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Vital Signs You’re Dating a People Pleaser

February 8, 2024

Growing up as children, we all liked the attention and affection that came with being the favorite. As long as you ate your greens, and did your chores, you were going to have the most fun. Those were simpler times when people-pleasing wasn’t so much of a choice. 

Unfortunately, you’ll soon notice that things become complicated as you age and having to be the most likable child in the room is not always healthy. 

Likability is not a bad thing. However, if you look closely or dig deeper, you'll notice that the love from your parents wasn’t conditional or solely dependent on whether you ate your greens as a child. In other words, they would have loved you either way. 

Luckily, you might have already grown out of this need to please other people. Unfortunately, not everyone has. If you find yourself dating someone who can’t live authentically or stand up for their own needs, you might be dating a people pleaser.

What Does It Mean Being a People Pleaser?

According to an article titled People Pleasing, which was published by the counseling center of James Madison University1, people pleasers are some of the nicest folks out there. 

But what is people-pleasing and is it bad to be a people-pleaser in the first place? Pleasing people can be a drug and it might be hard to single out a straightjacket people pleaser meaning. 

That’s because people-pleasing behaviors can take many forms from shelving your feelings so your spouse can have the last say or always sticking your neck out to do the impossible just because you want to avoid conflict with a family member. At the center of it all is a lack of self-awareness that causes you to put the needs of others above yours. 

Medical News Today refers to a people pleaser as someone with a strong urge to please others, at their own expense. If you happen to be dating a people pleaser, how will you notice? Here are some signs to look out for if you suspect that you're dating a people pleaser. 

20 Signs Your Date Is a People Pleaser

1. He always needs everyone to like him

he always needs everyone to like him

We all want people to like us. But there is a difference between someone wanting to be liked and another needing that particular affection from others. If your partner is the latter, he will often exhibit a heightened sense of urgency and pressure to do things for people so they can keep liking him. 

The more people-pleasing partners obsess over the need to be liked, the less control they will have over their lives since they are always fixated on solving the problems of others. 

Such a partner will continue to chase unhealthy expectations from family and friends, and gradually the feeling of not being enough sets in, guessing who will have to make do with a depressed man who won't give up on his people-pleasing habits.

2. He does not listen to his inner voice

People pleasing comes with a strong willingness to commit to tasks and relationships, without people paying heed to the little whispers giving them clues to cut back. For your partner to get to this level, he may have gone through a long period, perhaps as a child, where his own feelings and opinions didn't matter.

3. He apologizes a bit too much

People pleasers are afraid to let their true feelings show for the fear of being judged or called out. To avoid conflict, a people-pleasing partner often treats 'sorry' as a go-to word, using it even in times when they're not wrong or are victims of a particular situation.

4. He craves validation

If you find him constantly seeking validation, he might be a people pleaser. People seek validation by wanting others or even you, the girlfriend, to always show acceptance for their feelings. 

5. He fears taking action when someone is wrong

Imagine you and your date are out having fun, and you meet a couple of his friends in public and they begin to pass body-shaming and objectifying comments about you. To your utter shock, your date stays quiet and doesn't take any immediate action, with the excuse that he doesn't want to call them out in public. 

People pleasers tend to struggle with self-esteem or self-respect. They usually become esteemed through their associations with other people. Your people pleasing partner may have feelings for you but if he hasn't built enough confidence of his own, he may find it hard to call people out or take action when they're wrong. 

6. Is he afraid to set boundaries?

is he afraid to set boundaries

Do you hear him always complaining about a particular family member or friend who brings nothing but trouble, yet he can't tell that relative off? 

Usually, setting boundaries is the most expedient thing to do when you are in a situation like that. But someone with people-pleasing tendencies may begin to feel sorry and guilty for restricting the access the person has to them. 

7. He struggles to say no

Some people have unhealthy perceptions of love in a romantic relationship. Don't be carried away if he always says yes to you and your requests. Individual choices and preferences don't disappear when you become hooked. 

You may need to do some bit of self-searching if your relationship pushes you to lose your true self and uniqueness. People pleasers tend to have this mindset. They are 'yes men' who struggle to say no because this people-pleasing mindset makes them feel that their choices are unimportant. 

8. He doesn't partake in decision-making

Getting things right can be a drug. People pleasers in relationships are always gone as long as no reproach comes up. So you'll find the people pleaser always shying away from critical decision-making. For them, it's better to stay away than to commit to a decision that inflates their people-pleasing bubble. But such a perfect relationship rarely exists. 

A successful and healthy relationship is possible when the decisions reflect the interests of both parties involved, for the good and the ugly. If he's fond of leaving all the decisions from what to eat to whether to adopt a puppy or not, you may be dealing with a people pleaser. 

9. Struggle to share their opinions

People pleasers in romantic relationships may be poor communicators. Fruitful relationships thrive on honest and healthy communication, right from the early stages to later times. As you both go about your lives together you'll realize that communicating your true feelings is the best way to let your partner into your life. 

You'll seldom get the most honest form of communication if you're dating a people pleaser. They struggle to communicate their own needs and true feelings because their people pleasing nature deems it unimportant.

Use this tool to check whether he actually is who he says he is
Whether you're married or have just started seeing someone, infidelity rates are on the rise and have increased over 40% in the last 20 years, so you have all the right to be worried.

Perhaps you want to know if he's texting other women behind your back? Or whether he has active Tinder or dating profile? Or worse yet, whether he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

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10 He thinks self-care is optional

Self-worth is key in any relationship. People are at their uttermost best when they are in tune with their true feelings and understand what it takes to preserve their self esteem. Anything that threatens your worth or makes you lose your self-respect can jeopardize your happiness and this applies to any form of relationship from romantic to platonic. 

Mostly, people pleasers tie their self-esteem with the happiness of others. You can't trust such people to be emotionally stable when you're not romancing or feeding their emotions. That can be tiring for you since it tends to make the relationship a one way street. 

11. He's afraid of conflict

A healthy relationship doesn't have to be all rosy. For the most part, being able to love each other through the good times and uncomfortable conversations is a strong catalyst for lasting and cheerful relationships. 

The goal is not to create uncomfortable situations. However, such times are often inevitable since they can arise when anyone in the relationship decides to be honest about their own feelings without compromise. That's how mature partners act and become successful in relationships. 

People pleasers, on the flip side, suppress their emotions and prefer to keep to the act. That's one of the disadvantages of dating a people pleaser. Avoiding conflict allows a people pleaser to shelve his own needs, so they can continue with their people-pleasing behaviors in the relationship, not expressing their feelings and going wherever the bell tolls.

12. Hides from responsibility

Is he always playing the blame game? Pushing bad stuff and only showing up when there is good news? He might be a people pleaser. The world is far from perfect and so are humans. It's important for everyone to know that it's normal to break things or fall out of line with people. It's important to own up to your mistakes, and patch things up. 

Owning up to one's faults can be quite uncomfortable and the people pleaser would rather hide from this responsibility to save face or blame it on someone. They want to stay without blemish so they can continue their people-pleasing habits, begging for certain relationships to continue.

13. Goes out of his way for affection

Want to know if he is a people pleaser? Check how he relates with his circle of friends. Does he always go out of his way to be the most helpful and reliable guy in the room? Does he let you have the last say even if you're wrong, just so he can enjoy your company? That can be a sign that he's a people pleaser. Attention or affection begged for cannot be authentic and for that, it will not last.

14. Becomes anxious when he faces rejection

becomes anxious when he faces rejection

Rejecting someone and being rejected are all part of life, especially If you want to stay true to your actual self. It helps to prioritize your needs above and do things with more clarity on the kind of emotions to reciprocate. 

But what happens after you reject someone or you're being rejected? Do you feel anxious to the point where you begin to regret your decision? That's what a people pleaser might think. Rejections are hard for people pleasers to deal with. 

15. Acts differently around friends

Some partners exhibit different identities when they're with their friends, other than what you have come to know since you started dating. 

For instance, there are certain fun habits you may have developed and both love to do it. But you bring up those habits around his friends and you see an entirely different reaction. You can expect this if he's a people pleaser in his circle. That could mean the relationship among those friends is merely conditional and he can't afford to be his true self among them.

16. He is a poor communicator

People pleasing can be an actual problem and it can also be the result of a problem. Some people are just poor communicators when it comes to talking about themselves. They may be aware of their emotions but self-expression is mostly where the problem lies. 

Perhaps, this has been a challenge they lived with since they were children. For such people, the easy route is to do what everyone wants so they don't deal with the pressure of communicating and defending their needs and emotions.

17. He is stressed due to commitments but will still not scale down

People-pleasing partners struggle to accept that their own actions or inactions are affecting their health. Because they seek validation and depend on people's praise, they may assume certain roles, whenever they see they're a good fit. Often, they become caught up in more commitments than they can handle. 

The most ideal thing to do in such situations is to scale down or seek extra support from others. But a people pleaser may struggle to cut down on their commitments because they don't want to break an ongoing relationship with a client and they fear that letting some commitments go will attract rejection.

18. Loss of identity

Self awareness is vital in every relationship. People-pleasing partners are volatile because a huge part of their self-esteem depends on what others think about them. This makes it easy for them to switch into different personalities based on what they hear from specific people or how others treat them sometimes. 

They may easily lose themselves at functions when they hear criticisms about themselves that deflate their people pleasing bubble.

19. He doesn't admit when he is hurt

Forming an authentic relationship with a people pleaser can be frustrating. They are always 'yes people' who struggle to admit when they are hurt. They'll cover up their hurt, embarrassment, or disappointment with that usual smile. 

But just like every suppressed negative emotion, one can only cover it up for so long. In due time, the hurt he failed to admit will erupt, turning into something more serious that can break the relationship. So it pays to encourage a people-pleasing partner to own up to their own feelings.

20. Sweep relationship problems under the carpet

Relationship problems are inevitable, regardless of how strong-willed you or your partner is. Often what distinguishes mature people and people pleasers when they are faced with relationship problems is that the former doesn't leave things to chance and tends to face challenges head-on. 

On the other hand, people pleasers don't acknowledge problems in relationships whether they are victims or perpetrators.

21. Self-loathing

People-pleasing is a wrong way for people to live their lives. It may come with regrets, having lived your life at the expense of your own happiness and gaining little to no awareness of your emotional self. Ultimately, people-pleasing can morph into passive aggression, where your partner expresses his suppressed emotions via unhealthy jokes and sarcasm. 

In the long run, when the frustration worsens, people pleasers may begin to loathe themselves, which could come with more stress and mental health issues if they don’t get adequate and timely support.

22. Self-sabotaging

One way to identify a people pleaser, especially one who has been practicing these habits for quite a long time, is the way they sabotage themselves. People pleasers often have unhealthy expectations from others. They can become frustrated when they realize that others actually prioritize self-care and will not go out of their convenience to satisfy their demands or needs. 

The disappointment from knowing this may cause a people pleaser to find alternative ways to seek the attention and emotional attachment they think they deserve. One such way is to sabotage themselves for pity. If your partner is this kind of a people pleaser, you may notice him trying to play the victim in every situation even when he is not involved.

How Can People-Pleasing Impact the Relationship?

Many people may not even be aware that they've been living their lives pleasing people. People-pleasing behavior can emerge from childhood. In those early stages, pleasing people rarely comes off as bad behavior. What's worse is that it's often impossible to notice people pleasing behavior until it's too late.

How bad is the act of people-pleasing? Generally, pleasing others in any relationship is a conduit for people to avoid a fear, gain love and approval or sustain a perception of affection they've had since they were children. Sometimes, it becomes critical to briefly make a family member or spouse happy, but keeping at such behavior can damage relationships. 

Here are a few ways pleasing people at the expense of your feelings can ruin your relationship.

1. Stress

stress

Humans have limits. That's why it's critical to balance your emotions and commitments. People pleasing partners have a problem with setting boundaries. Without boundaries, they end up taking up more commitments than they can handle. Eventually, they realize that they don't have the resources to cope with all the commitments and stress begins to set in, making them anxious and unhealthy. 

This stress can be infectious in relationships. Because people pleasing partners are often weighed down by their commitments, they may come off as unhappy. That means, at every point in such a relationship, you may need to do more than necessary to cheer him up which can also leave you frustrated and worn out.

2. Unable to enjoy yourself

People pleasing partners may subscribe to certain standards that rob you from enjoying simple pleasures in your relationship. For instance, your fiance finally becomes a judge, a dream you know he's had since you were both children. He may adopt certain standards like having to put in more hours at work just so he can remain a relevant part of the judicial society. 

More working hours come with too much pressure and less time to unwind or relax. If you're in a relationship with such a person, that might mean giving up pleasures you loved to indulge in as a couple and becoming lonely for the most part of the relationship. This might make the relationship sour even though this is barely your fault.

3. Stunted relationship growth

People-pleasing can come from both sides of the relationship. There are various traits characterizing a people-pleasing couple. People-pleasing partners will often have mutual friends they are obsessed with rather than locking in quality time to romantically bond. 

How to Deal with a People Pleaser

Dating a people pleaser can be overwhelming. Here are three tips if you find yourself in a relationship with one.

1. Set boundaries

Boundaries do not make you unlikable. Setting boundaries can be the best way to deal with family members and relatives who think they can have access to you at any time, demanding more than they can ever give. Setting boundaries can also prove helpful if you're dating a people pleaser. 

Most people who live in the shadows of others may not only lack boundaries but they may ignore others who have. It's important not to dumb things down. Ensure you are clear with your needs and expectations, and also let your people pleasing partner understand that not respecting your boundaries comes with consequences. 

2. Reassure

Some people may have been saying yes for too long that saying no becomes almost impossible. Such people need reassurance that saying no isn't a bad thing, especially if the 'no' is tied to them feeling better and more authentic. 

When you find yourself dating such a man, try your best not to respond to his rejection of a preference with distaste and unfair judgment. It may plunge them deeper into the people-pleasing abyss, and they can end up suppressing their emotions and giving the go-ahead for things that might not interest them in the long run

3. Communicate

communicate

Being able to communicate and express oneself freely without fear of judgment or rejection is crucial for romantic relationships. You may not see this form of honest communication if you end up with a people pleasing partner. What you can do to help is to communicate effectively. 

Learn to draw him in when having conversations, explain your decisions, and encourage him to query your decisions. Monopolizing a conversation makes it easier for him to agree and disagree with things based on your points and perhaps what you want. It's crucial for you to listen to his needs. It conveys a feeling of trust even in his most vulnerable moments. 

FAQs

What is the love language of a people pleaser?

The love language of people pleasers is based on "acts of service.” This refers to the way in which some individuals express and feel loved through acts of service or doing things for others. This can include things like cooking a meal, running errands, or completing a task for someone. People who have "acts of service" as their primary love language feel appreciated and loved when their partner or others take the time to do something for them.

Is being a people pleaser a toxic trait?

The act of people-pleasing has been with certain people for as long as they can remember. Since childhood, they have always had to do something to deserve attention. But what's wrong with being a people pleaser, especially in a relationship? 

People pleasing can become toxic if you're consistently covering up how you truly feel just to enjoy attention from your spouse. People pleasing may harm you in the future, if you continue doing things for others without checking whether you're in a position to honor your commitments.

Are people pleasers manipulators? 

You can say people-pleasing is a ploy to manipulate others through performative actions. The need to please others may stem from an obsession for such people to receive something they otherwise may not have deserved if the feelings for both parties were true.

Is people-pleasing a trauma response?

The need to constantly please people as a means of avoiding conflict, feeling more secure in relationships, and earning approval from others can be a trauma response, as per Healthline. Most people cling to this character, because it may insulate them from former trauma in order to feel safe.

In Conclusion

Whether or not dating a people pleaser is a good thing depends on the individual and the specific circumstances of the relationship. In general, dating someone who is a "people pleaser" can be positive in that they may be very attentive, considerate, and willing to make their partner happy. 

However, if the "people pleaser" is overly accommodating to the point of neglecting their own needs and desires, it could lead to problems in the relationship. Additionally, it's important to remember that being with a people pleaser is not always healthy, since they might have a lack of assertiveness, difficulty saying "no", and a lack of boundaries. 

Utilize this tool to verify if he's truly who he claims to be
Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.

1 Sources:
  1. Counseling center of James Madison University. People Pleasing https://www.jmu.edu/counselingctr/self-help/relationships/people-pleasing.shtml
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