At first glance, being a people pleaser seems like a somewhat positive trait. After all, aren’t we always told to be kind to one another, and that being supportive is an important quality in a partner or friend? What could be wrong with wanting to make the people around you happy? Well, while there are positives to being a people pleaser, it’s often rooted in something beyond the mere wish to brighten someone’s day. A lot of the time, people pleasers have low self-esteem and are incredibly insecure – they can’t manage to find validation from within themselves, so they look for it in the people around them.
If you’re the type of person who constantly sacrifices your own happiness in order to help someone achieve theirs, someone who can never say no, someone who always agrees with whoever you’re with even if what they’re saying goes completely against everything you believe in, well, we hate to break it to you, but you’re probably a people pleaser. We’re not saying you should pull a complete 180 and become a totally selfish person who never does anything nice for anyone and only worries about what might benefit you, but you also shouldn’t let yourself get taken advantage of.
If these 15 traits seem familiar, that’s a sure sign you’re a people pleaser.
15 You’re always looking for praise
This might seem a tad obvious, but people pleasers are obviously looking for validation that, well, people are pleased. So, even if you don’t consider yourself a people pleaser, stop to think about what your reaction is once you’ve completed a task or done something for someone. Are you totally satisfied before you even get a reaction, because you know you did a great job and you’re proud of yourself? Or are you waiting for praise from someone else to validate you? If the latter is the case, you might very well be a people pleaser. While this isn’t true of all people pleasers, many studies have shown that individuals with a tendency to want to please people are often suffering from low self esteem, and therefore seeking validation from others instead of from within themselves. While everyone likes to hear positive feedback and to be acknowledged for what they’ve done, if your happiness depends on that, you’re likely a people pleaser.
14 You lie about your opinions
Maybe it’s a holdover from those schoolyard years where you may have been mercilessly teased for your love of a certain band or singer or activity, but one thing is for sure – it can be tough to be the sole voice for or against something. However, most people stay true to their selves and share their opinions, even if they may not be the most popular ones. People pleasers, however, will avoid doing this at all costs. They’ll figure out which opinions are the ones held by the group they’re with, and just immediately claim that their opinion is identical – even if it isn’t. They essentially become chameleons, just trying to fit in with whatever group of people they’re spending time with by claiming their opinions are the same – and often changing them based on who they’re hanging out with. Not only is this not authentic, it’s also a good way to lose who you are and what you truly believe in.
13 You can’t say no
People pleasers want everyone to like them and be happy with them, so obviously, they’re not going to say no to anything or anyone, right? Well, this might seem obvious, but to some individuals who are people pleasers and don’t even know it, it’s not – they just think that they’re being a good person by helping others. Yes, it’s absolutely a fantastic thing to help others out whenever you’re able to – talk about good karma! However, you need to be able to say no in certain situations. Perhaps someone is asking you to do something that clashes with your values and beliefs, perhaps someone is asking you to take on a huge project when you’re already overworked, whatever the reason, there’s a huge part of your logical self screaming that you should definitely say “no” to a particular request – but you find yourself agreeing to, against your best judgment. That’s because you’re a people pleaser.
12 You give too much
Okay, let’s get one thing straight – you definitely shouldn’t live your life only doing things for others if you know that you’ll receive something of equal value back – that’s an awful way to live. However, people pleasers are often taken advantage of because they try to give too much too fast. There should definitely be a certain amount of people in your life that you would do absolutely anything for, at any time – perhaps certain family members, a significant other, a BFF, etc. You shouldn’t be treating every single person in your life that way, though, or you’ll get absolutely exhausted. If your father asks you for a favour, you’ll probably help him out because he’s important to you. That new girl you met in your kickboxing class who asked you for a crazy favour? It’s totally okay to say no. You’re not obligated to give every ounce of energy and money to the people in your life who won’t really value it.
11 You apologize for everything
People pleasers want everyone to like them, so they’ll often be the first ones to apologize – even if it’s not necessary. When you bump into someone, even if they were the one who elbowed you, do you apologize immediately? Do you constantly find yourself apologizing for feeling a certain way, or for expressing a certain opinion? Are you apologizing for something like having a messy house when your friend stops in unexpectedly, even if it’s not that messy, and she hasn’t said anything to slam it? Just stop the madness! If you legitimately make a mistake or hurt someone, you should definitely apologize – but there is no need to apologize simply for breathing. People pleasers, we know it’s hard to stifle the inclination to blurt out “sorry!” seven hundred times a day, but try your hardest – apologizing that often is silly, and frankly, can get a little bit annoying at times.
10 You hate confrontation
This is obvious in everything from their constant apologizing to their shaping their opinions to match everyone around them – people pleasers absolutely hate confrontation. It makes sense – they want everyone to like them, so why on earth would they go stirring the pot and causing trouble that might jeopardize that? While no one likes someone who is super confrontation and aggressive, someone who makes issues out of every little thing, it’s also not good to completely avoid confrontation because you’re scared of people not liking you. In certain cases, you should absolutely let things slide and just shake it off, but in other situations, you should stand up for yourself – even if it means someone might not like you momentarily. That’s just a part of life. If you find yourself avoiding situations where some type of conflict might arise at all costs, that’s a surefire sign that you’re a people pleaser, even if you don’t know it.
9 You take care of others before yourself
Everyone who has been on an airplane will likely remember the whole spiel given during the safety demonstration where the flight attendant states that, if you’re travelling with someone dependent, in an emergency, you need to make sure to take care of your own oxygen mask before helping them. While this might seem like you’re being selfish, the fact is – if you don’t help yourself first, chances are you might not be able to help them because you’ll have passed out. This is true in an emergency, and this is true in life. Many people pleasers find themselves putting everyone else first, doing things for everyone else before doing something that will help restore their own energy levels and happiness, because they don’t want to seem selfish. However, the truth is, if you take care of yourself and make sure you’re functioning at an optimal level, everyone else will benefit – it’s as simple as that.
8 You hate the idea of people not liking you
This is one of the most well known traits of people pleasers, but people pleasers in denial might try to convince themselves that they don’t really care about what other people think – even when that couldn’t be further from the truth. For a people pleaser, the need to be liked is almost all consuming. The reality is, in life, sometimes people won’t like you – it’s not always because of anything you did or said, sometimes, people just have certain biases or hang-ups. For the average person, it’s something that can just be shrugged off – you’re not seeking validation from that specific person, so why should it bother you if your random co-worker doesn’t like you? However, for a people pleaser, it becomes a huge issue, and you might even find yourself going above and beyond trying to convince that person that you’re great and that they should like you. Just stop wasting your energy.
7 You’ll agree to things that you don’t want to do
Imagine this: you’re absolutely terrified of heights, and not really a big fan of the outdoors. Your idea of a perfect Saturday would be hitting your favourite local café, getting a new book, and just curling up and reading under a cozy blanket all afternoon. Yet, when your friend asks if you want to go on a two day camping trip that involves rock climbing, you find yourself agreeing… even though you totally, completely do not want to go. We hate to break it to you, but if that sounds like you, you’re probably a people pleaser. While the average person can easily tell someone that a proposed activity isn’t really for them, or that they just simply don’t feel like going, a people pleaser will likely acquiesce – even if it sounds like their worst nightmare. Chances are, if your friend or significant other or whoever it is truly cares about you, they won’t care if you pass on a certain activity.
6 Criticism crushes you
People pleasers are constantly seeking praise and validation from others, so it only makes sense that, on the other side of the equation, they are usually absolutely crushed by criticism. A people pleaser wants everyone to like them and wants everything they do to be met with praise, so when they do something that earns them criticism – whether harsh or intended as constructive – they’re usually totally devastated. While no one adores receiving criticism, most people recognize that it’s an opportunity to improve, or to address something that you may have overlooked. Even the smartest person will make mistakes or forget to consider certain aspects of a project from time to time, and even though it might sting at first, they welcome criticism because they know it’ll help. A people pleaser will find themselves wanting to hide away in shame and embarrassment after receiving criticism, so if that sounds like you, you’re probably a people pleaser.
5 You struggle to make decisions
People pleasers, as previously stated, will often change their opinions in order to agree with everyone around them and avoid any kind of confrontation. So, it probably comes as no surprise that people pleasers often have a tough time making decisions, because you’re not just weighing the pros and cons of something in your own mind – you’re trying to consider what other people will like, and which decision would appeal to the most people. An average person, when faced with a decision, will consider things like what makes the most sense and is the most beneficial to everyone; then, they’ll make the decision, and just deal with whatever fallout occurs. For a people pleaser, it can be almost impossible to make a decision, because you’re trying to consider everyone’s opinions during the process, and trying to figure out which option would be the most beneficial but also please the most people.
4 You don’t take fashion risks
When you’re a people pleaser who tries to tone down all aspects of your personality in order to appeal to the greatest number of people, it doesn’t stop at your opinions – it often extends all the way to your appearance. Everyone has a specific style that the truly love – for some, it’s donning bright colours and prints, and for others, it’s assembling a wardrobe of chic, all black pieces. For a people pleaser, deciding to wear that crazy patterned dress or sequined tank can be a huge risk – after all, what if someone doesn’t like it? So, many people pleasers find themselves dressing day after day in fairly safe outfits, something that looks polished but not too showy, chic but not too avant-garde, etc. If you make your fashion choices based on what you think other people will say about your outfit rather than based on what you actually enjoy wearing, that’s a sure sign you’re probably a people pleaser.
3 You are nice to everyone - even people who don’t treat you well
There’s a difference between being a kind person and being a complete pushover, but some people pleasers struggle to make the distinction. No matter how cruel or petty someone is, it’s always a nice thing to try to at least turn the other cheek, or treat them with kindness – to a point. If someone is constantly taking advantage of you, or putting you down, or just in general treating you like garbage, you absolutely don’t need to put up with that. While many people pleasers will assume that they’re doing something to provoke the ire of a certain individual, that’s usually not the case – sometimes, people are just unkind and there’s not a lot you can do about it. When you’re trying to please everyone it can be tough to stand up for yourself, but in certain situations, that’s exactly what you need to do – you don’t deserve to be treated that way.
2 You aren’t prioritizing your values
Everyone has busy schedules, so in order to have a happy, balanced life, you have to prioritize the things that are important to you. If you’re a young professional who is looking to climb the corporate ladder, that might mean prioritizing your career for a few years and putting work before relationships. If you want to squeeze in more quality time with your family, that might mean saying no to a big project or corporate retreat. If you want to work on your relationship, that might mean putting date night ahead of girls’ night. You get the point – you need to actively make time for the things that are important to you. For a people pleaser, it’s easy to let someone else dictate your priorities because you want to say yes and please them, but that’s a recipe for disaster. You need to dictate your own life and plan things according to your priorities – even if that means letting someone.
1 You never ask for help
People pleasers are constantly saying yes to everything that’s asked of them, but unfortunately, many of them don’t realize when they’ve taken on more than they can chew. Things pile up and they absolutely exhaust themselves trying to get everything done and make everyone happy single-handedly instead of asking a friend or family member or co-worker who would likely be more than willing to help. If you feel like your never-ending ‘to do’ list is constantly suffocating you, but you’re unwilling to ask anyone to lend you a hand, you might be a people pleaser. We’re not saying you need to get assistance on every little task, but if your people-pleasing tendencies have led you to say yes to far more than you should have, try not to exacerbate the situation by refusing to ask for help when you really need it – you’re not superhuman, and everyone needs help occasionally.