How do I stop pleasuring everyone all the time?

Great people please

Illustration by Djanlissa Pringels

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Hi VICE,

I have always considered myself an understanding and open person. A friend is always ready to help you. Maybe it’s hard for me to say “no” sometimes, but I’ve never felt that a personality trait defines me.

I even read a tweet about people who always say yes are instantly considered assholes as soon as they stop doing it. It made me think: Am I happy? Am I so focused on being likable and “fitting in” — both feelings I had with my teenage years — that I’m afraid I’ll disappoint people if I’m less available?

When I think about my behavior and try to answer this question, I have to say yes. Since then I can’t help but see all of my relationships through this lens. I think about how I can put aside some parts of my personality and thoughts and adapt them to the person I’m with at the time. Or how I apologize for things that have nothing to do with me, just to avoid conflict. The thing I’m worried about is my last relationship. For fear of losing this person, I did not dare to end the relationship, although I knew that we were not suitable for each other.

Now that I’m dating again, I’m afraid to make things harder than they are. Will I end up in the same situation again? What is this fine line between kindness and pleasing others? How do I stop being afraid of being unwanted or hated? And what happens if I continue to live this way? Maybe I’m just pretending.

thanks for the.

Hi R,

You are not pretending at all. Humans are social animals who naturally need feedback and validation. But, as you said yourself, interaction with everyone is different. And that’s exactly the point of this conversation: How do we know what image the other person has of us?

“A cheerful person always tries to make others happy, in any situation, and whatever it takes,” he says. Gianluca Franciosi, a psychotherapist from Milan who specializes in relationships. You probably already knew that, but as you said yourself in your post, people-pleasing is sometimes difficult to distinguish from general friendliness. This difference lies in the “context, repetition and above all self-awareness” of this behavior, according to Franciosi. For example: Do you say yes to absolutely everyone, no matter the question? Or are there people or situations you say no to without difficulty?

Most people adapt their communication style at least a little to the person they’re talking to, based on their relationship to that person and the purpose of that conversation. Let’s say you’re talking to a new co-worker – you may consciously decide to be more compliant in order to gain some benefit, like getting a raise or just wanting a pleasant interaction. “This is a form of functional adaptation,” says Franciosi.

But as people please, this process of adaptation continues, leading to relationships in which their personal wants, needs, and beliefs are complete. respressionFrancis said. In those cases, “the social component of acceptance and meeting others’ expectations trumps everything.”

In the long run, this can be detrimental, especially because it leaves no room for people’s pleasures to have Personal Obvious,” he adds. Ironically, trying to please everyone around you can make you appear more uptight, because you don’t feel free to be spontaneous and show your authentic self. Plus, “others can also become insecure about who you really are and where you are.” You really stand,” Franciosi continues.

Our tendency toward complacency or aggressive self-interest is on a spectrum, with these two opposing traits at either extreme. Everyone “flips on that spectrum,” explains Franciosi. “Both parties are ineffective, but there is a lot of behavior between them. If we realize we are approaching one of the extremes, it is worth taking action.”

Based on your post, Fanciosi can’t really determine whether or not you’re a “real” people-pleaser. But you’ve clearly made yourself very available to those you care about, even when you want to focus on something else.

Now you grow upYou’ve also come to realize that you need more freedom and self-love in your life. “It doesn’t mean that you have to be selfish, it just means that you understand that you can improve your level of satisfaction within a given relationship,” Franciosi explains.

You wonder what would happen if you didn’t make tough decisions out of fear of a lack of empathy. “Long-term dissatisfaction with a relationship can lead to stress, breakdown, and physical illness,” says Franciosi. If you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, your partner may be taking advantage of you, too.

But how can you actually overcome these fears? It’s a process that takes time, Franciosi admits, but the first step is understanding whether you agree to do something for someone because they’ve convinced you it was a good idea, or just because you want them to be nice to you. . Then you need to train yourself to be more assertive in your communication. It’s tough, but once you make your point, you’re less likely to back down from it.

You also need to revise your attitude to the conflict. It may sound intimidating, but “conflict is also beneficial because it can make you feel like a real person who stays true to their point of view,” says Franciosi. This is also a quality that people love and appreciate. In the long run, clearly communicating your needs and boundaries will earn you long-term respect.

Dating can be a good exercise in this regard. Since new people know so little about you, you can act more confidently on dates than with someone closer to you. Over time, you will also have to come to terms with the idea that saying no to your loved ones does not mean that they love you less or change their opinion of you. And if they are, they’re the ones with the problem — not you.

In the end, “it’s impossible for everyone to love,” Franciosi says. “It doesn’t automatically mean that they don’t like you either. They can also be indifferent to you, and that’s okay too.”

This article originally appeared on VICE Italia.

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