person feeling pressure from all sides - expectations, fears, limited time

In the last post, I shared the story of how my friend had been dating a guy and had wanted to take it slow but had changed her mind about sleeping with him because while they were on date #4, he invited her out for #5 the following night. As she got ready to leave the following morning, she referenced the invitation he made, only to be met with a blank face and claims of forgetfulness… Well since then, he’s called her and claimed that – wait for it – he felt very ‘pressured’ when she brought it up.

How on earth can someone claim that they’ve been made to feel “pressured” about an invitation that they extended and especially after they had sex with that said person? He wasn’t claiming pressure when he was touting for sex or lying on top of her… But he did feel pressured, albeit due to the associations he made with her wanting to meet up again even though she was only referencing his invitation.

I can appreciate why someone might feel ‘pressured’ in this situation if a relationship is being assumed but at the same time, if, like this guy, a person then claims after sex that they have commitment issues (that they’ve ‘suddenly’ remembered), that they don’t know what’s wrong with them, that you’re a great person who deserves better and yadda yadda yadda, the reason why they feel pressured isn’t down to you but down to their act now, think later attitude.

commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you

This whole pressure debacle got me thinking because I’ve heard so many stories about people claiming that it’s all “too much” and “too fast” even though they were The Chaser, people who were told it was too much pressure after they apparently replied “too quickly” to an email/text/call, or who were accused of exerting too much pressure by asking the person they met online a few weeks/months before and who they’ve even sexted with to meet up and I even know somebody who felt ‘pressured’ because his girlfriend of ten years wanted to know if and when they were going to move in.

Being pressurised, as in somebody trying to persuade, coerce, influence and even intimidate you into doing what they want is certainly a code amber alert to stop, look and listen so that you can check in with you and understand where your needs, expectations and wishes differ to the agenda that’s being asserted.

  • If they’re exerting pressure, they want something from you – what is it? Why do you feel pressured? Be honest and don’t judge your feelings and thoughts. It’s judging you in some way that can have you ‘complying’ when it’s either not in your best interests… or you’re only going to passive aggressively backtrack on what you originally agreed to. The latter is familiar territory for you if you’re afraid of commitment – you tell people what they want to hear and then undermine it.
  • If you don’t feel that this can be discussed in a mutually respectful way, why not? Your answer is either going to reveal how you feel or what you think of the other person’s potential reaction. Make sure you differentiate between internal fear versus external concerns exacerbating your fears.
  • If you cave to this pressure, what will that mean for you? Will you feel happy in doing whatever it is they want? If you do go ahead, make sure that you are clear on your intentions and motives because many a person has caved due to trying to play the ‘long game’ only to end up being caught short. If it’s a situation where there’s a potential for compromise (not something with your dignity or values), look at where you can find some common ground.
  • Be clear. Sometimes in the effort to be ‘polite’, we’re indirect and wishy-washy with our statements and the other party is likely to see this as a point of negotiation. Hinting misses the point. I think sometimes we’re also wishy-washy out of fear that being authentic and honest will rule us out of the running. If you’ve made your position clear and they’re still trying to dissuade you even though your discomfort is patently clear, you have a conflict of interest. It’s also potentially a sign that they don’t respect basic boundaries.
  • Be upfront. Take the guy from the story. He knows he has commitment issues and that he just wants to get laid. Why front like he wants a relationship and that he’s dating? He could avoid feeling pressured if he stopped bullshitting.

Feeling pressure as in that sense of stressful urgency caused by the seeming necessity of doing something, possibly within a limited time, is, depending on the context, likely to be at best an amber, if not a code red alert.

It’s why people compromise themselves because they fear that if they don’t do as is being asked or certainly implied, that they’ll miss out and that what’s on ‘offer’ is a going, going, gone deal.

That sense of urgency for a person to, for example, sleep with you or to Fast Forward the relationship or situation to get you to make declarations and agreements that outpace the true nature of the relationship and how long you’ve known one another is that neon sign in the darkness that something’s very wrong because a person doesn’t have to stick a jump lead in things if they’re actually intending to be around longer than a hot minute and they genuinely want to and intend to get to know you.

  • It’s critical to have an honest conversation with yourself. Where is the pressure coming from? Who created the sense of urgency? Is it this person or is it your fears and beliefs that have convinced the People Pleaser in you that if you don’t comply then you’ll lose out? Is it both of you? If it’s both of you, it may be a sign that you need to calm it down and slow your roll. Talking about it now could be the opportunity for laying the foundations for healthy communication. For all you know, they might be feeling pressured too.
  • Is there a genuine need for a sense of urgency in the context of the bigger picture? Is the fact that there’s a time limit technically a red flag?

If you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. It may well be a sign of boundary issues that you need to have an active response to, even if it’s as simple as saying NO. If you’re on your own side and know your own values, it’s a lot easier to avoid being pressured into something that takes you away from being who you are or your path.

But, just like when people pull the whole accusing you of being needy when you’re not, don’t allow anybody to censor your needs, wishes, and expectations by claiming that you’re ‘pressuring’ them for wanting to be treated with love, care, trust and respect or for doing something ‘terrible’ like following up on what they’ve stated or implied!

Your thoughts?

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.


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