People pleasing, on the surface, looks like you're just being super nice and supportive. When you dig a little deeper, it's really about insecurity, low self-esteem, fear of conflict, and other issues that are important to tackle before you ruin your relationship. If these signs you're being a people pleaser look like an instruction manual for your relationship, then I hat to be the bearer of bad news, but you have a problem. Or several. Luckily, getting you people pleasing under control is a huge burden to put down. You'll feel so free and happy. Trust me.
As a reformed people pleaser and former Domestic Violence Victim Advocate (oh, and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, too), I've seen both sides of that life. I've been a people pleaser, I've been people pleased and I've seen couples through the same issues. I've also seen the light of more equal living, and I know how much better life is when you don't carry the responsibility for the world's happiness on your shoulders. These signs below are all of us at times, but when it's you all the time (or a good portion of the time) that's how you know you need to work on yourself as much as you work on others.
1. It's Their World, You Just Live In It
Do you hang out with your partner's friends, go to their favorite places, spend the night at their house, and basically live in their life? People pleasers tend to immerse themselves in the lives of the people they're pleasing, more as a go-with-the-flow type thing. It's easier to just slip into someone's existing life than make them change to create a new life with you.
2. You Have No Real Opinions
People pleasers have no opinions. Well, they have them, but you'd never know it. They want to eat where you eat. They want to buy the kind of beer you want to buy. They want to see the type of movie you want to see. They want to budget the money the way you want to. Most of the time it doesn't bother them, but eventually they'll feel resentful because their partner's never assume their needs through some kind of relationship telepathy. It's couple poison.
3. You Bust Your Butt
Do you do more than your fair share of the housework? More than your share of work in the office? Take on more responsibility than anyone else in your family? Put more work into a project than you really need to? Try harder than your partner at, well, everything? This is the type of people pleaser behavior that's especially toxic in a relationship because it builds up resentments.
4. You Apologize for Living
If someone bumps into you, are you the one to apologize? People pleasers apologize all the time. They apologize for their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. They even apologize for having a messy house when it's spotless. They apologize for things you would have never even thought a person should apologize for. Then you say you're sorry for saying that you're sorry too much.
5. You Have Everyone's Feelings
Call it empathy. Call it people pleasing. No matter what you call it, it's a rough way to live People pleasers are so worries about the feelings of others that it brings them misery and pain. Watching people open gifts is heart-wrenching because you worry the person won't like the gift or someone else at the gathering will be jealous or feel left out. You feel the need to fix everyone's feelings, too, which of course you can't do. This makes you feel even worse.
6. You're A Rescue Magnet
Are you that person who lost souls tend to gravitate to? The depressed? The down-on-their-luck? Do you make a habit out of collecting people to fix or nurture? That's a common people pleaser habit. That doesn't mean you don't have a good heart, it just means people know you'll help them, even if you don't have the time or resources.
7. You Hide From Conflict
When I was a people pleaser (and un-treated for my anxiety) I didn't even like to answer the door when the mail carrier had a package for me because I didn't have anything to give him. I know, right? To a lesser extent, you either avoid conflict altogether by keeping quiet, or you say what you have to say, then just hide from the people you said it to. Sometimes that means doing things you hate just to avoid any fallout that might not even happen. It's a tiring existence.
8. You Never Enjoy Yourself
It's party time! And everyone's having a blast trying to out-Drake-dance each other, but you're worrying if the drinks are cold enough and if you remembered to invite everyone. Oh, and is that one guest is OK with the fact that her ex roommate's cousin's ex boyfriend is there? In the end, you just end up more exhausted by trying to throw the perfect party that everyone enjoys than if you had awkward dad-danced all night.
9. You Feel Taken Advantage Of
A side effect of people pleasing is that people come to you to get pleased. Not because they're bad people, and not because you're a bad person, but because they're used to it. People ask you to help them out because they know you won't say no. They ask you for favors, to volunteer, and even for emotional support and coddling. These are situations you've probably set up with multiple people in your life.
10. You Live For Praise
Is it even worth doing if nobody notices or tell you that you did an excellent job? People pleasers like to be rewarded. And not just a little bit. They'll keep bringing up their accomplishments so they can drink in the praise. It isn't because they're full of themselves. It's because low self-esteem means a need for validation.
If you just had the epiphany that you're a total people pleaser, fear not. Taking a little time to address your needs and recognizing the motivations behind why you do things is a great first step.