Are You Chronically Agreeable? Here’s Why the People-Pleaser Attitude Will Slowly Corrode Your Soul

chronically agreeable cat

Like exercise and chocolate cake, agreeableness is great in moderation. (As a quick refresher, Merriam-Webster defines the word agreeable as, “pleasing to the mind or senses especially as according well with one's tastes or needs.”)

People who are agreeable are seen as trustworthy, kind and humble. In excess, however, agreeableness can do more harm than good. A chronically agreeable person—as in, the opposite of a no-person—can often feel dissatisfied with their own situation because they’re so focused on how their actions impact those around them. According to Andrea F. Polard, PsyD, chronically agreeable people will do anything—even if it’s to their own detriment—to keep the peace. “A constant smile, perpetual silent service, no demands and no complaints create an expectation for the harmony to continue, regardless of how much the agreeable person sacrifices for such a harmony,” she writes. Basically, folks who are chronically agreeable are terrified of letting anyone else down to the point that they’re willing to sacrifice their own happiness.

Does this sound like you? Read on for five signs that you might chronically agreeable.

The 3 Rules of a Healthy Friendship

1. You Always Put Others Before Yourself

Being a helpful and supportive partner, friend, sister, etc. is fabulous. When you find yourself consistently putting yourself second, though, you and the people around you can suffer. Think about it: When you put everyone else’s needs above your own, you often end up neglecting your well-being, leading to fatigue, burnout or general dissatisfaction. Per retired psychotherapist Atalanta Beaumont, “By all means, be nice, but at your convenience. It is not good for us when we leave our own desires and needs unmet. There should be no need to distort who we are and what we want as adults. The world requires some give and take from all of us, but in order to thrive, we need to find out who we are and then fulfill ourselves as that person.” Once you start prioritizing your own needs, you’ll likely find yourself better able to help those around you. It’s a win-win, really.

2. You’ll Do *Anything* to Avoid Conflict

Conflict of any kind can be uncomfortable, sure, but if you’re at the point where you’ll do pretty much anything (ignoring some kind of egregious slight, overburdening yourself to make someone else comfortable) to avoid it, you’re only hurting yourself in the long run. Here’s the issue: Conflict happens. If you find yourself pushing your feelings under the rug just to avoid confronting someone, that can lead to a whole bunch of built up resentments that could’ve easily been avoided had you just nipped the issue in the bud with a frank, grown-up conversations.

3. You Feel Exhausted in a Number of Your Relationships

If there’s one person in your life who always makes you feel drained or unhappy, it’s possible that they’re a toxic person. If you feel exhausted in a number of your relationships, the call might be coming from inside the house (meaning you’re the culprit behind your unhappiness). Take stock of your relationships with your spouse, parents, friends and others and if it feels like you’re overextending yourself in each of them, you might just be chronically agreeable. The other person in these relationships likely don’t realize how thin you’ve stretched yourself, so be open and honest about how you’re feeling now and how you want to feel moving forward.

4. You Need Everyone to Like You

It’s completely normal to want to be liked, but chronically agreeable people take things a step further, wanting to be liked a.) by people they don’t even know and/or like and b.) no matter what it takes. Let’s say, for example, you’ve double booked yourself on a Friday night: Your best friend’s birthday party happens to be at the same time as going away drinks for a colleague you’ve never really clicked with. Because you’re chronically agreeable, you said yes to both. Even though you’re closer to your bestie, you dip out of her party early to be nice to your coworker. You technically made it to each commitment, but you feel crappy about leaving a party thrown for a friend you’ve had for more than a decade just to toast someone you’ll probably never see again. It’s just a fact that you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and the sooner you internalize that, the sooner you’ll be able to commit yourself to the people in your life that really matter.

5. You Have Trouble Advocating for Yourself

Think about your colleague who has no problem tooting his own horn and subsequently gets a promotion (and, you assume, raise) every year. He’s happy to boast about his wins and take credit for the things he’s done. If you’re chronically agreeable, the idea of advocating yourself and pushing for recognition might feel like a total nightmare. “Agreeable people are less likely to push themselves forward for recognition or advancement,” Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done, tells Psychology Today. They tend to do more selfless things at work. Unfortunately, doing things for the good of the group may not always get them noticed when it comes time to give out raises and bonuses.” No one is saying you have to become the queen of self-promotion, but try to get more comfortable showing the world what an asset you are.

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...