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Are You His Mommy or His Lover? (Tips for People Pleasers)

people pleaserI am a reformed people pleaser.  Ok, I admittedly, still, on occasion, fall prey to it’s seductive grip.  Old habits die hard…

People pleasing is alluring, addictive – it’s the kind of behaviour that is deemed admirable, one that has us believe it would surely win lovers, friends and respect.

The truth is, whether you are dating or married, your inner “Gloria Goody Two Shoes” may, unknowingly, be killing your relationship with your man.  Worse yet, this aspect of you is keeping you from the full expression of Deep Soulful Love .

We are taught that girls are sugar and spice and everything nice.  From the onset, we are trained to please, that no matter how much dissonance or pain we may be feeling inside, we are only reveal perfection to the world.  The pressure it creates shows up in our culture in broken marriages, unfulfilled careers and parental challenges.

In fact, research shows that women with high people-pleasing tendencies have higher rates of stress and depression – and that women use anti-depressant medications at almost twice the rate of men.

That seems outrageous to me – and, truth be told, I used to be in that statistic.

In my family of origin, My father dealt with his anger and depression by drowning it in alcohol and my mother, by raging.  To stay safe, I learned to fly under the radar, to be pleasing, to deny my own needs, and to hide who I was behind an acceptable social façade.  Anything else was Selfish – this, seen in my family, as the 8th deadly sin – or dangerous.

By people pleasing, I learned to survive while living a lie.

In relationships, you may have learned to stuff your true feelings for fear, and to bury pain of not living fully expressed in addictive and numbing  behaviours such as busyness, overwork, overachievement, food and drugs.

Are you still wondering why you may not be happy and why your relationship has hit some bumps?

People pleasing has reached Epic proportions.  Although we wish to raise young girls to be good citizens, the repercussions for doing so is killing off their ability to see their true worth and value, to rely on their intuition, and to feel empowered in self-reliance.

It means that as adult women, you too, in your people pleasing, will not be truthful, transparent, vulnerable or fully expressed.  You deny men the honor of being in relationship with the totality of who you are, in all your authentic messiness.

Messiness, it turns out it, is a good thing….

So how do you begin to make change?  Here are a few points for you to ponder about your own relationship with your man.

1. By being inauthentic, you are denying true intimacy.  There is no way to be a people pleaser without also being a liar and a fake – as much as you might like to argue with me here, you may have to admit that I might have a point. People pleasing means that you are putting others’ needs above your own, that you are not expressing what you truly desire, that your words and your deeds are incongruent or out of alignment. That you are less important than they. It means that between you and your man there is this unspoken space where a lie exists. It may be a lie of omission, but it’s a lie nonetheless. And the essence of this lie is you are not worth the Deep Soulful Love you seek and will protect yourself behind the veil of pleasing to keep him from getting too close – and is guaranteed to end badly.

2. You may be treating him like your child.  In her book, Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know , author Barbara DeAngelis says that women mother men in order to become indispensable to them.  Because you work hard to fulfill all of his needs, you believe he is likely to become more and more dependent on you.  And, you assume, the more dependent and indispensable you are to him, the less likely it is that he will ever leave you. Right? Uh. No. He already has a mother.  Keep it up and he’ll run for the hills. I know from experience. Trust me on this one.

3. There is only one throne and he’s on it. Growing up, my father was placed there. All of my mother’s afternoon activities – house cleaning, dinner preparation, the wide girth given to him when he walked in from work, the rule of not bothering him in the living room until he came out – we all intended to show the importance of the man of the household, were intended to please him. If any of this was reciprocated, I did not see. My sense is that not. If you are looking for a 1950’s version of a relationship, by all means put your man on a pedestal and lay yourself at his feet. If you are, however, looking for partnership, you want to co-create a relationship where your needs are also met, where you enjoy a mutual admiration for one another, and you challenge one another to grow and evolve personally into the best version of you possible.  Where you are cherished and each of have come together to make this world a better place.

4. You get off on throwing Zingers.  When the people pleasing pattern is activated, you have a hard time saying “No” or setting limits. You tend to avoid conflict. You want your man’s approval, and even more importantly, you want to avoid his disapproval. You have a hard time not giving. On some level, you expect that you can control the outcome of a situation by pleasing, and you can’t… you may feel like Martyr, doing so much for him that goes unacknowledged. You may find yourself criticizing, nit-picking at your man instead of appreciating him.  This, Sisters is like a slow growing cancer – guaranteed to poison your relationship.   At the risk of pissing some of you off, I would say that people pleasing is actually selfish and manipulative.

5. Are you both the pitcher and the batter?  Recently I had a conversation with a friend who shared how, in a challenging family situation, she had informed her husband of each step they were going to take to resolve it before he even had a chance to give his two cents. She told me in the most minute detail all it would entail and did so with such speed, my head was spinning. And I’m a woman – I can handle a lot of information all at once. I cannot even fathom how her husband felt. People pleasers, in an attempt to reduce their own level of anxiety will pursue, call, text, organize and plan. They will throw the ball to a man and, while it is mid-air, run to the other side, get right in front of them and catch it. WFT? Where does that leave him? – she might as well date herself. It is important to create space for a man, a place for him to dock his boat. A place where he can be given the opportunity to provide for you, and you to surrender and receive his love and care, fully.

6. Getting sucked dry.  As a people pleaser, you experience the world as it relates to others. You might feel that you are not enough, which is how you got into this pickle in the first place. From this vantage point, you will only attract to you those will want nothing more than to suck you dry. And even that won’t be enough. Know that your life and your relationship is a mirror, a reflection of your inner landscape and that for every people pleaser, there is an energy vampire. Creating clear boundaries by cutting them off will help you feel safe enough to be authentic, to express yourself fully. And, better yet, will help you attract a much better suitor.

I’m inviting you to sit in this question.  What is the payoff for being a people pleaser?

Because its opposite would be to have the audacity to live aligned with your truth, where you’re your desires and your actions are congruent, where you stand in your power, authentically expressing all 88 keys of your emotional piano.  It would mean being in partnership where you both stand to gain, you both stand to lose and are committed to transparency and intimacy anyway.

Know that people pleasing is a lie and your Soul will keep your True Mate at bay until you recalibrate.  Stop.  Bring down that wall you use to keep yourself from getting left and getting hurt.  That same wall will keep you from experiencing Deep Soulful Love.

Any man worthy and deserving of your love will feel honored to love the totality of you – fully expressed.

So how do you get started?  Begin by filling your own cup with exquisite self-love and self-care.  A man wants to feel nourished,  heard, made love to and know that you have his back.  You can do none of this depleted.  Besides, he wants nothing more than to do the same for you.  And if you are too busy pleasing, you deny him you.

Is it worth it?

Your Soulwork for this week is to tell me in the comments below is the one area your people pleasing tendencies are still running your life show.  Be honest.

Recognize that the road to Love is circuitous, riddled with swamps and potholes.  In transparently and vulnerably owning every facet of who you are, you  begin your journey home to your worth so that you may open up to the DEEP SOULFUL LOVE you’ve always desired. 

Listen, my love, as I have sounded this out for your pleasure. Click below:

P.S. While this material doesn’t cost you a cent, it came from my heart. All I ask is that you share this post with at least three friends. Fair trade, right? xoxo Joëlle

3 Responses to “Are You His Mommy or His Lover? (Tips for People Pleasers)”

  1. amy says:

    Brilliant blog Joelle!

  2. amy says:

    Brilliant, Joelle! my people pleasing hurts me in business particularly as a landlady. It just doesn’t work.

    • Joëlle says:

      So true, Sister. People pleasing affects all of our relationships, business included. Great awareness. From this vantage point you can begin to effect change. xoxo

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