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How to Stop Trying to Please People That Hurt You

by Josee D'Amore, studioD

No one is immune from being hurt by someone, nor being the source of hurt towards others. At those times, we have a choice to work toward restoring the relationship or to move on. Knowing which way to go is typically a hard choice to make. Trying to please them to win them over can further damage the relationship further, and can lead to additional pain for you.

Take a Step Back

Trying to please someone is an unending and unfulfilling task. You will likely never earn her respect because she senses you don't respect yourself. Compromising your ways, choices and mannerisms places you in a vulnerable position. It sets you up for disappointment since you are giving them all the power over you. Take a step back from this behavior. Breathe. Think through what you want in friendships. Be specific in the qualities you most appreciate in others, such as being emotionally supportive, a good listener and thoughtful and reliable, according to Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., in the Psychology Today article, "10 Ways to Be and Have a Best Friend."


Decide what the friendship means to you and what you are willing to do to work on it. Ask yourself how the relationship benefits you, how are you a better person because of her friendship, do you like who you are around her, can you be your true self with her, do you feel like equals in the relationship, what do you like about the friendship, what do you not like about the relationship? These are important questions to think through and to be very clear about for yourself. Consider that her unresponsiveness toward you may have nothing to do with you. Perhaps she is facing a difficult time in her own life and is attempting to manage it as best she can, according to Fredric Neuman, M.D., in the Psychology Today article," How Come My Best Friend Doesn't Call Me Back?"

Say Your Peace

Write out what you want to say to her about the friendship. This should flow from the step above. Be clear and specific about how she hurt you and what your choice is regarding the friendship. You could choice to meet with her in person or to send the letter to her. Either way, once you say your peace, put a period at the end of it. Be prepared to give her time to think about what you said. Avoid giving in to her, making it easy for her or leaving it vague. Be strong and firm. You might say, "I was hurt when you teased me in front of our friends. I have tried to please you, but I see that it isn't healthy for either of us. I value our friendship and want to work on it. I will wait to hear from you as to what you want in our friendship. The ball is in your court."

Let it Rest

It may be days, weeks or even months before you hear from her again. Learn to live with the silence by moving forward in your own life separate from her. Avoid contacting her, checking in, sending her anything or making anything for her. Leave the ball in her court. If she values the relationship and wants to work on it, she will contact you. You may need to face the reality of a friendship that has ended. If so, learn what you can from the friendship and make new friends with the qualities you value in others.

About the Author

Josee D'Amore is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, where she is the founder/owner of Gems of Hope Counseling. She specializes in relational wellness including friendships, siblings, spouse/significant others, children, parenting, abuse/trauma, grief/loss and care-giver support. She is the author of "The Soul's Fight: Wrestling with Forgiveness".

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