Are You a Real Man or Just a “Nice Guy”?

April 4th, 2012 by Nick Notas 50 Comments

Ned Flanders Nice Guy

For the first 20 years of my life, my relationships fell into a similar pattern. I’d start dating a girl, we’d be amazing together, and next thing you know, I’m single again.

When I entered a long-term relationship during college, I thought she was the one. Two years later she broke it off and I spent months pissed off about how it was all her fault.

What kind of person would leave a man who treated her so well? Who would be so heartless to throw two years away just like that? I was so good to her and this is what I get in return?

I eventually found the book No More Mr. Nice Guy and realized I had been lying to myself for years. I was anything but nice in my relationships. I was emotionally manipulative, insecure, and a downright asshole.

The truth is that most “nice guys” don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. For years they struggle to attract women and when they finally date one, they end up losing her down the line. They either keep following this path of frustration or do a 180° and try to become a douchebag to have success with women.

I’m here to tell you that the opposite of the “nice guy” is not a jerk, far from it. Jerks have short-term success and are miserable in life. I want to show you how to be the best kind of man you can be: a true gentleman.

Read the contrasting lists below and see where you fall. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Understand that mostly everyone will have a mix and nothing is absolute. But, it’s a good reference to see what you can work on.

Note: I stumbled upon this brilliant picture which inspired me to write my own, updated version of this. I cut out some stuff I disagreed with, added important points, and elaborated on others. If you know the original author, please contact me and I will gladly give full credit.

The “Nice Guy”:

  1. Has low self-esteem, doesn’t value himself highly. Might be out of past failures or other deep-rooted emotional issues.
  2. Constantly seeks approval, validation, or attention from others, usually out of a low self-worth. Cares what everyone else thinks of him, fears disapproval.
  3. Insecure with himself, doesn’t feel that a high quality person (women especially) should like him. He is constantly afraid of abandonment.
  4. Exhibits controlling, possessive, jealous, domineering, clingy, or suffocating behavior. Over-texts, over-calls, needs to be with that person 24/7. Makes people feel guilty when they enjoy time without him.
  5. Idealizes potential mates and overlooks their flaws aka “puts them on a pedestal”. Does the same with relationships and devotes large amounts of emotion, time, energy, and money early on.
  6. Doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. Never admits fault and wrongly blames others.
  7. Claims he’s victimized, attributes his own flaws and shortcomings to external circumstances and/or other people.
  8. Kisses-up and is totally agreeable to try and “score points” with people, especially women. Will never disagree for fear of upsetting her. Places his needs last and tries to satisfy everyone else before him.
  9. Never leads, is submissive, and always wants to make sure everything he does is okay with her. Overly apologetic and says sorry when there’s nothing to apologize for.
  10. Doesn’t draw boundaries, gives women whatever they want in return for love, sex, or approval. Accepts second-class behavior for the possible reward of the aforementioned. Doesn’t say “no” even when he knows it’s the right thing to do.
  11. Often hides his true feelings and bottles them up inside. Afraid to speak his mind and may lie or omit things.
  12. Immature and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Lacks social etiquette and awareness.
  13. Displays poor/weak body language. Makes little or no eye contact, leans forward out of nervousness, and has fast/jerky movements. Possesses nervous ticks/fidgety habits, keeps hands in his pockets, exhibits bad posture, and doesn’t stand up straight.
  14. Is easily emotionally destabilized, gets worked up over meaningless things. “Loses his cool” and has outbursts of anger.
  15. Constantly uses self-deprecating humor to get approval, sympathy, or pity.
  16. Feels guilty for his natural sexual desires, even for simply looking at a woman. Represses his sexuality and ends up in the friend zone. Gets frustrated, angry, and misogynistic towards women because of it.
  17. Whines and complains, usually to get pity or sympathy. Has a negative attitude and a cynical outlook on life.
  18. Favors instant gratification and short-sighted thinking. He’s not willing to put in the effort or dedication needed to accomplish tasks. Does not give credit to what others achieve and thinks he could easily “do it better than them”.
  19. Feels the need to compensate for himself through gifts or expensive restaurants. Needs to prove his worth by showing his money or status early on.
  20. Always has “strings attached” or motives for being generous or doing favors. Expects something in return and gets angry or guilt trips when it doesn’t happen – exhibits manipulative behavior.
  21. Judges people based on external factors such as appearance or material items.
  22. Sees women primarily as sexual objects. His main goal is to have sex with them and does not care or actually listen.
  23. Dependent, needs a woman to feel happy or fulfilled in life. Hates being alone and will jump into relationships that are not right for him just to be with someone.

The “nice guy” is the personification of the attributes in a man that women ultimately do not feel attracted to.

The Real Man:

  1. Has high self-esteem, considers himself valuable and worthy, a “catch”.
  2. Enjoys the company of others but does not seek their approval or attention to be happy. Doesn’t let people’s opinions emotionally destabilize him.
  3. Is self-confident and never arrogant or insecure. Possibly slightly cocky and may tease women in a friendly way. Believes he’s a great person that people will love to be around.
  4. Understands personal freedom and boundaries. Doesn’t experience unnecessary jealousy – encourages a woman to exercise her independence.
  5. Appreciates the qualities in potential mates but does not over-romanticize them. Takes new relationships day by day and lets them grow naturally. Doesn’t invest all his emotions, time, or money into a relationship too soon and remains a challenge.
  6. Takes responsibility for all his actions and realizes when he’s done something wrong. He’s not afraid to apologize and doesn’t take it out on others.
  7. Accepts his flaws and does not make excuses for them. Works to actively improve and fix them rather than complain.
  8. Will agree when he legitimately agrees but has his own thoughts and values. He stands up for them without being argumentative or causing a scene. Makes fulfilling his needs a priority before trying to satisfy everyone else’s.
  9. Isn’t afraid to lead and take control of a situation. Doesn’t hesitate to move forward, but is willing to let others take charge if needed. His apologies are meaningful because they’re used sincerely and when necessary.
  10. Understands his boundaries and doesn’t tolerate disrespect to himself, his property, or his time. Doesn’t let women use their sexual power to get anything (whether it be money or self-respect) from him. Not afraid to put someone in their place when they are out of line.
  11. Can be brutally honest (while still being respectful) with everyone, including himself. Isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
  12. Mature in every sense of the word. Compromises, respects social etiquette, and is aware of other people.
  13. Displays strong, confident body language. Holds good eye contact, stands tall with his shoulders back and arms open. He moves deliberately with purpose and speaks with a clear, confident voice.
  14. Is in control of his emotions, doesn’t let meaningless issues bother him. Stays calm under pressure and doesn’t lash out against others.
  15. Makes people laugh without always resorting to tearing himself down.
  16. Never feels ashamed for his sexual desires and needs. Always sexually confident. Shows his intentions while generating attraction and sexual chemistry with the opposite sex. Loves women and has no ill feelings towards them.
  17. Doesn’t feel the need to complain for attention or sympathy. Accepts the world as it is while keeping a positive attitude.
  18. Goal-oriented thinker, favors long-term gratification over short. Has a purpose in life and proactively works towards it. Challenges himself regularly to achieve what he wants out of life. Enjoys it when others shine and is inspired by their accomplishments.
  19. Enjoys giving gifts and sharing expensive meals out of confidence, high-value, and because he genuinely wants to. Doesn’t try to buy a girl’s affection early on.
  20. Is generous out of the kindness of his heart. Does not expect anything in return and is happy to share value.
  21. Judges people based on meaningful internal qualities such as character and personality.
  22. Sees women as human beings and wants to genuinely connect with them, even if it’s a casual hookup. Is compassionate.
  23. Is proudly independent and perfectly happy being single. Sure, he’d like to find an attractive/beautiful/intelligent woman to spend time with, but he doesn’t need it.

The real man is the polar opposite of the “nice guy”. He is the manifestation of traits in a man that women universally and naturally feel attracted to.

This is the man women are talking about when they say, “I wish I could just meet a nice guy.”

So…who are you going to be?

Have a free 60-minute session with me.

  1. Dan on April 5, 2012

    Great article. I just finished reading “No More Mr. Nice Guy” a couple days ago, really good book. I’m still not really sure which category I fall into. It’s like half of each list applies to me.

    • Nick Notas on April 5, 2012

      Thanks! Yeah, before I read NMMNG I was split about about 50/50 as well. It’s taken me years to get completely on the second list.

    • Kousik on November 13, 2015

      I have read NMMNG, recently. Eventhough I exactly couldn’t find which side I was under when I was a nice guy. But it is possible for me to find someone in my life who come’s more under the nice guy list.

  2. Megan on April 6, 2012

    Oh wow, I recognize a lot of the “nice guy” qualities from my ex bf. I definitely get frustrated when I know a guy’s into me but he doesn’t do anything about it.

    • Nick Notas on April 6, 2012

      Now you know exactly what red flags to look for in the next guy you potentially date 🙂

      I’ve known many girls who moved on from a guy they liked because he didn’t make a move. That’s why I always encourage men to take the chance!

    • typical on April 6, 2012

      If you know a guy is interested, instead of being frustrated at his inaction, why dont you make the first move?

      • Adam on August 8, 2012

        Exactly! I can never tell when a girl is into me, so I get “friend-zoned” constantly.

      • Johann Sebastian-Wilson on March 5, 2014

        Because Females are disproportionately attracted to Guys who demonstrate healthy self confidence, and that includes making the move to ask her out. You can’t not ask a Female out, and not tell her how you feel, then sulk like a little bitch when she ends up with another Guy. You have to take risks, and risk rejection when you’re a Guy to ask a Female out. Most Guys hesitate and won’t do that, before their self esteem is poor, they fear rejection, and won’t take the risk. If you don’t ask that Girl out, a Guy like me will……..and we walk right off with her under your nose…………….tough titties. Don’t Blame Females for your inability to land a Girlfriend, when you’re not Man enough to ask her out

  3. Jessabe on April 7, 2012

    Now, to just find the Real Men!

    Great list though. Ta!

    • Nick Notas on April 7, 2012

      Thanks, it takes a bit of searching but they’re out there!

      • Jessabe on April 10, 2012

        After further discussion with friends, I think you should also add a “Real Man vs Nice Guy vs Asshole” 😉

        • Nick Notas on April 10, 2012

          Haha, I like it — thanks for the idea! Definitely the nice guy and asshole are opposite ends of the spectrum. That’s why the real man is the perfect balance 🙂

          • Johann Sebastian-Wilson on March 5, 2014

            I disagree with that Nick. The Self Proclaimed Nice/Good guys are just assholes with self esteem issues. They’re Nice to get approval from Females, and hope to get them into bed, or to date Her. When she tells him no, and their affection to her isn’t reciprocated, they whine like 6yo boys, and turn into abusive assholes

  4. Jay on April 7, 2012

    I broke up with my GF yesterday and I can say that I’m 50/50 … But still, I thought all my intentions were good. Guess I was wrong.

    • Nick Notas on April 7, 2012

      Sorry to hear that man. It happens to the best of us, myself included. The most important part is you realized what went wrong and what you can do better for next time. Keep your head up 🙂

  5. thaicares on April 10, 2012

    I am mostly on the first list I guess typical “nice guy” may explain why Im not to lucky with the ladies. Lately I havent cared so much not searching for a girl or not so uncomfortable with being single. Either way this helps me see where I can be wrong and Im gonna work on it for me!

    • Nick Notas on April 11, 2012

      The fact that you aren’t basing your happiness on women is a step in the right direction. Keep working on it man, you’ll make big strides.

  6. jlew on June 7, 2012

    now this is truth
    1.Has high self-esteem, considers himself valuable and worthy, a “catch”.
    its hard to instill that thought in your brain without possessing any self doubt but the second you can do that you got the world by the balls.

    • Nick Notas on June 8, 2012

      Much of that comes with practice and experience. The more you develop yourself and achieve romantic success, you’ll internalize those values.

    • Johann Sebastian-Wilson on March 5, 2014

      You have to tell yourself those things first, and then start acting on them, and acting in a way that says you believe them, and keep doing that, until it’s becomes natural and part of you. Then you finally believe it. But you have to start first

  7. Colin on December 10, 2012

    Wow, the “nice guy” qualities describe me almost too well. I just wanted to leave a comment somewhere on the site expressing how great these articles are! Definitely ordering “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. Time to start working on my flaws so I can try to be the real man, and not the lonely “nice guy”.

    • Nick Notas on December 10, 2012

      They used to describe me as well. As long as you put the effort in, you can change that.

      Appreciate you reaching out and letting me know they’re helping out. That’s why I do this 🙂

      Keep your head up and continue moving forward!

  8. jet lii on January 4, 2013

    i am very grateful,the article is goood,now i want to change….from being so nice…

    • Nick Notas on January 6, 2013

      Thanks Jet. Well now you know what to do, just need to start implementing it.

  9. Luis on January 21, 2013

    Thank you so much for this article. I realized by the end of 2012 that I was jerk but I did not know it, I hid it by the “nice guy” persona and since then I’ve been trying to change that. This article just gave me more confidence 😀

    • Nick Notas on February 17, 2013

      You’re very welcome Luis.

      It’s such a powerful realization isn’t it? Happy to hear you’re on the right track!

  10. Mr.B on April 12, 2013

    Solid advice man, i just read your last article on self confidence. Put a little bit of my own life into perspective. Very helpful and i like what youre out here doing. keep it up

    • Nick Notas on April 15, 2013

      Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the writings and will do.

  11. Wu Judon on May 19, 2013

    I display extremely erratic behaviors not because I have low self-esteem.. I just have ADHD.. Overall, great article, Keep up the great work!

    • Johann Sebastian-Wilson on March 5, 2014

      I have ADHD, it’s never stopped me living life and achieving…………that’s an excuse I’m afraid

  12. Nick on July 15, 2013

    I’d say I have some qualities of each. I personally think it would be very hard for someone to encompass every one of these that are considered “real man” traits. I have many years ahead of me though so it’s a work in progress.

  13. h on September 17, 2013

    Women should follow the suggestions too!

  14. Jake on October 31, 2013

    It’s interesting, because when I first stumbled on to this particular article about several months ago. I felt ashamed when I saw how much of a “Nice Guy” I was! I had some qualities of the Real Man, just not enough. Then I read NMMNG, did the excercises, even actively sought out other ways challenging myself and, today, I re-read this again! So funny, because I feel I relate more to the Real Man than the nice guy! There’s a couple of things I could work on, but I’m on the right path! And I’m loving the process, the Changes, the insights I’ve gained, the experiences, I even cringe but still laugh at the embarrasing aspects! I guess I still needed to get somethings out of my system! HA! Thank you for writing this! I can’t wait to see my outlook and demeanor in another few months…

  15. Nele on November 1, 2013

    Haha, well done writing this article – I’m a women and I’m highly interrested in those dating sites for men because I want to find out from a man’s point of view what a women should have and not only by “How to find a man” – guides created by women for woman –
    Accordingly here now from a women’s point of view: Yes indeed – We want the “Real Man” because of the fact that “Nice Guys” are kind of boring (especially for me) because them always beeing in match with one’s own opinion and never criticize makes it pretty hard to live with – It’s just like a dog – And I want a man, who’s opinion I can rely on – Like each government of each country – I need an opposition with a different point of view. So, don’t be afraid of having another one than your girlfriend, a good girl will be fond of you having it!
    Btw – When I was reading the “Real Man” part I thought exactly of Mister Darcy respectively Mister Knightly in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice/Emma
    Great work, keep it up!

  16. Josh on November 26, 2013

    Man i just came off a date but i feel like i fell mostly on the nice guy side i spent too much time and money haha. i feel too much like this nice guy. cant wait to change my world around so glad i found this.

  17. Simon on January 31, 2014

    Great article. I’ve been reading up on the subject of “Nice Guys”TM over the last few months and I think a lot of the time, the “assholes” that “Nice Guys”TM constantly whine about women dating aren’t actually “douchebags” but just guys who embody the traits in the Real Man list.

    Unfortunately, their low self-esteem makes them think that these guys are “jerks”.

    • Nick Notas on February 5, 2014

      You’re exactly right Simon. They see other men who go after what they want and are unashamed of their intentions and feel threatened. It challenges them because of their low self-esteem. Instead, they should see that as something to learn from and inspire to have those values.

    • Johann Sebastian-Wilson on March 28, 2015

      You hit the nail right on the head Simon. The so called jerks and douchebags whiny little bitches label that, are often just self confident guys that go after what they want, and have success because of it. If a Girl tells them no, it’s like water off a duck’s back, and they keep on walking. Since Guys like me have the attractive Women, jobs and Cars “Nice Guys” would kill for, we’re automatically jerks, Jealousy is a disease. So called “Nice/Good Guys” can never accept that we so called asshole jerks, just might actually be genuinely decent Guys. But to Guys like me, who cares what people think, Guys or Girls. I’m secure, self confident, I don’t need anybody else’s approval, not even Women. Guys can label me jerk, asshole, douchebag all they want, good for them. I’m living the life they wish they could, and date the kind of Girl who wouldn’t look at their overgrown Manchild ass sideways

  18. Taimur on February 14, 2014

    Nick, I need your help on this issue please.

    I try to not be needy like a “Nice Guy TM” but I have met this girl online who lives far away. Like we hit off instantly and spent a month talking for 3-6 hours every day. We have a lot in common and we get along really well and I also flirt with her.

    Problem is that she has graduation exams now, so obviously she isn’t that available which is not a bad thing since I want her to do her best in the exams. Now, I try not to be needy but I can’t resist talking or Snapchatting a bit to her every day when I am free (9 hour time difference. When I am free at 10pm it is usually 1 PM there). Like, I do not want to be needy but I cant resist making a connection with her. There are so many things I can talk to her about.

    Do you think I am being needy or is it alright to pursue a connection with a woman like this?

    Thanks man! Great blog. You taught me how to flirt with your posts. 😀

  19. Geneza on March 5, 2014

    First of all, congratulations on your website – I really really like it.
    That said, I feel if 95% of items of this list were rewritten by changing ‘he’ to ‘she’, they would be just as apt description of a real woman. Of any mature, respectable human being for that matter.

  20. Dhane Diesil on May 21, 2014

    Very powerful article Nick. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  21. Seymoure on October 9, 2014

    Excellent and very accurate. Nick has done it again.

  22. Dean on October 25, 2014

    A friend has shown me this blog post and it provides a horrible realisation that I’ve had no understanding of myself for years. If anything it has left me rather depressed how much of a ‘nice guy’ I must appear to be to women. Regardless, thank you for writing this – though I know I have a long way to go before I could possibly be considered a ‘real man’.

  23. Sean on October 31, 2014

    I’m mostly the “nice guy”. Seems like I have a long road to reach “real man” status. Thanks for the article. I found this site as a result of searching after being friend zoned. Wish I discovered this site months ago.

  24. Luke on November 25, 2014

    Stumbled across your site from a Google search to get small advice. I admit that I am half and half, but am always improving my confidence and thinking ‘ah that is where I have been going wrong!’ There are a few things on this site which I already know about, which explains half of me being a real man but the other half is still learning.

    Got a date tomorrow night so will be more tactile with the newfound information. Cheers from Luke – great site!

  25. Chris on March 27, 2015

    Oh god. Looking at the “nice guy” list then the “real man”, I think I’ve been going about this all wrong.
    Thanks Nick, I’ll be sure to look at NMMNG at some point too!

  26. antoine on May 12, 2015

    I appreciate your natural way Nick. Most of the second list applies to me, with some scars from staying too much with an ex girlfriend who was in every way a ‘nice girl’. However the cocky teasing things sound sexist to me. The pick up girl because you’re a man sound even more sexist to me. The latter sounds primal to me. Women got used by society and its double standards to be passive and submissive, and happy about it. The ‘a man picks up women and not the other way around’ is reinforcing this habit women have and I am sifk of it. I lately went out with one of the hottest girls in uni for 6 months. This girl was the emptiest and most passive girl I ever met. And I insist on girl, she was not a woman. Of course, and fortunately, she doesn’t represent all women, but since then I realized how society raises women to act and feel about themselves waiting for the ‘man’ to act while she is knitting in her mind like a housewife the ‘ is he going to approach me or not’ routine. You are not a man because you approach a girl. In fact you’re as human as anybody else, neither a man nor a nice guy. But. If you don’t approach her you’re just like her. Yes her. The woman who’s waiting for you to talk to her. So waiting for the other one to make a move when you are interested is equally passive and submissive coming from both a man and a woman. So instead of growing a pair of ‘balls’, get rid of this rape culture that labels sex as a shameful or any other self-destructing concepts. Sex is the one thing keeping us alive as humans. American society is in a really dark place for sex being such a taboo and violence being so usual (on media and elsewhere). A human being (or a real ‘man’ as many put it in their comments) is one who doesn’t care one bit about these double standards and want women to be his equal. I don’t want anymore to feel like a wolf going after a little rabbit. I want another wolf. Not some kind of prey. Thanks for your time.

    • John on November 14, 2015

      Wow! Antoine you hit the nail! I completely agree with you. It’s not if the man is an asshole or a nice guy. It’s the culture here in America society is a joke nowadays. You have to pretend to be something you are not to fit in and this includes attracting and talking to women. I know of many guys who are confident they just aren’t pickup artists they have no luck here in the states. They travel overseas to foreign countries and by being themselves with some confidence they hook up with gorgeous women with non of the hassle and fakeness in the states. Someone told me never change who you are for anyone period. Be yourself of course you need confidence but if no one can’t accept you for who you are move on.

  27. Reforming Nice Guy on January 22, 2016

    Well, speaking fairly, you could easily call yourself a nice guy but act like a “real man” – and in all honesty, we need to drop the so called”nice guy” label as it stands because

    Niceness is the same as kindness. No ifs or buts in my mind. But your first list isn’t nice or kind at all, but bleak, subverted, a perversion of all that’s good about being nice (or kind, good, if you prefer those word). Example, compliment someone, and apart from thank you you could get, “you’re too kind,” or “nice of you to say so.”

    Is nice bad there? No, its good – because the action of being nice is neutral, while our intention shapes it to positive, negative or something in between.

    Think if it this way, do you say “have a kind day?” No, you say nice day. Used kindly (the intention) its a pleasant farewell. Used sarcastically, its decent as a one-liner, or mocking a character’s tragedy (as in Spaceballs).

    So, the question: Why are you letting nice be subverted? Perpetuating the cycle? The first points aren’t nice at all, there a journey from anxiety/shame, through to co dependence and frankly abusive patterns. The only “nicety” about it is seeming to be nice, when it’s not.

    Stop calling those bad habits “nice guy” traits. Call them for what they really are. Horrible. Subsuming. Painful.

    And yes, that first list has been me. The “nice guy” is mere excusing of bad behaviour, and staling a perfectly good, positive description! In fact, I’d rather wear the labels I see fit, not as society tells me to – bu labelling is another, subjective story.

    Just don’t tell me I’m naive or stupid to wear the label as I see fit. I can be the real man but wear the nice guy label in my own way. In fact, I will, because I’m not about to let bad intentions ruin a good label.

    I am becoming a proper nice guy. Nice as in generous and kind because I want to be. Complimentary and polite – even in disagreement. Honouring, respecting if all, even women. Nice to myself to forgive the blacker version of myself, and redeem myself for the future.

    In fact, I’m finding from a woman that I’m funny, interesting, cheeky (though I knew this one, despite my other pains) and even cute at times. But above all, she wants to spend time with me, and I know its because I’m a catch.

    And I’ll always be nice like I am, just not to please that which cannot be pleased (I’ve left a bad relationship I entered as a co-dependent and long gave up trying to please my narcissistic mother – or giving her either – cold turkey). But nice fir uts own sake, like the good guy here.

    You say potato, I say tomato. I’m a nice guy, but not like any other “nice guy” you’ve met. And I’m loving this opportunity the speak my opinion, and challenge you as an equal – after all, I agree with your view.

    Thanks for reading, and keep up whatever good work you’re up to these days.

  28. Paul on April 22, 2016

    It is very sad that many women are very picky today when it comes to dating since it is very hard to please them no matter how Nice of a man you really are. And there are many of us Good men out there that many women just Can’t be satisfied with since they lack Confidence.


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