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Recognizing Fawning Behavior: A Closer Look At People- Pleasing

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Sometimes, people who struggle with boundaries are "too nice" or over-accommodating. This can be seen especially in relationships that overlook unhealthy behaviors that challenge the bond.


Please note that the information shared in this space is based solely on my personal experiences and should not be considered a diagnosis or treatment. I am sharing my story in the hopes that it may resonate with others and help them move closer to what they want from connecting with others.

Full transparency here- Fawning is one of the "Four F's" or trauma responses. When "triggered" during an unsettling situation, most will either freeze, fight, flee, or fawn. My response was typically fleeing or fawning when I identified with the anxious attachment style.

Fawning Disrupts Your Sense Of Self

Fawning seems like a way to get what you want, but it is more disruptive and self-degrading. Still, I found myself fawning and being more invested in their wants and needs while raising my anxiety and neglecting my feelings and boundaries. Furthermore, the other person picks up on the fawning. If they have manipulative tendencies, they will use it to their advantage. Otherwise, it can feel like you're "doing too much". And if you are ever on the receiving end of this behavior, it doesn't feel good and creates more disconnect.

When they pulled back, I over-communicated and attempted to move in closer, but it was not received well. My programming primed me to overcompensate or work harder when I needed to learn how to take a step back.

Why Are You Fawning

Since I had an anxious attachment style, past experiences left me feeling uncertain, unseen, unimportant, or unsafe. Fawning was a bid to remedy those feelings, but it didn't work. It didn't work because feeling important, seen, sure [confident] in yourself and your choices, and being a safe space first is your work.

If you are fawning or in any of the Four F's, ask yourself some questions. Unless there is real danger, consider asking, "What do I want or need?" or "Am I compromising my happiness or worth." "Answering these questions will assist you in discovering ways to self-soothe and eventually lessen this behavior.

Are You Asking Too Much

It's not uncommon for anxious and avoidant types to gravitate toward each other because of their unaddressed and unmet needs. Unfortunately, these relationships tend to fall apart because of the exact unaddressed and unmet needs - especially if shadow work is not done.

Showing up for someone is a choice. Not showing up is also a choice. So consider whether the other person is willing and able to support the connection for mutual growth. If they regularly check out, it may be a sign that you're not a good match, and that's perfectly okay. You'll need to consider if that is something you can live with or if you're building with the right person.

Understanding where you are in your journey and recognizing when you may be projecting unfulfilled needs or past experiences onto your current relationship is essential. By doing so, you can focus on improving your relationship by identifying patterns and areas where you tend to prioritize people-pleasing or codependency over interdependency.

When I reflected on my behavior in past relationships, I noticed a few patterns. There was a common theme. Ask yourself:

  • Is this person healed enough to meet me

  • Is he or she as invested in the connection

  • Am I seeking external validation instead of looking within

  • Do I ask for what I want clearly and concisely

  • Do I need an additional support system

Everyone is at different points in their journey, so finding someone willing to work with you helps your progress. Discover and apply what you learn about yourself. Over time, you can manage your emotions and build connections without minimizing yourself.




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Anusa is an avid reader and loves to write. When she is not studying, or talking about astrology you can find her out and about in NYC with her family. 

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