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Are you too nice?
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
Some people are afflicted with the 'niceness disease'. They are so involved with pleasing others that they don't even consider what would please them. Unfortunately, these same people often find that others take advantage of them, or that they are just unhappy in their relationships.

I recently came across a book entitled Anxious To Please, which addressed just this group of people. The authors, James Rapson and Craig English, describe seven basic ways in which nice people can help themselves. I briefly describe these below, along with some of my thoughts about them:

Awareness Practice: It is essential that nice people pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, behaviors noting how these relate to and support their niceness.

Desert Practice: Through the practice of solitude, nice people can learn to focus more on themselves, discovering their strengths.

Warrior Practice: Take action based on what you believe is right (ethical) and what you feel you want to do.

Brotherhood and Sisterhood Practice: Build same-gender friendships to support you.

Family Practice: Make sense of how childhood and family experience have led to you being 'nice'.

Disillusionment Practice: Recognize that your hope to find a perfect partner who will meet all your needs and help you heal from any emotional pains is no more than a fantasy.

Integration Practice: Use your daily experiences to practice making the change that you seek.

Do you relate to the idea of being an overly nice person? What do you think of the suggestions for change made by the authors, Rapson and English? Do they make sense to you? Do you see problems in them? Have you tried to achieve any of them in a way that found have helped or failed to help you? For more information on Relationships and all of Dr. Becker-Phels Blogs, please click on the link provided.
IDKJL responded:
Yes, I relate to being overly nice. I am 40, divorced for over a year, and am learning that being nice doesn't pay. Women talk about chivalry, "nice" guy, etc. but I haven't found it to be true.

During the last half of my marriage, I created the fantasy (disillusionment practice). I have learned that it is not reality. My heart is bigger than my brain and I have always lead with my heart, but I just don't think it works that way in today's society.

After a relationship that I thought could have worked (she and I discussed the possibility, but issues on both sides. yes, I did nice things for her with minimal response. We agreed to take time apart, but ultimately, I don't think I ever fit in her routine.) With that being said, I had to kill my fantasy. It sucks because I began feeling again. I loved the way she kissed me and I could feel it (don't think she could feel me though).

Anyway, I started telling myself....who does nice things for me? If nobody does for me, why should I do for them?

Went out on a couple of dates. There was one I liked. We went out, talked, etc. It was hard to read how interested she was and gave her opportunities to say she wasn't interested. She never said No. I sent her flowers, she got them and preceded to tell me she wasn't interested. I did the "nice" thing.

I basically said screw the nice thing. Don't feel and don't care cause it doesn't matter.

This past weekend, I went out with same woman on Friday and Saturday. She is very nice and funny. Even though we made out like kids in high school, I just didn't feel.

My heart is good, solid, strong, real and genuine. But it has been hurt too many times and I can't deal with getting stepped on or used or whatever. However, I can feel a difference in me with changing my feels kinda empty.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to IDKJL's response:
I am sorry you have been so hurt; and I can totally understand why you would want to pull in, not care so much. But the message of this blog, and I believe the healthy way to go that can ultimately help you feel good, is to be caring and nice, but not too nice.

Being "too nice" means being so nice that you disregard signs from other people that your efforts are not being appreciated and that you are nice in ways that are ultimately self-destructive to you. Pulling back so much that you choose not to care - as you said, "Don't feel and don't care cause it doesn't matter"- will (as you've found) leave you feeling unhappy, alone, and empty. Instead, being a caring person who also cares about himself (including protecting yourself when in situations that are bad for you) provides an opportunity for you to find connection and happiness. Though it's true that you still open yourself to possible hurt, this will be minimized (less frequent and less hurt since you'll pull yourself out of bad situations more quickly); and hopefully you can find the inner resources and support from loved ones around you to help you past such hurt to happier times.
IDKJL replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
I appreciate your response and understand what you are saying. I'm just frustrated. I will always be caring and nice until I am disrespected.

I am currently reprogramming myself from being too nice. I'm trying to find balance on being nice.

Thank you.
lostlove2011 replied to IDKJL's response:
IDKJL:: I can SOO relate to you. I'm 43, and always bent over backwards for spouse, and he has never loved on me, acted like he appreciated it, and never been affectionate. In the past 2 years, it hit me like a ton of bricks, i've been with this man for 25 yrs and WHT THE HECK am I getting out of it?? he's never been loving or affectionate, and the only time he says he loves the things i do are when i ask him.. I have to beg for compliments. I hug him and his hands remain at his sides.WTH! I am now fed up, feel resentful, and have had many heart to hearts with him, my feelings have changed, and i just wish he would leave! It's my personality to do things and to take care and to be nice and very loving to my spouse, BUT i want it in return too! is that really asking too muvch. Must all relationships be one sided??? i feel empty, and actually selfish for "realizing" that he has taken advantage of me-- pray tell me, how i can turn this around to being MY fault???
ajohnson08099 replied to lostlove2011's response:
Lostlove2011, when you have these heart-to-hearts with your spouse what does he say? Has he ever been open to his emotions? Is that just his attitude to be reserved and not express how feels very often?

Some men don't want to hold hands, cuddle, or be "lovey-dovey". Was your husband like that 25 years ago? If so... Well... Why after 25 years would you expect him to change? I understand feeling underappreciated.. I do the same thing, I do this and that and bend over backwards for my husband and sometimes he doesn't notice... But... Sometimes I do it to.

Another thing... Why does HE need to LEAVE??? If you are seriously fed up then YOU need to leave.

Explain though how he takes advantage of you. I understand the being too nice thing.. I really honestly do it it. I give give give until I realize that everything I had was literally gone. But are you saying he takes advantage like he sits on his butt with a beer in each hand while you work your little tail off? Or does he just not realize everything you do. You've spend 25 years with this man. You should realize some of the answers to these questions.

I don't mean to be hurtful or downplay how you are feeling. I DO understand, because my hubby IS this same way from what it sounds... I just wondered the answers to these questions.
An_244426 responded:
That was great. Thanks for sharing!
RichH1 replied to ajohnson08099's response:
At 25 years, I went the,ough some similar times. I have always been touchy-feely, and she rarely had been. She had shown responsive reinforcement often enough to know it wasn't a waste, but never initiated, and would comment on my not holding hands or cuddling when I was down from my wants.

Then prostate cancer at 50, her MS 5 years later, and "fairness", along with a conscious assessment as to whether love was enough to make up for a past, and future, without the fulfillment of some wants.

I remember that when we met, I had had clingers that I felt sucked my affection without remembering there was a me, and her limited response was a relief. We could go out on dates to places we liked without having to stop at dark streets or motels or apartments. That was so refreshing as opposed to the dependency, even if some was returned, on the purely physical that lost the we we had started to look for.

Now, I know she would finally try to return some, but she can't feel her hands well, and I can finally joke about it with her. 20 years ago, that would have been a war. Life is better when you realize that the nice, physical giving is giveable by some and receivable by others. Knowing that it's wanted by your partner helps. Knowing that it's not dependent on sex is also needed for your partner. Or that sex is a gift from one to the other, either for one, or the other, or for both.

I can rarely fall asleep spooning anymore because my hand will not stp caressing her. I usually have to turn around. She tells me that the caresses continue in my sleep.

I would stil like to get for a bit, but the giving is more my need, so I guess after 45 years, I'll stick it out.

My solution and yours need not be the same, but figuring out why you're giving is the key. I can give, and the lack of a demand, is the really important part, and the willing and pleased acceptance helps remind me why I chose her.
YoungLady90 responded:
can relate i am 21 yrs old. i tend to be nice to people even if that have said bad things about me behind my back or even lied on me. i just feel that i do want everyone to like me and to be my friend and that i shouldn't care what they are saying even though it has hurt. i have just always been in the shadows sort of speak. never really had friends even when i was younger i would come home crying because i had no friends and when i got other in high school those who were so called my friends never included me on things. i just feel lonely sometimes by myslef and whenever they had a problem i would be the one to call and lend a ear or shoulder and i have never metioned how i felt. if anybody who had done anything wrong to me i just kind of swallowed and ignore it. i will still help them out oor talk to them. i feel that being to nice has hurt my relationship in two ways i go out of my way for my guy but i feel he doesn't enough for me( he has done things for me) i just feel like im to nice and do more to make him happy. the second way it has hurt is that i will be overly friendly with anybody(guy and girls) and my guy doesn't want me to be to close to guys( because they could have a motive as to why they are being nice to me, and i have been too friendly(social media&phone) with a guy and my guy found out and it crushed him) and another reason my guy wants me to watch out for every one because they are not my friend. i dont want to be in the spotlight. i just want people to like me and not be in the back(just some attn) it just seems like i can't help myslef
shortbaby replied to lostlove2011's response:
lostlove2011::I am 53 and spent 20 years with my ex-husband-I left 13 years ago. He was the same way, he pretty much ignored me and made me feel bad about myself. I am people pleaser, be nice to everyone so they like me. I was trained at a young age by my Mother. I kept telling myself that he was a good guy and it would be alright. I went from trying to please my Mother to trying to please my ex. Then I met my husband and realized that I could be loved for real. Understand I am still in therapy. I am a nice person and always will be but I need to BE NICE TO ME TOO! This is really hard for me but I am working on it. I really do believe that my ex did not understand what he was doing, he learned by example, his father. I would tell him how I felt but he just did not get it. You should not feel selfish at all, especially if he has taken advantage of you. Did he take advantage of you or did you just do what nice people do, take care of the ones they love. You should not feel responsible or guilty if he cannot be affectionate or loving.
lostlove2011 replied to shortbaby's response:
in response to the previous post as to him sitting around with a beer in his hand while i work butt of::: that's execatly what he does,, he wants to watch his tv shows, sleep or just sit down and drink and relax after work,, all night tile he goes to bed, and he does the same thing on the weekend! he does do outside stuff when it needs done, like mowing, but i do stuff daily and constantly, that is an everyday occurance like cooking, washing, homework, etc.. whereas weed eating and mowing or changing oil is weekly or rarely.. He has never been affectionate, even at 25, BUT i guess i'm not really looking for that to change, because apparently its just HIM, but after all these yrs, i'm sichk and tired of it. I realize that while i'm still young, feel good, and look good, i could possibly just be happy alone, or even find someone else eventually. I guess i feel guilty, because it is ME that has finally seen the light, ME that doesnt have blinders on, and ME that is saying i'm fed up and tired..
fcl replied to lostlove2011's response:
OK, lostlove2011, so you know exactly how you feel about this. Now, the question is, what are you going to do about it? You're only 43 - you have many years ahead of you. Do you want to continue this drudgery or are you going to live for YOU? Life is too short to waste it.

Wishing you well,

There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
tmlmtlrl replied to fcl's response:
Honestly I don't think she's going to do anything because she is overcome by her guilt. She's guilty that she came to this realization thru an affair.

Lostlove2011, I think you should make sure you put the other man out of your life completely so that you can make a clear decision about your future. You want to be able to move forward without regret and with a clear conscience.

In the big scheme of life it doesn't matter that you came to this realization in this manner. The fact is you now know what you want and have been missing. You can't make that go away now.

Nothing is going to change unless you make the change yourself. You really deserve to be happy. Being with a man who is unavailable to you is not going to give you true happiness. Even if he says he loves you. I'm sure he loves plenty of things about you, but true love and happiness will not be found in a future with him.

Either focus on your marriage or focus on yourself. That man is a distraction that is holding you back from your future.
lostlove2011 replied to fcl's response:
thanks FCL, ive always trusted you and Guard S, i had to change my old name for crazy issues, BUT its me, and i know you all. This has been soo hard on me, I thought I had the most perfect relationship, and thought i was happies women in the world. My son got sick, and it just made me take a look inward, finally looking at ME, and I feel cheated and used, and yes, I know what the future holds, I am scared of the future thom, scared of husband, and scared of making mistakes. My age is a factor,, i dont want to keep going like this: and turn around and be 55 and realize that i should have done it at 43. While i'm young enough to enjoy being young, energetic and happy, i want to live for ME! thanks, the next year or two will be rough, I'll have to ease my SO into this,, he could be violent if pushed! luv
stephs_3_kidz replied to lostlove2011's response:
Why would you stay with a man who is easily provoked to violence and gives no indication that he cares for you? Affairs aren't the answer to your problems, either. Will you continue to look outside your marriage for what you're missing?

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