No More Mr. Nice Guy: Book Overview & Key Points

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Robert Glover. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for a No More Mr. Nice Guy book overview? How can this book help you move from insecurity to confidence?

Released in 2003, No More Mr. Nice Guy is a book by marriage and family psychotherapist Dr. Robert Glover. It promises to help you understand and conquer the frustrating—and often manipulative—Nice Guy mindset so that you can become what Glover calls a fully realized and self-accepting “Integrated Male.”

Here’s our No More Mr. Nice Guy book overview, with everything you need to understand the book’s key lessons.

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Book Overview

No More Mr. Nice Guy is a book about overcoming shame, self-doubt, and insecurity. Below, you’ll find our helpful No More Mr. Nice Guy book overview, which covers all the key ideas and themes:

In the face of struggle, dissatisfied men use the tactic they know best: Be nice. However, according to Glover, “being nice” rarely yields the desired outcome, and Nice Guys’ insecurities frequently emerge as passive-aggressive or dishonest behavior. Their repetitive, ineffective approach to life leads to unsatisfying intimate relationships, bitterness, and disappointment. We’ll explore the intricacies of Nice Guy behavior, and its consequences, later in this guide.

Glover stresses that in their frustration with life, Nice Guys are often far from nice. Their indirect and avoidant nature results in an angry cycle of self-victimization: 

Nice Guy does something to appear nice → He stews in silent resentment when things don’t go his way → Unable to contain his anger any longer, he lashes out 

Overall, this cycle of repression, self-pity, and fear brings out Nice Guys’ undesirable characteristics, such as dishonesty and manipulation.

The Nice Guy Mindset

According to Glover, the Nice Guy’s misguided actions are driven by the following mindset:

Conceal your true self → Be who others want you to be → Have a perfect, fulfilling life

Where does this inaccurate life approach come from? Glover says it stems from a boy learning—explicitly or implicitly from his parents—that he must be “good” to be loved. This belief is the result of a vicious sequence of abandonment, shame, and self-doubt:

Abandonment: Glover begins with the fact that a child is completely dependent on his parents. This—along with the childish belief that the world revolves around him—causes the boy to interpret all forms of inattention or neglect as abandonment, which he fears and blames himself for.

Shame: Glover continues by noting that if a boy feels he’s at fault for his abandonment, he’ll eventually believe there’s something wrong with him. From there, he’ll try to change himself to gain his parents’ attention. These self-loathing beliefs are called toxic shame

Self-Doubt: Finally, Glover discusses what happens when a child internalizes his toxic shame:  He experiences self-doubt and adopts defense strategies to ward it off. Glover says budding Nice Guys center their coping mechanisms around gaining approval. 

Problems for the Nice Guy

Now that you know what a Nice Guy is, let’s explore the main problems holding him back from a life of self-acceptance, empowerment, and satisfaction. 

Nice Guys Live for Others

Whether people-pleasing or caring for everyone but themselves, Nice Guys live their life for everyone but themselves.

They seek external validation: Glover says that Nice Guys use attachments, or external signifiers, to win others’ approval and become “good” in their eyes. Attachments are behaviors, traits, or things you “attach” to your personal value (like always being the first among your friends to own the newest iPhone). Nice Guys don’t value or do these things for themselves but for the sake of others.

They conceal their shortcomings and mistakes: To avoid disapproval, Glover explains that Nice Guys go out of their way to hide their true selves, including their perceived flaws. He says to avoid acknowledging their “bad” true selves, Nice Guys will try to fix the reactions to their mistakes rather than accept responsibility for their actions. When “found out,” Nice Guys may become defensive, make excuses, or rationalize.

They won’t acknowledge their needs: According to Glover, Nice Guys are afraid of others knowing they have needs (so much so that they’ll unconsciously avoid situations in which their needs are likely to be met). This is because their childhood abandonment issues have led them to believe that being needless and wantless is an inherently good trait

Due to this skewed belief, Glover says Nice Guys lean on a form of manipulation called covert contracts to meet their needs. These are unspoken, unconscious agreements that, to Nice Guys, are implied understandings, but outside parties have no knowledge of their existence. The hope is that both parties will meet each other’s needs without ever acknowledging them: The Nice Guy will do something for someone, and get something back in return. A common example of a covert contract is giving a compliment just to hear one back. In this case, your kind words didn’t come from a genuine place but from a personal need for external validation. 

Nice Guys Deny Their Power

Nice Guys often feel powerless because they deny their abilities and their masculinity.

They act like victims in the face of adversity: Glover says Nice Guys often think they lack control in all aspects of life, which only feeds into their feelings of resentment, frustration, and victimization. Glover adds that although unpredictability is a fact of life, Nice Guys have a particularly hard time embracing life’s ups and downs because they (mistakenly) believe life can be straightforward and smooth.

They’re attached to their mothers: According to Glover, Nice Guys who grew up with emotionally needy mothers remain devoted to them in adulthood. This relationship is normal and healthy in boyhood, but eventually, boys must grow up and bond with men to become healthy, masculine adults, and mothers must let their sons go. If a Nice Guy doesn’t have a strong parental presence, this shift may not occur. 

They’re detached from masculinity and other men: Due to their poor paternal relationships, Glover says Nice Guys grew up associating masculinity with its negative traits, such as aggression and cruelty. Not only does this lead them to suppress their own masculinity (and thus good parts of themselves), but it also makes them isolated from other men. This causes Nice Guys to miss out on the support and companionship that accompanies male community. 

Nice Guys Keep Themselves From a Satisfying Life

Here are some more reasons Nice Guys fail to live the life they envision:

They don’t know when to say goodbye: According to Glover, Nice Guys are less likely to leave dysfunctional relationships because they dread loneliness. They would rather stay in a familiar, toxic environment than leave and face themselves.

They assume they know what women want: Glover emphasizes that women aren’t attracted to “jerks” as many Nice Guys assume. Rather, they’re attracted to fully realized, confident humans. Nice Guys try too hard to be “nice,” “right,” and “good” all the time, which makes for a self-conscious and lifeless shell of a person.

They settle for bad sex: Glover explains that a Nice Guy may engage his partner in half-hearted (bad) sex through manipulative or sneaky tactics. He thinks if he focuses hard enough on putting her in a good mood, she will enthusiastically reciprocate no matter what. But this tactic only leads to frustrating sex. Still, to many Nice Guys, bad sex is better than no sex. They continue to engage in partner-focused sexual encounters—which Glover discourages, as it means they ignore their own sexual needs.

Solutions for the Ideal Man

We know what’s holding Nice Guys back, but what can you do to live your life as a self-accepting and fulfilled Ideal Man?

The Ideal Man Lives for Himself

Here are some of Glover’s strategies for reaching a point of self-acceptance and living life for yourself: 

Self-reflect: Before you can accept yourself, you must look inward and recognize your approval-seeking habits. In order to ID them, ask yourself what you want and what you need, and which habits do and don’t serve your wishes.

Express your emotions with safe people: Exposing your true self can be scary, so do it with people you trust. Glover says being vulnerable around our safe people helps us combat self-sabotaging beliefs and serves as a reminder that we’re loved, even when we slip up.

Take responsibility for your needs: According to Glover, when you prioritize yourself, you assert new, productive beliefs about yourself, your needs, and how to meet them. Understand that everyone has needs and prioritizing yourself is the only mature, direct, and honest means of satisfying yours. 

The Ideal Man Embraces His Power

Here are some of Glover’s strategies for embracing your personal power and masculinity so you can take control of your life:

Welcome fear: Glover asserts the only way to overcome vicious anxiety and fear is to acknowledge it and face what currently scares you. You create new beliefs each time you push through fear.

Set boundaries: It’s hard to embrace your personal power if you let others walk all over you. So, you must take responsibility for how others treat you. Glover stresses that others have no incentive to change if you reinforce their bad behavior by giving in. Once you realize this, you’ll find changing your own behavior (by setting firm boundaries) is a simpler, more rewarding path.

Develop integrity: Instead of defaulting to deceit out of fear, Glover says Nice Guys must develop integrity. According to Glover, the best way to live with integrity is to ask yourself, “What do I think is right?” Then do it. Honesty gives you the power to approach everything with clarity, direction, and sincerity. 

Bond with other men: Whether hanging out with friends or admiring a role model, Glover urges you to develop solid relationships with other men. Glover says Nice Guys are less likely to smother, resent, or manipulate their partners when they have others they can turn to for support. Additionally, friends and role models can provide new, healthy models of masculinity.

The Ideal Man Lives a Satisfying Life

Here are a few more strategies Glover suggests you embrace to live a satisfying life as an Ideal Man:

Take a new approach the next time around: When entering into new relationships, Glover says to shake things up. Instead of falling back on bad habits (like not setting boundaries) or unproductive mindsets (that your needs don’t matter, for example), start from a place of integrity, self-confidence, and vulnerability from the get-go. Keep things from becoming toxic in the first place.

Ask for help: No one can do everything alone, so Glover stresses that Nice Guys learn to ask for help. Taking control of your life includes utilizing the people and resources at your disposal. 

Practice healthy masturbation: Glover says Nice Guys need to learn to have good (consensual, natural, vulnerable) sex. One way to practice the tenets of good sex is through healthy masturbation. Like good sex, it’s about doing what feels good and accepting responsibility for your needs and pleasure.

Our No More Mr. Nice Guy book overview will help you understand the key ideas from the book, so you can apply them to your own life. Check out our full summary

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Book Overview & Key Points

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Here's what you'll find in our full No More Mr. Nice Guy summary:

  • Why being a "Nice Guy" isn't actually a good thing
  • Why Nice Guys miss out on a life of self-acceptance, empowerment, and satisfaction
  • How to know if you are a Nice Guy and how to become an "Ideal Man" instead

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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