Are you a people pleaser or a pleasing person?  

What is the difference and how do the personas affect a relationship?

In Gottman’s sound relationship house, doing things for your partner helps create feelings of contentment in each other’s company and is one of the ways to show them that you care.  But is there such a thing as too much giving?  In this month’s blog, I explore the difference between being a people pleaser and a pleasing person and why it is better to be one and not the other.

People pleasers create a pickle of problems  

Pleasing your partner is a loving thing to do, but it can create problems in your relationship if:

  • Your sense of self-worth depends on praise received for doing something nice.
  • You feel disappointed when your efforts are not met in kind or appreciated as you would expect them to be. 
  • You feel responsible for your partner’s emotions and consider it your fault if your partner is “having a bad day”. 
  • You are pleasing out of fear that your partner will leave you if you do not provide “a happy home” at all times. 

Problems occur because constantly doing any of the above means that your own needs will not be met, which can make you feel frustrated, unhappy and unloved by your partner.  People pleasers often:

  • Internalise their frustrations, hurt, and anger, choosing instead to always “wear a smile” and accept that “this is just the way it is”. 
  • Make decisions based on the opinions of others instead of what is right for them.
  • Crave compliments.  Self-worth is entirely based on compliments received from a partner/others.  They compliment their partner with an expectation of return adoration.
  • Abhor being alone and do things for their partner for attention’s sake instead of an act of giving. 
  • Are easily hurt if not included in their partner’s plans or their efforts are not praised. 
  • Sacrifice their happiness to keep a relationship out of fear of being alone.
  • Avoid confrontation at all costs to maintain harmony.
  • Give in to others too easily and then feel taken for granted or used.

 A people pleaser may have the best intentions and a good heart.  Still, their actions ultimately create an imbalance in their relationships, making it difficult to sustain a happy pairing.  They are the way they are for several reasons, but most commonly, the need to please results from behaviours learnt in childhood.  However, with help and guidance from professionals, they can change how they relate to others and become pleasing people instead. 

 Pleasing people promote peace and harmony

A pleasing person creates harmony and stability in their relationships because they:

  • Value their worth and personal boundaries – in doing so, they cannot be taken advantage of or do things they are uncomfortable with.
  • Encourage each other to “make deposits into the relationship bank” to help see them through difficult times.  
  • Are effective communicators and transparent in their actions.
  • Hold themselves accountable for their actions and do not take it personally if their partner does not do the same.
  • Know they cannot change another person, but they can support and encourage them when they decide they need to change.
  • Enjoy their own company as well as their partners.  They do not lose themselves in the process of being a couple. 
  • They do things for others, not as a means of control or manipulation but because it brings them both joy.
  • They do not avoid conflict.  Instead, they work towards resolving issues as they occur and do not invoke the four horse riders of relationship doom – Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

A pleasing person also knows they do not have to be the life and soul of a party.  Our brains are complex organisms, and many external and internal factors can affect how we feel and act towards others.  They accept that no one is perfect.  They forgive themselves and others when they make mistakes and metaphorically consider living a journey, not a series of destinations, to be ticked off a list. 

If you think you might be a people pleaser and would like to be a pleasing person instead, book an appointment with me here.  I can help you with your journey to a more fulfilling and equitable relationship with the people around you, whether a partner, work colleague or friend. 


Would you like to talk?

If something in this blog has brought up some issues for you, book a free inquiry call with Ann Jay.

Ann Jay

Ann Jay is a Wellington Relationship Counselor who provides marriage counselling, couple's counselling, and relationship coaching for couples and women either in a relationship or single. Her goal is to help people create healthy, loving and fulfilling relationships and experience the love they deserve.