I had a session with a client yesterday who's the epitome of an ambitious woman thriving in all areas of her life except for dating.
We're early on in our time working together, but just from two sessions, I could tell she struggles with a common self-sabotaging habit of anxiously attached daters:
When I brought it up, she sighed deeply and said, "Rocking the boat is my worst fear. I want the other person to be happy over me."
Let's be clear: this email isn't to shame anyone who's a people pleaser. In fact, I'd say most of my dating life before taking my year break from dating was coated in a layer of people-pleasing.
At it's core, people pleasing is putting others above yourself. Their needs, wants, and desires feel more important. You'd rather have their reassurance than your own opinions.
As a result, people pleasers end up hurting their dating life in a few ways:
They don't speak up for themselves. People pleasers' desire for their partner to be happy means they're less likely to mention when a boundary is crossed or their partner's actions hurt them.
They're not honest. Because people pleasers are less likely to speak up, they'll withhold information they think may upset their partner. While they don't do this with good intentions, it can hurt the other person.
They look for their worth in others. People pleasers don't have a firm sense of identity. They often struggle with self-esteem and look to their partner for the validation they can't give themselves.
They quickly take all the blame. They're OK with shouldering the blame if it means they can end an argument quicker or lessen their partner's irritation.
They lose themselves in their partner. Since they struggle with self-esteem, a sense of identity, speaking up for themselves, and being honest, people pleasers often opt for taking on their partner's life (like hobbies, interests, opinions, and friends) than doing the hard work of building their own.
Does that sound like you? If so, here are a few questions you can consider to start working against your people-pleasing tendencies:
How do I people please? What specific scenarios can I recall?
What needs or boundaries do I struggle expressing to people?
How can I check in with myself more often to ask, "what do I need right now?"
What are three ways I can begin prioritizing myself?
People pleasing is tricky to overcome, but it's also well worth it. Healthy relationships thrive with honesty, boundaries needs being met, and disagreements every now and then.
Check out my free dating anxiety journal prompts to help you understand yourself more and the changes you want to make in dating.
If you want to move towards feeling confident and secure when looking for love, grab your copy of my 30-day dating guide "From Anxious to Secure."