Nice Guys with an Avoidant Attachment Style

Most of the Nice Guys I’ve worked with show evidence of primarily having an Avoidant Attachment Style (though some are Anxious and none are Secure). This leads to difficulties in creating deep connections, expressing darker emotions, and generally being honest and open.

In this video, we’ll explore the connection between Nice Guy Syndrome and Avoidant Attachment, and talk about how to overcome your fears of intimacy, connection, commitment, and relationships in general.



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Full transcript (unedited)

In today’s video, we’re going to have a look at the relationship between nice guy syndrome and the avoidant attachment style, which is particularly prevalent in my nice guy coaching clients. So my hypothesis is that most nice guys have an avoidant attachment style. Now this as far as I know has not been studied in science because nice guy syndrome is not actually a recognized syndrome in scientific literature yet, though people pleasing syndrome is starting to be looked at, we’ll talk about that later. But most of my clients certainly end up figuring out that they have an avoidant attachment style, primarily, and sometimes they’re anxious depending on the situation. So if you’re not familiar with attachment styles, first off, I recommend you get the book attached. You can find it on Amazon that’s kind of like the Bible on Attachment styles. It’s one of the best books you can read to discover your own issues and relationships. But an avoidant attachment style is essentially about preventing intimacy preventing closeness you’re avoiding. Rejection hurts a lot more than somebody actually gets to know you’re getting close, or you’re invested in them, and they let you down. So the avoidant aims to prevent that kind of pain by keeping the wall to the castle up nice and high, they’re keeping the door closed. So you can come and have a look from the outside but you’re not allowed in, we might be able to do some actual damage avoidance believe that feeling of closeness is threatening, it’s going to lead to loss, either loss of a person, they’re going to leave you or loss of your own personal freedom and autonomy, you’re going to lose yourself can come from lots of different angles. But generally it comes from trauma relating to close relationships when you are a child. So this is usually family, sometimes friends. So this way, the people in close, hurt you in some way. And you developed in your childlike mind a theory that people being close equals pain. Whereas the people who are further out never seem to do much damage. And so that seems a lot more palatable. Like it’s better if people just kind of keep their distance, I’m safer that way. So in my own example, I keep changing schools. When I was younger, I went to like three different schools and my first two years of schooling. And so it was really hard for me to make friends. And even when I finally made a friend has taken away from me instantly. So I constantly get this a best friend being taken away. theme throughout my life. Even later on when I went to high school, my best friend went to another high school, and so on. So I kept having this kind of repetition of my best friend being taken away of putting all this effort into finally making friends. And then having it all like wiped off the board completely and moving to a completely different place. I will say quite strict parenting. So I had the sense that the people close to me are kind of suffocating and burdening and restricting. And as always wanting to escape and be free and not have so many rules all the time. So that’s a typical kind of background for someone who ends up being avoidant attachment style. We basically learn to keep people at a certain distance we want them to like us, but we don’t want them to love us or hate us, or kind of middle of the bell curve type feelings. And so we’re playing this constant push and pull game to get them right into the perfect position. This is why some avoidance can sometimes pay to be anxious like they’re chasing and needy and clingy it’s because the person they want gone too far away and they’re trying to pull them back in. But watch their nice guy get cold again. And distance was a person actually comes in, we feel that we’re going to be suffocated by it. Some people have had in measurement when they’re younger, where one of their parents actually treats them more like a partner than a parent or like a best friend or a counselor. And this feeling of like, I just need to breathe Get away from me. Or, like in my case, a suffocation of rules and restrictions, like you know allowed to do anything, you’re walking on eggshells all the time, constantly getting into trouble for arbitrary crimes. So one of the main ways we’ll do that is we’ll avoid sharing deep emotions, we’ll put on a show that kind of mask performance that is designed to make you like us to design to give you pleasure, but you don’t actually get to see behind it, you only get to see the real person. There’s no investment on the part of an avoidance, you’re not really getting any of the goods, information that you might be able to hurt me with or use against me, you’ll notice you might be repulsed by compliments, both giving and receiving because they are a form of intimacy. So you’re always pushing back on anybody trying to build up a connection with you. You’ll be independent and proudly independent. You’d like to do everything on your own. You think a job is only done right? If you do it yourself. You don’t mind helping others. You’ve got to kind of double standard about this. Helping others no problem at all being relied on being dependable, that’s fine. But you needing to rely on someone else you having your success in the hands of somebody else that feels very suffocating and very threatening. So we generally try to keep everything we need to go well separate from other people. So we don’t share essentially, and we use things Like humor, being nonchalant or uncaring, being superficial, even being crazy, and antics and kind of putting on a show, all of these help to avoid a real connection forming, while at the same time are quite attractive traits to make people like you maybe not like you sexually, but at least think that you’re pleasant to be around or entertaining to be around or fun, or just relaxing to be around. So put on a show that gets the right amount of distance. So this really appeals to nice guys, because we get to give people a lot of pleasure, which is our kind of original intent, we want people to be happy. But at the same time, we don’t need to actually let them get in and do any damage. So it’s often comes out as entertainment, we’d like to be the funny person or the interesting person support, like one way counseling or giving lots of help. And just being incredibly valuable to have around without actually being attached problems with this approach, there are a couple superficial connections as the main one, because you’re not actually building any intimacy, you’re not really building loyalty, you know, building a connection that somebody is actually scared of losing, you might be the funny guy at the party. But if you don’t show up to the next party, nobody actually notices. There’s another funny guy, you’re replaceable. So you’ll notice that there’s no real sort of loyalty and that all your love is conditional. Like you have to provide value in some way to get that love. Like you’ve set up a precedent, that kind of transactional arrangement, you have to be the entertaining one, or you have to be the interesting one, or you have to be the supportive one. Or otherwise, people just don’t even think of you, you’ll probably do what I did, which is your self sabotage relationships and potential relationships, without even knowing that you’re doing it. In fact, the story in your head might be I’m trying really hard. Like, I’m trying really hard to get a girlfriend, trying really hard to make friends. And yet, if someone like me was to watch your behavior, from the outside, it would look like you’re doing everything in your power to keep people away. You know, you’re deliberately sabotaging opportunities you every now and then you say or do things that push people away. You’re not revealing the information that’s needed to build a connection, you’re keeping things at this sort of baseline superficiality, your behavior is actually very effective at preventing any sort of connection from happening. Also, this leads to loneliness kind of isolation. People with an avoidant attachment, especially nice guys with avoidant attachment, feel like they are an alien amongst humans, they feel like they’re not one of them. Not one of the species like they play acting like they’re all on their own floating in this isolated bubble that doesn’t touch anything. And it can be a very depressing, painful feeling. And often we lead to depression because part of the problem with being an avoidant as you learn to not only suppress emotions, but you develop alexithymia, you lose the ability, if you ever had it to express emotion, you couldn’t say it even if you wanted to. And because you can’t say it and you can’t get it out, you can’t process it. So you start to suppress emotion, they start to sort of toxify inside you because they don’t go anywhere. You’re not getting your anger out, you’re not revealing your sadness, you’re not processing your guilt. All that just turns into this kind of psychic sludge that eventually poisons you. So what’s the cure to being a nice guy with an avoidant attachment style? Well, there are a number of different approaches you can take depending on how this manifests for you. One thing is to step back from the spotlight, if you’re the entertainer type, okay, so if you’re the kind of person who always tries to steal the glory and be the funniest and put on a show, and you know, when you show up, it’s, it’s time to go start quietening down a little bit, let somebody else be the one who tells the jokes, let somebody else be the one who impresses everybody let somebody else win. And just try to get comfortable with not impressing people as a form of not only making them liking you, but keeping you at a distance stop being one of the crowd rather than than the one on stage. You know, for me, this means to stop being funny. Do other things I was doing I was also very impressive about work and I play in a band and so on. But for me, the big one was to just stop telling jokes all the fucking time. Like I’m Chandler from friends. You know, let serious conversations happen. Let people have arguments with each other. Not always have the last word and not always be funny. That was very difficult for me to let go of start sharing your darker emotions, your weaknesses, your faults and your fears. At first you’ll struggle to put this into words like me, you might think is just stress. You always say I’m stressed but even just stand to say I’m stressed as a big step forward. Try giving and receiving meaningful compliments somebody compliments you just say thanks. Don’t push back on it, make jokes or try to undermine it. And when you go to compliment someone else, don’t do these superficial things that don’t show anything about how you feel. Tell them I like this about you tell the show like vulnerability rather than just complimenting Oh, that’s a nice dress. Say I find you attractive Well, I Oh, you’re good at sports I enjoyed watching you show like your feelings in your compliments. Try to take social opportunities, despite any reluctance or resistance or sudden apathy that might come up on you. So you might think you want an opportunity. And then when it’s actually available, you kind of lose interest or you start sort of ruining, and in some way, bet all through and try to take the opportunity even though you’ve lost interest. You know, for example, I used to get performance anxiety in the bedroom. And so when a girl actually wanted me to come to her house, I come with all these excuses. And one of my biggest steps forward was to actually just go to a house knowing that it was going to be a write off an absolute train wreck of an experienced going, I’m going to see it through Anyway, she’s going to have to kick me out of her house before I give up. And that’s actually what got me through all my performance anxiety issues. Basically, what you’re looking to do is let people know you let people love you let them hate you. And show yourself that you can actually handle that intimacy and that you will be brave enough and computational enough to protect yourself should you need to, and if you want more support with this, please get in touch We can talk about coaching


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