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Nkem Says: Being the Good One is Killing Your Relationships



As children, we were made to believe that being “good” was the key to success in life. “Good” implied being polite, obedient, apologetic, as well as compliant. And it came with a lot of perks, praises, and treats too.

We were conditioned to only feel pride in ourselves when we were good. In fact, we lived to hear our parents, teachers or older ones say things like “you are such a good girl” or “Clap for yourself, good boy!” to us; and like almost every thirsty puppy or trained pet, we perceived it to be the ultimate compliment. Even most saddening was the fact that our greatest struggle became the fight against giving into our inner rebel and breaking a rule. Getting in trouble was not accepted and usually would get us punished.

One would imagine that the expectation to be good would wane, with the expiration of our formative years. We imagined our parents would ease their grip on us and there would be less judgment, but it stays strong well into our adult age.

The need to be good is already ingrained so much in us, it is hard to liberate ourselves from it.

Think about it, it’s 2017, but even with the all the talk about feminism and “equal opportunity” women are still forcing themselves into stereotypical roles because they want to be the virtuous and good girlfriend or wife. We remain burdened with the need to be the good student, the good friend, the good boyfriend, the good wife, e.t.c.

And really, being “good” would not be such a bad thing if the expectations were not aligned with heavy societal stereotypes that stifle the reality of who we are.

At the adult stage “good” no longer included doing the right thing at the right time or being the best version of yourself. It basically ends at conforming to certain norms and values even when they do not necessarily appeal to you. It becomes more or less, a label that places you in a sort of box. For instance, the expectation is that a good girl is one who dresses decently and carries a shawl to cover her ankles when she sits. She does not go out partying at the clubs; she is an active member of her church, respected at NASFAT, has a good job, cooks very well and remains a virgin until marriage.
Also, she is passive, always smiling, and never rude, never argues and is humble.

Likewise, a good husband is one who provides for the wife and family; he does not cheat on his wife…but if he must, will protect her from it (or at least deny it when caught). He gives his life to protect his family from danger and he must be able to change the bulbs in the house, sort our minor plumbing issues as well as fix the tires of the car.

Being good can be great, but here’s a thing: aside from the fact that it is never realistic, and never allows you to be your authentic self with good intentions, it affects the way you perceive ourselves and others and consequently it affects your relationships – especially romantic relationships.

You are so focused on being good that you lack sense of self; and when you are not aware of your own needs and desires, your partner will be left confused and the relationship will not grow.

You are so focused on painting a particular picture in the mind of your partner and making them perceive you as good that you naturally default to doing whatever your partner wants, which is not healthy. You become humble to the point of self-deprecating, cautious to the point of timidity, and caretaking to the point of martyrdom. And the worst part is that it never pays off.

The stress of trying to conform to another’s expectation drains you and saps you of so much energy and self-worth that you literally could pass for a doormat. Then, there is that part where the partner or lover finds it hard to respect and value you to the point that he/she doesn’t get inspired enough to see a future with you.

Let’s face it: good is predictable and boring. There is a reason girls do not like “nice guys” and men who pretend they want good girls still cheat on them or dump them for the bad ones later on. Being “good” is not the most effective way to start a relationship or keep it.

Banish the guilt-producing words “ought to” and “should” from your vocabulary; do what you want to do, not what you think someone else wants you to do; worry first about people respecting you…the liking can come later.

Go ahead and interrupt if that’s the only way to get an idea or response out there. Stop apologizing for being yourself, or even worse, for being smart.

Recognize that there’s a time to be selfless as well as one to be selfish. Stop trying to be the “good” one! In doing so, you are sabotaging your chances at love and building relationships.

Nkem Ndem is an energetic and highly accomplished Media Consultant who loves to help small businesses, especially women-led, grow their online presence using the right digital strategy or transition from traditional organizational boundaries. With years of experience in Copywriting and Editing, Content Branding and Strategy, Social media, and Digital Marketing, she is clearly obsessed with Digital Communications. She is the Head of Content and Lead Consultant at Black Ink Media - an Ideation and Content Agency that excels in providing fresh, creative digital services to content-centric businesses. Find out more about her at or send her an e-mail at [email protected] Also follow her on IG: @nkemndemv, Twitter: @ndemv.


  1. Sweets

    September 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    i agree completely…

  2. Tuu

    September 29, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    PPL will come at you for this but trust me I needed this. I have been victimized so much by my pastor who was also my boss at some point and just bcos i didnt want to look bad, I kept taking shit. At this point, I really don’t care. Its time to be selfish and do what i want.

  3. tunde

    September 29, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    After reading this , I now understand why assholes like john calls women fish brains that only contradicts themselves

    • Hmmmm

      September 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      I hate that i am agreeing with you. This article seems very contradictory. Nkem, do you even know what you want?

    • AN

      September 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      because Nkem=all women. Be a sexist like John with your chest.

  4. Stephanie Brown

    September 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I totally agree!

  5. Cocolette

    September 29, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Nkem, what are you on about today?

  6. Ruffy

    September 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    A contradicting article. You don’t do good because of people’s expectations only, but because it is who you are. That means whether people treat you good or not your response to them is…. and always is GOOD. Because it’s a nature you have decided to be.

  7. ogeAdiro

    September 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Good and bad are subjective terms. To thine own self be true. Go forth and prosper.

  8. Mahogany

    September 29, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Nkem, so what are you trying to say….

  9. Flow

    September 29, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    What she is tryna say is that people should stop “dumbing down” themselves to try to conform with what is socially accepted as being a “good” person, you can only make a relationship work if you’re first of all true to who you are without any apology, you do not have to be “good” to be good.

    • Mahogany

      September 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Honestly you can’t make a relationship work by being “who you are”. Relationships work because of the sacrifices we have to make.

    • Flow

      September 29, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Yes, making sacrifices is part of what keeps a relationship going, but it shouldn’t make you lose yourself in the process, If you have to make sacrifices, make them cos it’s what’s best for your relationship and not because you’re trying to “look good” to your partner.

  10. Britico

    September 29, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Good is a very subjective term. For some, God is good because he delivered his people by killing the egyptians. Others see the same God as a deeply immoral, genocidal, racist for the needless death of egyptian babies and firstborns who were created by the same God but killed for no fault of theirs because said God chose to favour a certain race over others.

  11. lolu

    September 29, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    This article assumes that it is impossible for a man/woman to be good by nature

    • mee

      September 29, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      No lolu, that is not what the article is inferring.

  12. TEE

    September 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Humm Nkem says…. and i say this is thought provoking! it very complex as it emcompass indoctrination from childhood and societal pressures. its very hard to free yourself from it not be seen as outcaste or ‘bad’, it needs a lot of deprogramming in some cases but one can overcome by making conscious effort to ‘break free’ and putting self first (not selfishly) and not seeeking validation from anyone. Well done.

  13. Mrs chidukane

    September 29, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    You totally agree to a man calling all of your gender fish brain? Lol. I guess men don’t contradict themselves? OK.

    Being good is over rated. Just be you. Be true to yourself.

  14. jane

    September 29, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Being good should not be what you do, it should be who you are. I agree with ruffy. Whether or not people treat you well, it shouldn’t change how you respond to them. The only issue is that in today’s world, being good is so underrated and it makes people take advantage of you. But the beauty of it is that the Almighty God, who have put his nature in you, will help you encounter those who will appreciate and sustain it, romantic or otherwise.

  15. Papacy

    September 29, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    What i still do not understand is this “being true to oneself”. If being “you” means you keep acting like an asshole (for lack of a better word) to everyone in your life. Being selfish, insensitive, cunning etc. Please be not you. Fake being good till you make it.
    Besides, being good doesn’t necessarily imply playing dumb or being silent, it’s also about standing up for yourself, your friend, relationship when the need arises…of course in my opinion.

  16. Good is good

    September 30, 2017 at 12:01 am

    Don’t ever turn a good to mean something bad. Never

  17. Ami:

    September 30, 2017 at 2:44 am

    Nkem I agree oh! I understand exactly what you’re saying. It’s my bane. Still trying to figure how to get past this whole goody goody nonsense. Mscheew

  18. mama solo

    September 30, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Is y’all don’t understand her point o view. I can totally relate with this article. Good read!

  19. Yellow sun

    September 30, 2017 at 6:38 am

    I couldn’t get past the good husband and cheating part…plus this article is so contradictory …

  20. Dont gerrit

    September 30, 2017 at 7:06 am

    All those saying this write up is contardictory clearly do not have the IQ to digest this very intelligent and well articulated article. What is contradictory about it? support your claim with specific facts please. Lol. NKEM you may need to dumb down your articles for some of your readers cos they dont gerrit.

  21. Cocoa

    September 30, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I understand where youre coming from but remember that BEING GOOD is not synonymous with not having a BACK BONE or being TIMID.
    I am good…Righteous in fact…yet I am BOLD.

    The most effective i have been at getting my point across in a relationship was actually when i was SILENT.

  22. Naa

    September 30, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Wise words! Aptly coined no other way to better put it!

  23. Nnamdi Uwaga

    October 3, 2017 at 11:45 am

    @Being the Good One is Killing Your Relationships….

    I don’t completely agree. Reasons :
    Being good should be an act or virtue we must have imbibed from creddle. It should have been part and parcel of us. Almost our second nature. If that is so, it should be a flow. Quite alright, some may abuse it, take it for granted and sort. Let’s keep it on. It may look like it’s not paying today. Sure it pays at the long run. In fact, it takes a fool or an ignorant fellow to dispise goodness. Trying to act otherwise is reinventing the wheel.

  24. totolette

    October 5, 2017 at 2:58 am

    weak minds… is all I see. So much confusion playing out.

  25. Mutale

    September 30, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Awesome .Insightful.The perfect read for the start of a new week and new month.
    Please,Nkem was not saying go out and be horrid and reckless,rather the point is to be authentic and speak and be your true genuine self at all times.

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