This is a category of women who as per what I have observed have always wanted to be in the good books of people who they think matter to them, that is they are what we call people-pleasers, always pleasing people.
So whether it was a parent to begin with or a friend or a spouse or children later on in their lives, the desire to please was always predominant. This according to me stems from their meek and submissive personalities, their inability to take a stand.
Here I relate the story of Nisha who is a woman representative of this category and her husband Samir, a conventional male but with a dominating personality.
Nisha was from a well to do, liberal, cultured and grounded family. Her life was pretty hunky dory till she was unmarried, amidst people who had no desire to control or manipulate her. In fact, she lived her life pretty much the way she wanted to.
However, this drastically changed once she got married. The first reason was that she chose a man who was self-made but from a different social background. Also, Samir was not as good looking as Nisha.
These differences were drilled into his head by his family even before Nisha had entered her marital home. The intention was to make sure that Samir would always be able to control the relationship and have an upper hand in the marriage and Nisha would always toe the line.
Thus took place the union of two individuals, one, the man, Samir with a slight inferiority complex smartly camouflaged under a superiority complex and the other, the woman, Nisha oh! So ready to please… she wanted him to love her, she wanted him to like her and was ready to do everything for that.
So what happened? It sowed the seeds for a lopsided relationship, a relationship in which Samir called the shots all the time and Nisha just took it all. In her zeal to be the good wife, the good daughter-in-law she ended up being completely dominated, completely controlled by the husband. She cast her family, her friends aside to please him and he ended up taking her for granted expecting her to be always at his beck and call. Not only that, he did everything possible to kill her identity by criticising her, ridiculing her at every possible opportunity. She wanted to keep him happy and lost her happiness in the process.
There was this particular instance when both of them were getting ready to go out. Nisha had taken a lot of pains to deck up, look beautiful. Once done she went up to her husband expecting him to compliment her but one look and he said the dress didn’t suit her, she looked horrible and asked her to change.
Another time she had made chicken curry for him because he loved it. On tasting it he felt that it had too much salt. He got very angry, shouted at her for not knowing how to cook and left the house in anger. These and other such instances had the effect of gradually eroding her belief in herself, in her abilities and killing her self-esteem.
With time she ended up losing her identity and confidence completely.
Having lost her looks, most of her friends and family she became completely isolated and quite lonely. And this is how she leads her life today.
What is most saddening and disheartening is the fact that now when she is past her prime she is lost. Once a beautiful and confident person, she is now just a shadow of her former self. Fear of being criticised, of being shouted at is her constant companion so much so that even her work life has ended up getting affected.
As I understand it, her desire of wanting to please others led to her ruin. The sheer lack of guts on her part coupled with the smart manipulation by the husband cost her dearly.
The apple of the parent’s eyes now just wants to die, wants to wither away …
Is that what her life should have been??
And what did this do to her family? The husband is now so used to getting his way, that he can’t look beyond himself at all. Since no one ever tried to push back or to correct him he has ended up being a domineering, interfering and an extremely opinionated person with no room for anyone else’s opinion.
The children have no respect for either of the parents though they do feel sorry for the mother. They are also somewhere reluctant to confront the father on most issues as they feel that that could have repercussions for the mother. Somewhere they too lack the courage to face him and so avoid him as far as possible. And what is sad is the fact that they have no love or respect for the father. Seeing the state of their parent’s marriage they cannot get themselves to respect the institution of marriage at all. They do want relationships in their lives but don’t know how far to go.
So what do we understand?? What does this journey tell us ? Is it ok to be bullied, is it ok to avoid confrontation??
Is it ok to keep brushing things under the carpet?
Or should one muster up courage when things go wrong to correct them?
I think avoiding situations could lead to a short-term gain but in the long run, it could prove to be disastrous. One needs to remember that you can’t please everyone so don’t try to do that. Don’t be a people pleaser be a self pleaser. Learn how to stop being a people-pleaser!!
Aabha kapuriaAugust 27, 2018
Very well written and aptly identified category! I have seen so many women who easily fall into the trap of this “ people pleaser “ category and they realize it only when it is too late. Hopefully your blog will reach out to those women who need to rectify their outlook NOW ! Good luck Maam!
Sangeeta RelanAugust 31, 2018
Thank you Aabha! I do wish to reach out to as many women as possible and God willing I should be able to !
Yadhav MehraAugust 30, 2018
Very real, true helpless pain well expressed. Must read for submissive people!
Glad to see that you are doing justice to your gene pool – Sangeeta. Somewhere your parents would be reading this and smiling at their girl expressing with grit and sensitivity.
The people pleaser is a sad story. So many girls worry about getting married into families that are looking for ‘young mouldable girls who are fimely balanced between tradition and modernity’.
The world is a cruel place where the good must learn to defend themselves from the preying antics/tactics of the wicked and selfish.
I have a male friend who has been a victim of being” marriage material husband”.
He was carefully handpicked by the girl and her parents to be the ‘tame-able sweet boy’–
While wickedness and selfishness does not know gender- you story so sensitively explains the lifetime pain one ties oneself to by not living up to one’s convictions.
The people pleasers need an encouraging community that would support and encourage them to overcome their fears while tackling the monster of approval seeking behavior.
Sangeeta RelanAugust 31, 2018
I think along with a supportive community they need to be develop the willingness to fight back.They need to learn to push back.
RajeshAugust 30, 2018
Nice new beginning Sangeeta! Hard hitting yet uncomplicated narrative and a personalised story telling style…it works!!
Delivering an important message to all stakeholders, especially the naive, hapless women themselves – who unwittingly become victims of their own goodness. Trying to be good to others and leading a “should be” life is a trap, a vicious cycle. ‘I should be like this’ and ‘I shouldn’t hurt him’ and ‘I shouldn’t do that’ is invariably going to make a woman a prisoner of her self created boundaries. That’s why a girl/woman must set the rules on Day-1 (of a relationship or marriage) – don’t be too good, don’t begin pleasing others in a manner that you can’t sustain. BE WHAT YOU ARE rather than what you “should be” and dont try masquerading as an “ideal girl friend” or “ideal wife” or “ideal daughter in law” or even “ideal mother”. You weren’t put on this planet to PLEASE others…the only person that you need to keep happy is YOU yourself first of all!! This message is driven home – quietly yet loudly. Well done. Keep it up!
Sangeeta RelanAugust 31, 2018
Thank you so much!
Yes we all must learn to be happy ourselves before trying to make others happy. But then caring only about our own happiness may make us tilt towards selfishness.
YasminSeptember 8, 2018
Reading this story makes me realise how our ilk is always looking for ratification , validation from others for everything that we do . Lack of self esteem and self belief stems from this in bred need to be declared “right” for every decision we take in our lives. Which makes most of us “people pleasers” at one stage or the other. Nisha’s case might be a protracted one , but every other woman tends to be a ” people pleaser” at some level , or is expected or raised to be one. Societal expectations and upbringing also plays a major role .
Any story or topic which stirs up emotions and provides food for thought again talks of the writing prowess . Headed in the right direction Sangeeta! Keep them coming!