Our guest for this issue of Shooting The Breeze is Dr. Robert Glover. Dr. Glover is a renowned men’s dating and lifestyle coach, and author of the best-selling, and highly recommended book No.More Mr. Nice Guy.
Thanks for your time Dr. Glover. Let’s get straight into it: Who is Dr. Robert Glover?
Thanks for having me Michael. I am an average guy. I’ve bumbled my way through most of the important things in my life. I’ve been lucky that most of my bumbling has led to some pretty interesting adventures and experiences.
My mind is built to analyse systems. My mother does it. My son does it. My granddaughter does it. I seem to have a knack to see things within a system and then talk or write about it and illustrate it in a way that many people find helpful.
I love seeing the light go on in people’s heads when I explain something and it “clicks.” Like me, most people are bumbling their way through life and appreciate it when someone shines a light on what doesn’t work (and why) and gives them a more functional roadmap.
Most people who work with me say they most appreciate my openness and authenticity. I wasn’t always a transparent nor authentic man. I was the typical ‘sensitive new age guy – and proud of it. I believed I was one of the nicest guys you would ever meet. Yet I wasn’t happy. Who I am today is the result of a conscious process over the last 20 plus years.
I’m still learning to live life on my terms. I’m learning and growing every day. Life just seems to keep getting better and better.
What are two quotes you live by?
“No matter what happens, I’ll handle it.”
“What one man can do, another man can do.”
What is Nice Guy Syndrome?
It is an internalized belief system based on faulty interpretations of life experiences from early childhood. It is the emotional belief that one is not okay just as they are, and to be accepted and loved by others, they have to become what they think others want them to be while hiding any part of themselves that they think others might disapprove of.
Women say they want a nice guy, but invariably go home with the ‘jerk’ – why is this?
Women need to feel “emotional tension” with a man in order to be attracted to him and experience sexual arousal. “Nice” is boring – it doesn’t create any emotional tension for women. “Bad” is exciting and stimulating, and though it is often painful for women, it feels better than feeling nothing.
This response is wired into women by mother nature. No matter how much a woman might say she wants to be with a Nice Guy, her biology works against this.
A note: a man can create emotional tension for a woman without being “bad.” But it will never happen by being “nice.”
In my experience working with nice guys, and as a recovering nice guy myself, I’ve found he desperately wants to be in a relationship with a woman but at the same time feels likehe doesn’t deserve to have that someone special in his life? What’s the psychology behind this?
I state in my book, No More Mr. Nice Guy, that the average Nice Guy thinks a woman would be lucky to have him, but doesn’t understand why any woman would want him.
This belief goes back to the origins of the Nice Guy Syndrome I discussed above. The belief that one isn’t good enough – is defective, bad, or unlovable – is stored at a deep emotional level in the brain. It affects all other thinking.
So, while a Nice Guy may work really hard to be the kind good guy that he thinks others would love and appreciate, his deepest emotional belief is that anyone who really gets to know him, will see how deeply flawed and unlovable he is.
Because of this belief, Nice Guys tend to practice what I call “Nice Guy Seduction” with people whom they want to attract. They do nice things. They give gifts and plan surprises. They try to demonstrate their superior goodness. When they do find love, they have to maintain this seduction on a constant basis out of fear of being found out and abandoned.
Unfortunately, this constant seeking of approval and validation doesn’t let others really see the Nice Guy, know him, or get close to him. It also forces the Nice Guy to compartmentalize his human imperfections out of fear of being “found out” and rejected.
These patterns of Nice Guy Seduction tend to lead to frustration for the Nice Guy because their lack of an authentic self often fails to create attraction in others. When they do find a partner, the nice guy engages in many not so nice behaviors like lying, passive aggressiveness, and lack of availability.
In your book No More Mr. Nice Guy you emphasize that Nice Guys are afraid of two kinds of emotions/feelings – their own and everybody else’s? For those who have been living under rock and haven’t read the book yet could you detail what this means?
In infancy and childhood, other people’s emotions often resulted in painful experiences for the young, developing Nice Guy (a parent’s frustration, sadness, anger, impatience, depression, etc.). All children are naturally narcissistic so they believe they are the cause of the emotional reaction of others. They often mistakenly believe it is their own emotions (or needs) that negatively trigger the big people’s emotions that lead to pain for the child.
Note: these mental and emotional interpretations are being made by a small, helpless child who’s reasoning brain is years away from being fully developed. All of these experiences and interpretations are created and stored in the primitive, survival part of the brain that triggers fight, flight, and freeze responses.
Thus, through childhood and into adulthood, the typical Nice Guy comes to fear strong emotions in self because of the belief that they will trigger negative responses in others. They also fear other people’s strong emotions because of the fear that they will lead to painful experiences like abuse and/or abandonment.
You mention nice guy’s following three covert contracts. What are these and why do nice guys have them?
All Nice Guys operate by the following three covert contracts. They are often unconscious and all involve giving to get. They are all based on an “if – then” paradigm.
Covert Contract 1: If I am a good guy, then people will like me and love me (and people I desire sexually will desire me).
Covert Contract 2: If I meet other people’s needs without them having to ask, then they will meet my needs without me having to ask.
Covert Contract 3: If I do everything right, I will have a smooth, problem free life.
Unfortunately, none of these contracts actually work in the ways that Nice Guys would like them to. This typically leads to a lot of frustration, passive aggressiveness, “victim pukes,” and doubling down on trying to do more of what doesn’t work.
The primary reasons that covert contracts don’t work is that they are covert; the Nice Guy is usually unaware of his own contracts, everyone else is unaware of the contract, and the world just doesn’t work in the wishful way of the Nice Guy’s childhood survival paradigm.
You also talk a lot about the integrated man? What is this exactly?
It is a lot of things. It is primarily being honest and transparent. It also involves asking one’s self what one wants and then following through on that even when there is resistance from the outside or resistance from between one’s own ears. It means making one’s needs a priority and inviting available people and systems to help him get his needs meet. It requires learning to set good boundaries. It involves lots of facing fears while soothing anxiety. It means living with passion and giving one’s gift to the world.
For guys reading this and thinking “Shit I have Nice Guy Syndrome,” or “I have some traits of the nice guy,” getting your book and following the action steps is not only recommended, but essential if they want to become an integrated man in the long term. What are some things they can do now to start becoming a recovering nice guy?
I always tell men, “Don’t try and do this alone.” Find a good friend, minister, therapist, support group, or 12 step group to help you do this work. A man needs safe supportive people to help him open up, release inner shame, let people get close to him, and learn to make his needs a priority.
I suggest spending as much time with men as possible. I also encourage regular, strenuous physical exercise. Get away and spend quiet time with self. Read good books to help support the process. Practice telling the truth in all situations.
Alice Cooper’s song “No More Mr. Nice Guy” plays loudly in my head every time I pick up your book, read you blog, or listen to you on a podcast. Are you a fan of Mr. Cooper’s? What kind of music do you like and how do you relax?
When I was promoting No More Mr. Nice Guy, probably half of the radio interviews I did began with the interviewer playing the song in the background. It’s a great song, I like it.
I love lots of kinds of music. I have a tattoo on my arm that reads “Musica es vida” (“Music is Life” in Spanish).
I especially love live music. I’ve probably seen Dave Matthews Band live 25 – 30 times. I love live jazz (I’m listening to Jim Hall right now). I grew up listening to what is now called classic rock and I probably know most of the words to most of the rock songs from late sixties through the late seventies. I now live in Mexico and listen to a lot of Latin influenced music – Salsa, reggaeton, bachata, cumbia.
What are currently reading?
Every day I spend some time with devotional reading. I read a few pages from several books and/or authors who I find especially helpful to help me focus and sooth my mind. This includes anything by
- the Buddhist monk, Thach Nhat Hanh.
- The Way of the Superior Man, by David Deida,
- The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, and a couple of daily devotional books, one for men recovering from addictions called Touchstones, and one based on stoicism.
Recent books I have read include:
- The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks
- Essentialism, Greg McKeon
- Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach
- The Truth, Neil Strauss
- Loving What Is, Byron Katie
What books would you recommend for recovering Nice Guy’s other than your own?
- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers
- The Way of The Superior Man, David Deida
- The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck
- The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
- Passionate Marriage, David Schalch
- Models, Mark Manson
What’s on the horizon for Robert Glover? Any new books, courses, etc.?
I am currently working on a book for men and women on Emotional Tension. After that I plan to write a book on the Ruminating Brain. Currently, I have a contract with Warner Brothers for an option to develop a show based on No More Mr. Nice Guy for cable television. We’ll see how that goes.
You can find out more about Dr. Glover including events and courses here
- Re-read this interview
- Read No.More Mr. Nice Guy 5-10 times (buy a copy here if you don’t already have it)
- Join a Men’s group/online community for men
- Spend time alone
- Take up or increase strenuous physical exercise
- Practice telling the truth in all situations