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.
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
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 waters—perhaps 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?
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.
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