Watch the subtitled video above if you prefer to listen to my advice.
Why nice guys can be toxic
Now, this sounds very hyperbolic. You’re probably wondering what the hell is this? Well, first of all get comfy, get your favorite beverage because we’re gonna talk about something really interesting today. So this topic today is essentially about criticism. How to handle criticism with your woman. So most of you probably have dealt with this that either you are being critical with your woman or also very, very typical, typically more common the woman is critical with you. It’s just going to happen the longer you stay in a relationship and so you have to understand how to deal with this, otherwise you’re gonna run into trouble.
So I made this statement a little bit hyperbolic because I do believe to some extent that it actually is quite toxic to be a nice guy. Because you’re always being a nice guy and always trying to be accommodating with your woman. If you don’t assert what you need or what you don’t like, well then everything is just gonna turn into arguments that you could avoid and ultimately we have to tell our partner what we don’t like in a relationship. So I’m gonna talk about criticism and I have a message from a guy who is basically a nice guy and the woman is having some problems with him. She’s essentially trying to communicate it to him but he doesn’t really know how to communicate it and he’s basically just getting more and more criticism from her, and that doesn’t make him happy, obviously. And the relationship is on the brink of collapse, essentially.
Definition of criticism & what are relationship failure indicators
But before we get into the message, I want to quickly read the definition of what is criticism. So I just quickly googled, I think I got it from miriam webster how do they define criticism. They define it as the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything. So basically, what it means is you judge whether something is good or bad for you. So for example, if your woman says “Hey I don’t like that you are doing this” or “I don’t like how you are doing the dishes” or whatever, she’s saying “This is bad for me. There’s no merit in doing it this way.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that criticism is bad. It just says “Hey, in this instance I don’t think this is a good thing.” It doesn’t mean that you as a person are bad. It just means that something specific that you’re doing doesn’t have merit, doesn’t make the other person happy. It doesn’t make your woman happy. Just like a woman does certain things that you don’t like and that doesn’t mean that she’s a bad woman, it’s just that she does certain things differently than you do them and you can talk about these things.
And very often we can find decently enough, satisfying compromises how we change our behaviors in our relationships. Sometimes we can’t do that fully but for the most part we should be able to reach that conclusion and come to a compromise through good communication. And so if we look at kind of historically where does the word criticism actually come from… I love doing this. I typically always try to see where do all of these things actually come from. Ideas like destiny or criticism. So the root of the word “criticism” comes from… It comes from Latin but before that it came from Greek and basically, here it says: “Related greek terms are ‘krinein‘…” I’m probably saying this wrong. “krinein” which means “separating out, deciding” or “krei“, “to see discriminate or distinguish“. So it’s basically to separate, distinguish the good from the bad. You’re making a judgment but just because you’re separating something from the good and the bad doesn’t mean that you’re trying to attack someone, all right?
So the reason why I’m quickly just talking about criticism, in general, is because if you have ever read some relationship books, I talk about this briefly also in my book, there is a very, very famous relationship laboratory, they study relationships, it’s called the Gottman Institute and they came up with these four main criteria or signs why relationships fail. And one of them is criticism. And amongst others, next to criticism, they also have defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. And all these four things kind of play together. So typically we start with criticism and then we come and do more things, like being defensive, and then eventually we build up contempt for the other person. I’ll talk about this a little bit. So let’s get into the message from this guy and what does he have to say.
Advice for a critical relationship on the brink of collapse
So he says: “Hi coach, I hope you can help me and advise what to do with this woman. My girlfriend has been quite upset with me lately and our relationship has been on the rocks. I haven’t really addressed the issue, it’s just that I can feel that my girlfriend keeps on slowly slipping away from me and things aren’t the way that they used to be. We have been a couple for almost two years and we’ve lived together for about one and a half. I get criticized a lot by my girlfriend. She complains about a lot of small things that I think… she complains about a lot of small things and it feels as if I can never do it right. It’s as if she finds a lot of small things on a very small magnitude that I’m often not doing right, like not cleaning up the trash properly. I can’t even count anymore the amount of time she tells me: ‘Babe, haven’t I told you to throw the trash immediately after you use it?’”
Well, it’s quite common. So I’m sure a lot of you noticed that your woman sometimes nags with certain things, say, you know, like why not putting putting out the trash? Why haven’t you cleaned this up? Look there’s socks on the floor? Or just like something like why didn’t you clean up? A lot of women don’t like when you don’t put the toilet seat down. There’s all kinds of shit that women can complain about, right? And you might not agree with them but the bottom line is most of the time your woman doesn’t like something and in many cases you could just not do them.
So for example, in this case “Babe, haven’t I told you just throw the trash immediately after you use it?” I understand that you probably are not used to that, you know, you’re probably more of a messy guy, or more relaxed. You don’t really care so much about it. You don’t mind having a little bit of mess in your house and so you don’t really see any difference, I’m assuming, between throwing the trash right away or maybe after 10 minutes. Or after 30 minutes. Whatever. But she does and the bottom line is, does it actually affect you to throw the trash after you use it? Probably not. I mean it’s just not that hard to be honest. You’re just being too lazy or you think it’s not worth doing it.
But if you think about it, well this is your partner. You probably want to stay with this woman for a long time. So you should think about what kind of commitment is this woman worth to you? And tiny behavior changes like that… Well, I would assume that that would be worth it to you, right? If you really love this woman, this one is a small behavior change, there are other things that are harder to compromise on, but this specifically it’s not that hard. So if she keeps on complaining about this she obviously cares about it. Who knows maybe her family was like really neat-freaky, maybe she really just cares about a clean house. Maybe she used to grow up in a house where they were not neat-freaky, where it was very messy and she doesn’t want to repeat the same non-cleanly behaviors, because who wants that? We all want the perfect family, right? So I would think about maybe you can do this more often. I get that you don’t like being criticized about this but if it’s something small and you don’t change the behavior, well, what do you expect? It’s just how it is.
So then he says: “At the same time I am very tolerant of her shortcomings that she has… no, at the same time I am very tolerant of her shortcomings that she has here and there, because I think that’s the mature thing to do. For example we kind of have a split-rule with household chores. She takes care of the bathroom hygiene, I take care of the overall house cleanliness, so I do sweeping the floors and bringing out the trash. She is not perfect with cleaning the bathroom and sometimes she gets lazy and doesn’t do it on schedule but I don’t say anything. Usually, she’ll eventually clean the bathroom. It’s just that she’s not really following a proper schedule. She just does it when she feels like it, I guess. It’s not a big deal so I don’t complain about it too much.”
Well, so now we can see you’re not bringing up these issues. So well, if she’s not doing something right, then it’s obviously your right to complain about it. And as you say you have a, and I’m gonna quote you here, “you have a split-rule“. So you agree on how you’re going to run the household and this is actually something really good that you’re doing. I suggest to couples to agree on “okay, who does what?” and so the fact that you talked about this is actually good but then obviously you both have to adhere to these standards. She’s supposed to do the bathroom hygiene and you’re supposed to do amongst others the trash, and then obviously, if you’re not doing the trash, she’s not happy with it, right? And same you’re not happy with the bathroom. So why wouldn’t you tell her that? Because she’s also telling you when she’s not happy.
So are you trying to avoid conflict. Why are you being too nice to her? Obviously you don’t want to complain about every small little detail with your woman but there’s no problem with saying when you’re not happy with something and in this case, it’s very reasonable to complain because you specifically said “You’re gonna take care of the bathroom” and if you can tell that she’s not doing it often enough, then I would point it out. You don’t even have to say this, at least in the beginning, in a mean way. You’re just pointing out “Hey babe, I noticed that the sink is becoming dirty” Or whatever, having stains. Whatever it is. Or the window, the mirror is becoming dirty. “Could you please clean the bathroom?” You don’t have to do this in a demanding way. You just have to express what you actually need because she is expressing her needs but you’re not expressing yours. So you’re being a bit too much of a nice guy.
So he then says: “This is just one of many things she’s not perfect with but I don’t go out of my way of mentioning all of them aggressively all the time, after all, nobody is perfect and I don’t think it is fair to keep on criticizing her for things that aren’t in her control.”
Well, a lot of things are in our control. Pretty much almost everything is in our control. Now, you know, what will be an example where someone would not be in control… What do you call this? OCD, Overly Compulsive Disorder or something like that, right? Where someone just needs things to be clean, and they just can’t go on without checking “did I turn off the stove?” and “did I lock the door?” and stuff like that, right? This is stuff that people might not be able to control or they might need a lot of therapy to change these kind of behaviors. But most of the time we can change our behaviors.
We are in control of who we are. We often just tell ourselves that “This is who I am. This is what I am like.” So for example, you might say “Well, this is just who she is. She’s very impulsive.” That’s true to some extent but if she’s very impulsive and that’s sometimes negative, she can work on this. She can recognize “hmm, well, sometimes I am too impulsive and it would be a good idea to maybe plan things more or think things through more often,” right? You can do this. She can do this. So I wouldn’t take that argument of yours that there are things that are not in her control. Everything, almost everything is in her control. Okay?
So he then says: “I don’t want to change her, or put her down, but she doesn’t give me the same courtesy. And lately, I guess we both have become more confrontational and I also am starting to sense her coldness. She’s just very, very distant with me at times. It feels very uncomfortable, like I know something’s wrong but there’s this big elephant in the room and we’re not talking about it. Just recently we had a big fight.” Well, so before I get into the big fight that you’re about to mention, as a big elephant in the room, she is telling you what she needs from you. But she keeps on not getting it. So put yourself into her shoes.
Imagine a simple example when you were younger and your mom told you to clean up the house. Clean up your room. If you never clean up your room and you’re never obeying your mother, after a while your mom is going to be really pissed and your mom has to deal with that because she is your mom. You know, she made a choice to raise a child. She can’t just give you to child care, or child support, social services! You’re her child. She has to, at the end of the day, deal with the consequences. She can reprimand you but she has to deal with the fact that maybe you are not cleaning up your room and your girlfriend, she doesn’t necessarily have to deal with this. She could leave you if she wanted to and you’re not privileged, you’re not entitled to a relationship with a woman just because she loved you in the past, because you fell in love with each other and you treated each other nicely. Doesn’t mean that she can’t change her mind and so if you’re not giving her what she needs continuously, well, what do you expect?
People who respect themselves, who love themselves, know what they want in life from everything. Career, but also especially from the people in their lives. Their friends and especially their partner. They have high standards. People who are kings and queens, they know exactly what they want and if they don’t get what they want, they will tell people “hey I’m not getting what I want” in a respectful manner. And if then after a while people still don’t give it or aren’t willing to give them what they want with a certain degree of compromise, obviously, you can’t give everything to a person, not everything is reasonable but after a while if people then see… If a king or a queen realized “I’m not getting what I want. I tried. I communicated but it’s just not going anywhere.” She’s gonna become frustrated and you’re also becoming frustrated, of course, with her constant demands, right? It’s only natural. So let’s get into the big fight.
He says: “As much as I try not to complain, I noticed that recently I’ve been losing my temper more and more with her. I think because she always raises issues that she has with me, has put me on edge too much and at this point I’ve reached a stage where I get really, really frustrated and agitated with her. A while ago, I must admit, I really fucked up and completely lost all my self-control.”
Well, you probably lost all your self-control, this is because you’re just bottling it up. You’re never telling her what you need but here she is continuously telling you what she wants and she’s probably nagging a lot at this point because she’s not getting it. So you’re feeling like there’s an imbalance and you’re feeling like you’re being treated unfairly but the ironic part is actually that she’s being the one who’s being treated unfairly, because she keeps on telling you what she needs but you’re not giving it to her, and now you’re the one who’s upset because you’re basically not able to express what you need.
So he says: “I work hard to help pay the bills. She also works. We both earn a decent salary but I roughly earn about 40% more than she does because I have a higher management position, which is very demanding. But I put up with it, especially because I’m thinking more about her and I having a family, and buying a house. So because my job can be quite demanding and because I am not just working nine to five, sometimes I do need to put in some extra hours or be available on the weekends. This has become a really hot topic between us. My girlfriend has been expressing for a while that she is not happy with me being too absent and has been accusing me of being too busy with work and not making enough time for the relationship.”
Now, I don’t know how much you’re working but obviously that makes a lot of sense. Why would you be in a relationship with someone if that person doesn’t make time for you? And especially men do this all the time that they work too much, because we care a lot more about providing for our family and for our women, or our woman, than women care about this. Women care more about relationships and so again, she’s expressing what she needs. She needs more time with you. Basically, she doesn’t want to lose you to your work and it seems like she’s not getting it. It’s another reason why she’s frustrated and again, she’s expressing this over and over, I’m assuming but you’re also not making a change.
So you have to make up your mind what do you want? What kind of compromise can you find? Are you just gonna live like this forever where your job and your management position is going to basically drill into the weekends and you can’t make time for your girlfriend? Put yourself into her shoes. If she wants to spend time with her boyfriend but her boyfriend is basically spending more time with work than with the girlfriend, well, why the fuck would she want to be with you? You know, the bottom line is in a case like that, you don’t need a girlfriend, you probably need a nanny.
If you want someone who is a convenience for cleaning up the house and sharing household chores, yeah, you need a nanny. Or maybe you need a friend with benefits. But if you want to be in a relationship then you gotta give your partner time and women care about this more than men, of course. But it’s no different for men. If your woman would be working too much and you don’t see her enough, you would also be frustrated. It’s just that it so happens that probably she as a woman is more frustrated than you would be frustrated with it. So he then says… Now, this is where it gets… where it explodes.
So he says: “Two weeks ago I kind of exploded. I had to finish some work, when we had lunch planned with some friends. Because of that I told her that she should go ahead without me, that I would leave in 30 minutes to join them. She got angry and said something like ‘You can’t be serious?! It’s the weekend! You already worked last weekend and we didn’t go out!’ I said something like ‘I’m sorry babe, it just can’t be helped. My boss needs me to finish this. I promise I won’t take longer than 30 minutes, to which she said ‘Whatever. I already know that you’re not going to be there in 30 minutes. You just can’t be relied upon.’”
Ouch! This woman had it! She’s really upset. It sounds like this has been happening quite frequently. Well, at least it happened last weekend and the last sentence expresses exactly how she feels and at this point she just has to be really direct with how she feels because she’s just not getting her needs met. You just can’t be relied upon.
And well, he then says: “When I heard her say that, I just completely lost my cool and I snapped. I shouted a lot and said some pretty mean things. I asked her ‘What’s your problem?!’ I said ‘you never support me with my work’ and I said ‘that she all she could do was being a fucking mean bitch all day long.’ I said something along the lines of ‘some of us have responsibilities, you know?!’ It goes without saying that it didn’t go over well. She left our condo fuming. I tried to say I’m sorry on my way out but she was really angry.”
Yeah, because you’re basically throwing an insult at her and so what I mentioned earlier at the beginning of the video, these four criteria that the Gottman Institute discovered why relationships fail, right? One of them was criticism. Then when someone criticizes a lot and doesn’t criticize in the right way, we become defensive, defensiveness. And then eventually, obviously, the more often the cycle of criticism and defensiveness repeats, eventually we have contempt. So this was contempt. Meaning: “You just can’t be relied upon.” No, that was her. sorry. “Some of us have responsibilities.” You know, that is very contemptful. It’s like you’re saying she’s not having responsibilities in life. I get that you’re busy with work and you’re having a more difficult work because you’re working in a management position. But it’s like you’re looking down on her. Like you’re better than her. Contempt. And that doesn’t work. If you are in a relationship but you treat your partner like they’re lower than you, obviously, that’s a recipe for disaster.
And all she wants is to spend time with you. And it seems like you agreed to have this lunch with your friends on the weekend where you’re supposed to rest, typically, obviously. And it seems like this has been happening more than once and she just wants her boyfriend, and her boyfriend to be there with the lunch with the friends. I mean, think about how she feels. She has to show up there and you’re not being there and she has no idea when are you actually gonna arrive at the lunch. So it doesn’t make her look good and who wants to put the impression out there to his friends, or her friends, that the relationship is not that perfect? It’s obvious that she doesn’t like that.
So he then says: “Our lunch with our friends was fine, I guess. But the whole day I tried to make peace with her and apologize for what I had said, but she just turned her back to me non-stop and wouldn’t listen to me. It’s been almost two weeks and she is still as cold as ever. It’s almost as if she hates me. It’s not like we are particularly talking about the fight anymore, but you can just feel that things aren’t right between the two of us. I try to be sweet and affectionate but nothing has helped so far. I don’t really know how to apologize to her. Can you please give me some advice how I can get her to no longer be so cold with me? I really hate it. She’s been distant for so long and we barely talk.”
Okay and that’s how he ends the message. So what would be my advice for this situation? So your relationship sounds quite frankly, that’s probably close to the brink of failure, of separation. You can tell that this woman has had a lot of patience with you to try and get her needs asserted and there are quite reasonable needs, to be honest. And so this is why I made this hyperbolic title for the video, right? I titled this video “toxic nice guy behavior? You need to realize that there’s no perfect relationship” because of course, there are women who are too demanding, who have unreasonable demands, and requests, and criticize you for really shit that they shouldn’t be criticizing you for. Or they’re not even, you know, like they criticize you for a lot of shit but then if you criticize them, they don’t adhere to the same standards. That’s toxic, obviously.
But in this case you are the toxic nice guy. And you’re the nice guy, the toxic nice guy, because you’re not realizing that relationships are meant to have problems. So she’s here addressing her problems that she has with you and some of them are small, some of them are bigger, right? The messiness stuff like the cleaning up, like dude, you could address that behavior change on your side relatively easy. You don’t even have to be perfect but just the fact that you would try to clean up faster, be a bit more consistent with it, would show her that at least you’re trying, and she will be forgiving if you don’t always do it perfect, because we’re both not perfect. You know, like you said: Nobody is perfect, right? We can’t expect our partner to always be perfect. So she will be forgiving if at least she sees that you’re trying. And then the problem with the work is, well, no matter how nice and sweet you are going to be, right… you said something like “you tried to be nice and sweet and affectionate but nothing has helped so far…”
Well, yes! Because affection and sweetness is not what she needs. What she needs is actually a boyfriend who can take charge of things in the relationship and what I mean by that is, well, so you have to kind of have a honest discussion about especially the big problem with the work. Are you just gonna neglect your girlfriend continuously and cancel lunch dates with friends? And whatever else. And whatever, let’s say you have a plan like a weekend plan, for example, or you had a date plan, like going to movies or something, and then again it’s work time. And you have to deliver something for your boss during the weekend. I understand that you have responsibilities to your job, obviously, and you want to provide to your woman, your girlfriend, but you also have to understand that you have different needs.
Men need respect. And that’s why you felt very criticized and attacked, especially when she criticized you for you doing your work. Because you want to provide for her and for the family you said you want to have. A house, eventually. So you want respect from her, obviously. And she wants affection, right? So right now both of you are not getting it. You’re essentially right now not getting the respect for the work that you’re doing. That is reasonable, obviously. Money is important. Being able to provide for the family is important. But at the same time, obviously love and affection is also important, and if you are literally not there on the weekend to give her the affection when you’re quite frankly agreed to it, you schedule this essentially, well she’s not going to be happy.
So I’m not saying that you should quit your job. I’m not saying that you should find a different job, but what I am saying is that you need to have a direct conversation about this. Because the problem about being a nice guy and thinking that you shouldn’t talk about the hard topics with your woman is that you’re building this resentment up. Your girlfriend has been trying to tell you “hey, I don’t like this” and she’s not getting any response that’s satisfying. You on the other hand are never expressing it, right? And so your anger is building up as well. And boom! Eventually, you clash and that’s why you snap and your girlfriend is really on the brink of probably thinking you know, “fuck it! He’s not making me happy” and now she’s really cold and this has been going on for two weeks now that you don’t know what to do. And she’s probably even thinking about her exit already at this point. Like she’s probably thinking about breaking up with you. I know you don’t want to hear this and I can’t be sure about this of course, but my experience tells me that she is kind of, she’s reached like a threshold of what she accepts and she’s had enough.
So what you should do is you should sit down with her and talk about this and talk about, well, the problem with work and how do you feel about it? And I’m not saying that you have to tell her “I’m going to quit my job” but you have to think about how can you improve that situation, obviously. You want to make sure you earn enough money but you also need to figure out how can you keep the work away during the weekend, and you know, it’s never going to be completely possible based on what kind of job you’re doing in a management position. That’s hard. And I think any woman can understand that as long as it doesn’t become a pattern that repeats over and over, because like I said earlier in the beginning, the bottom line is if you are treating your career more important than your woman, then why the heck are you in a relationship? It doesn’t make sense.
It’s just common sense, but we guys, we sometimes don’t have common sense. We don’t understand that this providing for our woman and working hard and wanting to be respectable is not that important for our woman as much as we think. We want exactly polar opposites, basically. So you need to have an honest discussion about this. Sit down with her and tell her how you can tell how she feels. That you screwed up, that there are certain things that haven’t made her happy for a considerable amount of time and tell her you want to talk about it. And you want to understand how does she feel. And you also have to express obviously how you feel about it.
And the worst thing that you can do is continuing what you’ve been doing so far, which is holding it in and not expressing how you really feel, because the only time when you really let out how you feel to some extent is when you explode. And you become really angry, and when you’re really angry, you’ve seen it, you’re gonna say some really stupid shit that is going to hurt her like crazy, and then she’s gonna distance herself from you, and she’s gonna be disappointed, and she’s gonna lose trust, and that’s not what you want. It’s much better to just lay out all the cards out open but say it in a respectful, loving manner, and at least then you are taking the commitment to each other to talk about it and be honest with each other. Because you love each other. That’s what I would do and I think that’s how I’m going to wrap it up.
So, can nice guys be toxic? Yeah, I think so. If you always just bottle it up and never say what your problems are in a relationship that’s not good. One of the core principles that also the Gottman Institute discovered is that conflict in the relationship is actually good and couples who stay together are those who actually embrace the conflict, but they embrace it in a healthy way. Most couples do the opposite. They never embrace it. They just bottle it up and eventually boom! It explodes! Resentment builds up. Contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling. Stonewalling is this thing that she’s doing right now, where you just basically withdraw and you’re just done with it, right? And it doesn’t lead to anything healthy.
So talk about it and that’s all you can do, honestly, if you don’t want to lose this woman. You have to talk about it and I know you’re not comfortable with this. You think that you shouldn’t criticize her for certain things that don’t make you happy and you think if you love each other then you forgive each other certain things that you don’t like about each other. The reality is no relationship is perfect. You’re both two different people. You’re two different individuals who have different needs and things that make you happy and it’s not like you completely need to find the perfect overlap how you do things because it’s unrealistic as two different people. But you can find like a middle ground that somewhere meets. So that’s what I would suggest you do and yeah, with that I’m done.
Let me just give you some advice or what you can do if you need some more help. So first of all, thanks for watching the video. Give me a thumbs up and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Let me know in the comments below what you think. Do you agree with this take or do you not agree? What do you think what he should do? Do you maybe not like what the woman is doing? I would love to hear your thoughts. And if you need some more help there’s a few ways how I can help you:
So first of all, you can get my book “Unleash The King Within.” I do talk a little bit about these concepts that the Gottman Institute discovered about unhealthy relationships. I talk about this at the last section of the book which is about maintaining healthy relationships. So this book can really help you and I think you’re very codependent or scared of having conflict and being honest with your woman. And I think this is one of the core topics that I have. I think I even have a small sub-chapter in my book called honesty. It’s very important to be honest with your partner even though sometimes it’s kind of uncomfortable. So the book could be helpful for you. You can get it from Amazon.
You can also enroll for my “Confidence King” training program or my “Financial Freedom King” training program. And of course, you can always book a coaching session with me and with that, I will see all of you kings in the next video. I’m coach Andy Graziosi and I help you unleash your confidence and become the man that women love. See you, kings.