We’ve all done it.
You’re with someone you’re head over heels for, and you can’t help yourself: You aim to please them any way you can.
Then, contrary to the good things you think will occur when you do this … it actually starts to ruin your relationship.
It’s not easy to see any problem with “pleasing” at first. Why should you? Of course trying to be nice and kind to your partner—lifting them up when they’re down, etc.—is a good thing. Partners need to have a desire to make each other happy.
The only problem is when you go overboard. You start out innocently trying to do a nice thing for your partner, but you soon find that you need to do more and more to please them. The response you get from them is deflated and bored. You’re not happy either.
And down it spirals.
But again, this isn’t easy to see in the beginning. So to understand the real root of it all, here are some examples in which partners are working too hard to please their significant other. And it will come back to haunt them later …
- You give in to eating what your partner likes for dinner even though it’s well-known you don’t like that particular food.
- You go along with whatever your partner wants to do for fun, on the weekends or on vacation.
- You start dressing like your partner or only wearing clothes they say they like.
- You listen to the music your partner listens to and hardly even consider whether you like it or not.
- You’ve had plans with your friends for weeks, then 5 minutes before you’re supposed to meet, your partner says they want to hang out. So you drop everything and go with your partner instead.
- You remember every birthday, anniversary and holiday with a thoughtful and quality gift and celebration even though they often forget altogether.
It Can’t Last
All of this pleasing may seem like just “being a good partner” to you, but always trying to make your partner happy is not good news for any relationship.
First of all, it can’t last.
Sooner or later, you’re going to become unhappy doing all of these things you don’t even like and putting yourself out there when you get nothing in return. These unhappy emotions may take different forms in you.
Some people start to become resentful. Others simply become depressed because they are so obviously not living the life they truly want with their partner. Moreover, they may remain transfixed on their partner and continue trying to please them ad nauseam. And if their partner simply continues to take advantage of this pleasing, the torture will only continue and get worse.
Other Consequences You Didn’t Expect
Ok, so we know that you aren’t going to end up being happy trying to only please your partner and make yourself into someone you’re not. But newsflash: Your partner’s not going to dig it either.
Not only are they going to notice that you aren’t happy in the relationship and be discouraged by that, but they are also likely going to start feeling smothered by you. You’ll lose their respect because they’ll feel you are only needy and clingy instead of your own strong person.
If this is where you are right now … if you’ve been pleasing your partner and things have gotten bad … there are two paths you can take.
First, you can break up if it’s not going well. A partner who takes advantage of their boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is not cool.
But if your partner is still the love of your life (and things just aren’t going so well right now because of your overly pleasing tendencies), your other option is to … find yourself.
The How-To on Being Yourself
(It’s Harder Than It May Seem)
So we’ve established that trying to please, please, please all the time and act like someone you’re not is no good. Now, how do you really find out who you are so that you can fix this problem?
How do you know how to act like yourself?
This can be a real challenge for a lot of people, especially for those who have been changing like chameleons for years just to please the people they’re dating. Despite the irony that it’s truly difficult to “be yourself,” the truth is, we often get lost in who we want to be or who we think we’re supposed to be.
The good news is, if you’re daring enough to take the plunge and really uncover the real you … you can do it any time. And these tips will help you get started.
- Start a rambling nonsense journal. We know, we know, how typical. “Find yourself by journaling!” But seriously, start a journal. Don’t show it to anyone, don’t reread it, just write in it as often as you can, and write about anything and everything you want.
- But make a few lists of the important stuff too. Every once in a while, you’ll want to dig a little deeper, though. In your journal, make a few lists to help you discover the real you.
- What’s my deep-down-nobody’s-watching favorite …
- What are my 5 best qualities?
- What do other people often compliment me on?
- If I could improve 3 things in my life, what would they be?
- Examine what you’re jealous of. Many times, when you’re envious of a person or something that a person possesses or does, this is the inner you crying out because “you want to do that too!” Think about what you’re jealous of, and it might point you in the right direction.
- Pick a hobby, any hobby. Finally, find an interest. When people who aren’t used to having hobbies are suddenly asked to start one, they often throw up their hands and claim they have no idea where to begin.
The goal here is not to find the ultimate, perfect hobby that you will love and adore every second of. Literally just pick anything that you have the least bit of interest in. Most of the good comes from indulging in something where you can be your authentic self and where you’re not doing something to please someone else.
Pleasing your partner should only be done when it truly benefits you because you’re in love and it makes you happy to see the other person happy. It should not be done when it compromises who you are and your morals and the high standards that you should be setting for yourself. When pleasing starts making you or them feel bad, it’s time to reexamine the situation.