Do you spend so much time trying to impress other people that you have totally forgotten what is best for you?
One of our biggest fears is rejection. The need to belong is one of our most basic human needs. Because of this, we may find ourselves going to great lengths to be accepted by another person. Sometimes this need for acceptance is so strong that we become blind to what is in our best interest or what it is we really want or need in the first place.
Many people who come to see me for counseling are so focused on getting another person to like or love them that they lose sight of what they really need or want. They go out of their way to impress another person without realizing that the other person is not impressing them at all. Matter of fact, the person may even be disrespecting them. If they actually got what they think they really want, they would realize that it is not what they really want at all.
Take Nan for example:
Nan was determined to get popular and attractive Joey to marry her. Joey liked to fish, so Nan took up fishing. Joey liked to golf, so Nan took up golfing. Nan worked hard to please Joey and never took her eye off of her goal. And after a lot of hard work, Nan’s determination paid off, and Joey asked Nan to marry him.
Nan was elated and accepted Joey’s proposal. The attractive and popular Joey would finally be her man. Nan kept up the facade for a while and continued to please Joey while neglecting her own needs. But as the years went by, Nan became depressed. She didn’t really enjoy fishing or golfing or many of the things that Joey liked to do. Their political beliefs, their spiritual beliefs, and their future goals were also very different. It seemed they had nothing in common.
Nan eventually realized that she had worked so hard trying to impress Joey, that she had never taken into consideration what she needed out of a relationship. She also became aware of how unfair this had been to Joey. He had not married the real Nan. He had married a version of Nan, made up to please and manipulate him into marrying her.
Are you a people pleaser? Do you consistently neglect your needs to meet the needs of others? If so, you may want to ask yourself several questions.
Am I trying harder to impress the other person than they are trying to impress me?
Am I pretending to be something I am not in order to please another person?
If this person were to commit to me right now, could I tolerate their behavior without asking them to change?
Remember that no one will be able to meet your every need, but healthy relationships have a foundation of mutuality. They consist of true intimacy which is free of pretense.