Hello, my name is Heather and I’m a recovering people pleaser. For me being a people pleaser has meant, taking a lot of pride in being easy-going and flexible. But it’s a compulsion, it’s neediness, and it’s often a covert maneuver that I hoped would leave me feeling adored, appreciated and indispensable.
My people pleasing clients demonstrate their love by going above and beyond in the hopes of making their love interest feel special. And at first glance it seems harmless enough, or even normal, but the truth is that people pleasing is more complex than just making a little extra effort to make somebody feel special.
It involves putting other’s needs (real or perceived) before your own and then shape shifting into the person who can meet those needs. It’s being accommodating without letting on that you feel that way, and then being surprised that nobody’s thanking you for it.
Sooner or later my dear people pleaser you will start to feel taken for granted, unappreciated, and very resentful of your partner. Here’s the thing, your partner isn’t the problem.
Recently a client shared with me that she was surprised that the guy she was dating wasn’t expressing more appreciation for how often she spent the night at his place, she was confused and resentful that he never came over to her condo, they were always at his place. She was hoping that he would interpret her behavior as going above and beyond and “repay” the favor (her sleeping over) by offering to spend nights at her place more often. Here’s the thing, he had no idea she was doing him a “favor” and didn’t know any of this turmoil and resentment was building below the surface, for the simple reason that she had never mentioned any of it. I encouraged her to speak up and invite him over. This guy isn’t a mind reader and yours probably isn’t either
My Advice (tweet it!): He’s not trying to decode your every action; he needs to hear your preferences in plain English.
So, what’s the relationship fix? Get curious about your patterns of “giving to get”. Stop going above and beyond in order to get what you want from him/her, and start taking care of your own priorities first. And no, this is not selfish! You can’t give what you don’t have, so you can’t truly be generous and loving towards anybody unless you’re generous and loving to yourself.
To start, look at where you’re accommodating his/her preferences at your own expense. For example, do you skip your morning exercise because he’s not a morning person and wants to stay in bed on the weekend? If so, tell him to sleep as late as he wants, but you’re going to spin class! Do you tend to cook the steak, potatoes, and pasta he likes for dinner, instead of the lighter fare you prefer? If so, start preparing the dinners you actually like to eat. Tell him there’s enough for him, too, but if he wants something else he’ll have to make it. Do you wait to have time with your girlfriends until he’s away for the weekend? Stop it! Start doing girl’s night a few times a month, even if he’s in town.
I know this may sound a little scary but trust me: the results are worth it. Once you start taking care of yourself first, you’ll have more to give and you won’t be waiting for him/her to decode your actions and respond accordingly which means you can say bye-bye to confusion and resentment!