There are many of us who asked to be loved by a parent who either refused to love us, or was incapable of loving us. This can carry over into adulthood as a disorder called codependence. People who have codependent tendencies also have People Pleaser Syndrome.
The traits of People Pleaser Syndrome include: difficulty saying no, a phobia of upsetting people and being around negative emotions, and a tendency to do what others want even if it causes you discomfort or even harm.
This need for approval and love was not gratified as a child, and there is still a longing for approval from others. There can be a confusion between people loving you and people approving of you.
People can approve of your actions because your actions meet their own agenda. This does not necessarily mean that they love you, or even like you.
There can be a tendency to waste energy attempting to attain approval from the wrong people.
There are people who will take advantage of people pleasers because they notice that you need approval. They will manipulate you be using your emotional needs against you.
They also realize that you are kind and want to make people happy.
This good nature is also something that manipulative people will notice and take advantage of.
So, what can be done for people who still want to fill their love tank from childhood? Are there any safe places for the unloved children when they become adults. ( note I got the term Love Tank from the book called the Five Love Languages which I recommend)
There are safe people and safe situations, but people pleasers often have trouble identifying who is taking advantage of them and who is not.
One of the main things that was broken or not fully formed during childhood is the ability to create personal boundaries.
You must have reasonable boundaries for yourself, and be unwilling to violate those boundaries just to attain approval or affection. People that truly care about you will not constantly cross your boundaries.
When another adult is constantly taking too much and asking unreasonable things from you, then you need to take a look at the overall relationship.
When people insist on crossing your reasonable boundaries, then it is time to tell them “No” …even if they act upset or disappointed with you. Sometimes people will be upset with when you tell them “No”. This is okay.
People will be upset with you when you refuse to allow them to have their way. If they are used to being able to manipulate you by provoking an emotional response, then they will try to resist your new stand about your boundaries. That is okay.
It is okay for other people to feel upset when you refuse to allow them to take advantage of you.
Everyone does not need to have their way all the time. No one needs to have their way all the time. They are just used to ignoring your feelings.
If someone is always demanding their way, in spite of you telling them how you feel , then experiment with holding your ground with them.
You do not have to give them reasons that they will just reject and minimize. You can give them a simple form of No, such as “No I am not able to help you with that this time,”
If there are no reasons for them to counter and guilt you about then they have no material to work with. You want to stay away from a debate with them because they are used to finding your buttons and knowing how to guilt an shame you. Just do not allow it.
You will never get your love and approval needs met from people that only care about their own agenda.
Not only that, the people that would be caring to you may be getting ignored by you because your energy is being taken up by manipulative people.
The squeaky wheels tend to get the oil. They drain all of your time and energy, just because they are demanding.
In the mean time, there may be other people in your life that are feeling starved of your love and attention. You may not mean to do this, but it happens to people pleasers sometimes.
Pay attention to the ones that respect your boundaries and the people who are loving towards you. Do not confuse someone telling you that they care about you, with people that actually care about you. Love is not in the words.
There are manipulative people that will enter into relationships with codependent people. When this happens the narcissistic person might tell you that they are looking out for your own good. Just because someone says that they are controlling you for your own good does not make this true.
People that respect you and your boundaries will allow you to make your own choices. They may guide you to be able to think about what you want, but they will not try to force their agenda onto you. They will not project their beliefs and force them onto you.
If someone has to announce to you or to others that they are good to you, then that should make you wonder.
Some abusers use this tactic to confuse their victim. They will tell you that they are good to you and even tell others how good they are to you.
Look at how people treat you, not how they say they treat you.
See if the relationship is really balanced. If you are always doing things for them and they complain about having to do one thing for you, then you may want to evaluate how fair the relationship is to you.
The need to be approved of and loved is strong with adult children of alcoholics and other abusive parents. But that need cannot be met by abusive people.
Once you practice drawing simple basic boundaries, then you will be able to attract people that respect those boundaries. Notice what boundaries other people have. They should respect the same boundaries with you that they expect you to respect for them.
Here are a few examples of ways a manipulative person crosses boundaries while holding their own boundaries
1. They do not allow you to call them at work. But they call and interrupt you at work all the time.
2. They do not do favors for you that will interfere with things they need to get done. But they insist on you doing favors for them, even when you tell them that you have other things that you need to do.
3. They are clear with you about not interfering with their sleep schedule, work schedule and other time frames. But they keep you up late when you have to work the next day and make you run late for work by keeping you on the phone.
4. They insist that you answer the phone when they call, even if you are busy. But they ignore your calls and call you back hours later if at all, even when you leave a message that it is important.
5. They are clear that they have other relationships that need their time and attention. But they get upset or angry when you spend time with other people or do things to maintain other relationships, rather than giving them all of your time and attention.