People pleasers in relationships give their all and try very hard. They are always so worried about being rejected that the fear of rejection guides most of their decisions. They tend to be on high alert trying to figure out how someone is feeling. They worry about upsetting others as that would threaten their relationship.

People pleasing is a coping skill that helps us survive our childhood when we don’t have much control over our surroundings and our survival depends on the adults in our lives. At that time pleasing our caretakers by being the way they need us to be, ensures survival. As we grow older our environment changes and our needs change. We become more independent and don’t need to depend on others to survive. As a result the previously established coping mechanisms don’t work anymore. However, it’s difficult to let go of old patterns because we don’t know any other way of being. 

A lot of my clients say that they worry about setting boundaries because people might not want to be friends with them if they do. They say that they go above and beyond for people but no one does that for them. People pleasers are very nice to others but they don’t extend the same kindness to themselves. There is a difference between nice and people pleaser nice. There is nothing wrong with being nice to someone as long as you are not doing it at your expense. 

People pleaser nice is prioritizing people’s needs over their own and extending kindness to them at their own expense. Someone who is a people pleaser is very attunded to their environment. They pick up on the fact that they are not being treated well and that their efforts are not being appreciated but they have a hard time understanding how to respond to that because they are conflict avoidant. They don’t want to risk rejection so they continue being nice and over accommodating to people irrespective of how they are being treated.

When someone is nice without wanting to please, they don’t do it because they want to be accepted. They don’t overextend themselves. They accommodate someone only if they can not because they are scared of rejection if they don’t. They don’t continue being accommodating if they don’t feel seen and respected. They can set boundaries in a very kind and polite manner and don’t view that as confrontation. 

Be it any relationship like romantic, friendship, parents child relationship or work relationship there are certain traits we need, to allow the right kind of people into our lives. 

Some of those traits are –

Self awareness, 

Confidence in yourself, 

Valuing yourself, 

A sense of security that tells you, doesn’t matter what you will be fine. 

Knowing what your boundaries are

Being aware of your needs



Not making decisions from a place of fear 

Communicating your needs and boundaries

Not rationalizing away your parts that are telling you your needs are not being met

Being willing to reevaluate relationships and walk away if needed

Not taking responsibility for other people’s feelings

People pleasers in relationships

Lack of self awareness 

Self awareness is when you are aware of who you are, what are your needs, what are your patterns, what are your triggers, how you respond in situations, what makes you uncomfortable, you are attuned with yourself. 

Someone who is self aware doesn’t deny their reality or rationalize their emotions. They can separate their thoughts and feelings from themselves. They are aware of their discomfort and can learn to soothe themselves and regulate their nervous system through self compassion.

Along with being attuned to themselves they are aware of their surroundings. This helps them set boundaries. They know what emotions are theirs and what belongs to others. They take care of themselves, respect their needs and don’t accept subpar treatment. Self awareness is one of the building blocks of positive self esteem. 

Someone who uses people pleasing as one of the coping skills tends to disconnect from their emotions very early in life in order to survive. They have learnt that their needs are not important and in order to gain affection, care, love and acceptance they have to prioritize their caregiver. 

Self awareness comes when kids are allowed to make mistakes, provided with a safe space to recover in and then go back into the world again. People pleasers don’t have that safe space to go to, they are not allowed to make mistakes. 

Every mistake follows an intense amount of shame. The consequence of making a mistake turns people pleasers into perfectionists and they become risk averse. 

The lack of self awareness tends to hurt people pleasers in relationships. They are not aware of what they want from a relationship. They don’t know how they want to feel in a relationship. The most important thing to them in a relationship is to be liked. Someone noticing them, helping them a little or including them in things is sometimes enough for them to put that person up on a pedestal and feel indebted to them. 

For them relationships are not reciprocal. They have learned that they have to keep giving if they want to keep a relationship. The fear of abandonment prevents them from taking into account what they are actually getting from a relationship is it actually worth giving so much of themselves to.


Difficulty Communicating 

Clear communication is one of the important ingredients that contributes to a healthy relationship.

Things like asking for some time to process your feelings if you don’t know how you are feeling at the moment. Then clearly expressing how you feel and talking about your needs. Communicating to your partner what your triggers might be. Not expecting people to be able to meet your emotional needs without expressing what they are. Expressing your boundaries when something feels not right or you feel uncomfortable.

For people pleasers in relationships, communication is really difficult. They tend to be conflict avoidant. For them expressing their needs feels like a confrontation because it has the possibility of hurting someone. 

First of all, in order to communicate your needs you have to know what they are. People pleasers are not connected to themselves enough to know that something is upsetting them or they might not be happy with a request. 

They don’t know what they need in a situation. They might recognise the discomfort but they are very used to rationalizing their feelings away. 

Sometimes in spite of knowing that something doesn’t feel right they still go ahead with fulfilling the request because they care so much about what someone might think about them that they don’t want to take the risk of upsetting them or they just don’t know how to express their own feelings. 

They have a very strong self critic part that holds them back from expressing themselves. Rather than communicating their feelings to the person involved they criticize themselves for having those feelings. 

In trying to keep others happy people pleasers don’t set boundaries. They try to please everyone in their life. Due to lack of clear expression of expectations they sometimes find themselves caught in difficult situations in relationships. 

Suppressing who they are and their needs

It’s very important for them that the people in their life likes them. They try to control their perception of others by being very nice to them and suppressing their own needs. 

Here are some of the ways in which people pleasers overlook themselves-

Not communicating their feelings and expectations, 

Being ok with being disrespected 

Not setting boundaries

Making sure not to disappoint anyone 

Not expressing their opinion

Being over accommodating 

They are concerned about what people think about them so they feel the need to fit in to be accepted. 

They don’t share their unique opinions, they might also feel shame for thinking differently or being unconventional.

When one suppresses themselves so much in a relationship then it’s natural that you will end up feeling resentment towards the other person. They do so much for people that they feel like it should just be natural for people to respond to them in the same way. They don’t understand that healthy relationships are reciprocal, not transactional. People will be there for you just because they want to be, not because of what you have to offer them.

Needing validation

Seeking external validation from a relationship will make them prioritize and meet the other person’s needs. The anxiety that comes with the fear of being abandoned is very intense for them. They feel like the only way they will not feel that anxiety is if everyone is happy with them. So they put all their effort in making others happy.

People pleasers in relationships need constant reassurance that everything is fine. They are very sensitive to people’s moods. They shift their demeanor based on others’ moods. The dynamic of a relationship with a people pleaser is such that the other person in the relationship doesn’t have to invest much in itt. People in their life tend to take them for granted. 

Although Toxic people enter all of our lives, it’s not specific to a people pleaser. But, they are more prone to attracting them.

However, whether toxic people continue to occupy space in our life or not depends on how connected we are with ourselves, if we follow our intuition, how aware we are of our needs, how comfortably we communicate our needs and if our decisions are guided by not wanting to disappoint anyone. 


For a people pleaser the toxic person might continue to occupy space because the fear of abandonment does not let them set boundaries and take care of themselves in spite of knowing that those people are not right for them.

People pleasers in relationships might feel hurt, exhausted, confused, helpless, resentful, frustrated, hopeless and rejected. They end up feeling all the things they try so hard to avoid feeling.

If you want to read about how not to be a people pleaser then please check out – How to stop being a people pleaser

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