PEOPLE PLEASING: Why People Pleasers Attracts Narcissists

PEOPLE PLEASING: Why People Pleasers Attracts Narcissists people pleasing: why people pleasers attracts narcissists
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Do you always feel that it’s your ‘life purpose’ to make everyone happy (aside from yourself, of course)? Do you often sacrifice yourself as long as you make others happy? Do you have a hard time saying no because you don’t want to upset anyone? Do you constantly crave validation from others? Do you feel personally responsible for other people’s feelings?

If those resonate with you, then you’re probably a people pleaser. Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at people-pleasing, why it’s dangerous, and why people-pleasers are susceptible to narcissists.

Simply put, a people-pleaser is someone who wants to be liked by everyone. People-pleasers have difficulty saying no; they end up saying yes to everyone in the room, even at the expense of their own needs and desires. They have a deep belief that making others happy or pleasing others is the best path to acceptance. A people-pleaser will often hide their true selves and portray a false self that is more likable and pleasing to everyone. At the core of a people-pleaser’s being is deep insecurity, emptiness, and struggles with self-acceptance and low self-esteem.

What is ‘wrong’ with being a People-Pleaser?

I know you might now be asking yourself questions and having thoughts like:

– What’s wrong with making other people happy?
– What’s wrong with being ‘nice’ to people we love?
– I love them so much; that’s why I can do anything for them.
– I care about them, and I am willing to even die for them.
– Isn’t love taking care of my loved ones?

Those seem like legitimate concerns for anyone, but when we look at the core of it, there is someone who is being ignored here, and that person is ‘you’.

Analogy — You cannot pour from an empty cup, and if you keep doing so, you will even end up giving up the cup (yourself). When the cup is gone, the dependents will struggle to stand on their own because they were used to the cup taking care of their needs (emotional, physical, and mental).

That’s what a people-pleaser does; they give and give, but they never give to themselves. This ends up depleting them and affecting their overall well-being. Also, a people-pleaser is not authentic to themselves because they project this fake persona just to make others like them, yet deep inside they’re hurting.

So, their inner world is suffering, bleeding, and crying for help, but they choose to ignore it and look at the easy path of ‘helping’ others as an escape from themselves. This means that there’s always a deep conflict within them; outwardly, they may look happy, but inwardly, they are resentful, sad, and insecure.

That’s why people-pleasing is very dangerous because there’s a disconnect between their authentic self and their projected outer life. When you abandon yourself to serve the needs of others, your life will be filled with dishonesty (deep inside you feel something else, but your actions are the opposite), you’ll never be free, and this leads to dysfunction in your life.

What Causes People-Pleasing?

People-pleasing is a learned behavior, mostly developed in childhood where you develop beliefs that your well-being depends on keeping others happy (your caregivers or siblings). This mostly happens when you’re raised in a high-conflict household or where someone’s needs overshadow your own. Some households that may lead to people-pleasing behavior are where:

– A caregiver is always arguing and wanting to be right — you learn to sacrifice your opinions to maintain peace and keep them happy.
– A caregiver is struggling with alcoholism — you learn to manage their alcoholism.
– A caregiver has intense mood swings — you learn to soothe and comfort them.
– A very controlling caregiver — you learn to do as they wish to avoid unpleasant reactions.
– A caregiver is suffering from depression — you feel sorry for them and feel responsible for their happiness or cheering them up.
– Parents are fighting all the time — you learn to detect a brewing argument and rush to stop the fight, making you personally responsible for maintaining the peace.

When you’re raised in such households, you develop subconscious beliefs or are conditioned to live a life where you feel responsible for maintaining the peace for others aside from your own. So, people-pleasing becomes a coping mechanism to survive those environments. Your actions in adulthood are a continuation of what you learned when you were young or throughout your life.

Also, another thing to note is that our social conditioning and general social makeup seem to emphasize making others happy more than emphasizing making ourselves happy first and then sharing that happiness with others.

Why are People-Pleasers Attracted to Narcissists?

People-pleasers and narcissists are a match made in heaven. A narcissist is completely focused on their needs, while a people-pleaser is focused on the opposite — the needs of others.

So, there’s just this magnetic pull between a people-pleaser and a narcissist (opposites attract). A narcissist will go all the way to get their needs met, while a chronic people-pleaser will go all the way to ensure other people’s needs are met.

Thus, the cycle of narcissistic abuse feeds the insecurity and lack of self-worth of the people-pleaser. I’m going to share three reasons why people-pleasing serves the narcissist and how a narcissist presents the greatest challenge for a people-pleaser.

Firstly, in the grooming phase or honeymoon phase of a narcissistic relationship, a narcissist will cater to the needs of the people-pleaser by validating them, flattering them, and showering them with affectionate and approving words. This makes the people-pleaser feel appreciated for their caretaking efforts, as their self-worth is tied to approval and validation from others. So, as the narcissist keeps providing validation, the people-pleaser keeps trying harder to obtain that approval, creating an endless loop.

Secondly, people-pleasers struggle to set and uphold healthy boundaries as they have a hard time saying no and are often unaware of their needs. On the other hand, a narcissist tends to disregard those boundaries to satisfy their own needs. Consequently, the people-pleaser allows the narcissist to act as they wish in the relationship, even if it hurts them internally, as long as it makes the narcissist happy. They prioritize not upsetting the narcissist and sacrifice their values, even when they’re hurting.

Thirdly, when the relationship turns abusive and the narcissist’s mask starts to fade, the people-pleaser takes the blame and constantly apologizes to maintain peace. They overlook the narcissist’s abusive traits and further sacrifice themselves by allowing the narcissist to exploit them.

They might even go to great lengths to “fix” or rescue their narcissistic partner, as that’s the role they’ve become accustomed to (trying to make everyone happy). Even when they realize their partner is doing nothing to change, they still worry about hurting their feelings. They choose to stay and neglect their own well-being because they fear the narcissist might become depressed, lonely, or even suicidal if they leave (the

narcissist might have threatened such outcomes). The situation traps them in a cycle, leaving them stuck in a narcissistic relationship.

That’s why people-pleasing may seem harmless but is actually dangerous; it traps individuals in an endless pursuit of satisfying the insatiable.

How Do I Stop Being a People-Pleaser?

To stop your people-pleasing behavior, you must begin by focusing on yourself and making yourself a high priority. It’s about being somewhat “selfish” before considering others’ feelings. Here’s the thing: if you fill your own cup, you’ll have more to share with others.

It’s essential to be completely honest with yourself when you help people and try to make them happy.

Are you helping them to escape from your own internal unhappiness or as a distraction from your deep insecurities, anxieties, fears, and feelings of unworthiness?

It’s easy to mistake genuine help or genuine happiness in others for people-pleasing, but only someone who’s fully aware of their own issues can discern this. A people-pleaser might be unaware of their needs or boundaries and hold the belief that their sole purpose is making everyone happy. Being in a narcissistic relationship is like the ultimate wake-up call that this approach doesn’t always work, as the people-pleaser might have given their all and still not received enough appreciation or improved treatment from the narcissist.


You can be caring and kind while also honoring and tending to your own needs. The solution, as always, is to introspect and not focus solely on others’ behaviors while disregarding your own concerns. One common, seldom-discussed trap that many people-pleasers fall into after leaving a narcissistic relationship is becoming the rescuer of other abuse victims.

They continue their people-pleasing by advising or trying to make other abuse victims happy (often spending considerable time sensitizing others about abuse and comforting survivors on social media) while neglecting their own needs again. It’s a situation where they’ve left the toxic relationship but are channeling their people-pleasing tendencies from the narcissist to others, forgetting about themselves.

I’m not suggesting that offering advice or raising awareness about abuse is bad; it’s actually essential. However, it becomes dangerous if you consistently find satisfaction in managing others’ emotions while ignoring your own. Striking a balance is crucial; start by “people-pleasing” yourself and establishing healthy boundaries so that you won’t end up mentally drained or exhausted when helping others.

Lastly, as you realize that you’re responsible for your own emotions, you’ll become more comfortable with the idea that everyone else is responsible for their own emotions. You can facilitate their journey, but not at the expense of your boundaries and emotions.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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