What exactly is the difference between being "a good man", and being "nice guy"?
There's a common confusion that men ( and yes, women too ) have in regards to how they behave and interact with others socially.
Deep in our mammal brain are a range of psychological mechanisms that allow us to form stable and reasonably peaceful social groups.
These mechanisms encourage us to treat those around us with a degree of respect and value. We experience empathy, the ability to feel what we imagine others feel. We don't attack people randomly. We look after the young of our community. Without this, a mammal pack herd or tribe simply could not survive.
This is why reptiles tend to be quite solitary while mammals, and some fish, birds, and amphibians, can form stable communities.
Social Neediness, as an Instinct
I'd argue that deep in that same mammal brain is a desire to be liked and accepted by the group. In essence, these tendencies equate to people pleasing behaviors.
We get a nice boost of serotonin whenever our tribe approves of us ...
... and this is quite addictive.
But it's also conflicting because people pleasing behaviors are very often the number one limiting factor in us each becoming the best individual we can be.
Social Dependency & Maturation
Maturation is the development of psychological maturity.
It is the process of learning to cope and react in an emotionally appropriate way. It does not necessarily happen along with aging or physical growth, but is a part of growth and development.
As children, social neediness is a trait that assists with our survival. While young, we depend rather heavily on the people around us. If people like us, they won't hurt us, and they'll look after us just a bit more. So at an early age, we seek approval and acceptance by the people around us.
But as adults, that same neediness for approval and acceptance from others is severely limiting.
Notice that you don't see this dependency among adults in the animal kingdom. Look at a bear cub, versus a bear. A lion cub versus a lion. And eagle chick, versus a grown eagle. The behavior shifts. At some point, the maturation of mammals results in the adult being;
- Far less dependent on the group
- Far less interested in social approval
- Far less restricted in their range of behavior
This is what it means to mature, to become an adult, to become a man or a woman psychologically and socially.
So here's the distinction, with some clarity...
Being a "Nice" person is about doing things, and behaving in a way, such that others will "like" you- or at least won't disapprove of you too strongly. It's all about winning favor, and fundamentally it's a form of manipulation, just like a baby's smile.
Being a "Good" person is about doing things, and behaving in a way, such that you are the best you that you can be. You respect and look after others, but you allow them to be responsible for their own happiness ( and you are responsible for your own, too ). It's all about giving the most that you can to your life, and your world, and letting other decide for themselves whether they approve.
Yes, You have a Choice...
Ultimately the choice is up to each of us- do you prefer the life of a nice guy / people-pleaser, or would you prefer to be a good person?
Here are the pros and cons of being a "nice guy";
- Few confrontations, little to no conflict, because you always give others what they want as much as possible. You'll bend over backwards to make others happy.
- Reasonably comfortable
- People generally accept you
- No respect. No authority, No leadership ability - because it's impossible to follow someone, who is always following you.
- Often walked on, and easily bullied.
- Unsatisfied - unable be authentic and live according to his own values as it would make create conflict with the group
- Low honesty, because saying what he actually thinks might not be perceived as "nice"
- Seeks to make others feel good first, before himself, and generally isn't appreciated for that sacrifice
- Tends to suffer from a lack of deep and meaningful relationships because honesty and vulnerability is severely restrained
- Tends to suffer from poor romantic relationships, because the masculine/feminine attraction dynamic is not there, and deep honesty is lacking
- Limited and unable to excel- as others might feel "less than". Would often rather lose, than win.
Here are the pros and cons of being a good person.
- Fully authentic & values-based
- Able to be the best that you can be, with no restraint
- Looks after others, but demands respect
- Will not be walked on
- Will not be bullied
- Deep sense of self satisfaction because living authentically and free
- Strong, and meaningful relationships
- Intense romantic relationships, with deep attraction
- Some people won't connect, as they have different values, or can't be equally honest and vulnerable
- Will encounter conflict and need to face it straight on
- Must be able to let go of relationships that are not a good match.
The Choice is Yours
Each and every one of us needs to make a decision about what we want for our lives,
We're all wired to seek comfort, but in the end, pursuing instant gratification has an enormous cost - we trade our future.
This works in exactly the same way that eating lots of junk food feels great now- but if this is your lifestyle, you'll suffer and loathe yourself long term.
If your goal is to feel good now, to avoid conflict and feel liked by those around you, then you should absolutely be a people pleasing nice guy.
But, if your goal is;
- To be the best person you can be - both for yourself and for your society
- To be respected
- To be able to give your full value into your relationships in your community
- To allow other people to decide whether or not they align with your core values....
- To have only real, deep, meaningful, authentic and vulnerable relationships
Then ditch the Nice Guy and be a Good Man.
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