top of page

"You're a People Pleaser"

We can learn to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones in a secure manner. When we learn to look outside-in, we start to piece together how our self-concept is not solely reliant on others.


For ages, we’ve been hearing this myth around codependency – relying on someone else for emotional comfort is unhealthy and shouldn’t be tolerated in relationships. While research around secure attachment centers on cultivating a healthy “emotional dependency,” it also argues that there is a need for co-regulation in our attachment bonds.

I was really surprised reading further about micro-aggressive thoughts in our society. We’ve started to align emotional dependency with an unhealthy drive for connection, when in reality, we are bonding mammals. So much so, that even when we’ve bottled our emotions up long enough, we find ourselves yelling or lashing out at someone we love. In fact, this may be the exact way our emotions were approached growing up, both in parental and other familial attachments.

In certain cultural experiences, we become accustomed to the belief that we must “leave the nest” and rely on ourselves to progress through life. Oftentimes, couples struggle with PDA because of how others will internalize their reliance on one another for comfort. In addition, couples within minority communities will experience disgust and disdain for their emotional comfort being someone of the same sex, from a similar or different minority group, or status.

Shame begins to rise when we start to believe that we can’t rely on our partner when we need their emotional support. Attachment theory drives home the significant impact of parental emotional and physical absence. When our parents weren’t able to stay attuned to our emotional experiences, we learn that there are certain levels of comfort we will receive when we’re taught to act in certain ways. Whether there was a certain consistency to emotional or physical comfort as an infant or child, when there wasn’t that comfort when needed, a child can develop anxious mood symptoms and fears of abandonment.

When we work with adults, for example, we see how withdrawing or pursuing partners engage in certain manners and why. i.e. withdrawing partners were used to minimal emotional or physical comfort, learning to manage emotion on their own and finding other ways to seek their parents approval or recognition. With pursuing partners, they could’ve become accustomed to dealing with things alone, but they latched onto their parents for support.

In terms of styles of attachment, you can refer to the chart above, which addresses common tendencies in attachment bonds, as well as some examples that may or may not resonate for you in your current or previous attachments with partners or loved ones.

We can attach codependency with attachment trauma – The blog is titled, “You’re a People Pleaser,” because oftentimes those from insecure attachment backgrounds lean into their partner for support, or for recognition, in order to feel wanted or worthy. This is where shame, whether from familial or cultural experiences can hinder our co-regulative relationship with our partner.

Questions one might ask themselves are:

1. Am I loved by this person?

2. Am I worthy of this person’s love?

3. Can I trust this person to show up for me?

4. or, Is the world safe for me?

Whether we’re in a relationship with a partner or not, we can learn to attach meaning to ourselves through our relationship(s), work, education, etc. We start to find other “people pleasing” ways to seek comfort in ourselves, even whilst still struggling to connect with those around us. For example, I grew up in an insecure attachment with both of my parents, and due to that emotional and physical lack of comfort at times, I started to push myself to achieve and find success in school. As long as I knew I could bring home that report card with “Straight A’s,” then maybe I would receive the affection I so longingly needed as a child. When I received that comfort, it felt amazing, and when it wasn’t there, I’d go back to feeling lonely and disregarded.

Now tie this example to your experiences, whether in past relationships or with your partner now. Are you feeling this drive to seek your partner’s attention or comfort, because they’re focused on something else? Are you scared to approach your partner, because you feel that they may not meet the needs you so longingly want met? Or, maybe both you and your partner are struggling to connect with one another, because you both have experienced some level of attachment trauma history.

We can learn to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones in a secure manner. When we learn to look outside-in, we start to piece together how our self-concept is not solely reliant on others.

In Emotionally Focused Therapy, once we get couples to a place where they can do this, they learn to then turn to their partners in times of great distress and reach for their support, without worry, shame or guilt about doing so. This is the same beauty we’re still cultivating every day in our relationship as well, and we want to help you reach the same goal in your relationship.

Reach out and schedule an appointment here.

36 views0 comments


bottom of page