I see a huge problem among us women, especially when women are in a relationship. This problem is the problem of pleasing all the time. Most women would pass this off as ‘oh it doesn’t apply to me’, I’m a cool woman and I would never be one of those silly pleasers!
However, in my experience, many women like to think they’re not acting like pleasers, but they actually are. Part of this comes from not really understanding the difference between pleasing and giving.
And more often than not, truly giving to someone is counter-intuitive. It’s not something many of us have been taught. And many women mistake pleasing for giving.
The trap: Your own feminine mindset. What is valuable to men in a relationship is not the same as what is valuable to women. Most women will read this and nod, yet continue (for the rest of their lives) to give to their man in the same way they always have, which is in a way that the man perceives little value, and wonder why the relationship is failing, why they’re becoming another divorce statistic, or why their man is withdrawing or leaving, or cheating. (read my article about how to deal fear of being alone)
It’s not anyone’s fault. How are we supposed to know what we’ve never been taught?
Anyway. In your relationship, being a pleaser is a very quick way to destroy the attraction. Most of us would just rather ignore the loss. Denial is a common option. Denial feels certain, after all.
If you want to be a treasured friend to somebody, being a pleaser won’t get you there.
Pleasing and giving are two very different things. But they do have one thing in common: each of these actions fulfill 1 or more of our 6 human needs, and as such, I believe there is no truly selfless act. Even if a man dies for his wife – dying for someone is one of the most self-sacrificing acts there are. However, even in a situation like this, we are serving ourselves in some way. However small.
What I’ve noticed is that most of us operate more from a pleasing place than a giving place, and we are not consciously aware of it.
The real difference: Pleasing vs Giving
Pleasing is about you. When you try to please someone, you’re coming from a place of fear – fear of loss of love, and desperation or neediness, and you are looking for something in return; whether that be a reaction, or approval, or to get out of trouble (a mistake I’ve made) and a sign that you actually ‘did ok’.
Note: it’s not that you can’t ever need or want somebody’s approval or have fear – the point is that you don’t want to live there, and consistently act from that state of emotion.
Giving, however, comes from a place of pride. Giving is what you do when you truly care about somebody, and their future, and what they really need – not what they want, and not even what they seem to want or say they want.
Examples of pleasing…
1) A good example of pleasing would be: the woman who makes plans with her friends, but when her man calls to meet up, she changes her plans with her friends because, inside, she feels bad for saying ‘no’ to him. Why? Because she feels she might lose his love. Poor friends! (read my article about don’t be a woman who fits in)
2) Another example: Stacking up too many plans with loved ones and “doing too much” for the people around you. You are attending to so many demands and ‘requests’ of your loved ones that you can’t keep to your plans and end up late for people or having to cancel on people – and worse still, you are so much of a pleaser that you are way too scared to call up and say ‘I’m so sorry, I’m going to be late by 30 minutes’ (and make sure it doesn’t happen again) that you end up disappointing people because you kept them in the dark.
So much for ‘pleasing’.
3) The classic example of pleasing: parents giving their children everything they want (or almost everything). And saying that they do it out of love. I’m not saying they don’t love their child; but this act itself, more often than not, comes from a place of not wanting to lose the child’s love, affection or even the attachment of the child. After all, the more dependent someone is on you, the more safe they are. At least we sometimes trick ourselves in to believing this.
Too bad children are so dependent on you. Until they’re not.
The ‘K’ Word
The classic phrase used by a pleaser is: ‘keep him happy’ or ‘keep her happy’.
A lot of women strive to ‘keep’ a man happy. Can you see what I’m getting at here?
If you’re not a pleaser, there’s nothing wrong with the word keep, because you’re genuinely keeping someone – in the sense that you give so much to someone that they’re a raving fan of you – but a pleaser woman’s ‘keep’ is very different from a high value woman’s keep.
Pleaser women become low value women
We all value givers, even if their actions make us angry and resentful at first, because givers are valuable women. I mean truly valuable. However, we don’t truly value pleasers. People who seem to value pleasers are people you don’t want in your life. They’re most likely leeching off your insecurities and your desperation for love and approval. It’s easy to manipulate pleasers. We don’t ever respect people we can manipulate. Let alone value them.
Giving is an act, a message, a gesture, done from a place of pride – knowing that giving won’t take away anything from you. Giving is something you do because you already have so many internal resources that you can afford to give to others. See, pleasers have little to no internal resources (little value), because the ‘feel good’ moment from pleasing only lasts so long and it’s like a bottle being emptied the minute it is filled, and then needing to be filled, again and again.
I can attest to the difference between pleasing and giving because I’ve done both in my life. I’ve gone and pleased people and felt the awful after- effects. It never works out – even if it does for a day. In fact, I’ve ‘pleased’ – only to find that those ‘friends’ I wanted to please actually didn’t really value me. No wonder. I wasn’t even valuing myself!
I’ve given so much also, that I recognize just how rewarding the act of truly giving is. I’ve given in ways that no-one would expect me to. I can say that it always works out. Like I heard once: “what you give, you get to keep. What you fail to give, you lose forever”. Giving adds to your sense of pride, but pleasing never does.
So what is giving?
1) Giving could be telling a good girlfriend that yes, she would feel much better, look much better and be much happier if she changed her eating habits and lost some weight, rather than saying ‘oh honey! Your body is fine just as it is!’.
2) Giving could be telling your man that you need time to yourself, to re-charge so that you can come back to the relationship with more to give, instead of seeing him every time he says he misses you. (Click here to take the quiz on “Am I Dating a Commitment Friendly Man?”)
3) Giving could be not having sex with your man at all this time, rather than laying there like a dead horse while he does his thing, like he’s having sex with a blow-up doll or a rigid post.
How to give instead of Pleasing:
Now, learning how to truly give to a man (or to anyone at all) is not something you can easily learn overnight. It’s a big topic, much too big for this article in itself, and it’s a learning process.
Nonetheless, here is a start on what you need to do to become a giver rather than a pleaser:
1) Get out a piece of paper, right now. Write down every decision you have made (or that you can remember) out of a need to please someone in the last month. Next to each of those decisions you’ve listed, write down the consequence of that decision. How did you feel after making that decision?
How did the person you wanted to please react? Did the reaction you wanted last? Did the reaction you hoped for even occur at all?
2) From now on, instead of focusing on how you might ‘upset people’, what you must do in this moment to prevent someone from being unhappy with you, or how you might ‘disappoint people’ or ‘make people dislike you’, start using some new language. As soon as you notice yourself reacting out of fear, ask yourself, what would really benefit me as well as this person right now? What would truly benefit our relationship?
For example, you may be scared to speak up in a situation where you feel your opinion is not as ‘clever’ or ‘right’ or that by speaking up, people will ostracize you. In fact, truly giving to these people would be to actually stand up with certainty and either share, or tell the truth. Whatever the situation calls for.
I love this article. I spent most of my life confusing Giving and Pleasing. Now at 36 years old, although I probably make far less people happy and have lost some people who I thought were friends, I finally learned that Giving instead of Pleasing has made me a stronger individual and more self-assured.