Being thoughtful and caring are great qualities to have, but if you go out of your way to get people to like you, you could be a people-pleaser, with unfortunate consequences for your own well-being.
If you’re always saying yes to others, you’re likely giving up time spent on things that really matter to you. If you’re always acting in a way that makes others happy, but not doing the same for yourself, you may not be living according to your own values.
Bending over backwards to please others can quickly escalate into unhealthy behavior. If your conversations with others are based on what you think they want to hear, you may start telling little white lies, a habit that becomes easier and easier, according to a study in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Worse still, what starts out as telling little fibs can develop into fabricating big lies.
When you get caught up trying to please someone else, you get caught up in guessing how they want you to be. You might start to change your natural behavior to get them to like you. Experts say that’s actually an example of your manipulating the other person, even though you might not even be aware of what you’re doing. People-pleasing can erode your sense of integrity — and you can start feeling bad about yourself.
Experts say that being yourself and risking people not liking you is better than experiencing the stress and tension that results from bending over backwards to please others.
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has more on the dangers of being a people-pleaser and how to recognize the signs.