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Stopping myself being a 'pleaser' - setting boundaries is something new to me.

(22 Posts)
pinktransit Wed 15-May-13 11:34:50

Fairly recently, I have realised that I quite often do things because it pleases other people - but not necessarily me.
For example, I was emailing a man that I had a fling with years ago, who pops up on my email every so often, and we'd exchange sexy emails for a while, and then he'd disappear again. My thoughts at the time was that it was a bit of fun, it's flattering that he finds thinking of me exciting, and he obviously enjoys it.
One day it suddenly hit me though that I wasn't enjoying it. I felt cheap, and used, and I realised that I was doing this entirely because it pleased him.
I was writing an journal at the time, exploring how I felt about various things, and this highlighted that I wasn't actually happy. So I told him that I wasn't going to email him any more because I was looking for a relationship, and am working on my self esteem. This was fine, and he hasn't emailed since.
This is just one example of pleasing people, although looking at it, there are a few similar types of thing.
Anyway - recently I've met a guy, we've gone out for a drink once and met for a coffee too.
We've texted a few times, most recently in the early hours of this morning (he works nights, so was in the office). I was awake at 4.30, so responded, just normal chit chat sort of stuff, and then he said that he'd enjoyed kissing me. I fell asleep then, so didn't respond. Later on, he texted to say that he was going to bed, and would I mind if he thought about me.
Actually, yes, I do mind. So I told him, by text, that I'm a person not a sex object, and that he doesn't know me well enough yet to think of me like that.
And now I'm sitting here, concerned that I've upset him/pissed him off.
WHY??? Was he concerned about upsetting me? No.
How do I stop this cycle? I should be annoyed that he thought of me like that, but deep down, I do find it flattering.
Now what do I do? Wait and see if he responds to my text? Hope he apologises?
What's annoying me is that I am worried that I've upset him, that I've somehow done something wrong. That if he doesn't answer, then I will feel bad. I shouldn't feel bad, should I? I should be feeling empowered, proud of myself that I answered his inappropriate text with a strong response.
Talk some sense into me please!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 15-May-13 11:42:34

You're already stopping the cycle, don't worry. First few times you do it, if it's not your usual reaction, you might feel a little awkward... that's normal when you're breaking a habit. Gets easier with practice. It's not wrong to feel flattered either. Lots of couples find phone sex and flirty texts are a great way to keep things lively! Just... as you say... these men hardly know you and they're using you as a cheap sex chat-line. So remind yourself that they're creepy jerks and don't give a second thought to their feelings. The two words you're looking for are 'your loss'. smile

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 15-May-13 11:42:44

It sounds like you have the right instincts, and you just need more practice and confidence doing things like stating your feelings, as you did in that text.

An assertiveness workshop or workbook could help you with practical tips.

These are also good things to keep in mind.

You won't change overnight; it will most likely be a lifelong experience in learning how to manage your people-pleasing instincts in a more healthy way. But that's all that any of us can do for the best: learn how cope with our personality types, with all its strengths and weaknesses, and choose healthier behaviours in situations where we know our less healthy behaviours tend to kick in.

pinktransit Wed 15-May-13 12:02:55

Thank you smile
Those links are good - I do recognise myself in some of them.

Just a bit of reassurance please - I'm not totally overreacting to his text am I?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 15-May-13 12:14:13

Your reaction is your reaction. You met the guy, you know how you felt about the text & you responded the way you felt you needed to respond. That's all that ever matters. Other people may react the same way or they may react differently... it's irrelevant. Set your own standards of behaviour, be your own person and you'll live a happy life.

A1980 Wed 15-May-13 13:56:00

I don't know: he's a man. He would probably think of you going to bed whether he asked your permission or not.

Maybe asking if you're ok with it is a positive sign.

A1980 Wed 15-May-13 13:58:40

Maybe if you are concerned about taking a swipe at people: tone it down and say Id rather you didn't until we know each other better.

It still says you're not ok with it but not as rude.

pinktransit Wed 15-May-13 20:14:08

Well, he's responded to my text, apologising, hoping he hasn't upset me, and saying that he thinks far more of me than that :-)

So - I listened to how I felt, expressed my feelings, and the world didn't fall apart smile

And yes, he probably will think of me - I don't have a problem with that.
I just wanted to let him know that I think that I'm worth more than just being his (for want of a better phrase) wankfodder.

I tried in my original text to not be rude - but still let him know that I'm not just there for a quick shag.

Anyway - I'm quite happy with the text and the response, and proud of myself for being brave enough to actually send it smile

buildingmycorestrength Wed 15-May-13 20:17:54

well done!

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 15-May-13 21:55:40

bravo!

and good on him for not reacting defensively either.

cheeseandchive Thu 16-May-13 14:57:12

Hey Pink

Well done on you for recognising you want to set some boundaries (and starting to do it!). This is something it has (and is) taking me a long time to learn. Two things that helped me

- realising I don't have to respond immediately to people, even if they say I do. If I'm under pressure, my default is to ignore my own needs and meet other peoples. I've had to get alot better about just taking more time to respond to texts, emails, requests etc. There's nothing wrong with saying "I don't know yet" (even if you think you do!) and taking a bit of time to analyse how it will affect you before responding.

- realising I am not responsible for people's feelings about my answers. I am responsible for making a good decision, for communicating it kindly and sensitively where required, but I am not responsible for how that other person responds to it. I used to do things for people because I knew they would respond badly if I didn't, but that's manipulation and its not healthy for you or them. I have had to learn to say yes when I can and no when I need to, and not dwell on the effect that it might have on them.

Hope this makes sense and I hope it helps!

onefewernow Thu 16-May-13 15:47:53

Good book on boundaries, and very readable:

www.amazon.co.uk/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454

LordSugar Thu 16-May-13 16:18:53

I too used to be very much a people pleaser but I have had counselling for the past couple of years and now I set boundaries. Some people respect those boundaries, other people have hissy fits about it but I let them get on with it. I totally agree with everything Cogito has said, and these days I have my own standards, my own reactions (rather than giving the reaction I think the other person wants), and I am far happier with it. I also take the tack now that how I feel is how I feel and that's ok. If other people disagree with me then that's up to them, but my feelings are just as important, and as valid as they are.

To give an example, one mum at my DD's school has decided to stop talking to me over a very petty issue, predominantly because she couldn't have her own way and I refused to bend over backwards to accommodate her (she is a tantrumming diva,and very toxic at that). She is slagging me off to any tom, dick or harry that will listen. People keep trying to tell me what she's said and that she's 'very upset' about it all, and I've essentially said stuff her, I am not interested in hearing about it. One other mum, who is a friend, approached me this morning and said she feels very caught in the middle being friends with us both and I just said 'Oh well, I'm not going to have anything to do with her again and that's my decision, I'd rather not discuss her at all'. In the past I would have been forced into making friends with the horrible lady as I'd have worried that other friends would have fallen out with me, but now I can't say I really care one way or the other. If my other friend falls out with me because of a choice I've made and a decision I've made then that's her issue and not mine, and also her loss.

I don't mean to make it all about me, but wanted to illustrate how I have changed and that also I am far happier now I have made the changes

LordSugar Thu 16-May-13 16:21:59

I wanted to say too, OP, that if you are a people pleaser then people pick up on this and you do end up attracting users, and people that have their own agenda and will expect you to constantly placate them and do as they wish.

When people sense that you have boundaries and that you won't tolerate rubbish then they do treat you far more respectfully, in my experience. The users and idiots will be nice to you, but they won't try to use you as they know there will be no point, they will prey on people pleasers instead!

Dahlen Thu 16-May-13 16:36:46

pink you are doing fine. smile

This is a process I went through and I remember it feeling just as strange as you're describing. It gets a LOT easier the more you do it, honestly. wink

Every now and again (usually if I'm having a moment of self-doubt or worrying about something particular in my life) I can find myself feeling a bit uncomfortable about being assertive (particularly if it's with people we know and care about). However, I've been doing it for so long now that I just carry on anyway because I know it yields the best result long term. If I don't, I stew on it and it comes out eventually anyway, so far better to be direct straight away.

My little trick was to imagine myself as I wanted to be, think about how that me would respond, and then do it. Fake it til you make it mentality. It does work.

Carry on as you are and you'll do fine. smile

Spaghettio Thu 16-May-13 16:37:32

I've recently become more assertive and have raised issues with people where I would previously have let them lie. I feel much better about myself and I'm not spending ages angsting over problems that other people have caused.

You've started well. Keep going! It will make you feel better about yourself.

A1980 Thu 16-May-13 16:44:31

I agree with setting boundaries but there is no need to be rude.

The guy said can I think of you going to bed.....if the op was uncomfortable then say something along the lines of I'm not comfortable with it just yet or you can think if me fondly as I will you.

A1980 Thu 16-May-13 16:52:31

Also one.of friends has massive boundaries. She has an electric fence around herself.

She's too much with her demands and her deal breakers. One divorce and dumped twice in the last year. don't go too far the other way.

MackerelOfFact Thu 16-May-13 17:17:39

"I listened to how I felt, expressed my feelings, and the world didn't fall apart"

Well done! That's exactly it. This is something I am coming to terms with myself at the moment, coming out of a relationship which I now realise had become very codependent.

Literally in the last week or two I have noticed a huge shift in my ability to put myself first, to express my feelings, to feel no need to apologise for being myself, and to be more assertive - and, yes, you're right, the world doesn't fall apart! I had no idea. blush

For me, simply realising this seems to have flipped a swtich in my head. So I think you're definitely well on the way too.

MackerelOfFact Thu 16-May-13 17:19:20

Also I feel far less responsible for the actions and feelings of everyone else, which makes it easier for me to assert my own feelings and feel as though I have the right to do so. Revelation.

TheNorthWitch Thu 16-May-13 18:10:51

I think he sounds a bit creepy tbh I'd be sticking a red flag on him and keeping my boundaries well up.

pinktransit Sat 25-May-13 22:52:38

Thank you all for your replies :-)

My instinct was right - he's an arse.

Thank heavens it only took a couple of dates and a couple of weeks to find out.

I love some of these responses, and will be taking them to heart.

Literally in the last week or two I have noticed a huge shift in my ability to put myself first, to express my feelings, to feel no need to apologise for being myself, and to be more assertive - and, yes, you're right, the world doesn't fall apart! I had no idea.

It's a good feeling!

realising I am not responsible for people's feelings about my answers. I am responsible for making a good decision, for communicating it kindly and sensitively where required, but I am not responsible for how that other person responds to it. I used to do things for people because I knew they would respond badly if I didn't, but that's manipulation and its not healthy for you or them.

This rings so many bells it's practically a quarter peal... I'm going to write it down and work very hard on remembering it.

Also I feel far less responsible for the actions and feelings of everyone else, which makes it easier for me to assert my own feelings and feel as though I have the right to do so. Revelation.

I know I've missed some answers here, but these are the ones that have really resonated.

Thank you
xx

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