Why People-Pleasing Is More Common in Men

Why People-Pleasing Is More Common in Men

People-pleasing often gets painted as a predominantly female issue.

We picture the woman who overextends herself, always putting everyone first. However, the truth is far more complicated. Men are also socialized to please, just in different ways. Fear of disapproval, the need to be liked, and outdated masculinity norms can trap them in a cycle of harmful self-sacrifice. Here are some of the reasons this behavior is so common.

1. Toxic masculinity teaches boys to suppress their true feelings.

“Big boys don’t cry,” “man up,” and similar phrases like these teach boys to bottle up emotions. Expressing hurt, fear, or vulnerability equates to weakness. People-pleasing becomes a way to avoid confrontation, to mask any “feminine” traits, and to gain approval by putting other people’s needs above their own.

You may also like: Evil People: 21 Things They Do & How To Deal With Them

2. They’re often praised for agreeableness, not assertiveness.

The “nice guy” archetype is rewarded in boyhood. Teachers like the compliant kid, parents are proud of their “easy” son. This early conditioning teaches them that self-sacrifice, always saying “yes,” and avoiding conflict are the path to being liked and valued.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

3. Traditional gender roles dictate men should be providers and protectors.

Deeply ingrained societal messages tell men their worth is tied to providing – money, security, solutions. That’s true today, as proven by data from Pew Research Center. This makes it hard to say “no,” for fear of failing those expectations. People-pleasing becomes a way to preemptively appease potential disappointment from partners, bosses, or even family members.

You may also like: Men Who Are Unfulfilled In Life Often Display These 17 Behaviors

4. Many men struggle to identify and express their own needs.

Emotional literacy isn’t really emphasized in traditional male upbringing. They may not even recognize their own needs, let alone voice them. Instead, they focus on fulfilling the perceived needs of others, believing this will somehow, indirectly, get their own needs met.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

5. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness.

The stoic, self-reliant hero is the male ideal. Admitting they need help, can’t do it all, or are struggling emotionally? That shatters the image of masculine competence they feel pressured to project. People-pleasing is a way to avoid ever having to reveal those “weaknesses.”

You may also like: Habits That Will Make Your Adult Children Cut You Out of Their Lives

6. Men are less likely to have strong emotional support networks.

Women traditionally are better at fostering deep friendships with vulnerability and mutual support, the National Institutes for Health reveal. Many men lack these outlets to express emotions, be seen authentically, and work through their need to please. Without that space, people-pleasing fills the void as a maladaptive coping mechanism.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

7. The desire for love and acceptance can be weaponized against them.

Just like women, men crave connection. Manipulative partners, toxic family dynamics, or cliquish friends can exploit this deep need. Conditional love – given only when he’s always accommodating – traps him in a cycle of people-pleasing for the mere scraps of affection and approval.

You may also like: 16 Habits Of People Who Are More Attractive Than They Think

8. They mistake people-pleasing for genuine kindness.

It’s counterintuitive, but there’s a massive difference. Kindness is about genuine care. People-pleasing is about fear – fear of rejection, conflict, or not being perceived as “good enough.” Many men haven’t learned to discern this difference, and believe always putting themselves last IS the kind thing to do.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

9. “Nice Guy Syndrome” promises the wrong rewards.

Pop culture feeds the myth that if you’re just nice enough, the girl will magically fall for you, the boss will promote you without having to ask, everyone will respect you. It’s a trap! It leads to building relationships on a shaky foundation of unspoken expectations and inevitable resentment.

You may also like: 19 Stereotypes About The South That Are Totally Untrue

10. People-pleasing can disguise an intense fear of failure.

Tied to that need for external validation, always saying “yes” feels safer. Taking risks, advocating for their own ideas, or putting themselves out there opens up the possibility of rejection. People-pleasing provides the illusion of control, minimizing the risk of ever being told ‘no.’

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

11. Their anger often gets misdirected.

The frustration of constantly suppressing your own needs must go somewhere. But since “nice guys” can’t express it directly, it can surface as passive-aggressiveness, sarcasm, or simmering resentment that explodes inappropriately. They end up further alienated, reinforcing their sense of isolation.

You may also like: Things You Should Never Say To Someone You Love

12. Seeking external validation becomes an addiction.

The praise for being accommodating feels good…for about five minutes. Lacking a core sense of self-worth, they rely on those external hits of approval. It’s a vicious cycle, never filling the void, just making them double-down on people-pleasing in hopes of finally feeling good enough.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

13. Men might people-please to gain a sense of dominance.

It seems counterintuitive, but agreeableness can be a power play. By being indispensable, they gain influence. It often backfires, as partners get frustrated with a lack of partnership, or they’re taken advantage of at work. Control gained through self-sacrifice is never true control.

You may also like: Reasons Your Adult Children Want Nothing To Do With You

14. Imposter syndrome fuels overcompensation.

Many successful men secretly harbor a crushing fear they’ll be found out as a fraud. Instead of addressing this insecurity head-on, they pour energy into always appearing perfect. Always saying “yes,” taking on too much, and neglecting their own needs becomes their way of trying to outrun the fear of ever being exposed as incompetent.

Don’t miss out – follow Bolde for exclusive content daily

15. They often miss the red flags in relationships.

People-pleasers are prime targets for users and emotional manipulators. Desperate for love and acceptance, they ignore warning signs, excusing bad behavior. They put the other person on a pedestal, believing that simply by being “good enough” they can make their partner change.

You may also like: People Who Had Unhappy Childhoods Usually Develop These Traits

16. They can become masters at rationalizing their own unhappiness.

“I’m just not demanding,” or “I just like making people happy” become their mantras. Deep down, they know they’re not fulfilled, but admitting it would shatter their carefully crafted identity as the selfless guy. It’s easier to bury the resentment than face the hard work of setting boundaries and asking for what they truly need.

Enjoy this piece? Give it a like and follow Bolde on MSN for more!

Brad grew up in St. Louis and moved to California to attend Berkeley College of Music, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Music Production and Engineering. He still plays in a band on the weekend and during the week does a lot of writing and coffee-making to pay the bills. He's also been married for 7 years now, so he figures he must be doing something right.