Thinking with You
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Relationships.life

Dating.Marriage.Motherhood

Always the Giver

It’s common for Christian girls to find themselves in a pattern of always being the one serving, giving, leading, helping, and fixing everyone else’s problems.  Sound familiar?  If this is you, perhaps you could be someone who is a ‘people-pleaser’, ‘approval-addict’, or ‘doormat’.

Think about the last three conversations you had.  Were they characterised by:

1.     The other person talking about themselves, and you listening;

2.     You offering to help with their problems, giving them advice, or apologising for their situation;

3.     You feeling a little bit ‘switched-off’, empty, anxious or angry inside;

4.     You feeling frustrated afterwards because you feel like you keep having the same conversation with that person and they don’t change;

5.     You feeling like you weren’t good enough, or you were rejected in the exchange;

6.     When you reflect, you realise you were feeling negative feelings towards this person, and yet you only communicated kindness and warmth.

These are classic symptoms of a people-pleaser (PP).   It’s a tricky thing, the old PP syndrome.  The problem is that it actually gets you a lot of social capital.  That means that people say nice things to you, like ‘Oh you are so servant-hearted.’  ‘You are such a giver.’  ‘Lucky we have you around!’  ‘Don’t worry, Sally will take care of it.’ 

This is nice for awhile, but has two major issues:

1.     Once you get stuck in this identity, it’s hard to get out of - and people start taking advantage of you.

2.     It’s hard to get to know the ‘real’ you.

When it comes to dating, being a PP is not going to work in your favour.  You might think that men would be drawn to a woman like you, who is always giving her all, burning herself out for the needs of others, and is always available.  But on the contrary, men like women who take care of themselves, and who have space and softness to receive

Remember, it’s the man’s job to give, and the woman’s job to receive.  If you’re always giving, where does he fit into your life?  There needs to be room for him to input to you – to help you, and to minister to you

This will only be possible for him if you start to reveal some of your vulnerable areas.  These are areas where someone (him) can make a difference.  The obvious ones are practical, like helping you move house, or picking you up if your car breaks down.  The more subtle ones are you sharing some of your fears about life, or your sadness about a friendship breakdown.  I’m not talking about becoming a mopey Molly or a whiny Whitney – but sometimes you have to give people at least a little glimpse of your weak spots. 

The other issue about being a PP is that you usually fill all your free time with other people’s problems.  This is very common if you are part of a thriving church community.  I bet you’re on loads of teams and committees, and are a ‘crucial member’ of the body.  In actual fact, and I’m speaking from experience here, you are probably trying to fill a deep void of loneliness and insecurity with all your volunteer roles and the accompanying social capital that you get from them. 

Think about your weekly calendar.  Cross off everything that is being done for someone else’s benefit, with very little long-term personal reward (if you’re honest).  Do you end up with some gaps?  If so – does that freak you out?

Well, the thing is, a guy can’t really approach you unless you have gaps.  Where is he going to fit?  I have actually had people tell me that there were guys at church interested in me back in the day, who didn’t approach me because I was too busy, or looked like I was totally sold out to my career and/or ministry.  I just didn’t have any gaps.

So make some gaps.  You won’t fill them with dates straight away, so this is how you could fill them: with things that are good just for you.  Here are some ideas:

-       bubble bath night

-       a new Netflix series

-       wine and chat night

-       call your mum/Aunty/grandma/bestie

-       late-night shopping

-       a fellowship/worship group (that you don’t lead or serve at)

-       flicking through magazines

-       gardening/flower-arranging

-       cooking or baking for fun (not in a rush)

-       craft/scrapbooking/collage/painting/drawing/sculpting/writing

-       art class/pottery class etc.

-       yoga/walk/run/swim (for relaxation and enjoyment)

-       join a sporting group

-       etc.

Self-care is doing something that is just for you, and won’t directly benefit anyone else.  People-pleasers can find it very hard to do self-care, as it brings no external benefits or kudos from other people.  So you need to practice it.  Over time, you will start to believe your actions.  (I am worth it.)

 These good vibes + the actual gaps in time will make you far more accessible to men. 

If this resonates with you, I really recommend you check out the following books (click to buy):

'Approval Addiction' by Joyce Meyer

'Codependent No More' by Melody Beattie

'Love is a Choice'  by Robert Hemfelt