Do you give up yourself in your relationship?
A people pleaser tends lose themselves too much.
This can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. Often it has an awful lot to do with people pleasing.
What is a pleaser?
A people pleaser usually:
Craves external validation
Is dependent on approval from others for their self-confidence.
Can easily become co-dependant in a close relationship.
A people pleasing style of relating can be devastating and cause havoc in an intimate relationship.
How to lose yourself in a relationship
Some characteristics of a people-pleasing partner can be:
- Extremely driven by the positive reinforcement of making someone happy
- Reliant on pleasing others for their sense of self worth
- Profoundly uncomfortable when disappointing or letting people down
- Deeply shameful at making people angry
- Highly intolerant to any form of conflict
- Compliant to the wishes of others
- Desperate and craving acceptance of others
- Expert at deferring to their partner almost the whole time in decision making
- Blaming of their partner most of the time
- Passively resentful toward their partner
- Unable to identify goals and dreams
- Good at attracting partners who are over controlling or demanding
- Heard frequently saying ‘yes’ when they mean ‘no’ and vice versa
We all have aspects of the people pleaser in us. It’s the degree to which self-acceptance and approval is attached to pleasing that creates problems.
The writer Eckhart Tolle wrote:
“When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”
How does this happen?
Our patterns of relating and communicating tend to stem from our early background at home in the family. As children we were all influenced by our parents or caregivers manner of relating.
All children seek their parent’s love and approval. People pleasing behaviour is formed when a child becomes overly compliant in response to their parent’s wishes to gain love and acceptance.
In terms of developing people pleasing traits there are some significant ways of parenting that shape a child’s view of themselves and others in the world.
Here are some examples:
Parents with unrealistically high expectations, rigid rules and dismissive or disapproving responses influence a child to always be a ‘good boy/girl’ as a way to survive and receive approval.
If parental discipline is unfair and unpredictable a child will learn to avoid conflict at all costs. Conflict avoidance becomes an essential form of relating as an adult.
When parents fight together with critical, harsh judgements and abuse some children avoid being on the receiving end of conflicts of all kinds.
Parents who are consistently overwhelmed can consequently over protect their children. In this context a child can take a care-giving role to sooth their parent in order to experience love and acceptance. This form of care giving continues in their adult relationships.
What does it look like?
Losing a sense of self in a relationship may include:
- Living life played out on somebody else’s terms
- Attempts at standing your ground are received with shock and anger
- Following the lead of the other partner is always expected
- Forgetting their own needs
- Seeing the other partner as controlling
- Becoming a victim
- Feeling invisible
- Feeling unlovable
- Feeling trapped, but not knowing how to be another way
- Idealizes being loved as a means to self-worth and happiness
- Incredibly compliant and modest
- Hates showing anger
- Not good at getting attention
- Have difficulty with setting boundaries. Setting limits seems rude
- Huge discomfort disagreeing with others
- Give up own interests for time with partner
- Passive aggression and resentment in losing autonomy
Partners with such strong people pleasing traits find themselves struggling to hang on in relationships as they become subsumed in the other partner.
Their need to please can be so destructive because it is based on fear of not being good enough, rejection, loneliness and isolation. These fears can intensify as people pleasing tendencies continue.
Many people pleasing partners are attracted to people who are more controlling and demanding. The more controlling partner always always seem to know what is best and people pleasers are happy to let them lead the way.
It’s common for people pleasers to become tired, resentful, passive aggressive and start withdrawing or escaping from their partner.
It is possible to change people pleasing behaviours. It takes time and hard work.