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Issue #20: Nice Guys Finish Last: Understanding and Meeting Your Needs

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Nice Guys suffer many subtle and heavy consequences for being TOO nice.

 

And it’s not just “being too nice” – it’s the conditional kindness as a general mode of being. That’s what does it.

 

And everything wrapped up in those conditions.

 

It’s this mode that sees the actions, the kindness, the niceness in service of the insecurity inside the man. Not actually in service of the other person they’re being nice to.

 

I’ve been this guy – constantly feeling uneasy and unsettled inside as I attempted to adjust to the world around me by shapeshifting to who I thought I needed to be in that moment to be liked.

 

My lord was that exhausting!

 

This is the common mode of the Nice Guy.

 

He centres life around external drivers and validation; how he is perceived by others is what will determine how he feels about himself and how he feels in the world.

 

If he can feel safe in himself and in the world, or not.

 

The Nice Guy, therefore, continues to disempower himself as he places the power outside of himself. He’s a leaf in the wind; blown where the wind goes. Never grounded. Solid. Nothing secure to grab, lean on, depend on.

 

 

That alone is a huge consequence that has many and varied costs.

 

But here’s the key through line: Nice Guys finish last.

 

Yes, I know, this is the, almost tired, cliché.

 

However, what it is really speaking to is this:

 

As a Nice Guy, when you defer to others, when you sacrifice yourself to appear selfless to be liked, when you let the world determine how you are and who you are, you will never truly be happy. 

 

You’re not allowing yourself to feel comfortable in your skin.

 

You’re chasing peace externally and never feeling it internally.

 

And this: you deny your needs in favour of meeting others’ needs in the naive hope that leads them to possibly make you feel safe within yourself and meet your foundational need of belonging.

 

This can never happen because all of that, belonging, feeling secure, believing you are worthy of love and joy and ease and happiness – they are your job.

 

Other people we are in relationship with add to these, but they can never be their job.

 

Others play an important role in reminding us of our worth and belonging. But they cannot have the job of convincing us.

 

As a man, to feel solid and secure in yourself is one of the most important jobs you have. This is your number one need as a human: to feel secure in yourself. To know, that you are enough and worthy of love and belonging.

 

This allows you to function from a powerful, grounded, effective and mature place.

 

When we make others responsible for our needs, we make sure our needs are never met.

 

You finish last, as the cliché suggests.

 

This is what I want to discuss today: your needs.

 

In my Nice Guy days, like most other Nice Guys, I was a SHOCKER for denying my needs.

 

I would defer to my partner – “whatever makes you happy, babe”.

 

I would go last. And hope it was recognised so I could be invited to go first next time.

 

I would judge myself for even having needs. For fuck’s sake – that’s denying that I’m a human!.

 

The denying of my own needs was conditional that those same needs would then be GUESSED by others and met for me.

 

Fuck me. Talk about feeling powerless and frustrated.

 

And setting up an environment ripe for resentment.

 

As Neil Strauss said:

 

Unspoken expectations and premeditated resentments.”

 

We can talk for DAYS on needs.

 

In fact, with my Inner Circle coaching guys, we end up back on their needs more often than not.

 

So much of the work comes back to this point – because as humans, fundamentally, we are needy things.

 

I don’t mean that negatively – we need safety, security, and belonging to survive. Beyond that, individually we have all sorts of needs that tend to land in a few key categories.

 

What all of this means is that when we do something there is a deeper driver – a need we are attempting to meet.

 

Understanding our needs is “Being a Human 101”

 

Yet, when the fuck did you learn that? Right?

 

It took me a series of relationship endings and one very broken heart, my mother dying, and a bunch of personal hardships to even begin the journey to understanding this.

 

And it was because of that suffering that I decided something needed to change.

 

Understanding what is driving our behaviours is really about understanding our needs.

 

If I talk to the men who work closest with me about it on the regular, then I think it’s important enough to talk to you about it today.

 

Let’s explore meeting your needs.

 

Three simple things to make sure your needs are met…

 

1. Figure out what your needs are

 

Make sure they’re not coming from a place of lack or your own childhood wounding.

 

If it is, do some work to start healing those wounds*

 

*that might involve some deep work in therapy or coaching to address and move through.

 

2. Take responsibility for meeting those needs yourself*

 

Didn’t feel chosen, important, unconditional love growing up?

 

Accept yourself now without condition. Choose yourself. Show up for yourself. Do things that make you proud. Act with self-respect.

 

*some of these will be in relationship with others – first own what you can yourself, then turn to others to play a part.

 

3. Figure out what you want – Ask for what you want

 

Be willing to hear no, or something you didn’t want to hear.

 

Be willing to compromise, or to walk away.

 

Say things with love, respect, and kindness.

 

It starts with the clarity work YOU do yourself.
 

It starts with the clarity work YOU do yourself.

 

Let’s break this down…

 

(Courageous) COMMUNICATION > HOPE

 

I used to be THE FUCKING KING of hoping my partner would read my mind and magically give me what I wanted.

 

Even then I was focused on what I wanted – and missed the deeper need.

 

When we chase what we want we often miss the deeper need. And so we chase and chase and never meet the need.

 

We scratch the itch. Temporarily. But we never deal with the cause of the itch.

 

Example 1:

“I want sex”

But…

“I need emotional connection and intimacy. To know I am appreciated and valued. A sense of belonging”

 

Sure, sex is great. Go for it.

But it might not meet the deeper human need.

 

If we keep chasing that want – ‘sexual physical release’ –  and the need – intimacy, connection, love, belonging with someone – may never be met.

 

Example 2:

“I need nutrients and fuel”

But…

“I want a doughnut”

 

Again, fill up on what you want to eat. Go for it.

 

But understand that you can chase sugar or taste, or whatever satiating energy sources you want to eat – but that might never meet the deeper need you have.

 

*Look closely - the waterfall is in the sunup behind us
 

Example 3:

“I need security (and safety)”

But…

“I want a relationship/marriage/a commitment”

 

You can be in a relationship, a vow-committed marriage even, and not be secure.

 

Chasing the want probably won’t cut it when it comes to meeting the deeper need.

 

When I learnt to actually connect to my needs, I was able to a, start meeting them myself, b, communicate them to those who impact or play a part in them being met (by their choice) and c, align my wants so that shit actually happens.

 

If I continue to wander through life chasing wants, I’ll likely never have met needs.

 

And if I don’t truly know what I need then, I will go into relationships not knowing.

 

I won’t be able to communicate that with my partner.

 

But what I will do is hope they figure it out for me and then give it to me. Or keep denying I have needs and judge myself for it.

 

Or, worse, ask for what I want but never be satisfied, because there’s still a gaping hole where my needs are.

 

We have to do the work ourselves to understand our deeper needs. Translate those into things we want that will meet those needs. Take responsibility for the majority of those needs. And then courageously communicate those to partners by asking for what we want.

 

We must be willing to hear no. Or something else we didn’t want to hear.

 

And not take that as a rejection of us as a person. Simply a ‘no’.

 

This is where relationships break down – when the individuals don’t know what they truly need, they don’t know how to connect that to what will meet it (the ‘want’), and then communicate it.

 

What lies in this space is poorly defined and communicated expectations, and assumptions.

 

And this is usually what’s screwing with our relationships.

 

What Nice Guys tend to leave out of their communication usually hides a bunch of unspoken expectations, naive hopes, and a personal lack of clarity and responsibility.

 

Behind those things are our needs. Things we either haven’t clarified ourselves or we are too fearful to communicate.

 

Let’s be frank – unspoken expectations will pull your collective pants down and fuck your entire relationship.

 

Know your needs. Speak your wants. Be willing to hear (and say) no.

 

Go anyway.

 

If these simple steps feel more challenging for you, like understanding #1 – figuring out your needs – is like attempting to understand Swahili, then remember, brother, that there are places, people, and programs that can help you do this.

 

This is at the very heart of the work in Everyday Legends Academy. If you want to think about this as an option and if it could be THE solution for you like hundreds of Nice Guys before you – click and start that process here.

 

To the rest of you – implement the above. Despite the fear and doubt – go anyway.

 

P.S. We have a couple of recent YouTube videos you can check out too:

  1. Reformed Nice Guy’s Guide to Setting Boundaries
  2. What’s more important for men: Mental Strength or Physical?