People who always help others but neglect their own needs usually display these 11 personality traits

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Have you ever come across someone who just loves to help?

Like, obsessively.

They go out of their way to ensure that you’re happy.

Whether it’s a work colleague, passionate neighbor, or reliable friend, it’s a great trait to have. But sometimes, it can get out of hand!

These people-pleasers are so selfless in fact, that they sometimes neglect their own needs.

This can create its own set of problems.

For starters, they can get totally exploited. In extreme cases, abused (physically and mentally). Studies show a strong link between low self-esteem people-pleasers and victims of abusive behavior. It’s almost like they attract the wrong type of partner or friend group.

You can spot these compassionate types a mile off.


They tend to display telltale personality traits.

Let’s take a look at 11 of the most common giveaways that someone loves to help others (and neglects their own needs).

1) High emotional intelligence (empathetic)

Right off the bat, this one is perhaps the most obvious.

I’m talking about empathy.

In other words, the ability to understand the feelings of others and put yourself in their shoes.

People who love helping others have bucketloads of the stuff.

They’re overwhelmed with compassion and a desire to please everyone around them. They think about how they would like to be treated, and constantly behave this way to others. They come second, everyone else gets priority.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s an amazing quality.

But not if you’re neglecting yourself! Things can get toxic and go south pretty quickly.

Others may start to pick up on this behavior and take advantage.

2) Lack of confidence

It’s not always true.

However, people who love helping others can have low self-esteem and lack confidence.

They may feel like they don’t deserve respect and support. 

When you think about it…

It’s the opposite of being a diva (true for both men and women). Instead of causing a fuss, aggressively arguing their case, and always trying to get their own way, people-pleasers tend to clam up and go with the flow.

In other words, they are…

3) Super chill and laidback

If someone constantly says things like: “I don’t mind waiting”, “No worries”, or “I’m easy, whatever you think”, chances are they like helping others (and neglect their own needs).

The truth is, they probably do have an opinion.

And they’re sick and tired of eating at McDonald’s every week! But they don’t want conflict (and want others to be happy).

So they roll with it and order another Big Mac.

It keeps others happy and could mean you get on like a house on fire (on the surface at least).

But deep down, they could have…

4) A simmering feeling of resentment

Sure, it might seem like they’re always happy to help (and bend over backward to fit your agenda).

But under the smiles, there’s usually resentment. 

It’s like they’re in an internal conflict. On the one hand, they want to help, but deep down they’re frustrated at having no time for themselves.

Like a pan of water on the stove, the feeling of anger builds. Eventually boiling over in an explosion of emotion.

This can be especially true in romantic relationships or close friendships.

The outburst can seemingly come from nowhere but has been building for weeks (or even months).

When you think about it…

It’s a natural response to always putting other people first. Handing all responsibility, decisions, preferences, and even life goals over to someone else can take its toll.

Everything from what you watch on TV to how you spend your money, or even more serious stuff like how you raise your kids.

From their point of view, the relationship can feel incredibly one-sided.

5) Fear and conflict avoidance

The main reason they’re so chill, is because the alternative is to fight back.

And conflict is something people-pleasers hate.

They’d rather do anything than get involved in an argument.

But here’s the thing.

Arguing isn’t always negative. We’re all human and have different personalities, needs, and interests. It’s completely natural to have disagreements from time to time.

Healthy relationships SHOULD have conflict. How else are we supposed to resolve our differences?

How you handle yourself during a disagreement is another thing.

Conflicts should be controlled and maintain a level of respect, rather than screaming and shouting at each other.

Otherwise, you risk getting emotional and saying something you’ll later regret.

People who always like to help others fear this the most. Maybe it’s insecurity from their childhood, or perhaps a fear of hurting the other person. Either way, they like to steer well clear of even the smallest argument.

6) Reliable (with a good sense of morals)

This is a big giveaway.

And you probably know someone like this.

In the office, they’re extraordinarily reliable, organized, and punctual. You can trust them (they never let you down).

Whether it’s a case of always turning up on time and never missing a deadline, or really taking pride in their work and giving 110%, they have the loyalty of a dog.

Which is awesome!

But on the other hand, they probably won’t ask for a pay rise or complain if they get overworked.

It all comes back down to wanting to help others (and neglecting their own needs).

7) Extreme perfectionists

Another way the people-pleaser personality manifests itself is in the form of perfectionism.

As mentioned, they want to do their absolute best, every time.

But in reality, this isn’t really practical.

In fact, seeking perfection leads to its own set of problems.

For starters, trying to be perfect sends you into a spiral of overthinking. You’ll get what’s commonly called analysis paralysis. This involves being caught in a loop of wanting to move forward, but then considering all the worse-cast scenarios of doing so (concluding it’s safer to stay where you are). This puts you right back where you started (and the spiral continues).

It makes decision-making (especially with tight deadlines) a real challenge.

Ultimately, it leads to high levels of stress and anxiety.

I know it’s easier said than done (trust me, I get it).

But if you’re a perfectionist, try to come to terms with the fact nothing is perfect in this world. We all have our flaws, strengths, weaknesses, and doing your best is all that really matters.

8) Martyr complex

This describes someone who sacrifices their own needs to serve others.

It basically sums up people-pleasers.

Individuals with a Martyr complex have difficulty saying “no” and setting boundaries. They’ll often go above and beyond (especially at work). A consequence of this is that they’ll regularly feel burnt out.

It’s also a common thing for parents to have.

The unconditional love you have for your child trumps everything else in your life. They’re your priority (even above your own well-being).

9) Difficulty prioritizing

This one comes as no surprise.

It makes sense, if you’re always putting others first, it’s going to lead to a lot of internal conflict. I’m talking about decision-making, organization, and prioritization.

On the one hand, you’re exhausted and want an early night.

On the other, you haven’t quite finished preparing for tomorrow’s presentation.

What do you prioritize?

It’s a simple choice for most people (who aren’t overly empathetic). But for people-pleasers, they’ll feel a ton of guilt for prioritizing their own sleep (and well-being) before their responsibilities.

Of course, it’s completely irrational.

Get some sleep, stupid.

But they don’t see it like that. 

For this reason, struggling with priorities is a big giveaway that someone loves helping others (while neglecting their own needs).

10) Apologetic

We think of Canadians (and maybe Brits) as people who love to apologize.

While this might be a fun cliche, there’s actually some science behind constantly apologizing.

It’s a sign of insecurity.

I’m not saying all Canadians are insecure, by the way!

But feeling inferior to others is usually the root cause.

Let me explain.

Constant apologisers don’t actually think they’ve done something seriously wrong. It’s more like a natural knee-jerk reaction to avoid the possibility of an argument breaking out. The key word here being possibly. In other words, it’s anxiety. They’re predicting future problems.

As we previously discussed, people-pleasers detest conflict. So preemptively apologize to prevent it from ever happening (even if it’s not really a big deal).

11) Agreeable

Finally, if there’s one personality trait that describes people who always help others (but sometimes neglect their own needs) it’s agreeable.

It’s not usually thought of as a negative trait.

After all, people who are agreeable tend to be kind, compassionate, and friendly.

But, as we’ve discussed (and just like anything in life), being excessively agreeable isn’t great.

Balance is probably a good word here.

It’s fine to help others now and then.

But also remember this is your life (and we only get one). You need to make decisions for YOU. Spend time on your interests, and follow your dreams and passions.

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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