I'm unavailable and not really interested in snogging you...but please think I'm brilliant and awesome and hot!
March 1, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Why am I addicted to male attention? And how do I stop?

I feel like every somewhat attractive/interesting guy I meet/know, whether at work, or school, or in social situations MUST be made aware of how funny, how witty, how pretty I am. I don't necessarily flirt in a sexual way. I'm not touchy-feely or suggestive at all. I don't compliment the guy's appearance. There's nothing physical. Nor do I bat my eyelashes or twirl my hair.

But I intellectually flirt and ego-boost, and it often feels like this is my default in social situations with males. It's along the lines of:
"I love that band, too! That is my favorite book ever! You have awesome taste! Look at how much we have in common!" (Occasionally I'll fib and feign knowledge of something, which is lame.) or... "Wow, you are the most hilarious person EVER!" (Sometimes I'll laugh a little TOO hard, extend a jokey exchange a little TOO much.)
I'm a bit too engaged, a bit too interested. I become very conscious of my appearance. I very much want to be liked, even if I have no intention of taking things any further and no real romantic interest in the guy. If I can walk away with a distinct feeling that the guy might want me, I am pleased with myself.

I'm in a serious relationship and have always been a long-term relationship person. My current boyfriend of several years is affectionate and complimentary. Of course, the kind of fawning and flirting that is characteristic of the early stages of dating has waned a bit, but that is to be expected once you're with someone for a long time. (For the record, I would also enjoy this kind of attention from him - it's not just about other men - and he did provide that earlier on in the relationship. But I think expecting him to fawn over me the way he did during Week 2 of our budding relationship is a little unreasonable.)

I have never been sexually promiscuous or cheated on my boyfriend. In fact, I've been extremely selective about my involvements. I've almost never acted on that kind of attention. It seems like it was satisfaction enough just knowing that that guy would jump at the chance to be with me if given the opportunity.

As you can imagine, this has gotten me in trouble from time to time. Not just with the boyfriend, who does completely trust me but thinks I'm too flirty at times. But it's also gotten me in a couple of tough situations with male friends who developed crushes on me and felt led on when they realized I wasn't actually interested in being more than friends, and miscontrued the attention I gave them as romantic interest (which is fair). Naturally, that didn't bode well for the future of those friendships.

Further, if a male acquaintance once pined for me and pines no longer or moves onto a new girl, I feel a bit jealous. I see how utterly ridiculous that is. I never, ever act on it. But the feeling does arise and it's quite disturbing. I have a boyfriend! Whom I love and very much want to be with and have no desire to cheat on! Why should I care whether some other guy thinks I'm the cat's pajamas?

Is this about power? Control? Horrible insecurity and need for constant validation? Low self-esteem? Narcissism? Poor socialization with males? Lack of fatherly attention growing up? I'm aware of my behavior, obviously, and have gotten better at curbing it a bit. But why have I been doing this in the first place? What is this need to be desired and wanted? And how can I stop feeling that need?

Speculation, psychological guesses and similar tales welcome. I am embarrassed and troubled by this and it's felt good to type it out. Thanks for listening.
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Human Relations (29 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like anxiety; the constant need for validation is something a lot of anxious people feel.
posted by Hiker at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Well, you sound like the exact definition of me. At least of what others have defined me as... Anyway, you need to just talk yourself up. You shouldn't need a man (a MAN of all people) to validate your self worth. I understand you completely. You want men to notice you right? Because it makes you feel better about yourself, possibly? Just try and give what you are getting from these men to yourself. It would be a great accomplishment.
posted by shortbus at 12:28 PM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: Wow, you've put this very well - I saw a lot of myself in your post. For me, it was a mixture of low self-esteem and my father's manipulative behavior/rejection of me while growing up. I think many of us that act this way have grown up with a father that made us feel as if we had to EARN any of the love and support that we received - we learn to boost the guy because we feel that it's the only way to get their regard - and, once we get that regard, we fear losing it (fear of abandonment).

All that being said, I think that it's often just a part of growing into ourselves as women. I still fall into this behavior from time to time, but it's lost the compulsive nature it once had. What helped me more than anything was getting more good female friends. Once I started getting my ego boost from the mutual appreciation and shared common experiences of my peers, the guy thing started to reveal itself as what I think it is, a throwback infantile response. Getting more female friends, finding more security/acceptance of myself as a person, and just plain getting older and not having that instant male attention to fall back on has greatly curtailed that behavior for me.

It's natural to crave attention. I don't think that it's necessarily a problem until it becomes a problem in your everyday life. Start weaning yourself away from the easy attention and cultivating the nourishing attention and you will find that this behavior will greatly decrease.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:30 PM on March 1, 2010 [8 favorites]

It sounds to me as though you don't really like yourself very much. That is to say, you don't think that you're funny or smart or pretty or that your taste in music is great. Unless someone else tells you those good things about yourself, it's hard for you to believe that they're true.

I used to do this too. Still do, occasionally. I find that I'm more likely to feel this way when I'm feeling insecure deep down. When I notice that I'm the only one of my friends who doesn't have a boyfriend, or when I'm in an unfamiliar setting and am not sure how I'm supposed to act, or when I've just failed at something I tried to do, I still have a tendency to seek external validation. When it happens, I try to stop myself and identify what's really going on. What am I really upset about? And I focus on telling myself that I'm okay, that it's okay to have a hard time, that struggling is normal. And it makes me feel better.

How did I get to this point where it's easier to like myself and to cheer myself up when I'm feeling insecure? Therapy. That's what I'd recommend for you as well.
posted by decathecting at 12:33 PM on March 1, 2010 [8 favorites]

Honestly? I used to be more like this until I made many close female friends. I imagine that, with how you describe things currently, you get along better with men then women (of course--because you're constantly competing with the women and fawning over the guys). Becoming close friends with women I genuinely respected as my equal--and you're not all that awesome that they're not out there, I promise--made me realize how shitty it was to snipe men from other women and to demand to be the centerpiece of any social interaction. I also observed it a little bit from the other side: had friends display that kind of tiresome behavior around me. And watched how it would destroy otherwise fun/equitable/rewarding social situations. People who go around acting like black holes for attention really do sap the intellectual and creative energy from a room. It's really wearying, and not only do I avoid acting that way these days, but I avoid other people who do, too.

Change your feelings by changing your behavior first. The less you give in to your insecurities, the more you'll realize that you don't have to. What's the worst that can happen? So a guy likes someone else. You can't always be the prettiest girl in the room.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:40 PM on March 1, 2010 [6 favorites]

Put the effort back into your relationship. You must be exhausted by the time you get home from trying to get attention from other men. Is there anything left for your BF?

Since you requested speculation, here's a harsh one:

You're unhappy in your current relationship. Constant attention from other other men makes you feel like you always have an easy out. You're getting from them what you really want from your BF....Get it from your boyfriend.
posted by teg4rvn at 12:41 PM on March 1, 2010

Back in high school I used to have some similar issues. I remember one time I was crying in my room about some perceived slight, and it was loud enough to be heard through the walls. My dad slipped a little note under my door that said "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle!"
(which is a quote from Gloria Steinem)

It was so endearing, even though I can't say I immediately stopped caring what men thought of me, it helped. I can't tell you what's causing your issues, but I think it is a more common problem than you'd think, and my limited understanding of the causes leads me to believe that there are two things that help:
1. Focusing on appreciating your own self worth as separate from a male opinion of it, by regularly creating and meeting your own life goals, and spending lots of time with family and female friends who can give you lots of positive reinforcement.
2. Having a few REALLY awkward or embarassing encounters that highlight how getting flirty with people you aren't really interested in can backfire - it sounds like you had a few of these already, I urge you to stop before you get into any more. It's all fun and games until someone starts cursing you out (perhaps publicly...) for breaking their heart. Trust me!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:41 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Speculation, from someone who used to/still sometimes struggles with similar issues (and I *totally* get that whole "intellectual flirting" thing):

Is this about power? Control? Horrible insecurity and need for constant validation? Low self-esteem? Narcissism? Poor socialization with males? Lack of fatherly attention growing up?

Probably. Did you lack fatherly attention while growing up? This can lead to all sorts of anxiety, self-esteem issues, need for validation as well as control/power issues.

I'm aware of my behavior, obviously, and have gotten better at curbing it a bit.

Congratulations, you survived step one: awareness of the issue. You're already better at curbing it, probably by becoming aware of your feelings and actions in the moment and taking a step back. This is good. Keep it up.

But why have I been doing this in the first place? What is this need to be desired and wanted? And how can I stop feeling that need?

Why is a question no one but you and a good therapist are going to be able to answer. The why may or may not matter. Now take a deep breath and accept the following truth: EVERYONE needs to feel desired and wanted. It's part of being human. The issue is not feeling that need but how you fulfill or react to it.

Tip One: Find ways to validate yourself to yourself. Allow yourself to be proud of even your smallest accomplishments. If this means celebration or reward, then by all means do it!

Tip Two: Communication is key in relationships. People are not mind readers. Figure out what *exactly* makes you feel wanted/desired. Do you need more compliments? Ask your boyfriend to be more verbal about what he likes about you. Tell him that you need to be reminded of how pretty/smart/wanted/loved/awesome hair/beautiful eyes/generally awesome you are. Be ready to do the same for him.

Tip Three: Give yourself a break! Especially when stressed/anxious; take time to pamper yourself, take care of yourself, and make sure to get a little extra of tips 1 & 2 above.
posted by MuChao at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't say why you do it, although basic insecurity comes to mind -- you really want these people to like you for the sake of being liked, and historically this behavior has made people like you (sometimes too much, as you mention) -- but I can say this: for everyone who seems to like you more because of this behavior, there's a more observant, centered, intelligent person who thinks "wow, what an insecure person."

So it might help to change your behavior if you realize that you're actually driving away people who might be better worth your time. Then again, if you like being surrounded by people who are so readily swayed by pithy (and transparent) compliments, carry on! Either way, digging into why you feel the need to be liked by everyone (which can never be achieved) wouldn't be a bad idea, perhaps with a therapist.
posted by davejay at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

This may sound offensive, but here's your relationship with me, as seen from the male perspective, as seen on that font of all things good and wise, The Onion.

But If We Started Dating It Would Ruin Our Friendship Where I Ask You To Do Things And You Do Them
posted by MesoFilter at 12:54 PM on March 1, 2010 [9 favorites]

*your relationship with men. sheesh. talk about your freudian slips.
posted by MesoFilter at 12:55 PM on March 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Hmm. Sounds like you're asking for some psychoanalysis, which I'm sure you know internet strangers can't responsibly give you. That being said, I'm gonna give it a try because that the kind of arm chair psychologist I am. Irresponsible. (and not a psychologist)

I'm going to say it's not control, power, or narcissism. It sounds like you very much want male validation and don't feel okay without it. I understand. I'm like this with everybody. I just can't stand if I'm not well liked by everyone I encounter. The weird thing in my case is that while I want everyone to like me, I'm pretty picky and don't like most people at all.

I understand that the source of my need for validation comes from having a narcissistic mom. Not knowing your relationship with your parents, it could be possible that issues with your father are the source of your need for validation. But I'm not sure that it matters.

Here's the thing: you've identified a set of behaviors that you don't like about yourself. Now, it's time for some behavior modification. First, let's try to identify the need. In your case, I'm going with validation and a sense of self worth. Next, work towards finding other ways to meet that need. What are some other things you already do that help you feel valued and worthy? Can you add to that list? Finally, try actively to replace the behavior with something else. When you catch yourself trying to impress someone by inflating your interest or knowledge in a subject, try keeping yourself honest.

I'm going to suggest that you're operating with a set of faulty self beliefs that probably need to be corrected in order to fully address this problem. Namely, a belief that your worth depends on what these guys think of you and whether or not they like you. That's just not true. CBT could help with that, although it's cliched to suggest it on the green.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:55 PM on March 1, 2010 [6 favorites]

Best answer: How old are you? You sound a lot like me when I was in my early twenties. My personality felt volatile and fluid. I had no idea who I was, really, except from what other people told me, and I gave far more credence to what attractive smart men said about me than anyone else. I also implicitly, subconsciously assumed most men could be manipulated into liking me. This was reinforced by my ability to shapeshift into what they wanted, so then they did like me, thus proving that the key to happiness was figuring out what a guy wanted out of a girl and then performing appropriately. I became a serial monogamist, the girl who broke up with the same guy four or five times before she found a new guy to date.

This went on from my teenage years through college, rinse and repeat.

Then one day I broke up with a guy and *gasp* there was no one to take his place. It felt like the carpet had been pulled out from under me. The Great Single Experiment, I call it now. Until then, I'd always allowed a boyfriend to tell me what I was Like, what made me smart, what made me funny and likeable and worthy. Blame it on daddy issues (mine wasn't around), blame it on basic insecurity, but I just didn't know what or who I was at the core because I'd always been refracted by the lens of a relationship. Now I was alone, unfiltered, and I had no one but myself to give me an ego-boost.

I was single for three years, and I effectively weaned myself off the need to seek out male reassurance. At first I was terrified of not having a boyfriend, but that facet of my life soon became deeply irrelevant. Eventually I flat-out didn't want a relationship. I read a lot, developed my own music tastes rather than leeched off a guy's iPod playlists, made platonic friendships with boys I didn't sleep with, made strong friendships with girls whose opinions I valued, and ultimately realized what made me tick. When I started dating again, I had a deep sense of my personal worth thanks to years of being alone.

Honestly, it sounds like you're trying to gain a sense of your individuality after years of being in a relationship by seeking new men to tell you what you are. I don't want to imply that you should break up with your boyfriend, OP, but I do think that girls like us find the same hoops to jump through until we step back from the intoxicating and illusory reification of male attention and say "enough." It's hard, but not impossible, to get a true sense of your needs, your strengths, your weaknesses, your talents, when you're bound up in a relationship. One thing's for sure: the approval of men will keep mattering until you make a concerted effort to render it irrelevant in the face of your own sense of self.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:56 PM on March 1, 2010 [19 favorites]

A majority of your AskMe questions center on your relationship with your boyfriend. I've got to second teg4rvn. It doesn't sound like you're happy with your relationship. It's possible that fixing that will fix the issue of seeking attention from other men.
posted by 6550 at 1:02 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I disagree with the suggestions that this may be stemming from unhappiness with your current relationship. If you continue this behavior when NOT in a relationship, then the cause must be coming from somewhere else.

This is me, too. Personally, I don't think it comes from daddy issues or a lack of self-confidence. I think I behave this way because I narcissistically want male attention. But who knows! I would focus less on the WHY and more on stopping the behavior.
posted by gumtree at 1:22 PM on March 1, 2010

I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're doing.

In fact, it has a lot of benefits in workplace and social situations because it gets potentially destabilizing sexual tensions out in the open and channels them toward friendships.

I'm not surprised to hear that you are monogamous; in my experience, this is one of the styles of monogamy favored by really attractive women.

It will, however, make you have to work much harder to maintain friendships with other women.

And it could make it just a little bit more likely that you would attract a stalker, so I am very pleased that you are aware enough that you will probably have little difficulty choosing not to turn on the charm with the wrong person.
posted by jamjam at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2010

It seems like you are probably on your way to dropping this sort of behaviour. I say that becauseyou're writing it out, you're thinking about it, you're getting tired of it.

It's interesting, however, that you are turning to the internet and posting this question -- a similar bid for attention that you say you would like to need less of.

If indeed you do go the difficult route of changing your behaviour and turning down opportunities to flirt and solicit male attention, you may find yourself trying out other behaviours which lead to the same end.

Think about what positive thing you're going to replace this behaviour with, if you really want to stop it. Profound female friendships, as some of the posters suggest, is a good idea.
posted by PersonAndSalt at 1:31 PM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: I want to clarify a few things:
1. This mode of interaction was prevalent for me when I was single as well. It hasn't just been during this relationship.
2. I have several very close female friends and in fact, have way more female friends than male friends. I'd like more male friends, but it's difficult because of the presenting issue.
3. I definitely did lack fatherly attention/approval during my childhood. Bigtime.
4. I do think I'm pretty funny.

Thanks, everyone. Please keep the insights/stories coming.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2010

I don't think under a year counts as a fair trial for being single, especially since you don't seem to have reached the point of being contented while single. Honestly it does sound like you're in a rut with your current beau, especially with regard to communication issues. Maybe you should give honestly single (not looking) a longer go? Or just find a professional to talk to, either way.
posted by anaelith at 2:15 PM on March 1, 2010

blackcatcuriouser, I'm curious (ha!) about whether you have any brothers, because I was like this when I was younger, and I think my sister was, too. And we have a very loving, emotionally available Dad.

But no brothers. And I think that does make the dynamic different. Think about it: when you're a little girl, the only guy you relate to is your Dad. You want to please him and get praise and love and all the rest. He is the center of your universe. If you have a distant Dad, that desire, I imagine, must even be magnified.

But when you grow up, you don't really know a lot about how to interact with men. You only have that relationship with your Dad to model. So you tend to want to act like a good girl, and agree with them, and be smart and pretty and all the rest.

But for girls who also had brothers, I think the dynamic changes. They crave Dad's attention, sure, but they could care less about their siblings' attention. They compete with their siblings, learn their strong points and weaknesses, even harass them and make their lives miserable sometimes.

So when they grow up and go out with men, they have all those experiences with guys. They understand them better, they haven't romanticized them, and the craving for attention from every man is less of an issue.

Just my two cents.

And I don't think you do need therapy. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good grip on this. After all, you have clearly set boundaries and you know you aren't going to cheat on your boyfriend. Now you just have to work on your breaking down the pedestals you are putting all men on, and maybe building up your self-confidence some, and you'll get through the Need to Please syndrome.
posted by misha at 2:21 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

"it gets potentially destabilizing sexual tensions out in the open and channels them toward friendships"

I think it's clear from what the OP has said that this is not how it's playing out for her.
posted by Irontom at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I blame society..

I'm not completely joking. I think a lot of times we grow up with the strong impression that women are supposed to be pretty and agreeable and flatter others and that we have to be liked, and if we're not, it's our fault. (That Hillary Clinton, people just didn't like her and it must be her fault, right? Nobody asked the male candidates why people didn't like them.) I'm not saying this comes from everyone everywhere, but that it's just a strong current in our culture and sometimes there aren't enough countercurrents, depending on how you were raised, where you live, who you friends are, to help you see things a different way. Also uh the nature-vs-nurture debate is endless but it seems kind of normal to want attractive people to like you.

So.. I used to be like this. Maybe I still am sometimes, I don't know, but I really used to be like this as a young girl and a teenager. It was probably a combination of (yet again) a father who was just not there for us (and this affected my brothers, who also tend to seek approval and validation, in a different way), and a private school 'Mean Girls' crowd who were superficial, competitive, and jealous, and a fairly conservative Catholic upbringing, hello patriarchy. I've just recently come to terms with the fact that I let criticism from guy friends of mine affect me wayyyyyyy too much, especially because it wasn't real personal, and they didn't mean it, and they weren't even thinking about it really, casual snark was just the attitude of the day. But it was like.. one of them told me I was bad at playing a sport and I felt so horrible about myself that I quit; one of them made fun of my guitar being out of tune and I felt so inept and stupid that I quit, because I couldn't look at the damn thing without hearing those words again.

So maybe there's something to step back and think about - what happens if a guy doesn't like me, or says something critical about me? So what. It doesn't mean I shouldn't say something back, and it doesn't mean they're right, and even if they *are* right (the guitar WAS out of tune) I shouldn't give it any more weight than it's worth (I was really into Sonic Youth at the time!). For years I'd unconsciously have this default assumption that if a guy criticized me, he must be right, and it must be the last word on the subject. But.. it's not true. Lately I've been thinking there's some real power in responding, "I don't believe you."

Also it's good to have strong female friendships. I'm really inspired by one of my best female friends who has had to fight and be strong to have a career in the hard sciences, which was kicked off by her (male) undergraduate advisor saying women shouldn't go into the field! Your female friends can support you when you get negative feedback from guys for standing up for yourself, because it happens. I mean dudes have gotten all mad at me for NOT validating their opinions on politics and taste in music, film, etc. I suppose it's taken me time to find a balance and express my opinions on such things in a nice, non-insulting way though. :)
posted by citron at 2:41 PM on March 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

You sound like nearly every woman I knew in college (a big reason they didn't interest me), and almost no women I knew after. It's definitely a common phase. Like others here, I would assume that you're quite young, and that your father wasn't emotionally available when you were little (like 6-12) -- but that seems to describes most fathers.

A little therapy wouldn't hurt, especially if you're over around 23. Otherwise, you'll probably grow out of it. (I also wonder if your relationship is as satisfying as you imply.)
posted by coolguymichael at 3:31 PM on March 1, 2010

Is this about power? Control? Horrible insecurity and need for constant validation? Low self-esteem? Narcissism? Poor socialization with males? Lack of fatherly attention growing up?

A lot of support for the last option, but I'm voting the first. Charming people feels good. People like to feel good.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 3:57 PM on March 1, 2010

It might not actually be all that bad if you can use that attitude at work and get along with your peers. It would likely get you promoted, actually.
posted by anniecat at 5:27 PM on March 1, 2010

Oh man. I have a close friend who is just like this.This is what I think about her: "her heart is in the right place, she just has to find it". Which she often does not know how to do. We were actually best friends for a long time, (I'm a female, she does this both with females and males, but worse with males.) Her needing to be always front and center eventually made me want to keep my distance from her. Sure, this was fun when we were a little younger. But, it's not cute after awhile. The thing is- my friend, she is funny, smart, witty, and well, hot. Guys really like her- lots of people like her when she's sort of playing out this flirty, charming, sparkly side. But, and I'm not saying this is you, she is just so insecure when she's not "on" and can't stand when she's not the center of attention, and is without meaning to, plays out her anxiety/insecurities in strange ways. And you can tell she thinks she needs to do this in order for people to like her. So when she doesn't feel good about herself, she gets means. Sometimes passive, sometimes just being a bitch. Needs to always have the upper hand. She's high maintenance sort of person, constant drama, seems like she doesn't know herself very well, and very much has a need for power etc. That's not to say I still don't really love her, I do. But I have to watch it now, because she can kinda of be mean in her search for identity, and it doesn't sit well.
posted by Rocket26 at 6:34 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wow, the answers in this thread make me start to wonder about myself.

I'm a happily married straight man, but I'll openly admit that I often react in a similar way when I meet attractive women. I wouldn't say that I actively flirt, but I will admit to trying just a little harder to get her attention or make her laugh. It's nice to feel like you are attractive. In some ways, when we get into long term relationships, we feel like our partners have to love us no matter what, and sometimes all their compliments start to feel like when your mom tells you you look nice. Sometimes it's a nice ego boost to think that someone else finds you attractive.

There's probably a line between harmless validation and something that needs fixing and it's up to us to decide where that lies.
posted by advicepig at 6:56 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't really buy all this Freudian "dad didn't pay attention to me" junk, at least not wholesale. Lots of people mention this being common around college-age. Guess what? Right around then is when you are, according to years of socialization and toxic pop culture shoved down your throat, your most powerful (in the most shallow sense, that is) as a woman, as well as the most in danger. Please note I am NOT saying I buy this, quite the contrary. But at that age, you're being inundated with the notion you'll never be sexier or have more cards in your hand while your male peers are supposedly feeling quite the opposite. On top of that you're dealing with the contradictory message this power is scary and can get you in major trouble--raped or exploited or whatever the hell else. I don't know about anyone else but dealing with all of those fucked up messages was pretty damn overwhelming and there was a lot of meandering subconscious trial and error to go through to see what I thought of those notions and whether I should play around with it like a game before I said to hell with it altogether. Everyone's different, but I wouldn't be surprised if honestly many women do similar dip-toe-in-water-to-see-if-true stuff.
posted by ifjuly at 8:21 PM on March 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm with ya ifjuly - people pleasing is such an ingrained attitude that I am surprised that it's not even more commonly acknowledged than the honest shared-experience-type answers given on this thread. I don't know when I stopped bothering, but maybe it was when I started to wonder more if I actually liked the other people I was talking to/being with, than whether they liked me. Maybe that's part of an emerging adult identity - it's not all about other people giving a shit about me. [Even if I know deep down that it is...]

Maybe you should ask yourself at the start of these enactments if you can be impressed by this other person. Let them do the work to impress you without filling in with all the people pleasing behaviours. Maybe watch some aloof or poised or the most apparently grown up people you know, and see how they operate in social situations. Try to adopt some of their behaviours in small ways - you don't always have to 'mirror' people's interests to have value to them. And you don't have to be desired to have value either.

I have also found that it is good to mingle more at parties/social gatherings than get caught up with one person or group.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2010

« Older WIll MediaMonkey sort artists by last name?   |   Are suit bags okay to carry on a domestic flight?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.