Stories of Men

The fake life of a ‘nice guy’

The fake life of a ‘nice guy’

Are you a “nice guy” or a good guy? And what is the difference?

Well, let’s think back to the things that so many of us were taught right from when we were kids.

As men, many of us have been taught that it’s good to be nice, especially when it comes to women

We’re encouraged to be respectful and friendly. Simple things such as holding a door open for a woman, or moving to the side so that she can comfortably pass you in the street are signs of being considerate and accommodating. They’re signs of being a nice guy.

And being a nice guy is a good thing, right? How could it not be a good thing to show care and consideration to others?

But here’s the question: what is your motivation for being nice? Are you doing it because it’s a reflection of your true values, or are you doing it because you’re expecting something in return?

You see, the problem with being a “nice guy” is that you can end up being the sort of person who is quite manipulative.

Imagine you’re on a date with someone and you’re going out of your way to be nice and agreeable. You’re laughing at all of your date’s jokes, you’re telling her how lovely her dress is, and you offer to pay for the drinks and the meal. Then, at the end of the evening, she tells you that she’s not interested in pursuing the relationship further. How would you feel?

Would you feel angry and resentful that, despite all of your “nice” behaviour, the woman still ended up rejecting you? Would you have an urge to tell her that you’d lied before and that her jokes were actually terrible? Would you wish that you’d told her that her dress looked awful? Would you regret that you hadn’t asked her to pay 50% of the bill you just shelled out for?

If the answer to the above questions is “yes”, then you may be a “nice guy”.

You shouldn’t be too surprised by this. I’m currently doing sessions with a men’s transformation coach and, while we were having a chat, he told me that I too was “a recovering nice guy”. He also told me that 90% of the people he works with, in fact, are “recovering nice guys”.

For a “nice guy”, nothing is given without there being some sort of expectation. You will often do things for others with the covert demand that you are to receive something in return. And, if you don’t get what you’re looking for, you’ll become resentful.

A “nice guy” will do their best to be what they think others want them to be, not because they want to make others feel good for its own sake, but because they are seeking validation in return. 

Everything becomes contractual. Every compliment, every act of generosity, every moment of “niceness” carries with it an unspoken charge.

What makes this particularly manipulative is that you don’t make this clear to the other person. You’re expecting them to pay a bill which you’re not telling them that you’ve invoiced.

You’re pretending to be nice, whereas, in reality, you’re just trying to find a way to have your own needs met.

For another story about pretending, listen to Alan talk about a holiday he went on where his addiction forced him to go to extreme lengths of manipulative behaviour.

Let’s go back to the dating scenario. Why did you compliment your date and pay for her food? It’s obvious that you didn’t offer the compliments because you meant them. It’s also obvious that you didn’t pay for the meal out of generosity.

You were expecting to get something from the woman in return. Whether it be sex, a kiss goodnight or just an agreement to another date, there was a covert contract that you expected that woman to acknowledge when she accepted your “niceness”. So, when you didn’t get what you wanted, you got upset.

Not very nice that, is it?

But what is it that makes someone act in this way? A lot of the time it comes from childhood and the experiences we had growing up.

At school, I would often get picked on because I didn’t set boundaries. I’d let insult after insult go by without reacting. So the kids would get more and more insulting, thinking that I was going to accept it.

Eventually, I’d lash out and end up having a fight with someone to regain the respect that I’d allowed to be constantly chipped away.

This behaviour has also cropped up in my working life. When I was working in Hong Kong on a real estate internship I had a boss who was constantly putting me down. I tolerated it and kept tolerating it, in fact, I didn’t even see it as a problem until another guy I was working with, Robert Camacho, said to me: “Don’t let her talk to you like that”.

He recognised that I was being disrespected before I did. The next time she disrespected me, I finally kicked off and she couldn’t stop apologising. Once again, I’d failed to set boundaries and nip unacceptable behaviour in the bud before it became a problem.

A lot of this also links to people pleasing, which I wrote more about here.

But it’s not just me. I remember being on a plane and seeing a couple whose kid was acting up. She was drinking water from a bottle and spitting it back in. The mother turned to the “nice guy” father and demanded in a loud voice “Can you control your daughter?”

The man shrank in response and whined “Can you not speak to me like that? It’s embarrassing…”.

To be fair, I guess he was trying to stick up for himself but it came across as very passive. If you want to be respected, you need to assert yourself and show conviction.

“Nice guys” don’t do this and so they continue to be disrespected.

But let’s get back to my first question: are you a “nice guy”? If you’re still not sure, here are ten key traits of being a “nice guy”:

  • You put other people’s needs before your own.
  • You don’t set boundaries.
  • You often expect something in return for your “niceness”.
  • You try to avoid outright rejection.
  • You find it difficult to project confidence.
  • You rarely enjoy being in your own company.
  • You’re highly agreeable, often moulding yourself into what you think the people around you want you to be.
  • You regularly seek external validation.
  • You constantly make yourself available to others.
  • You can get passive aggressive.

How many of these traits would you say that you fit? If you’re ticking a lot of them then you may be the “nice guy” this article has been about. Do you think it might be time to start your recovery?

There is hope. Listen to this episode where James talks about moving from seeking external validation as the main helper within his family to setting up a life-changing venture of his own.

Let me know what you think the difference is between being a “nice guy” and a good guy. And what tips would you give to stop being “nice” and start becoming good?



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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

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I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

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Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.