Confessions of a people pleaser: being nice when you don’t want to

Sometimes I think that I was born without a spine. I mean, I simply cannot stand up for myself. Take today: I agreed to sit in on a meeting for a project I quit 2 months ago. Why? Because I didn’t have the guts to say no. Then my sister swings by – can she borrow some cash just until her paycheck comes through?”. “Now, you know I lie awake in the early hours of the morning worrying about how I’m going to make payment on the mortgage and eat for the rest of the month, but sure, sis, how much do you need?” Finally, I get a call from Stephen, my blind date from the weekend – do I want to see him again? Instead of a simple “no”, I mumble something about being very busy but yes, that would be fine. This to a guy with whom there was so little spark you could almost hear the engine’s last gasps.

I’m your classic yes-woman, a passive-aggressive tapdancer, skirting round and round the point for fear of causing vibrations. I’m an ostrich with my head in the sand, an under-the-carpet-sweeper whose broom is wearing thin. What makes me, like so many women, I suspect, dependent on the approval of others? Why are we so afraid of hurting peoples’ feelings? What stops us from drawing a line in the sand and declaring, “Enough already! No more”?

No energy for confrontation or no self-respect, whatever the reason we’re not doing ourselves any favours. Everyone needs boundaries and that’s something we don’t have to justify. So, as of tomorrow, I’m resubmitting that resignation letter, I’m informing my sister that I’m not her personal piggybank and I’m telling Stephen, as relationship guru Laura Doyle suggests, that I’m simply “no longer available”. I’ll do it the coward’s way, of course. By SMS. Some habits die hard.

– Single-again Samantha