People-pleasing is a behavior of putting others’ needs and desires over your own. It’s an act of self-abandonment, which is a learned behavior from childhood. According to psychologists, people-pleasers want assurance that they matter to the people around them.
There are various types of people-pleasing behaviors and it’s possible to have a combination of them:
The Overcommitting Accommodator
You say “yes” to everything, even if you don’t actually want to do any of those things. You neglect your own personal needs and values because you want approval from someone. You take on more tasks and responsibilities than you can actually handle because you want to be of value to others. By doing things for them, being accommodating, and not speaking up about what you actually do or don’t want, you are ultimately avoiding neglecting your well-being.
You feel responsible for solving other people’s problems. You want to be the problem-solver and caregiver and you do this as a means of wanting to feel important and useful. By wanting to help others, you are seeking validation and a sense of self-worth (based on other people’s opinions).
You will do whatever you have to do to maintain harmony in your relationships. You go along with anything just to keep the peace because you don’t want to cause conflict or be disruptive. You suppress your personal opinions and feelings and don’t set boundaries. You might also constantly apologize for minor things, even if they’re not your fault because you simply want to avoid fights, rejection, and criticism. This can also be considered as a conflict-avoidant kind of people-pleasing.
You adapt your behavior, interests, and opinions to fit in the preferences of those around you. You don’t want to be different. You don’t want to be a leader. You fear rejection and seek social approval. According to Sharon Martin, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, acting like a chameleon and “morphing into whatever role will keep the peace and help you avoid ridicule, put-downs, physical and emotional pain.” By wanting to be the same as the people around you, even if it doesn’t fit with your own lifestyles, interests, and life paths, you are ultimately people-pleasing.
The Self-Sacrificing Caretaker
You sacrifice your personal needs and happiness for the sake of others. You feel a sense of duty to put others’ needs, wants, and desires before your own and this act is driven by love and compassion but is deep-rooted in wanting validation.