During the honeymoon phase, it’s a match made in heaven. The Narcissist gets their needs met, receiving constant adoration and praise. The People Pleaser feels fulfilled, finally appreciated and valued for their care-taking efforts. Narcissists essentially quell the anxious inner voice of the People Pleaser by constantly offering approval and validation.
Of course this inevitably goes sour, when the Narcissist becomes increasingly selfish, insensitive, and hostile. The People Pleaser implodes, blaming themselves and trying even harder, despite their partner doing the opposite.
So The Narcissist can say something as simple as “it’s all about you” or “you’re so selfish”, and the People Pleaser will immediately add this to their growing list of self-doubts, instead of recognizing the blatant projection going on.
The People Pleaser’s boundaries are shaky at best, afraid that standing up for themselves could end the entire relationship. They also worry about hurting their partner’s feelings, despite mounting evidence that this is not a mutual concern.
So how can People Pleasers protect themselves?
All this focus on others causes a much more significant issue: no focus on the self.
This issue extends far beyond toxic relationships, and into toxic relationship recovery too. I spent so long focused on the red flags and warning signs, obsessing and ruminating about the misbehavior of others, I didn’t even notice I was still completely distracted from my own issues.
As we turn our attention inward, we’re likely to find a lot of stuff that needs our attention. Low self-worth, fears, anxieties, feelings of rejection or inadequacy. By staying with these uncomfortable sensations, we learn how to build healthy relationships with ourselves, which naturally reflects in our relationships with others.
Red flags are important, but if we don’t work on ourselves, we’ll just continue doubting and guilting ourselves when we encounter red flags, which means we’re not protected at all.
People Pleasers often have no idea what they want, what their needs are, and what their boundaries look like. Everything is just about making sure others are happy. They can view any issue from another person’s perspective, making excuses for others while offering themselves none of the same flexibility.
Cluster-B relationships are the ultimate wake-up call that this does not work, making your inner world so uncomfortable and painful that you are finally forced to pay attention to it.
Despite what you may have learned, it’s not your job to manage the emotions of others. It’s an exhausting role that may offer temporary bursts of self-worth, but ultimately will drain the life out of you. As we learn that we’re responsible for our own emotions, we become more comfortable with the idea that others are responsible for their own emotions too.
With this mentality, we can finally relax.
This article originally appeared on Psychopathfree.com
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