So, how do you know if you have “the hole”?
Do you cower in the corner? Are you afraid to lead? Do you struggle to say no? Are you afraid of intimacy? Do you feel unsexy? Are you submissive towards aggression? Do you say yes to requests for favours from people even though you are too busy? Are you obsessed with work? Do you shy away from social situations? Do you never argue? Does the idea of people disagreeing with you or not laughing at your jokes fill you with dread? Do you feel sex needs to last 2 hours and everybody needs to cum a dozen times? Do you assume your opinions must be wrong? Then there’s a hole.
The biggest example of people with “the hole” is the classic “nice guys”. I know because I am a recovering nice guy. The dichotomy is not between nice guys and dicks, obviously no-one wants to be a dick. The difference that matters is between nice guys and strong guys. Strong guys have fixed the hole. That is where you want to be.
I want to look at nice guy syndrome in depth because it is one of the biggest symptoms of “the hole”. Most of the stuff below is borrowed from a psychologist called Robert Glover who specialises in this topic. How do you know if you’re a nice guy?
Nice guys believe that if they put other people needs before theirs, then they’ll get their needs met.
Nice guys are a child of their past, which seems a tautology, but it summarises the key point that inner feelings of not-being good enough, or low self-worth, of having something to prove, are a result of childhood trauma. And I use trauma in its broad-sense. You don’t have to be have been raped for it to affect your future, you could simply have gone to boarding school. If things have gone wrong in the past, children tend to decide that it was their fault. And when they take responsibility for things, they come to believe that intrinsically they are pathetic and lacking in some way.
Nice guys think “If I’m a nice guy, then everyone will like me”, and they think also that being nice will be enough to get women to have sex with them.
Nice guys find it uncomfortable to receive, which is why they have trouble expressing their needs and wants. They feel they are not worthy of the love of others, and are afraid if they express what they want that if will drive away other people. Nice guys end up being involved in relationships therefore which are akin to mother and child relationships: with women, with their friends, with their colleagues. The love becomes unconditional, but other people rarely love them back in the same way: they don’t reciprocate because they don’t know the nice guy wants it because he’ll never talk about or express what he wants.
At some level, everything a nice guy does is aimed at getting someone else’s approval or avoid their disapproval.
Nice guys find it easier to relate to women rather than other men, because they have alienated themselves from their own natural masculinity. They seek validation from women, and external validation from everyone in-fact, and by being different from other men, by being good listeners, by hiding any sexual agenda from women they think women will value them and think they are good people.
Nice guys are fundamentally dishonest. If you are trying to get people’s approval you won’t say what you really think, or what you really want, or what you really feel, you’ll shy away from conflict. If you’re not honest you’re never get what you want, because being honest is a way of tacitly asking for something, and if you don’t ask you’ll never get.
Nice guys are secretive because they don’t want to seem imperfect. But if you aren’t willing to be imperfect then you aren’t willing to let people know you.
“The hole” leads to perfectionism: trying to be perfect, brilliant, hiding ones flaws. Nice guys live in a perpetual state of anxiety: you aren’t going to get everybody to like you, and you aren’t always going to do everything right. You will never relax, and if you can’t relax then others can’t relax around you. Including crowds!
Sexual desires are what nice guys tend to hide most. Because they are ashamed of them, they have somehow learnt culturally that they are dirty.
Shame is a core component of nice-guy syndrome. Shame is a sense of core defectiveness. That you are not enough, that you are deficient in some way. It comes from an inaccurate interpretation of life events: that it is your fault, and the problem is permanent and pervasive.
Glover talks about the integrated male, the opposite of a nice guy, who has a strong sense of self, takes responsibility for getting his own needs met, is comfortable with sexuality, does what he thinks is right, he’s a leader, he’s expressive of his feelings, he’s nurturing but not afraid to set boundaries.
It’s a model of masculinity which isn’t anxiety driven. The aim is to not be driven by feelings of self-loathing and low self-worth, or worrying you are not good enough. The nice guy tries to manage his anxiety by pleasing people. The integrated man has learnt how to soothe is anxiety, to combat it as source. He is self-aware of his anxiety and manages it from within, rather than trying to manage it by attaining results outside himself: by achieving things, or pleasing people.
Becoming an integrated man (or woman) shows you have fixed “the hole”. You have abolished approval seeking behaviour. You have established a core sense of self-worth.
As soon as you seek someone’s approval you assume they have higher value than you, you put them of a pedestal and this will make you anxious. Individuals and crowds are turned off by anxiety, anxiety is contagious and makes people feel awkward, people are security seeking creatures and want to be with a guy who makes them feel relaxed and secure in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. The crowd, as a group of security seeking creatures, doesn’t want to feel like the most powerful person in the room, they want to feel like the man they’re with is stronger and more powerful than them. There is a dominance factor going on: crowds respond to dominance. If you’re seeking a crowd’s approval you’ve made them dominant, and they will assume you have low value.