10 Ways to Stop Being the Nice Guy who Finishes Last
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It’s not the “nice guy” who finishes last. It’s the pushover.
Back at the dawn of time, men began using the excuse that “nice guys finish last” to convince themselves that they weren’t responsible for their own dating failures.
I know this, because I was one of them.
I did everything I thought women (girls, at the time) would’ve wanted. I was respectable, and “nice,” and waited patiently…just long enough for other guys to ask them out and miss my chance.
As I got older and learned the principles of attraction and social dynamics, all of my mistakes were glaring. If only I’d had the guidance to break free from the negative cycles back then.
This article is designed to serve as that guidance so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Here are 10 ways to break the pattern:
1: Reframe what it means to be “nice.”
Think about all of the people you consider to be a “nice guy.” What qualities do they have that you really admire?
Odds are, when you think of nice guys, you think of people who are passive, good listeners, do everything for people around them, and can get along with anyone because they seem to mesh into any group.
Think about what this really means. It means they are so unclear on their own identity that they simply mold themselves to their surroundings.
Do you really know who this person is? What they stand for? What their values and beliefs are?
Probably not, because they don’t express those things out of fear of being judged or pissing someone off. Social rejection is the ultimate fear of the “nice guy,” which is why he doesn’t do anything to risk it.
Ironically, this is the surest path to that very rejection because he will never be fully accepted by any group. How could he be? Nobody knows what he’s actually all about.
You can be kind without being the nice guy. Understanding this difference is the key to moving forward.
2: Get clear on who you are as a man.
I’m not talking about your career, or where you live, or what you drive. I’m talking about who you are if you take all of those things away.
What are the causes you’re passionate about? What are you willing to fight for? Where does your mind wander to when you’re alone? What are your big long-term goals and dreams?
What is it that propels you out of bed every morning?
The problem with nice guys is that they spend so much time trying to make everyone else happy that they never stop to ask themselves what they want.
I’m not talking about being selfish, I’m talking about being self aware.
One of my biggest challenges growing up was focusing so much on getting acceptance and validation from others that I never knew how much I needed it from myself.
As a result, I got it from neither.
See — the most attractive men aren’t the ones who are worried about being attractive. They’re the ones who are pursuing the things that light their souls on fire. Waking up every day and doing something that fulfills them, creating a life of meaning and impact.
They’re living their lives on purpose, by purpose, and for purpose.
That is what guides them forward and keeps them on track because they are CLEAR on who they are and what they want.
It leaves no space for negative external influences nor self-sacrifice for the sake of someone or something that isn’t actually good for them.
Cultivating and solidifying your own identity that sets you on a path aligned with you accomplishes two things:
- It immediately puts you around more people who share your interests and increases your chances of meeting someone you’re compatible with.
- It helps YOU create a life that YOU are passionate about regardless of whether or not you meet someone along the way.
3: Become more direct in your communication.
Nice guys tend to walk on eggshells when they communicate because of a lack of self worth and confidence in who they are, and therefore what they’re saying.
They’re always concerned about losing someone’s attention, or pissing them off, or saying something that’ll get them rejected.
As a result, they either don’t say anything at all, or timidly say it with filler words or in a way that sounds like they’re asking for permission.
Instead of saying: “I was just wondering if you wanted to go out…”
Say something like: “I’d be honored to take you to dinner.” or “I’d like to take you out to dinner.”
Practice this in your daily life. Think about ordering a drink or a coffee.
Instead of saying: “May I have a venti double triple vanilla espresso thingamabob?”
Say: “I’d like a venti double triple vanilla espresso thingamabob, please.”
Start getting in the habit of using intentional language that sounds more direct and precise. You can do this while still using pleasantries and sounding polite, it’s not about being forceful or rude.
People who are confident sound sure of themselves. They’re not running around all day asking for permission. They calmly tell the world what they’d like with certainty, and they do it respectfully.
Women are not attracted to men who sound unsure of themselves. If YOU aren’t sure about you, how can SHE be sure about you?
4: Go get rejected more often.
I meant what I said.
Nice guys spend so much time avoiding rejection like the plague that they never actually experience it.
If that sounds like a good thing, you might be a victim of Nice Guy Syndrome.
Rejection makes you stronger and teaches you what you’re doing wrong. Facing it head-on makes you more resilient and helps you take bigger risks because you’ll have a realization along the way:
Rejection is not the end of the world.
In fact, sometimes it redirects you on to a better path and saves you from going down a road you shouldn’t be walking in the first place.
There aren’t any tricks or magic pills to getting over this fear, the truth is you just need to go do it.
Start asking for discounts for no reason at all.
Apply for jobs that are above your level.
Reach out to icons in your industry and start a conversation.
Send a (polite and respectful) message to a woman you’re attracted to.
Start flexing the muscle of taking more risks and stretching your comfort zone. The more you get used to doing this, the easier it will become next time, until the risk itself is a habit and you’re consistently moving forward because of it.
5: Fix your posture.
One of the clearest ways to project confidence (or lack thereof) is how you carry yourself. Your body language and non-verbal cues send vibes across the room before you even talk to anyone.
Slouched shoulders (probably from sitting at the computer all day) shrink your appearance and make you look timid or weaker.
Take a look at characters in movies or TV that you admire. Men who are strong and confident. How do they stand and sit?
How do they walk, talk, project themselves, and dress?
My bet is whomever you choose stands up straight and tall. Shoulders back, chest out, chin up.
Being conscious and aware of how you project yourself will help you recognize the times that you fall back into old patterns and quickly adjust.
6: Get on a fitness routine.
No matter your body type or composition, you can set a plan in place to optimize it.
Having a fitness routine isn’t just about looking better, there are a variety of benefits.
- It teaches you discipline. Staying committed to a workout plan will build confidence in yourself because you stick to what you say you’ll do, even when you don’t feel like it.
- Exercise is a mood-booster. Chemicals released in your brain during exercise are proven to put you in a better mood, and when you feel better, you’re more likely to continue that positive pattern throughout the day.
- It helps break negative patterns. When you start working out hard consistently, you’ll be more likely to adopt habits that reinforce those actions. Eating healthier, cutting back on alcohol, sleeping better.
Have you ever seen someone who’s timid and shy but is rocking a six pack under their shirt?
Neither have I.
Getting into shape empowers you to start dressing differently as clothes fit better. Walking differently as you build more confidence. Talking differently as you become more sure of yourself.
Appearance is never the most important thing in a relationship, but feeling and looking better is always an advantage over all of the people who don’t put in this kind of effort.
7: Pick up a hobby (or two).
Let’s face it dude, it’s not because you’re nice that you keep losing, it’s because you’re boring.
Having hobbies and a variety of interests serve to make you more attractive and interesting to those around you. How can it not? You are more educated on more topics and can hold meaningful conversations around them.
It doesn’t have to be something intellectual or world-changing, but expanding your horizons by diving into new areas of knowledge will challenge your way of thinking, serve as great mental exercise, and help make you more worldly and cultured.
Not only that, you’ll have less time to sit around and be lazy, which can create patterns of negative self-talk and self-pity.
There are too many amazing things to learn to waste your time feeling bad for yourself.
8: Focus on your own sh*t.
One of the easiest ways to lose something is to want it too badly.
This goes for relationships, too.
If you’re trying too hard, a woman will feel suffocated and overwhelmed. Any woman who is living her own independent life is going to feel like you’re invading her space and will pull away from you.
Subsequently, it will seem like you don’t have a life of your own to focus on. She’ll feel like you’re latching on to her for a sense of meaning and purpose.
And that’s not true…right?
A few years ago someone I was coaching told me he had a negative pattern of women losing interest in him after a few months.
Not surprisingly, he considered himself a nice guy who had similar patterns of revolving his life around the women he dated.
Despite this, he has a highly successful career and excels in all other areas of life.
So, what caused the loss of attraction?
See, his passions were some of the very things that attracted her in the first place.
She liked that he plays video games. She liked that he live-streamed his DJ’ing on Twitch. She liked his quirks and idiosyncrasies.
So then, what happened when he started focusing all of his attention on her and their relationship?
He stopped doing the things he was passionate about.
Therefore, he sabotaged himself by taking away one of the foundational pieces of her attraction to him, and everything else fell apart.
Women want a man who has his own path and his own passions, and who doesn’t sacrifice them when he gets into a relationship.
If you let go so quickly of things you love, how can she feel secure being one of them?
9: Understand your value comes from within.
Men are conditioned from an early age that our value comes from things like our job, level of income, the car we drive, and (you guessed it), acceptance from women.
This is one of the reasons why men are so hesitant to approach or talk to women. The feeling of rejection is deep-seeded and goes far beyond just hearing the word “no.”
It is symbolic of inadequacy. We are “not good enough” to be accepted by this woman, or even given a chance.
It makes us feel like less of a man.
We understand that inherent value is just that — inherent. It’s called self-worth because it’s up to us, not anyone else.
Our social standing is not indicative of our worth as a human. Our worth does not change based on any external factors.
Yet, nice guys latch on to this notion and sacrifice their dignity in the process. They’ll do whatever it takes to get accepted by men and women alike just to feel a sense of value in society.
This is why they’re so eager to please others, but there is no nobility in becoming a social martyr.
What’s more is that any benefit will be temporary, because even if a woman does begin to date you, she’ll have a hard time feeling a sense of respect or trust. How could she? Everything you do revolves around her and her life and her needs.
Be attentive. Be respectful. Pay attention to detail. Support and encourage her. Keep putting in effort and being romantic.
But remember that you are also an individual with your own wants and needs. Having the confidence and security to express them to her will help her understand who you are and what you’re about.
If she is unclear on these things, how can she possibly build a full and healthy life with you?
10: Break patterns of negative self-talk.
The way we talk to ourselves when we’re by ourselves shapes our identity and our reality.
Something that holds so many people back is accepting a past identity for themselves that no longer exists.
Maybe you used to be the chubby bullied kid in school, but have since lost the weight.
Yet — when you look in the mirror, you still see that chubby kid.
Maybe you were ridiculed or told you weren’t good enough, so you repeat patterns of telling yourself this over and over again.
“I’ll never make it.”
“She’ll never go out with me.”
“Women aren’t attracted to me.”
Each time we reinforce this negative way of thinking we solidify the identity in our heads even more. We become this person. We are this person.
Unless — we work to change it.
The next time you catch yourself falling into a pattern like this, squash it.
Immediately recognize the thought, acknowledge it, and re-frame it.
“Women didn’t USED TO be attracted to me” sends a much different neurological message than “Women AREN’T attracted to me.”
Send the negativity to the past and make room for a new, more positive set of thoughts and beliefs.
This is how you change the way the world perceives you. That’s how you become more attractive to everyone around you. That’s how you redefine your sense of self and CHOOSE how you show up every single day.
This is how you take responsibility and control of your destiny rather than allowing it to be chosen by an apathetic society that bats you around like a ping-pong ball.
This is how you stop finishing last.
This is how you win.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
I originally published this piece on Medium.com.
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Glad to read that (per your criteria) I’m actually not a “nice guy,” despite what I have often been labeled by others, lmao.