Is Being A People-Pleaser Ruining Your Love Life?

For some people, it's easier to put the needs of others before their own. It's these people who roll with the punches in all situations, because in their mind, why rock the boat and possibly be an inconvenience to everyone else? It's not that they don't have their own opinions, desires, and interests, it's just that handing over the reins to someone else to make decisions is how they function in the world. This type of person is a people-pleaser.

While there's nothing wrong with wanting to please those around you, where it can be problematic is when people-pleasers put so much of themselves on the back burner that they almost cease to exist. Of course, they're physically there, but without speaking up, adding their two cents, or being able to say "no," they become one-dimensional shadows of the kind of people they could be. This behavior can negatively affect all aspects of one's life, especially their relationships.

"When you silence yourself and don't express what you really think and feel about things, it damages your relationships — you don't get your needs met, and the other person is left with your resentment toward them," clinical psychologist Michaela Thomas told PopSugar. "That resentment is corrosive to your relationship connection and intimacy."

As much as you may think you're doing your partner a favor by pleasing them at all times, you actually have a relationship that's lacking depth because you've suppressed so much of yourself.

Signs you're a people-pleaser

People pleasers rarely, if ever say no. People who can't say no don't tend to have boundaries, because having boundaries involves deciding what's okay for you and what isn't. In a relationship, this can look like always letting your partner choose what you're going to do and where you're going to go. For example, you could be craving Thai food, but since your partner is in the mood for Italian, you find yourself sitting in front of a plate of chicken parmesan when you really wanted Tom Yum Goong.

When it comes to intimacy, you may fake an orgasm, pretend you're into your partner's kink when you're really not, or maybe agree to types of relationships that you don't want to be part of, like an open relationship or polyamory. You do these things because you don't want to — or don't know how to — say no to your partner or set boundaries out of fear of abandonment or doing something that your partner might think is wrong.

How it's ruining your love life

In focusing all your energy on pleasing your partner, you end up doing a disservice to yourself as well as your relationship. You're not allowing yourself to partake in the partnership as an equal, and you're not giving yourself the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures that come with being in a relationship. Do you really think faking sexual pleasure is doing you or your partner any favors? Does it genuinely feel good to constantly deny yourself your needs and wants just to keep your partner from potentially being hurt? No. And, if you sit down and talk to your partner, there's a very good chance your partner wants your input on all things.

Although you may think you're doing the "right" thing by never letting your partner down, that's not how it works. A relationship takes two people who have thoughts, opinions, fears, interests, hopes, dreams, and all the rest of it that comes with having a personality and being human. As much as people like being pleased, you have to remember that they also like knowing that those they love and care about are being pleased as well. You're a partner, not a servant. You can't keep up the pleasing forever before you start to resent your partner, or they start to resent you because you have never taken responsibility or shared what you want from them or from your relationship as a whole.

Ways you can change it

While there are many reasons why someone might be a people-pleaser, a big one is low self-esteem. When people think their thoughts and opinions don't matter, they tend to keep them to themselves. Even if, deep down as a people-pleaser, you know what you want, fear of abandonment trumps all other feelings. But you can't live this way forever. Not only will it drain you emotionally, but it will push people away because you're not bringing anything to friendships or romantic relationships.

When it comes to changing your people-pleasing ways, it's best to start small. Set some boundaries for yourself and learn how to say "no" to things you don't want to do. For people-pleasers, this is a big deal, so when you get that initial "no" out there in the world, give yourself a high-five. If you're offered something by your partner and you're interested and want to say "yes," give yourself a chance to marinate on it before answering, per Medical News Today. You not only want to learn how to say "no," but you also want to teach yourself to understand why you might say "yes." 

Although the chance of becoming completely free of people-pleasing is going to be tough, if you can spot the signs, recognize how it makes you feel, and see that you actually do have a lot to offer, you can save your love life before it becomes unsalvageable.