Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Bad Influence" - an oldish Nice Guy movie

So I'm flipping channels on the satellite, and come across Bad Influence, a movie from 1990 with James Spader and Rob Lowe. They play the archetypal Nice Guy and Bad Boy, respectively (a little odd as in the last years Spader has played rather perverted characters in Secretary and Boston Legal -  and Lowe more straightlaced types).

Anyway, it's interesting to see this same story of Nice Guy and shadow played out, years before Fight Club, which is my favorite film and the convergence of those two topics.

As always, we find in the end that either half of the duality isn't very healthy, and that the royal road out is integration. There is nothing wrong with being nice, nothing unhealthy about knowing how to please people or wanting to have good relationships. But when it's reflexive and not a conscious choice anymore, then we are in trouble. The answer isn't going all the way to the other side of the spectrum and becoming a jerk - it's about balance.

Best, Peter

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Anxiety Before A Talk, and the Reality (A Tale of Useless Worry)

So tonight was volleyball night. I like to play sports, and I play all out. It is one of the places where I am not "nice", where I am a warrior and competitive and even combative at times. At least with the other teams.

I am also captain of my team, and the general manager, as such. And tonight I had to let one of the guys go (it's the end of a season, with another one beginning soon). The rest of the team wanted him gone, I was in agreement, but UGH, did I have to be the one to do it? My Nice Guy-ness reared its ugly head.

I fretted and tried not to think about it as we played the last games. Then I sucked it up and told him we needed to talk. And guess what? He was unhappy and wanted to leave. It was a quick and easy conversation.

How many times have I (and other NG's I have worked with) known a similar situation? From the romantic relationship where both sides are actually unhappy, to the work-place issue that's the same.

Nice Guys often forget, other people *do* feel unhappy, and want change too. So, save yourself the worry. Just get the conversation started.

Best, Peter

"I Love You, Man" - The Nice Guy in Film

So I just back from seeing I Love You, Man - a movie that I really enjoyed. Lots of good laughs. The main character, played by Paul Rudd - definitely a Nice Guy! Since it's the weekend and I am feeling lazy (and wanting to watch the NCAA tournament), I'll let Owen Gleiberman's review in Entertainment Weekly do some of my talking.

"...the resonant joke of 
I Love You, Man is that the reason Peter has no pals is that he's too sweetly sincere, too in touch with his sensitive side, to indulge in 
the gloriously insensitive modes of male bonding: the reckless sex chatter and sports talk, the need to be a guy, a dude."

"Rudd shows us the awful eagerness to please that drives Peter's strenuous attempt to fit in. He's as mesmerizingly pathetic as Austin Powers, only Peter is a dork you can believe in. The more your face turns red for him, the more you root for him. That's what makes Paul Rudd a star. I Love You, Man is a guy-meets-guy ''romantic'' comedy, and it's part of the film's merry topical wink at how men have been changed by girl-power culture that Peter has no trouble relating to women, but to relate to men he must first figure out how to be one."

I urge all Nice Guys to see this movie. With their buddies.

:-) Peter

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Irrational Fear of Losing Relationships

So I sat with a couple today - a rare Nice/Nice combination. You usually see a low-energy between these type, as both sides being avoidant of conflict breeds a lack of spark.

In working with the male half of the couple, we dug down into why he wanted to avoid showing his anger, or upset with his girlfriend. It came to an irrational belief I've seen many times - that he is quite disposable, and if he causes any trouble, or doesn't make her happy, she will leave him.

I've seen this before (I remember it in myself). There is a great underestimation of not only his own worth, but of the strength of relationship. There is a missing of the truth that relationship can and does withstand conflict, disagreement, mistakes, and not always being "nice". At least a good relationship does. And to have a long-term relationship, you have to be able to have conflict. Otherwise, dishonesty and resentment simmer and bubble until you have REAL trouble.

That's the nugget for the day. My best to you.

Sincerely, Peter Hannah MA LMHC

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Couple of Sit-Com Nice Guys

It's Monday, and some of the funnier shows I like on TV are on. I noticed that the CBS lineup is actually three Nice Guys in a row!

On The Big Bang Theory, I find Leonard to be actually a fairly self-aware Nice Guy, and definitely the geekier variety of the species.

Then (my favorite show of the three), How I Met Your Mother features Ted Moseby, who shows his NG credentials with his incessant need to be in a romantic relationship, whether it's a good one or not.

Finally, we have Two and a Half Men, where NG Alan Harper is usually bitter both about not getting what he wants, but also about his brother Charlie (basically, the shadow/opposite of a NG) getting everything he wants.

There are lots of other NGs in past TV shows. The wikipedia entry for Nice Guy had once listed George Costanza as an NG - which I found to be wrong! (I don't feel nice about that).

Best, Peter

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Blog I'd Suggest

Hey Nice Guys,

After a day of counseling (and of the 6 sessions, 4 were really in the Nice Guy category - including a Nice/Nice couple!), I have a bunch I'd like to write, but I need to go take care of the baby.

In my stead, I point you at fellow therapist Steve McReady's blog - Happy Now, Sad Later - which is directed at more than just NG's, but hits some important points.

The ability to stand discomfort, because you need to do something right, or say something true, is the royal road out for NGs.

Read and learn!

Best, Peter

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Thoughts on "The Bachelor"

A "historic" episode of ABC's The Bachelor, indeed. Tonight, Jason Mesnick from right here in old Seattle (the Nice Guy capital of America) did create some great drama by breaking up with the girl he chose (and gave a ring to) - Melissa.

He then asked Molly, the one he turned down, if she would give him another shot. She was initially confused (understandably) but then said yes. It looks like a possible happy ending, but we'll have to see.

Aside from the fact that the breakup and the "give me a second chance" were about the most real moments I've ever seen in reality television (I watch a wee bit too much TV), I have these Nice Guy-related thoughts:

I was happy that Jason listened to his gut, and broke off his engagement. Nice Guys can often get too confused by outside input (did you notice everyone, including the girl from the previous season who dumped *him*, giving him advice?). With a head swimming full of external input, he tried to make a good decision. But it seems he became aware it was the wrong one - and that input came from inside.

He then had the guts to break it off with Melissa before they went any farther. And the guts to go for what he wanted.

I was moved. I've worked with many Nice Guys who went the easy way, or went with something they really didn't think they wanted, only to be unhappy (and really rotten partners) later on. Jason was smart to follow his gut. It would have been better, perhaps, if he had been able to hear it some months ago, but it's all about reducing that cycle time, fellas.

Best, Peter