People Pleaser

What if I haven’t done enough?

Can I really trust my judgment?

What if I’m unfair and I don’t see things from another point of view?

What if it’s my fault?

People pleasers always have a compulsive need to please other, regardless of their health and well-being. Unlike altruists, people pleasers have a constant need for approval and therefore they try to satisfy the needs of others in every way. People pleasers also have a strong fear of rejection and when they fail to please others they feel a sense of personal failure.

People pleasers have:

  • Good empathic ability
  • A tendency to avoid conflict and to act as a moderator
  • Low self-esteem
  • Strong feelings of guilt
  • A tendency to not express their opinion
  • Need for validation

It’s possible that the origin of this psychological condition derives from the presence of dysfunctional family dynamics. People pleasers, for example, may have had a role model who suffered from depressive disorders, addiction, borderline personality disorder or had strong outbursts. These dynamics may have led these children to worry about others and to take care of others, to difficulties related to the management of ambivalent emotions and to a tendency to mediate the other’s aggression.

Several studies have shown that people pleasers tend to get into a relationship with narcissistic people. A narcissistic relationship is characterized by the following phases:

  1. The narcissist will initially love, praise, and approve the people pleaser, allaying his/her doubts and inner anxiety.
  2. The relationship will change when the people pleaser behaves differently from the narcissist. In fact, narcissists don’t tolerate divergence of ideas because they feel unconsciously threatened.
  3. The people pleaser will be afraid of hurting the narcissist and will tend to justify himself/herself and to ask for forgiveness, to avoid loss or aggression.

If people pleasers are in a relationship with a narcissist, you can help them become aware of the harmful and dysfunctional mechanisms they use and try to make them turn away and react with indifference.

Firstly, it’s essential that these people realize and accept their condition. It’s possible to help people pleasers by working on their self-esteem and their self-efficacy and by making them understand that each one of us is responsible for his/her own emotions, not those of others. Therefore, it’s essential that people pleasers learn to say “no”.

Written by Francesca Mosca
Translation by Martina Fontana


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