George Hartwell M.Sc.


People Pleasing and Love Addiction

by George Hartwell M.Sc. of

People Pleasing is a powerful web of childhood experiences, beliefs, and painful feelings that result in this meta-strategy to gain love, secure belonging, a safe home base. With such a firm foundation in the experiences of childhood  this choice, this compulsion, this mind-set of earning love becomes solid as rock and impossible to stop.

Based on this decision, belief, experience and perception of life that one's caretakers are not going to provide unconditional love, a child devises people pleasing strategies to earn love.  These earning love strategies might include: perfectionism, doing what is right, always being good, never giving offense, not expressing anger, working hard, and seeking measurable achievement including Type A behaviour pattern associated with heart attack. 

Taken to extremes the child, and later the adult, becomes competative for love and begins to put down rivals for love which can solidify into the ugly habit of religious or non-religious self-righteousness. Do you know anyone who counters any good report about yourself or you children with an example from his or her life or family?  Annoying, isn't it?  That is competative People Pleasing.

Love Addiction and People Pleasing

Addictions and addictive behaviours are maintained, sustained and rewarded by escape from pain.  The pain in People Pleasing is the sinking feelings that I did something wrong and will not be loved as a result.  In fact there is a whole set of beliefs and associtated negative feelings called "The Pit" (my term) that anyone would want to escape.

Are you a People Pleaser?  Do you find that when you experience criticism, failure, or confrontation you over-react.  All of a sudden you are angry or depressed.  Your response seems way out proportion to the event.

Here is what has happened.  Your worse fears and most painful negative beliefs have just been triggered.  You just dropped into "The Pit."

Down in the pits, you experience extremely negative beliefs and very painful feelings. See The Program and the Pit.  (These feelings are stored in the memory bank of the Limbic System or Emotional Brain. For more about the brain read "Heal Your brain, Heal your life." )

The Pit is a painful, adverse, frightening, depressing experience that anyone would want to escape.  Your dysfunctional way to escape (to assure safety, security and love) is people pleasing.  This program is by now second nature.  You used it in childhood to gain mother or father's approval and, by now, it is a longstanding way of life - a personality pattern.  But now it fuels love addiction.

Gaining the prize - avoiding the pit and feeling in control by following the program - is enough to reward love addiction.  The Pit is a painful; the people pleasing program provides relief.  Following the program is rewarded by avoiding rejection and gaining praise and affection.  This creates the Love Addiction cycle.

Get with the People Pleasing program. >

Earning love is rewarded by conditional love. >

Experience of criticism, failure or rejection.  (down)

Leads one back to the program ^

Leads down into the Pit

This painful experience motivates one to escape the Pit.
(up) ^

Painful beliefs create painful feelings.

Triggers one to reexperience painful beliefs in the Pit.

Whatever the behaviour it has the characteristics of an addictive substance in that:

  • It meets an essential need,

  • It provides temporary but not permanent relief,
  • Stopping the behaviour is painful,
  • Returning to the addictive behaviour ends the pain.

A full understanding of love addiction should also consider the powerful chemicals (dopamine) that a released in the brain when one is 'in love."  Cocaine and "falling in love" both create the brain to be flooded by dopamine.  The 'dopamine effect' may be another factor in love addiction.

To understand why the relief of People Pleasing - our love addiction - does not provide permanent relief see: "People pleasing - a sacrfice for love."

For my testimony of growing up as a People Pleasers and what it cost me, see "being a people pleaser and losing out on love."


The People Pleasing Theme:

You are here:
People Pleasing and Love Addiction - "Why the pattern operates like an addiction.'


People Pleasing and losing out on love


People Pleasing - The Program and the Pit


People Pleasing - a sacrifice for love 'People pleasers sell their soul to hold on to love.'




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