When Your ‘Love Style’ is a Pleaser And FMTM

Since I mentioned that my love style* is an Avoider in last week’s post, I got so much positive feedback, that I want to unpack another love style—the “Pleaser—in today’s post. I’ll continue unpacking the rest of the “love styles”—“Vacillator,” “Controller,” and “Victim” in the weeks to come. So stick around!

I am, by default, an “Avoider” but also have moments when I’m truly a “Pleaser” as well. Certainly our wiring has something to do with which love style we develop, but the majority of it’s determined during our childhood and is based upon the wounds we sustained during that time.

Most Pleasers tend to put their own needs aside in an effort to meet the needs of their spouses. This is often one of the key reasons that a Pleaser’s mate is drawn to him or her.

Let’s say that some bachelor or bachelorette is looking for a love-interest who’s steady, reliable and will carry the weight in the relationship, then a Pleaser will inevitably catch that person’s eye.

[Tweet “The Pleaser starts out with such excited ambition—gleefully meeting a mate’s every need.”]

But as you might guess, once confined inside the walls of marriage—where the Pleaser is often taken for granted and loaded down with his or her mate’s burdens—a Pleaser’s enthusiasm sours and can even turn bitter.

Pleasers often grew up with parents who expected perfection and overloaded that child with too much responsibility, often far too soon in that child’s life. It makes complete sense for that child to eventually seek out a mate who typically requires too much and may be a “tad” 😉 perfectionistic in his or her demands of the Pleaser.

So how do you break free from this kind of pattern?

The good news is that it’s not left up to your perfectionistic mate. #whew

[Tweet “It really begins with the Pleaser making different, brave choices in that relationship. #bebrave”]

For example, because I’m an Avoider and something of an Introvert, I really need my alone time during some part of my day. My hubby is a Vacillator (we’ll learn about that love style next week) who really likes near-constant contact with me when he’s home.

I used to ignore or suppress my inclinations to pull away to grab some alone time. But there were also times when I indulged that secret desire, except I chose to sneak away, only to find that my hubby had discovered my retreat and was not very happy with me “avoiding him.”

Hmmm, imagine that? I am an Avoider, after all! 😉

But the reality is that I was acting mostly like a Pleaser in those situations, trying desperately not to rock the boat by either ignoring my need for alone time or sneaking it in without (hopefully) my hubby catching on!

So at one point years ago, I realized I needed to calmly, respectfully and with affirmation communicate my desire for carving out times to be alone, even when he was home.

Sitting Gary down, I explained why I needed this time and also told him that it didn’t mean I didn’t love him or enjoy spending time with him. I truly did! It simply is reflective of the way I’m wired and how I refuel.

After he heard that perspective (which he hadn’t considered before), he was more than willing to let me pull away from time to time. And I no longer ignored my needs in favor of “keeping the peace” or taking care of his needs 24/7.

It’s a tough and courageous step to take. And if you take it, it will feel more awkward than you can imagine. But if you’re a Pleaser, you really need to determine to claim back parts of your life that you’ve surrendered out of fear.

You’re probably functioning “out-of-balance” in your marriage and though this means “rocking the proverbial boat,” it also means that, in time, you’ll enjoy calmer watersperhaps for the first time in your marriage.

If you’d like to read my post on being an Avoider from last week you can go there directly by clicking here.

In what ways are you or your mate operating like a “Pleaser” in your marriage?


What is one thing you’d like to do that would bring more balance to your relationship?


[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come and join us for another From Messes to Message Linkup! #MessyMarriage”]

Thanks so much to those who’ve taken the time to do the survey on sexual hang-ups in marriage. I’ll be posting about those troubling situations one at a time in the months to come. But for now I’m hoping you’ll consider posing any marriage or relationship questions you might have so that my hubby and I (or just I) can respond in video form on the weekend posts in the weeks to come. You can access that brief, two question survey here.

* The “love styles” that are unpacked in this post are from the book, How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, Fresh Market Friday, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup.

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  • Mary

    Oh my! My personality lends itself to people-pleasing. I relate to not rocking the boat. I am interested in continuing to learn about the different love styles. I admit that I also avoid situations that might be confrontational. You could have a field day with me!!!

    I’m praying you through the week friend! God’s got this!

    • I thought of you, Mary, as I published this post. I thought you’d resonate in some ways with it. I also remember you saying that you don’t like conflict. I’m the same way and that’s probably when I operate the most like a Pleaser–though I’ve learned over the years to assert my boundaries and needs much better. It’s been helpful to be a counselor who constantly reads about and urges others to set boundaries. It has rubbed off in many ways. 😉 But regarding your Pleasing ways, you are learning to be brave! So you’re well on your way to bringing balance to this love style. Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Wow, Beth…I am so glad you took the time and strength to write this. A lot of couples will see themselves in you and Gary, and you may have saved any number of marriages with this.

    I try not to look into my childhood; it’s something I would prefer to forget (sexual abuse, Satanism, all that nonsense). But you did raise a good point in mentioning ‘too many responsibilities too early’. When I was eight, the people who raised me used me as an intermediary and ‘peacemaker’ in their rather vicious arguments.

    It didn’t turn me into a ‘pleaser’. Instead I became a schemer, always looking for an angle, and always secure in the knowledge that I was on my own. This can be useful as it’s the functional definition of a professional survivor, but being married to someone like this, someone this self-contained and remote, is something of a nightmare.

    I’m not incapable of love; far from it. But there’s always a reserve that no one gets to penetrate, one that I can’t remove.

    I wonder if this fits into one of the archetypes in this series? I’d be very interested to know.


    • I think it’s always helpful for others to see how my own relationship struggles have played out. We all get into these same unhealthy dances from time to time. So I appreciate your encouragement in this effort, Andrew.

      I don’t know if you’ve ever tried or considered EMDR treatment regarding your childhood trauma or even your PTSD, but it’s really a therapy that’s finding a lot of traction and bringing a lot of healing to people. It’s rather an odd treatment using eye movements that affect the brain centers housing the traumatic memories. It uses no traditional counseling techniques like talking about or recalling past traumatic memories. It’s simply watching the therapist’s finger in certain patterns, I believe, that strangely heals those brain pathways. It might seem like quackery, but it’s being supported by a lot of brain research. It might be worth trying to find a counselor who does it in your area, though I know that for you getting out and going somewhere is probably beyond your ability (or desire) at this point. Just thought I’d mention it, in case you’re interested or others who read your comment and mine could be helped by it.

      It’s interesting how you’ve interpreted the impact of your guardian’s on your “love style.” I’d say you’re an Avoider, like me. Though, you might find a lot of similarities with the “Victim” love style that often endured the level of abuse that you did in childhood. You’ve obviously been very much impacted by your military training and experiences too. In many ways, I’m sure it’s made you more of a survivor than any victim tends to be. Thanks so much for your openness here. I don’t remember knowing that your guardians were into Satanism. Wow! Would love to just sit and talk with you about all of that, though I know you’ll probably bristle at this thought as you read my words here. 😉 Praying for you, my friend!

  • Beth, I like to please people and started my marriage that way, but don’t feel that plays into our relationship now. But I saw some friends in your description I want to share this with.

    • You bring up a good point, Debbie. Very often this love style–Pleaser–shows up early in marriage and as the spouse matures and learns how to communicate boundaries, he/she moves beyond those patterns. I’d say that I’m like you in that a lot of my Pleasing ways are changing as I mature and grow more comfortable in my marriage. Thanks so much for sharing this with so many in social media. I truly appreciate that! And I, too, have many Pleaser friends who come to mind when I’m considering this love style. Thanks for encouraging me, my sweet friend!

  • pioneerpat1

    Wow, The really described me, the part about having too much responsibility at a young age (I basically raised myself starting at about six, plus took care of my parental unit because of her issues all throughout my childhood. I did most of shopping (hey, I even had a note at the store that said I could purchase booze and cigarettes for her), cleaning, cooking and always worked) made me want to please. One thing I have learned that you may want to please and do everything in your power but your partner keeps upping the ante because they see you want to do things.. It is almost like you are in an 800-meter race, then as you get close to the finish line, it becomes a 1500-meter race and so on. You will never finish.

    I stopped pleasing and decided the only one I had to please was the guy looking back at me in the mirror. It has pissed off a bunch but I feel better about myself.

    • That makes sense to me, Patrick, based upon some of the things you’ve revealed about yourself and your relationships here in the comments. You might even find yourself relating to the “Victim” love style once I unpack that in the weeks to come. It sounds like your childhood involved some abuse–emotional, if not other types. If that’s the case, then you will relate to the “Victim” love style. Thanks so much for your openness here. I truly appreciate it. I’m so glad that you’ve made many strides in this area. As I said to Debbie below, it seems to be more prevalent in our youth when we’re more insecure in our relationships and identity. Great to see you in the comments!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    As a “Pleaser” I know all too well what it feels like after continually “giving in”. Like you said, I have had to learn to set boundaries for myself. I find that this not only happens in a marriage, but in relationships with my kids and relatives and friends. The same holds true. Thank you for an insightful post!

    • Yes, so true, Bev. You bring up a great point. Our love style as Pleasers very often impacts and plays out in other relationships besides the ones with our spouses. I know I’ve enabled my sons over the years and probably due to being a Pleaser in many ways. Thanks for adding that insight to the conversation and for being such a great encourager in my life!

  • Deborah Will

    Thanks Beth – enjoying this series.

    • You’re welcome, Debbie. I’m so glad it’s been helpful or interesting to you, my friend!

  • This series is good, so good! I think I’m noticing that it’s very possible that people go through seasons of these love styles too, no? Really love how these styles can tie into our love languages too. Are there studies showing the correlation? It seems like there should be! 😉 Hope you are feeling better sweet lady!

    • Yes, I’ve been talking with others in the comment section below about that very thing, Nicki. I think that as a Pleaser matures, he/she often learns to confront and set boundaries with others–whenever certain positive steps and influences are present. And yes, I think they could tie into our love languages, though it might be something I’d have to ponder about before I could see the connections. Interesting idea! I’m doing better, though still struggling with the lingering pain–as the rash is still persistently hanging out like an unwanted guest who causes all sorts of irritation! ha! But my dr increased my nerve meds by 3x this past week and I think it’s finally kicking this stuff to the curb! It’s about time! Been 6+ weeks. I’m ready for some normalcy! Thanks for asking. I don’t like going into the blow-by-blow each week on my blog. People are like, “Enough with the shingles talk!” ha! Your prayers would be appreciated though, since my hubby and I are traveling four hours away to Louisville to visit our oldest and his wife this weekend. I don’t do so well in cars, but wouldn’t miss this road trip for anything!

  • Very insightful…I’m going to go back and read the other love style and look forward to your new posts. Thankful to be your neighbor at #CoffeeforyourHeart.

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I hope you do. I appreciate joining the conversation and encouraging me as well. Nice to meet ya!

  • Susan

    I think in every possible way, my hubs and I are both pleasers when it comes to each other. It took about 34 years to get here, but by jove, I think we’ve got it down!!! xo

    • It sounds as if you are taking the best aspects of the Pleaser and ridding yourselves of the unhealthy aspects then, Susan. That’s a great direction to take! We all need to work daily on doing what pleases and helps our mates, without compromising healthy boundaries and limits. Thanks for adding that to the conversation, my friend. And I’m so glad you’ve got an incredible marriage. #doingitright

  • Fascinating perspectives, Beth. Intriguing, too. I’m fairly sure I’ve worn a number of these hats from time to time … and sometimes more than 1 at once.

    My poor sainted husband …

  • This recovering pleaser addict is raising her hand! lol! It really goes along with the approval addict in me, too (and the co-dependent! yikes!) It was a long and often challenging road to recovering and realizing the difference between sacrifice in certain times, and obtaining one’s worth in the ability to please another. Today, I do still like to please and bring a smile to my spouse’s face, but it’s balanced and it’s done within my own set of boundaries! Thanks, Beth! This is another great series!
    Blessings and smiles,

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