- You’re agreeable and try not to be or do anything that would give your date an opinion on you.
- Unsure of who you are and what you want, you rely on others to direct you. You’re also afraid of who you truly are being wrong and so you align yourself with ‘authorities’ (people with an overinflated sense of their own importance).
- You typically audition on dates and are more concerned with whether you can get them to like and validate you than you are with whether they’re a good fit. You’re so busy worrying about how awful it would be if these virtual strangers rejected you and how much you don’t want to have to be in the dating pool that you’re just listening and looking out for any cues and clues as to what will make you ‘better than’ the last person so that you can be the exception.
- The thought of being assertive, voicing concerns, giving feedback and yes at times criticism, as well as engaging in conflict, trigger a great deal of anxiety and discomfort so you’re always preempting it by being pleasing (read: suppressing your needs etc to prioritise theirs so that you can be rewarded in some way).
- You leave all of the calling, planning, deciding on the future of the relationship etc., to the other party. You say that it’s because it’s their job but it’s also out of fear of rocking the boat, fear of scaring them off, wanting to appear “no drama’ but also… trying to limit your vulnerability.
- You tend to go out with variations of your parents and slip into a ‘child role’ in your interpersonal relationships.
These are all examples of passive and people pleasing behaviour that make you ripe for not only being involved in unavailable relationships where the other party is the emotionally unavailable driver to your passenger self, doing everything on their terms, blowing hot and cold, managing down your expectations etc., but it can also place you with controlling partners who will happily leverage your eagerness to please, your unwillingness to step up for you and your reliance on being directed.
Dating is a discovery phase. To opt to hold you back with all of your morphing, twisting, bending and blending, is to blind you to that person unfolding. You immediately give away your power and the interaction becomes about convincing and converting.
Relying on others to direct you is akin to giving these people the blueprints to screw you over. How can someone come into your life and have so much say whether it’s directly stated or implied via their actions, about your needs, expectations, desires, opinions, and feelings. Erm, why are they the boss of you?
Auditioning immediately suggests that you’re not showing up as somebody who is valuable, worthwhile person that’s wanting to be in a mutual relationship. Auditioning makes the relationship lopsided because you put them on a pedestal where the only place to look at you from is above.
Silencing you at times when you really need to step up for you and represent, as well as imagining and predicting the possibility of the things that you fear and reacting what may be disproportionately to pre-empt and prevent these will have you green lighting code amber and red issues. It will have you suppressing and repressing with this misguided idea that because you hold back, they will too or at the very least, they will reward you with the relationship you want.
It’s all very well designating the other party with the job of directing the relationship but that’s to suggest that you don’t have a say in things and also that you don’t have to show up or step up. Do these things with somebody who is reliant on your passiveness to keep things casual, to breeze in and out of your life, and to keep you on a string, and you won’t know when you’re going to hear from them next and/or you will spend your life sliding from one anxiety session to another. I hear from readers who only see or hear from the object of their affections a few times…a year. That’s jacked up! Makes me want to go round their houses and come through their roof intervention style.
Putting your past on repeat by trying to right the wrongs of the past and heal old wounds by going out with variations of your parents just makes a child out of you. It becomes about fear of abandonment, fear of rejection and fear of feeling the old pain. It becomes about not upsetting your parents and that puts you in a precarious, codependent position especially because romantic partners et al cannot fill parental voids. You will unconsciously play out old patterns that keep you stuck. Even worse, when you assign these people with this ‘parental’ authority, they take it and you can end up acting out, even if it’s passive aggressively because of course, you’re not actually a child but you’re limiting your options within these dynamics.
If you’re tired of being on the hamster wheel of unavailable relationships and/or are perturbed at a steady pattern of being involved with controlling people, it’s time to ask: Where am I being passive in my interpersonal relationships?
This isn’t about taking ownership of their behaviour; it’s about taking ownership of your own feelings and behaviour by owning your own. You recognising that you’re passive and getting a sense of where that stems from isn’t to blame you for other people’s behaviour but it will help you to understand why certain people and situations are ‘attractive’ to you and how you effectively slot in.
Once you start being assertive which is stepping up for your own needs, expectations, desires, feelings and opinions with respect, the type of people who have previously got play with you quite simply can’t because you’re not a good fit (read: malleable and compliant).
Our relationships provide a window into understanding what we need and where we need to step up. Where are you being passive and why? Where are you afraid of being vulnerable and how is this influencing your choices and what you perceive as your options? Where are you giving away your power? Where are you still trying to fill voids that were created through inadequate parenting or difficult childhood experiences?
When you reduce your passiveness and people pleasing, you also get off the disappointment cycle and take responsibility for your happiness instead of inadvertently making it that of others. You drive your own life and when you do get into a relationship, it’s mutual and copiloted or you opt out. You stop being swept along and you stop looking for salvation.
Updated: Join me in January on my new ecourse, The People Pleasing Diet