Hey there, friend!
Let’s talk about something that often gets swept under the rug when it comes to relationships – the intricate dance between empathy, caretaking, and codependency.
We’ve all heard how empathy is the heartbeat of connection, right? But what happens when this heart starts skipping a beat? Well, that’s where things can get a bit tricky.
Today, we’re diving headfirst into the world of female empathy and peeling back the layers to reveal the fine line between being a caring partner and sliding into a codependent abyss.
This is the dark side of mothering vs caring.
Table of Contents
Where Does People-Pleasing in Relationships Come From?
Real talk time.
People-pleasing tendencies often originate in childhood as a survival mechanism. You did the best you could. And your care-givers did too, remember that.
If your parents were highly critical or controlling, you likely learned to gain their approval by being agreeable and hiding certain aspects of yourself. This tends to come from your mother figure. Approval and fitting in can stem from your childhood and a Mother Wound.
The same goes for situations where affection was conditional or your needs were frequently dismissed. Emotionally unavailable Father figures in our lives often have trouble with highly emotional situations. Our Father Wound comes from male/masculine care-givers.
As children, people-pleasing helps us feel safe and loved. But in adult relationships, it becomes an ingrained pattern that’s counterproductive. Old habits die hard! To cultivate authenticity in your connections, you must first make space for self-reflection.
How Do You Know You’re People-Pleasing in Your Relationship?
People-pleasing shows up in so many subtle ways. See if any of these signs resonate:
- You apologise often, even when you’ve done nothing wrong. How many times do you begin a sentence with “Sorry…”?
- You hide your real interests and adapt to your partner’s preferences. Do you go along with their love of football or only see their friends as a couple?
- You struggle to make decisions or assert your needs. How many times do you say “whatever, babe, you decide?”
- You feel responsible for your partner’s emotions and go out of your way to prevent their disappointment. (This is a big one!)
- You prioritise your partner’s wants/opinions over your own. Are you always having burgers even though you’d rather have a salad!?
Do these patterns sound familiar? The first step is acknowledging the problem. From there, you can take steps to break the cycle.
Why People-Pleasing and Hiding Your Desires Eventually Damages Relationships
At first, people-pleasing seems harmless, even virtuous. Society loves to tell us how we should put others first.
But over time, several issues emerge:
Your partner doesn’t know the real you. By hiding certain thoughts, interests or needs, your partner ends up bonding with your people-pleasing facade rather than your authentic self.
Resentment builds beneath the surface. Every time you silently stuff down your true feelings, resentment sprouts. This plants seeds of disconnect.
It slowly erodes your self-esteem. Sacrificing your needs for others signals that you’re undeserving. This conditioning takes a toll on your confidence and self-worth.
You eventually burn out. People-pleasing is exhausting! Catering to everyone else’s preferences while ignoring your own leads to chronic stress and decreases your overall wellbeing.
The takeaway? People-pleasing creates an illusion of harmony in relationships. But what you want is real peace, possible only through mutual understanding. Plus, when you give up your authenticity, you lose who you are.
If you want to dive deeper into people pleasing and setting boundaries, check out my article How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: 10 Tips for Setting Boundaries in Relationships →
Actionable Ways to Start Speaking Your Truth
Breaking free from people-pleasing requires patience and practice.
Begin with these steps:
Start small. Say no to seemingly inconsequential requests that don’t serve you. Decline plans when you’d truly rather stay home. Speak up about minor preferences like movie genres or dinner spots. Each time builds confidence. Remember that “no” is a complete sentence.
Use “I” statements. Rather than criticising your partner, use I-statements to share your experiences. “I feel stressed when we’re always double booked on weekends” is very different from “You’re so selfish about your plans.” “I’d like (state your desire) is better than “You’re always (state what’s always happening)”.
Remember, your needs matter. FACT. You don’t need to justify basic self-care, time out, boundaries or standards. If guilt arises, ask yourself: would I speak this way to a friend I love? You deserve kindness.
Practice open communication. Create space where you both can share authentically without fear of judgment. Schedule in time when you’re both available, not rushed and be open to listen.
Seek support if needed. Speaking your truth can feel vulnerable. Lean on affirming friends, a therapist, or women’s empowerment programs like The School of Sovereignty when you need encouragement. You don’t have to do this alone.
The Benefits of Authentic Self-Expression In Relationships
Speaking your truth not only feels freeing, it also completely transforms relationships.
Your partner gets to know and love the real you. Flaws, quirks and all. The masks fall away. It’s incredibly liberating to be seen by your partner.
It builds intimacy and trust. Vulnerability bonds people together. Openness deepens understanding. It can feel so uncomfortable but it’s worth the bond you create.
Your self-esteem improves. Owning your worth and setting loving boundaries boosts confidence. Asking for what you want in your relationship can extend into your career/business too.
You live true to your values. Alignment feels empowering. You adopt beliefs because they resonate, not to appease. You begin to attract more opportunities that align to your desires.
You continue progressing as a person. People-pleasing stunts growth. Authenticity enables continual blossoming into your highest potential. Your true self shows up!
Ultimately, radical honesty strengthens the foundation of any partnership. With it, you can weather all seasons lovingly. The juice is always worth the squeeze.
At the end of the day, people-pleasing is an antiquated survival mechanism. While useful in childhood, it blocks mature relationships from flourishing. But beginning right where you are, you can drop the act and gradually reveal your beautifully unique spirit to your partner and the world. This is the path to profound purpose, joy and connection.
If this article resonates with you, empower yourself by enrolling in my life-changing audio course Breaking Free from Codependency: Achieving Healthy Relationships.
Through interactive lessons, you’ll learn to set boundaries, speak up confidently, stop obsessive caretaking, heal your nervous system and show up as your best self.
Join many others in breaking free from people pleasing for good! Invest in your growth today.