My name is Melisa and I am a People Pleaser.

People Pleasing is an addiction; it’s a sickness, like alcoholism. Unfortunately, most of don’t know we have it. Author Susan Newman calls this the “Need to Please Disease” in her latest book “250 Ways to Say NO.”

Are you overbooked? Tired? Do you say yes before saying no? If so, you could have the need to please disease.

“Desperate Housewives” fans know how hard we work to please the people around us. When character Bree Van de Kamp says “yes” to George’s proposal because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings, we understood, right? This may seem extreme to the viewer, but I totally related!

No, I didn’t say “yes” to my fiancé when I wanted to say no, but I did have second thoughts after getting engaged. I started asking married women if they ever questioned that their husbands were “THE ONE” before their weddings. More than half said they did. But what could I do at that point? It’s not like I could call off the wedding, they’d say. When I asked these women if they were totally satifisfied and happy in their marriages – less than half answered “yes.”

Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do, but you did it because people expected you to? Have you ever said “yes” when you wished you’d said “no”? Have you ever double-booked appointments because you didn’t want to say “no”? Welcome to my life. I eventually cancelled my wedding. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done – right up there with quitting smoking.

As a people pleaser, I didn’t have the skills to this tactfully – not that there’s a tactful way to end an engagement. But I knew if I took the slow, nurturing approach, I would chicken out. I took the ‘rip the Band-Aid off as fast as you can’ approach. Not the best method! I felt so guilty! I was sick for months. I cried every day. I began to think I was CrAZy. Mostly because my former fiancé told me I was.

But, the women I’d questioned about their own marriages, engagements and happiness told me how proud they were of me. They told me that they wished they’d had the courage to at least give themselves the time to re-think marriage to their fiancés before getting married rather than stuffing their fears and second-thoughts.

I could have gotten married to my fiancé and things might have worked out fine. I would be where I was three months ago and maybe that’s not so bad. But I chose to make a decision that went against what every rational person would have done and now I live a whole new life.

I’m not saying this is good or bad, but it’s breaking the pattern of people pleasing. At least I’m doing something for myself – because I want to. Guilt and fear are not holding me back. I will make mistakes, but I’ll be living life on my terms – not my parents’, peers’ or fiancé’s. I think I’ve killed the “need to please disease.”


Melisa Uchida is a freelance writer and journalist. She’s a Boston University graduate with a degree in Journalism and is pusuing a Masters degree at Hawaii Pacific University. Contact Melisa at melisa