The most dangerous and common behaviour I see in long-term relationships and couples is telling your partner what they want. This is more harmful than telling them what you want to hear. It creates an unstable marriage and can fall if we are too comfortable with our partner rather than engaging on a genuine and authentic level.
People pleasers, compliance and pleasing are all common. So, why is this a common habit? There is a difference between kindness and pleasing.
There are many reasons we tell our partners what we think they should hear, particularly our partner.
- There is a chance of being rejected
- Fear of rejection
- Not sure how to set boundaries?
- Avoid unpleasant feelings
- We love to please others, especially those we are passionate about.
- We don’t know what we want, so we do it.
- Avoid conflict and arguments
- Fearful of the reactions of others
- It’s easy, but it’s hard.
Although it may not be easy to reply with an honest and sincere response, honesty is the key to a happy and healthy relationship. Honesty is the foundation of trust.
It is impossible to have healthy relationships if each person is true to themselves first. Why? We feel invisible, like we aren’t important to other people, even though we create that experience. It is also unlikely that our goals or priorities will be achieved, at least not as quickly. If we are always compliant with our partner, we don’t get the support and joy that comes from sharing our journey of growth and aspirations.
When I got married for the first time, I tried my best not to upset my husband. I not only sought to please my husband (before I), but I also put his needs before mine. When we had our children, I was devoted to making everyone happy. Although I appeared to be a good person on the outside, I felt empty, and each exchange felt like a joke. Although I was viewed as a kind, outgoing person, I soon realized that true kindness must also be kind and loving.
Why Please-Pleasing Without Considering Yourself Doesn’t Work?
Kindness does not exist if it is not also kind to you. This is a huge mistake for many reasons.
REASON #1 Honest communication is impossible if we aren’t being honest with ourselves and others about what we want, need, and think. If we hide our truth, others around us will act on incorrect, incomplete or unhelpful information, even though it may not be obvious at the time.
REASON #2 A passive participant in a relationship is detrimental to the health and vitality of the relationship. If too much is placed on one person, the relationship loses the uniqueness and engagement that can be created when both parties are involved. Sometimes, the relationship can sink to the point of being codependent.
REASON #3 When a person agrees to insincerity or appeases another person, they leave a situation or conversation with different inferences. This rarely leads to positive outcomes. These conversations can lead to misunderstandings in the future. You can tell your partner that their spaghetti sauce tastes great, even if you think it is too sweet or sour.
Reason #4 Even if you think you know your partner well, you are not a mind reader. Both men and women complain that their partner is trying to tell them what they think, how they feel, or talk to them. No matter how many years we have been together, we cannot see what is happening in the lives of another person. Being presumptive without being curious can limit intimacy, understanding, and connection. Assuming we know what our partner thinks and feels is a filter that blocks meaningful conversations. This tendency to assume also leads to arguments.
Reason #5 When we believe our partner’s words and withhold our true feelings, preferences, or dislikes, then love’s potential diminishes and steals away from its potential. One experience, one moment, can make a difference! One conversation can change how we see the world and our relationship with each other. This beautiful connection can be missed if you tell your partner what they think they want instead of what you mean and want.
Each person is responsible for meeting their needs within a relationship.
Pleasers degrade the relationship by putting their partner at risk by sending mixed messages or making no agreement. Dishonesty and compliance are harmful because they create the illusion of connection and agreement.
Healthy and mature relationships are built on honesty.