence?
What’s wrong with being ‘nice’? Isn’t being nice to others very important? Shouldn’t we be doing all in our power to always be nice?
In today’s article, we will find out why actually, the answer to this question is no.
We’ll find out why being ‘nice’ is very different to showing kindness whilst at the same time upholding your own personal boundaries. We will look at why being ‘nice’ probably isn’t getting you anywhere. In fact, it’s probably having the opposite to the desired effect – especially when it comes to getting the relationship or partner that you want.
If you self-identify as a Mr Nice Guy, I’ll give you 5 powerful ways to leave your people pleasing days behind you. Once you do, you will step into the role of an authentic and empowered human being. This can have huge benefits across your life in terms of love, relationships, attraction, confidence and even work and career. Trust me, you don’t have to stop taking others’ feelings into consideration. You simply have to start honoring your own, as well.
Table of Contents
- What is chronic people pleasing behavior?
- Why is people pleasing bad for us?
- No one respects Mr Nice Guy
- Human beings are selfish by nature
- Women don’t want Mr Nice Guy
- Romantic relationships, being needy and the mother wound
- Forego your own needs and you become NEEDY
- How being needy is killing your passion
- 5 steps to end nice guy syndrome and stop people pleasing for good
- People pleasing and narcissism – the covert link
- End nice guy syndrome and have the relationship you deserve
What is chronic people pleasing behavior?
Chronic people pleasing behavior is characterized by putting other people’s feelings and other people’s needs above those of your own. This is the most simple definition of a people pleaser.
A very simple example is as follows: You are with your friend and you are both hungry. Your friend wants to go and eat burgers and fries. You are someone who cares for their health and does not want to eat junk food. Yet, in order to avoid ‘causing a problem’, you agree to eat a burger and fries with them even though it is something you really don’t want to do. After the meal your stomach hurts and you end up resenting your friend.
I am sure that even if this specific scenario has not happened to you, something similar will have.
In this example, rather than explore ways to compromise and find a solution that suits both people, you have effectively subjugated your own needs below those of the other person.
Why is people pleasing bad for us?
But why is being nice bad?
In the above scenario, you might feel that you have earned some kind of martyr medal for keeping your friend happy and not causing a scene.
On the odd occasion, putting others first is a good thing and it can bring a sense of fulfillment and happiness.
But when it becomes a pattern, as is often the case, people pleasing can actually become quite toxic. It ends up being detrimental to you, the person you are pleasing, and the third entity: the relationship/friendship itself.
People pleasers are not actually trying to make others or their partner happy. This is simply a by-product of the real aim of their behavior… To be liked.
Someone who is a people pleaser or a ‘nice guy’ generally has low self esteem. Other people’s opinion of them really matters to a chronic people pleaser. It matters so much to them that they end up constructing their whole identity around it.
In a bid to win the approval of others, someone with a people pleasing tendency will continually put themselves last in order to keep others happy. If they don’t please others, they feel anxiety, guilt and a host of other negative emotions.
Although they may believe that their behavior is coming from a place of love, it is in fact coming from a deep wound. People pleasers are almost always people with an anxious attachment style. This means that they feel a constant desire to prove themselves worthy of love to the people around them.
No one respects Mr Nice Guy
But rather than respect and love Mr Nice Guy, the people around him tend to lose respect for him instead.
This is due to a basic principle of human psychology: the easier something is for us, the less we want it.
Think about it. Have you ever met someone who seemed to be trying to win your approval by doing loads of things for you?
Perhaps they even bought you gifts and gave you tonnes of unsolicited praise. Was this praise of any significant meaning to you? Did you respect that person and want to be friends with them? Or did you feel somewhat repelled and confused by their actions and their words?
I’m guessing it’s the latter. When someone is too ‘nice’ we usually end up disrespecting them a little. This is at best. At worst, we question the entire motive for their actions and doubt the sincerity behind every little thing that they do. We become suspicious.
Human beings are selfish by nature
Because being ‘nice’ all of the time isn’t something that human beings should naturally do.
Human beings are selfish creatures by nature and rightly so. We need to look after ourselves and ensure our own survival – in order to then ensure the continuation of our species.
Therefore, something about being an outright people pleaser seems inherently unnatural… Doesn’t it?
In my opinion, people pleasers are acting as such out of a deep wound.
People pleasers tend to worry a great deal about others’ opinions of them. When they think a person does not like them, or that their behavior might possibly upset someone, they experience a great deal of negative emotions.
This is almost always linked to a fear of rejection, with its roots in being neglected as a kid or abandonment by a caregiver. The people pleaser is desperately afraid of not being accepted or not meeting an expectation. So afraid in fact, that they will go to great, uncomfortable lengths in order to avoid the possibility of rejection.
The sad and paradoxical reality here is that unfortunately, their behavior has negative consequences instead of positive ones. Instead of being liked more and gaining popularity, they are simply disrespected and trampled all over by their social connections.
This may or may not all be subconscious… The people pleaser may not even realize that he or she is people pleasing in order to remain safe from negative feelings associated with rejection. Just as the people around them may or may not realize that they are disrespecting the people pleaser or viewing them as weak.
Women don’t want Mr Nice Guy
As with much of human behavior, a great deal is taking place in the subconscious mind. Much of which the conscious mind never has any awareness of.
A people pleasing dynamic between people pleasers and their recipient(s) is particularly damaging when it comes to attraction, romantic relationships and dating.
In a dating scenario, the nice guy is nice, nice, nice. He gives, gives and gives some more. Yet he doesn’t really want to. He is only doing so in order to get his partner to like and love him. In these instances, being a people pleaser is a mask.
He puts on this mask because his partner represents his mother, or another female caregiver, from whom he did not receive enough love or care as a child. Because he did not trust his mother to love him without wearing the mask, he doesn’t trust his partner to love him without the mask either.
What Mr Nice Guy doesn’t realize is that this mask is actually giving him a feminine look. Of course this is a metaphor. A man doesn’t look like a woman by being a people pleaser. But he takes on the energetical role of the feminine.
How, you ask? Even though the masculine is traditionally seen as giving and the feminine as receiving, this ‘giving’ by the masculine has to be wanted, accepted or requested by the feminine.
Romantic relationships, being needy and the mother wound
In a healthy male/female or masculine/feminine relationship, men and women should communicate their needs to one another.
Each partner should tend both to their own needs and to those of their partner. But in traditional relationships the man is more heavily weighted towards providing, and the woman towards receiving.
If you think this sounds outdated then think of what happens during sex. The masculine quite literally gives, and the feminine receives. This is an inherent part of the natural order of the world and a clue from nature as to the interplay between the genders. Women are also not as physically strong as men are – another clue suggesting that men should give, do, or help, and women should be given to and helped.
A man should look after his wife and do things for her – eg. fix things around the house, help her with a work problem, cook dinner, help with the cleaning, etc.
This is all well and good. BUT a problem comes when a man is bowing to every request of his woman from a place of reluctance and not actually wanting to do it but does it anyway. By doing things reluctantly, he is foregoing his own needs and will end up resenting his partner.
Forego your own needs and you become NEEDY
When he crosses this line and subjugates his own needs below those of his woman, time and time again- HE is the needy one. Not only is he being needy, but he will also end up becoming resentful.
I want to quickly point something out here, in case you are getting confused… Expressing your needs in a healthy way, such as “it would help me to feel less stressed if you washed the dishes after I cook dinner” – is absolutely not needy. Expressing your needs is an empowered move. Being needy (a beggar) and having the ability to express your relationship needs are two very different things.
‘Needy’. It’s such a horrible thing to be described as – right? Nobody on earth wants to be described as needy! But the man who is constantly running around after his woman, or A woman, is unknowingly becoming so.
He is trying desperately to please the female/the feminine because he feels that without doing so, his wife or partner will not love him, just as he may have perceived his mother as not loving him as a very young child.
He needs his wife, woman, spouse or partner to love him, because he has low self-identity and self-worth.
Hence the term ‘needy’.
How being needy is killing your passion
Neediness is a huge turn off, and women are no exception to this. As explained in my video, a needy guy will get less sex than a guy who is independant and exercises healthy boundaries.
So if your bed isn’t seeing much action between the sheets, you might want to assess whether or not you are being needy. Watch video below where I talk more about this:
Fear of abandonment
When we constantly jump through hoops, trying to cater to our partner’s every possible desire, we are actually acting out of fear of abandonment.
We are so afraid of this person not being impressed with us, or not loving us, that we do everything in our power to impress them, and make them love us.
Not only is this manipulative, it’s also a totally ineffective way of going about your love life.
Even if your partner consciously feels flattered and cared for, their subconscious will sense the neediness, the desperation, the ENERGY behind your actions… And they will (consciously or subconsciously) pull away.
Depending on their level of emotional maturity and understanding of polarity, energy and relationships, they may or may not even understand WHY they are feeling less attracted to you. They simply will FEEL less attracted.
If you want a feminine woman with deeply beautiful, intoxicating feminine energy that leaves you weak at the knees – pull your pants up and stop acting like a girl!
I will reiterate: there is absolutely nothing wrong with meeting the legitimate and reasonable needs of your partner.
But if you are abandoning your own sense of self in order to TRY to please her, you’re doing it all wrong. You’re people pleasing. People pleaser has never been a term used with positive connotations.
This kind of behavior will run the essence of fear throughout every nook and cranny of your relationship. You won’t be acting out of love – ever. Even if you think you are. You will be acting out of fear of abandonment, fear of rejection and loneliness.
So you have self-identified as a needy people pleaser. Well sh*t. What to do?!
Don’t panic. As with most thought-behavior related issues, this can be reprogrammed. At the heart of it all is a weak connection to self and poor self-esteem.
Here are five steps to start changing that and stop people pleasing for good!
5 steps to end nice guy syndrome and stop people pleasing for good
1. Learn how to say no and set your boundaries
One of the biggest traits of a people pleaser is prioritizing the happiness of others over themselves.
You may feel like you’re acting like a martyr for doing so, but you’re actually just laying the foundations for resentment and bitterness further down the line.
Next time you are about to sacrifice your preferences or desires for those of the other person – stop. Think about it. Is this really serving me, my partner, and the greater good of our relationship?
I always tell my clients and readers to think of their relationship as the third entity. Your actions should be promoting the health of that separate entity. It has its own needs that are distinct from those of you and your partner.
Sometimes, to satisfy the needs of your relationship, you need to put your preferences below those of your partner.
Saying ‘no’ and standing in your TRUTH more won’t p*ss off your woman. It will make her respect you more. And therefore contribute towards having a more healthy relationship.
2. Work out what your priorities, values, and needs actually are
For some, the need for others’ approval is so extreme that they aren’t even aware of what their own needs are.
Needs aren’t just things like words of affirmation and cuddles. They are also your values, goals and the way you want to live your life.
Ask yourself each morning when you wake up: “What kind of person do I want to be today? Where do I want to spend my day? What would feel good and enjoyable to me in this exact moment? How can I maintain a positive mood and good mental health today?”
Once you work out what and who your priorities are, you can establish a healthy boundary between you and the rest of the world. Fit others into your schedule and your priorities instead of always trying to fit into theirs.
3. Stop apologizing as a way of keeping the peace when you’re actually resentful
Another common trait of a people pleaser is incessantly apologizing, even when you have done nothing wrong.
Someone who apologizes all the time is not doing so because they feel a genuine need to do so.
It’s not coming from a place of remorse, sorrow, regret or admittance of wrongdoing.
Rather it is coming from a need to keep the peace, a need to be liked, and yet again – a deep, deep fear of abandonment.
In a relationship, repeatedly apologizing or backing out of a conflict stunts the development of both parties.
Issues do not get solved. They are just swept under the carpet. And nothing that was swept under the carpet ever truly went away.
Don’t become a toxic person who chokes back their true feelings to maintain ‘harmony’ and then becomes bitter and resentful.
4. Make peace with not being liked and what other people think about you
People pleasers are often uncomfortable in feeling that they are not liked.
In this life, some people will like you. Others will like you a lot. Some more will not like you at all.
And this is OKAY.
In a world of such great diversity among human beings, it is impossible to navigate your way through life and not p*ss a few people off along the way.
I am not suggesting you go around provoking people or trampling on them to get to the top. We can even p*ss people off with loving kindness at the core of our intention.
But if you want to stop being a people pleaser, you need to accept that some people’s expectations of you will simply not be met. And that they may well be unhappy about that. But that is not your problem.
Other people’s opinions about you have nothing to do with you. It’s totally their own business. So you don’t need to take anything personally.
5. Spend more time with other men and masculine influences
A common habit of Mr Nice Guy is spending the majority of his time either with his partner or with female friends.
As put by Robert Glover, author of the ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ book itself, there is no better way to improve your relationship with women, than to spend time with other men.
Whether it is going hiking, fishing, having dinner together or just solving an issue, you cannot replace ‘guy time’.
Since the beginning of our evolution, men have spent the majority of their time with other men. In prehistoric times this was during hunts. During more recent times they worked together in roles that required more physical strength than would allow them to be undertaken by women.
It is only in the last 50 years or so that men have started spending more and more time with women. Of course the rise of women into the workplace, the executive suite and all other realms of life is a fantastic thing. I am not contesting that in any way…
… But being best buddies with a woman is not good for your masculine identity nor for your romantic life.
If you are guilty of spending too much time with female friends but don’t know where to find smart, interesting, growth-oriented men, you can join my tantric brotherhood group on Facebook. It’s full of driven, intelligent men who are dedicated to the same path of healing and emotional maturity.
And if you’re finally ready to ditch the lone-wolf path and want to be among high-caliber conscious men in my signature mentorship program The Tantric Man Experience. Then you’re welcome to start your journey by watching my free training and sending in your application.
People pleasing and narcissism – the covert link
One of the most common traits of a pleaser personality is a desperate desire to be liked, loved and accepted by everyone.
Their fragile ego is terrified of their actions harming others’ opinions of them.
Isn’t this just a little bit narcissistic?
The trademark of a narcissist is an obsession with others’ opinion… Doesn’t this sound a bit like a people pleaser, too?
Ditch this egotistical bullsh*t. Stop bending over backwards to make others like you and be yourself.
For it is only when you are truly being yourself that you can attract the right person, friend, woman or relationship – to you.
End nice guy syndrome and have the relationship you deserve
I hope that by now you can see why people pleasing is not only not serving you, but it’s not serving the people around you, or your romantic partners, either.
If you are recognizing yourself as a Mr Nice Guy, who gets trampled on by his friends, rejected by the women he wants the most, or experiences problems in his relationships – all is not lost.
As pointed out above, people pleasing or Nice Guy Syndrome comes from having an insecure attachment style, with its roots in childhood.
As with most psychological patterns, it can be overcome.
The 5 steps above are a fantastic way to start. But if you want to go even deeper, and truly heal this deeply problematic programming, you might need a somewhat more integrated approach. An integrated approach targets all five levels of the human being: the mental, energetical, physical, emotional and spiritual. This is why I put together the FLT method, for total, multilevel, multidimensional transformation.
Many of the clients I coached through this method came to me as deeply unconfident, wounded guys. They lacked confidence and struggled with women/dating throughout their whole life. These men walked out as bold, confident, assured human beings. Human beings that went on to heal their relationships or attract amazing women into their life.
Click here to watch my free training to find out more about how they did it, and how you can do the same – putting Mr Nice Guy to bed for good.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of a people pleaser?
There are many ways in which a person can be a people pleaser. But the most common people pleaser definition would be a person who continually forgoes their own wants and desires in order to accommodate those of another. In simpler terms, a people pleaser is someone who does what other people want, rather than what they want.
What are the signs of a people pleaser?
A people pleaser is someone who continually puts the needs of others above those of their own. People pleasers tend to say yes to everything, even when it is to their detriment. A people pleaser will have trouble expressing their authentic self in fear of harming others’ opinion of them. They want to be liked by everyone.
Does it make you feel happy or resentful?
People pleasers usually end up feeling resentful. Especially when they feel they don’t get the recognition or appreciation they deserve for their actions. In extreme cases, it can lead to mental illness such as depression.
Going along with others is harmless, right?
In some cases, yes. In others, no. If going along with others is causing you anguish, mental or physical exhaustion, illness or distress – it is anything but harmless.
How important is alone time for mental health?
Alone time is absolutely vital for mental health. If we spend too long catering to others’ happiness, we end up neglecting ourselves. This leads to resentment, disappointment and even depression.
Is passive aggression linked to people pleasing?
HELL YES. Often, people pleasers can be highly confusing humans to be around. Their ‘niceness’ is often laced with sarcastic comments revealing their true feelings, and passive aggressive put downs.
Are people pleasers likely to become codependent?
Yes. People pleasers are highly likely to suffer from codependency in their friendships and romantic partnerships. This is linked to insecure attachment and a low sense of self-identity.
How do you stop the habit of people pleasing?
Start saying ‘no’ more often. Accept that not everybody in life will like you. Realize that a negative emotion or feeling coming from not saying ‘yes’ to someone will NOT hurt you. Learn more about what your own needs are, and cater to those instead.
Is it normal to feel very uncomfortable when you first stop people pleasing?
Yes. People pleasing tends to be a lifelong habit, and those are uncomfortable to break. Recovering people will usually experience feelings of inadequacy, fear of rejection and guilt when they first stop people pleasing. This is due to a need for external validation to comfort an insecure ego. It will fade with time and repetition.
Mentor at Tantric Academy
Steffo Shambo is the founder of the most reliable self-empowerment system on the planet, that has transformed hundreds of men’s marriages from all around the world. His specialty is helping men realize their full masculine confidence, intimate power, and depth of connection with their spouse.
“It meant a paradigm shift in life.” – Patrik, Sweden
“Life-changing experience.” – Antonio, Italy