Are women people pleasers more than men? Do they have to give up parts of themselves in a bid to prioritise others around? Is this practice healthy at all? Or is it a marker of a good person? What are the implications of such a narrative?
Under the garb of instructions about being ‘good women,’ we are taught to say yes to everything that comes to us. Leave your job and manage the house? Yes, okay. Shut up about opinions and go to the kitchen where you belong. Alright. If I ask you for sex even when you don’t want it, we’ll do it na? Okay.
Spear-surrounded by the pressures of being caregivers and nurturers, women go entire lifetimes by caring for others and neglecting their own selves. The toxic compartmentalisation of roles basis gender – women as homemakers, men as breadwinners – has bogged women down for ages, compelling them to let go of their own dreams, career, aspirations in fulfilment of domestic “duties.”
“I coach women in their 50s and am yet to come across someone who says ‘I sacrificed everything and I am so happy about it’,” Dr Saloni Singh, life coach and NLP practitioner, tells SheThePeople.
“For most women who reach middle age, and carry the feeling of having sacrificed something, resentment sets in. They’re clueless about what to do in their second innings.”
Women People Pleasers More Than Men? How Society Conditions Us Into It
Dr Singh says people-pleasing is common nature in a lot of people, regardless of gender. “People believe I’m not good enough. That’s something they don’t what people to know because they want others to like them. There’s a lack of self-acceptance, self-love. That’s when they start exhibiting people-pleasing behaviour,” she says.
One of the foremost indicators of people-pleasing behaviour is when the act of saying no poses real difficulty.
This is something a lot of women are familiar with, right from their days of upbringing when they are told to be submissive and docile to their workplaces where being even a little assertive brings with it the unfair stereotype of the ‘bossy office lady.’
In the pursuit of being good mothers, daughters, sisters, wives – token values by which women’s worth is judged – women lose their own identities.
Here’s why women find it tough to break out of those boundaries:
- Indian culture demands that a woman who is not sacrificial is not a proper woman at all.
- People-pleasing behaviour is drilled into us.
- We shortchange our own worth and imposter syndrome leads us to believe someone else knows better for us.
- Consequences, criticism, social ostracism seem more severe for women.
“It’s a very subconscious behaviour when they start getting submissive. They will be unassertive even if they disagree with something, won’t speak up for themselves, always feel: what are people thinking of me? Are they judging me? In reality, nobody else is judging them more than themselves,” Dr Singh says, adding her clientele is more women than men.
What can women do to break out of these limiting rules they are living by? How can they reclaim their lives and identities for themselves without the fear of judgment? Will it include becoming so hard that there is no scope at all for any compromises? Or will it include partnerships that fulfil women and embolden them, give them the strength and space to say no when necessary?
Dr Singh recommends going the length of love, as much as the woman desires, as much that makes them happy. That way, the responsibility of action will be the person’s alone and no one else’s, when the time comes to reflect and answer for your choices.
Women must begin by choosing what makes them happy; decisions they can call their own and be accountable for. The independence that will bring will set us on the path to making balanced, complete, and whole journeys at the end of which we can say with contentment, we lived for ourselves.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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