Close this search box.

The Nice Guy Evolution: Balancing Kindness and Assertiveness

Episode #834

Welcome to another episode of The TPM Show, where we dive deep into the complex world of relationships and personal growth for men. In this episode, “The Nice Guy Evolution: Balancing Kindness and Assertiveness,” Doug Holt and special guest, coach Andy Torr, tackle the delicate balance between being a nice guy and maintaining assertiveness in relationships.

Many men fall into the “nice guy” trap, believing that appeasing their partner will lead to a happy marriage. Doug and Andy explore why this approach often backfires, pushing partners away instead of bringing them closer. They discuss the common pitfalls of “nice guy syndrome,” such as people-pleasing and suppressing one’s own needs, and offer practical advice on how to break free from this cycle.

Drawing from personal experiences and the transformational journeys of men in the Activation Method, they provide insights on how to be genuinely kind without falling into the trap of seeking validation. Learn how to navigate the fine line between kindness and assertiveness, ensuring that your actions are aligned with your values and not driven by a need for approval.

Join us as we delve into the heart of what it means to be a powerful, authentic man in today’s world. Whether you’re struggling with being too nice or swinging too far in the other direction, this episode offers actionable steps to help you find the balance that works for you and your relationship.

Tune in and take the first step towards evolving into the best version of yourself, both in your marriage and beyond.

Hungry for more?

Head over to our BONUS page for special access to some of the deeper tactics and techniques we’ve developed at The Powerful Man.

Also listen on:



Doug Holt  0:00  

Guys go into nice guy mode because they’re not getting the sex or the or the connection that they need from their wife, I realized I was being a nice guy, I was beating needy I was doing all these things to get my wife’s attention that didn’t work. It pushed her away more.

Andy Torr  0:12  

And so the question really becomes, well, how do you choose to live? And how do your behavior reflect those values? Then we get into this, this area of the covert contracts are the secret contracts that we make with another person, I’m going to do something trying to get a response from you. And if I don’t get that response from you, then I’m going to become angry and resentful, and shut you out. Chances

Doug Holt  0:31  

are you are slipping into a nice guy mode or you’re just being manipulative.

Hey, guys, welcome back to another episode of the TPM show. And today I have a good friend, a special guest. And one of our coaches here, Mr. Andy Torr. Andy, thanks for being here, man. Oh, hey,

Andy Torr  0:56  

Doug. It’s so great to be here. I love traveling to the TPM Ranch and sitting with you. This is always a lot of fun.

Doug Holt  1:01  

It is it is. And we just got done doing The Alpha Reset bringing 10 men crossed the line as well as the other people participating in hosting and you did a phenomenal job. It was a great experience.

Andy Torr  1:11  

Oh, thank you. Well, I mean, I couldn’t have done my job. If the guys hadn’t shown up. It was big work this week. It’s such an incredible opportunity to be able to just stop the world, set aside business do a deep dive into the stuff that all of us have been holding on to in some way or another and to poke around inside and see what’s there. It

Doug Holt  1:29  

was incredible transformations. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. So we were talking a little bit for the recording about this idea of men going into to Nice Guy mode. You know, the book No more Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Glover is a great representation of kind of what is a nice guy. But the problem is, is a lot of guys, as we were saying that okay, I realized I was being a nice guy, I was being needy, I was doing all these things to get my wife’s attention that didn’t work. It pushed her away more. So how do I know when I want to do something for my wife? I want to do something nice. How do I know if I’m being just going back into that nice guy role? Or if I actually have good intentions through that?

Andy Torr  2:05  

It’s such a common question, Doug. And in fact, a guy coming through The Activation Method right now asked me this very question. Last week, a lot of guys, you know, they come into the TPM space, they listen to our podcasts, they realize that they have been nice guys for a long time. I was for a long time. And you know that that book No more Mr. Nice Guy is is so important because it identifies the Hallmark behavior of the nice guy, which is people pleasing, right, which is putting other people in front of us minimizing our own needs. And then you know, we try to make sure that everybody else is okay. So that we can be okay. This is a childhood pattern, but it shows up in adulthood and especially in relationships by trying to do nice things for other people so that you can get the love and affection that you’re creating or the acceptance that you’re craving. Yeah,

Doug Holt  2:52  

it’s transactional. It really is. Right. And that’s, that’s when I look at this question. I know some guys don’t understand that really the core of what I’m trying to say here, so we can delve into it. But for me, the difference is when I was in Nice Guy mode, I was doing it to get that a boy from my wife to get to get her love and affection, right? I’ll clean the house, then she’ll be happy with me, I’ll do this, then she’ll do the x, right? When you get to that transactional part of a relationship, any relationship, there’s no love there. I mean, it could be love. But there’s, it’s not the intent. It’s not the intent of doing something just for the love of the person just doing it because you want to showcase how much you care. So a

Andy Torr  3:33  

big question that comes up is they recognize this pattern in themselves. And they say, Well, how do I know whether I’m in the subconscious happened? Habit of people pleasing, which they’re generally not aware of? Or how do I know whether I’m, quote unquote, showing up in the way that I should be as husband father, provider protector?

Doug Holt  3:51  

Yeah. So okay, so a guy is identified. He’s a nice guy mode, right? He’s like, Okay, I’m stepping out. And, you know, well, before I ask the question, let’s talk about one thing that tends to happen we see with some guys is they, once they see the light, they realize they’ve been the nice guy. And that’s what’s been repelling their partner, they tend to swing the pendulum a little too far the other way, sometimes. So what do you see as a coach, because you have so many men coming through The Activation Method that you work through, when guys start to swing that pendulum too far, what happens for them, they

Andy Torr  4:25  

get into fear, really, you know, some sometimes it’s a big shock, you know, it’s their wives say, you know, I, I don’t love you anymore, or I can’t do this anymore. And sometimes, you know, that’s like, that’s like a bucket of ice water being thrown on, you realize, oh, wow, I really have to change I really have to, quote unquote, save this relationship now. And so they go into trying to be perhaps overly useful or overcompensating for the ways that they haven’t shown up. And usually this looks like guys kind of scurrying around the house trying to do extra chores or to be helpful or to be seen or to be to be noticed and to really show show up. And their their their MO is to do more. What

Doug Holt  5:05  

about I totally agree. But what I’ve seen sometimes Andy is, when I started about swinging the pendulum too far is guys are a nice guy. They realize that they come through The Activation Method, they listen to a podcast like this, and they go, Oh my gosh, the light bulb goes off. I’ve been this nice guy and that therefore, my wife has to rise and become the alpha, it repels her. She doesn’t want a nice because she doesn’t want a dog the way she would have got one she wanted marry a man. And so then they decide, okay, I’m not gonna be the nice guy anymore. And they swing it so far the other way they become a jerk. You know,

Andy Torr  5:40  

or avoidant? Yeah, they, they just, they they either become, you know, checked out. Or they they become perhaps a little bit too aggressive. Because they, they, they think that the opposite of being nice is to perhaps be a little bit more strict or a little bit more unapproachable. And I feel like there’s a there’s a middle ground there, that is pretty easy to find. Yeah.

Doug Holt  6:01  

And I think one of the points of clarity that I think is important with this. And I love Dr. Glover’s book, no more Mr. Nice Guy, you can still be nice, right? Nice isn’t a bad thing. It’s the symptoms that go around being the quote, nice guy. It’s a label, if you will, that you put on people. So what do you think is the answer that question or that somebody asks you? How did you respond with? Hey, Andy, I’ve been a nice guy. I’ve been doing things for validation. I’ve been doing things that are external of me, so to speak up, I’m cleaning the house more, I’m doing all the chores for my wife, I’m making sure everything’s perfect walking on eggshells, I would assume. What do you tell them when they say, Hey, man, I want to do something for my wife, I want to get her oil changed, I want to do something kind. But I also am scared that I’m gonna slip back into that role.

Andy Torr  6:49  

So for me, and the feedback that I gave this guy that I tend to give his is, it’s a gut check. So it’s an internal check. And there’s a couple of key questions that we can ask ourselves. And trust me, I have a tendency to slip back into nice guy behavior sometimes, too. Sure. So there’s this constant awareness that we get to have. The first question is, am I responding to feedback? Right? Have I gotten real feedback about the way in which I haven’t been showing up? And is the thing that I’m intending to do a response to that feedback? So if it’s okay with you can we have a little sidebar about about feedback, absolutely. So important, a lot of guys really respond in a very reactive way to criticism from their wives, nagging or complaints, or you always or you never, or that kind of thing. And I think that if we can just step back, we have to recognize that sometimes, because our partners are human, sometimes our partners are in pain. And sometimes our partners are going through difficult emotions. And sometimes our partners communicate to us imperfectly as men, because we spend so much time in our heads, and we communicate with logic and reason, we tend to want to expect that from our partners, why wouldn’t she communicate me, to me in a logical and rational way. And so I would say, we get to take that off the table. Because our our partners are females, or women are ruled by their emotions. And so allow them to communicate imperfectly. And sometimes that looks like nagging and criticism and complaining. And except that what’s happening here is we are getting feedback in terms of how we have shown up or not showing up and how that has made them feel. I shared this with the guys at the retreat this week, I share this always with guys who come through The Activation Method. So it’s a little nugget. But our our intimate when we make an intimate partnership with someone. There’s a sacred responsibility there to support and acknowledge what the other does well, and to lovingly point out the blind spots, and lovingly call the other forward into their greatness. And we get to do that for our partners, and our partners get to do that for us. And that’s the social contract. That’s the agreement that we make when we move into an intimate partnership. And sometimes that pointing out a blind spot, sometimes that loving feedback does not feel so loving. But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore it doesn’t mean that we should minimize it. And so I think we all as men get to be in the habit of looking for feedback from our partners in whatever way that looks like, and decoding it and understanding that if it’s nagging, if it’s criticism, usually the intent behind that is to call us forward into our greatness, or to point out something that we are not seeing ourselves. I

Doug Holt  9:48  

think that’s so true. It’s such a good point that you make and most guys fall into DEER mode, right? They defend the excuse, they explain the React, right the acronym for DEER. And so when you fall into DEER mode that just puts a bigger divide between you and your partner. And the feedback, you’re missing the feedback that you could be getting. Yeah, right. And guys don’t do this in business, which is so interesting, Andy, right? In business, they take the feedback because they want to, they want to get better, they want to crush the competition, they want to grow, they want to scale. But when it comes to the home, all of a sudden that feedback is taken as a threat or a attack on themselves.

Andy Torr  10:23  

Exactly. And I’ve started to realize that we run on a very different operating system when we’re in our business. Yep. And when we step into our relationships, with our, with our partners, with our kids, it’s just a different operating system. And so maybe one that we’re not as familiar with. So if we are acting in response to feedback, then that’s great. You know, hey, you never pick up your socks and underwear off the floor. Great. If you’re responding to that feedback in a productive way, and you’re leaning into that, and you’re doing that thing, then that’s not people pleasing, that’s just doing the right thing, and allowing your partner to feel seen and heard and responding to that. So that’s the first question. am I responding to feedback? Yeah, the second question is, am I trying to get a result? So one of the guys that we worked with this week is an engineer. And so he’s a project manager, he is always working to a result. And I said to him, you know, what, what if you abandon the result, and if you just embrace the process, the the process the series of steps to showing up. And so if you’re picking up your socks and underwear off the floor, you’re not doing that for the result of getting advice, approval, or, you know, a thank you, or even recognition or anything, you’re just doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Because as men, we get to maintain our environment. Yep. Or am I picking up my socks and underwear, and then hoping that she will notice, and she will tell me that I’m being a good boy? And if she doesn’t do that, am I going to get resentful of her? Yes. Right. So then we get into this, this area of the covert contracts or the secret contracts that we make with another person, I’m going to do something, trying to get a response from you. And if I don’t get that response from you, then I’m going to become angry and resentful, and shut you out.

Doug Holt  12:15  

And the key to that covert contract is you don’t tell them. Exactly.

Andy Torr  12:20  

Yeah, that’s why it’s a covert contract. Yes, yeah. You make an agreement with them without telling them.

Doug Holt  12:24  

Yeah, exactly. It was so interesting today. So we still have some of the men are still here at The Ranch. I brought my wife and my daughter over there and had a great time in the kitchen, my wife, my daughter, and I, and then my wife comes in the house because she dropped off our son. And she comes in I said, Hey, babe, you want a cup of coffee or anything? And she’s like, Yeah, I love a cup of coffee. And one of the guys jokingly and I the jest, and we’re all having a good time said, Well, she should go get herself, you know, type thing. That’s, you know, that’s what you do. And that’s where guys miss it. Yeah, right. I offered, I just was just naturally Hey, babe, it’s coming in. I was happy to see her having fun with the guys who’d like a cup of coffee, and I was doing it not. So here’s your cup of coffee. Now, you make me look good. Are you saying these nice things. I was genuinely just offering her a cup of coffee, because I love her. She’s my wife. You know, she’s my partner. And I thought, hey, I’m drinking a cup of coffee. Maybe she wants one too.

Andy Torr  13:19  

Exactly. And so that sort of leads us to maybe a third question that we can add to the list, which is, am I acting in line with my values? Yes. Right. So do have I have I made agreements with myself to show up in a particular way. And so it’s very important for us as powerful men to decide the man that we want to be decide how we live. And that involves really being very intentional about the values that we choose to live by. Yeah, for me, one of my highest values is integrity, my actions must match my words. And when I’m out of integrity, that doesn’t feel good to me. So I always make sure that I map my actions to make sure that I remain in integrity so that I can feel aligned with my core. And so the question really becomes, well, how do you choose to live? And how do your behavior reflect those values? If generosity or consideration is a core value for you, then it makes sense that if you’re getting yourself a cup of coffee, you offer your wife to get a cup of coffee, not because you’re trying to get something from her, but because you’re acting in line with your values. And yes, she can get her own cup of coffee if she wants to. But you can also bring her wine just because it’s the right thing to do as far as your values are concerned.

Doug Holt  14:32  

100% I would have gotten you a cup of coffee. I will say yes. Yeah. Yeah, you walk in the room. It just it’s natural. And it’s also you know, servant leadership is another example. We’re talking a lot about that with I was with one of the volunteers that came here mazing man and and this idea of just servant leadership and you do that in business and you show by example, right, how you want things to be done and you do the things behind In the scenes, right, I always talk about when we bring somebody onto the team, I will say, Look, I’m willing to scrub the toilets. And so my expectation is you would be to, like, I just want to be clear about that, you know, you may be this job role is what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re the CFO of the company. However, we’re all in this together. I don’t understand why guys, don’t take that home. Right? Like, look, clean up the house, do the things. Keep your environment beautiful to your point. And don’t do with expectation, though, don’t pull back and not do it. Because you think, Oh, I don’t want her to think that I’m being needy, because that’s manipulative. Yeah, it’s completely manipulating the situation. It’s rather being able to stand in your power and your own truth, so to speak, and actually being able to move forward and do the things that you know are right,

Andy Torr  15:44  

exactly. And, as we like to say, how you do anything is how you do everything. Yes. So if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and clean toilets at the TPM Ranch, then guess what? Do you get to do that at home? Do 100% 100%?

Doug Holt  15:54  

Yep. Yeah. So with this guy that you’re talking to Andy, you know, he comes to you again, and I know we’ve talked about a lot of this. What are ways he could practically check in with himself? What are ways that he could go? How do I do this gut check to make sure I’m not falling into nice guy mode? Again?

Andy Torr  16:14  

That’s a great question, Doug, I think it’s going to be different for every man. So I’ll speak to how it is for me. I get really quiet. And I close my eyes. And I check in and I just ask myself, Okay, what’s going on inside here? Right? Am I feeling like, I need affirmation or approval from my partner right now? Is there something that feels incomplete inside of me, right? And I just do a really deep check-in with my eyes closed. And if I notice that there’s something that feels incomplete, then I get to really look at the action, I’m about to take with some intentionality, and say, Okay, if I can just take this action because it’s the right thing to do. And I can give myself the affirmation that I need for having done the right thing, then I don’t need her validation. In other words, when we validate ourselves, for being in integrity, for being in our values for being in our power, when we’re connected to ourselves, when we’re acknowledging and affirming ourselves and using positive self-talk, then there’s really less need to receive that from other people. So we give a lot of different exercises and processes and routines and things within The Activation Method for guys to be able to build that relationship with themselves to be able to check in to be able to affirm themselves, to acknowledge themselves. And what that does is it creates resiliency, it helps us to navigate the environment around us. And it really makes us less needy and less dependent on the people who love us and who depend on us. So that when we take an action, we’re doing it in line with who we want ourselves to be. And we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. And we’re less working towards an outcome. So that’s my practice. Personally,

Doug Holt  17:56  

I love that. Mine is a little bit different. I’ll just share mine. Sure, mine, it’s what I do. And I actually did this yesterday. So you and I were exhausted, right? I got home and was unloading my stuff. And I noticed there were a few things that I expected to be done that didn’t get done around the house. And so my family is leaving, they’re gonna be they’re going on a trip to see my in-laws. And so I’ll be home alone for a few days. And so I thought, okay, you know, I’m just going to knock these out, because I’ll have some time to do them. And I checked in with myself, I go, okay, because there was a little resentment there. I said, Okay, why am I going to do this? What’s the reason behind it? Well, because I want them done. It wasn’t because I wanted them done so that my wife would appreciate me or I wanted them done so that whatever would happen. And on top of that, to add on to the resentment piece, where the resentment was coming from was just me being fatigued. Yeah. So that’s right, checked into myself, right? And then then gratitude comes Gratitude is the antidote for resentment. Right? I mean, what was going on? My kids are taken care of the house is clean all of these other things, right? Instead of focusing on what didn’t happen, focus on what does, but not to go on too much of a tangent here. What I do is I just check in and ask myself, why am I doing this? Yeah. And if I find myself, I’m doing this to make my wife happy. That’s okay. As long as I’m not doing it to make her happy, so she’ll be happy with me. Yes, that’s the key piece,

Andy Torr  19:21  

isn’t it? Yes. Yeah. And then something is just coming up for me as we’re talking as well. And maybe this is a little a little bonus nugget, which is the difference between employee thinking and CEO thinking. Employee thinking says I have a job to do. And they’re these certain tasks. And if I don’t do these things, then there’s going to be some negative consequences. CEO thinking is, I have a responsibility to ensure these things get done, but I don’t have to do them myself. And so a great example is from a client that I worked with, who really wanted to honor his wife’s desire for a clean home and to allow her the time to relax because she’s a quality time girl. And so he wanted her to be able to relax on the weekends. So he would spend Saturday morning he get home from work late on Friday, spend Saturday morning scurrying around the house, cleaning the house trying to make everything great for his queen, which is noble and admirable. Yeah, right. The problem is he was in acts of service trying to do something for her. And she was in quality time saying, When is my husband going to come and sit on the couch with ya make eye contact? Right? I’m sure a lot of guys listening to this can identify with that. And so that’s employee thinking, the house needs to be cleaned. And that’s my job. And I said to him, What if your acts of service were to bring in a housekeeper on Friday, and then you can both sit on the couch and enjoy the benefit of a clean home and have that quality time together? And you’re giving somebody the opportunity who loves to clean to come in and do what they love to do and to make money doing it, and you’re acting like a CEO? Yes,

Doug Holt  20:58  

I think that’s a great example. And again, not doing it just for your wife to get something back. I think that’s really what it comes down to, I think guys go into nice guy mode, because they’re not getting the sex or the or the connection that they need from their wife. And so they think, Okay, I’m just going to be better or she nags or criticizes them. So they think that, Oh, I’m being a bad boy. So and then it’s not the conscious thing. But that’s kind of the end result, I need to do better to get what I want to get the approval to get all of these things. And instead of just doing it because you love the person, I love this person, therefore I’ll do it regardless of how they act or react. And I think that’s another good check in for men is are you doing this for a reaction? If the answer is yes, then you are and you’re doing something for the transaction. Chances are you are slipping into nice guy mode. Or you’re just being manipulative. Exactly. It’s one of the 2 am I

Andy Torr  21:55  

Giving to get Yes, yeah, yeah. If

Doug Holt  21:58  

You’re given to get you’re not gonna get much right, at least not out of the marriage relationship. Exactly. Andy, it’s always good having you here, man, I love our talks. Is there one or two things that you can leave these guys with action steps or something for them to think about before we go?

Andy Torr  22:13  

So I think that with respect to the conversation about feedback, you know, if if we’re receiving feedback from our loved ones, and it feels uncomfortable, you know, maybe it’s nagging or maybe it’s criticism, or maybe it’s a complaint, the practice is to receive the feedback. And to ask yourself, is there a nugget of truth in this? Maybe it’s coated with a little bit of anger or frustration or resentment? And, you know, that’s fine. We can look behind that. Is there a nugget of truth here? Is this a valid complaint? And if so, can I set aside the packaging the way in which it’s delivered? And to really receive this pointing out of my blind spot, or this calling forward? And can I take the appropriate action, to show that my loved one is being seen and being heard and being understood and respond to that by taking a step forward into being a better version of yourself? I

Doug Holt  23:08  

love that. Can I add to that? Sure. So guys listening to this, what I love you to do is maybe take the dice feedback that you got the last criticism nagging, whatever it is, write it down, and come to with that feedback. What’s really being said? And where can you actually apply it? First of all, ask if it’s true for yourself. Is it true? So your wife says that you never pick up? You know, gosh, you never leave? Pick up your clothes? Right? Write that down. Never pick up my clothes? Is that true? Yes. No, if it’s true, that’s a great thing to journal on. Like, where can I? Where can I improve? Is it my cleanliness? Is it my follow-through what is or do you have this expectation that your wife is your maid, right, guys, if you make your wife, your maid, or your mother instead of your lover, things are not going to be sexy in the bedroom at all. Switch that paradigm? This is your lover, the woman that takes care of your kids perhaps or whatever. And you may have an agreement that she takes care of the house. But don’t make her your maid.

Andy Torr  24:06  

Exactly, yeah. And I think behind the the negative, there’s always a request, right? You never pick up your clothes off the floor. Right? That’s a very specific thing. But maybe the need there is I’d really like you to help maintain our environment more. Yeah, right. And so can you take that negative? And can you turn it into the can you identify the unmet need there? There you can enter to frame it in the positive so that so that you can take that little nugget and then show up better in a more general way.

Doug Holt  24:35  

I love it. It’s a great week. I like that a lot. Well, gentlemen, as we always say in the moment of insight, take massive action. You hear what Andy has to say, Are you being a nice guy? Are you doing things? Because you want something in return? Are you really just doing it because you’re doing out of love something you want to actually give to somebody that you care about? And then we’ve got a couple of reasons here that you can check in with yourself. But do that journaling exercise we just talked about Take some action don’t just go from one episode to another. If you’re interested in finding more about The Activation Method, the courses that Andy takes men through or something like the Alpha Reset, there’ll be a link below that you can click and find out more information. But whatever you do, do something. Get off the fence. It’s time to take action and live the life that you’re meant to live. We’ll see you next time on the TPM show.