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Mental Health

Always Trying To Please Everyone? It Might Be A Sign Of The “Nice Girl Syndrome”

Have you ever caught yourself apologizing for something that was not your fault? Well, this need to excessively apologize for everything is just one of the features of someone with the “nice girl syndrome”. 

First of all, it is important to emphasize that besides having the word “syndrome” in its name, we are not talking about a pathological disease it is a behavioral phenomenon. 

To understand more deeply the “nice girl syndrome”, Her Campus talked with Fabiana Coelho, a psychologist from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) with specialized training in cognitive behavioral therapy. Besides that, she is also a content creator on Instagram and TikTok, with the account @issonaoeumaterapia on both platforms.

Understanding the syndrome 

The “nice girl syndrome” is characterized by a compulsion to please. A people pleaser person needs to be considered nice and gentle all the time, tending to put the wishes of others above their own. 

A very common trait is a big difficulty in saying no. This is because the person tries to avoid conflicts as much as possible, fearing that the other person will get angry or stop liking them for expressing a different opinion.  

Fabiana pointed out a relationship with another phenomenon. Besides having some things in common, the “nice girl syndrome” and the “imposter syndrome” are not the same. In the “imposter syndrome”, the person necessarily has very low self-esteem, decreasing themself a lot. Differently, in the “nice girl syndrome”, it is possible to have certain self-confidence, however, the opinion of others interferes a lot with the perception of yourself, the need for approval is placed above everything else. 

Even though this behavior can also be identified in men, women are the ones who most show this characteristic. Female socialization was based on servitude, always placing women in a secondary position and without protagonism. Because of that, we tend to think that we have to be nice all the time to please others, we were taught that only then we would be respected in society.

How can this behavior affect our lives? 

Wanting to be a nice person to others is natural to be human, the problem is in the excess. Living as a people pleaser can be bad for your mental health, causing a feeling of frustration for sometimes not being able to achieve their goals, since it is always depending on the other. In addition, it can increase anxiety, and overthinking about everyone’s opinion about everything can be exhausting.  

When talking to Fabiana Coelho, she added that mental health is not the only area of our lives that can be affected by the “nice girl syndrome”, our interpersonal relationships are also something to pay attention to. The fear of displeasing others ends up making it much more difficult to impose limits.

In the work environment, a people pleaser person tends to accept more demands than they can handle just because they feel like they can’t deny them. Moreover, these people end up being more likely to suffer from disrespect and moral harassment. This also applies to relationships, in which women normally prefer to apologize first even when it is not their fault just to avoid discussions, ending up not solving the problem completely. 

Putting yourself first

The key to getting out of the “nice girl syndrome” is self-knowledge. It is really important to understand your limits and your own needs to identify when you are pleasing just the others and not yourself. 

Getting to know yourself better is a long journey and you obviously can do it by observing your actions and your feelings in everyday life, but what is more recommended, according to Fabiana Coelho, is to find a psychologist to help you with that process and with the feeling of needing the approval from others. 

It is important to understand that we can be kind and altruistic, it just needs to be balanced and not in excess. Also, conflicts are part of life, it is impossible to avoid them forever. Putting yourself first and expressing your own opinions is necessary, you are not being selfish for doing that. 

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The article above was edited by Amanda Moraes.

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Rafaela Masseo

Casper Libero '25

journalist in formation; love to write about different topics; very interested in issues related to the environment, feminism and psychology; willing to tell the world new stories :)
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