Co-Dep EXTERNAL Negatives – from OTHERS

I’m just trying to be nice!

PREVIOUS: External negatives – in us

SITE: Negotiation & the ‘niceness trap (4 parts, re.

The HIGH COST of being ‘too nice’ (cont.)

NOTE: This is how others can react to co-dep ‘niceness’The ‘THEY’ applies to the unscrupulous, the walking wounded, or average joes/janes who aren’t malicious, but don’t have much psychological or personal insight.

• They take advantage of you
Being too available encourages depressed, passive-aggressive, addicted, lazy or narcissistic people (takers) to use you to their benefit – counting on your good nature, & giving nothing back! Once it’s clear that you’re ‘soft’, they’ll ignore any boundary or objection you try to apply. They’ll also demand increasingly more from you, taking you for granted

 They don’t trust you
Since most people assume that few of us are genuinely kind, they’ll tend to doubt your best intentions, considering it a red flag of insincerity. This is true in many circles, where dog-eat-dog prevails. People assume you want something in return, & you do – but probably not what they think. So you risking being misunderstood, since your motive is to be liked & accepted into the ‘inner circle’, no matter how tacky or immature it is

• They have expectations
Because you always do too much, you actually train people to expect you to function way beyond what’s reasonable, or what the job calls for. This becomes their norm for you, at home & work. People actually appreciate you less, taking you for granted, & depend on you to take up their share of responsibilities

They will people-please you
If you’re too nice all the time, your friends – or employees if you’re a boss – will be reluctant to tell you if you have distorted thinking about something or come up with an unworkable idea.  It’s a form of ‘polite deception’, since they don’t want to hurt you, & maybe they think (or know) you won’t be able to handle disagreements or reality. This prevents people from helping you think clearer, make better decisions, be emotionally healthier & more successful

They don’t respect you
You may be seen as a wimp, a patsy, a fool, or just naive – not someone worth listening to.  If you’re a boss, they assume you’re weak, not to be looked up to or able to lead. Whatever your role (family, friends, work), you may in fact be under the delusion that you are building friendships, protecting yourself from ‘depressives’ & making yourself indispensable

HOWEVER: Most unhealthy people talk about others behind their back! Your over-niceness just gives them another topic, & when you find out – third hand – you get angry, but silently, of course!

• They don’t take you seriously
If you let others get away with their ‘crap’, if you give everyone the benefit of the doubt when they clearly don’t deserve it, if you forgive & forget too easily –  people will take your position of  taking the ‘high road’ as oblivion, stupidity or that you don’t care. They will ignore & disregard any opinions or valid suggestions you have to offer, since they assume (or know) you won’t object

They ignore you
If you find it hard to say no, people will eventually assume you mean Yes – even when you say No. That gives them permission to keep pestering, coaxing or manipulating you to do something you actually don’t want to do, because they know you’re a pushover. Also, there are always those who will guilt trip you if you try refusing  them what they want, & some people will be able to talk you into helping them with everything – even when you’re not feeling well, or are busy with other things

• They take offense
If you’re doing too much, too fast & better than everyone else, it makes others look bad, which they will resent. If you’re too positive, pleasant, willing or too flattering, the higher-ups may find it acceptable or at least tolerable, but your peers will ‘not be amused’. This can also apply to parents vs children, siblings with each other, bosses vs co-workers…..

•  They only come or call when they need something
For most people you become nothing more than a means to an end – theirs. They only contact you when they need something, whether it’s a favor, a rush job or just someone to dump their woes on. You’re only a tool to be used, albeit very caring & full of helpful information

• They find you boring
 Your conversations are not usually very interesting. If you never push back, if you never have a clear opinion, if you don’t know what you want….. it’s as if you’re a blank, invisible, not someone others can connect with – which is unsatisfying. Plus it makes them do all the work in the relationship, which is tiring.

NEXT: EXTERNAL Neg. results #2

Co-Dependence Negatives – Intro-b

harder than everyone else!

PREVIOUS: Co-dep Intro-a

SITE: Childhood Trauma Recovery ARCHIVE

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


The HIGH COST of ‘too nice’ (cont)
Co-Dependence & Anger have a reciprocal connection. Some people compensate for their fear/terror of rejection – for having their own needs, opinions & emotions such as anger – by using people-pleasing tactics. They may not have started out angry, but the longer they have to suppress their own needs & feelings, the angrier they get.  ‘Fake-nice’ has its limits, so when we can no longer hold down the rage that’s been building, we can explode outward – at others, OR or implode – on ourselves, getting depressed, physically ill &/or suicidal. (see also 3 posts)

Active Co-deps have not yet learned that:
• it’s normal for everyone to experience anger, being part of the kaleidoscope of emotions we’re born capable of
• we can give ourselves permission to feel & deal with all emotions
• there’s a difference between the WIC’s anger from S-H thoughts & unrealistic demands of others vs. appropriate anger at being victimized by family & others
• the best way to manage anger is to deal with it as soon as we can, each time we feel it – so it doesn’t have a chance to build up
• it’s imperative to find legitimate, effective outlets for anger, so it doesn’t get vented in situations harmful to ourselves or others
(‘Anger & Co-dependency‘. Great site by Dr. Irene)

Michelle Ferris (LMFT) offers 3 Co-Dep traits that breed anger & resentment
1. The Illusion of control — over others (the Serenity Prayer backwards)
2. Being a Superhero — always over-giving, never asking for help
3. The Lie of being FINE — superheroes aren’t supposed to be vulnerable or have needs (MORE….)


In their book “The Givers & Takers“, the authors Evatt & Feld point out that – ironically – Takers are more ‘desirable’, in spite of & because of being less available, less forthcoming & less sensitive. When they do give – it’s more reluctantly, sporadically & for calculated reasons. They’re the ones who lean back instead of forward in their chair when having a conversation, who seem not to need anything, who have an air of mystery. Yet, they’re considered more sexually & socially attractive, while Easy/Soft is considered uninteresting!

The authors believe these are the Introverts of the world, while the Givers are the Extrovert. There may be some validity in that, because Introverts don’t need or want as much contact & interaction with others. But it’s not the whole story.
Introversion is an inborn characteristic & is not a sign of emotional damage.
On the other hand, dyed-in-the-wool Takers are more likely to be trying to compensate for childhood damage – withholding, arrogant, insecure & narcissistic – hiding behind silence, while feeding off of others who chase them.

Now, if you are the co-dependent Giver type, unavailables are like catnip to you – BUT you don’t want to be one of them! You’re too driven to give, sacrifice, be needed, rescue & fix – to be aloof. HOWEVER – if you are indeed an extrovert/ connector type by nature, you really do have a good heart, so it’s imperative you learn to moderate how much you give & to whom – if you want mental health & true safety. (Healthy Helping).

Not the Real you? Angry-niceness is a damage-trait, like all other character defects. The big mistake many of us make is to think these patterns represent our real personality, murmuring: “Well, that’s just who I am, I can’t help it.” Actually, it’s a manifestation of the False Self, rather than written in stone. So the good news is that it can slowly be changed, or at least greatly modified.

NEXT: INTERNAL negatives