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Change From Placating to Connecting and BEACH READ by Emily Henry

Cover of the book Beach Read used to teach the concept of changing from placating to connecting

When her world shattered, January, once a reliable author, couldn’t write her next book.


January’s unwavering belief in love inspired her writing. She thought her parents had the perfect love story. The reality was messier. At her father’s funeral, January learned that he had a long-term affair.


January, who put grad school on hold to care for her mother, dated the perfect guy to curate the flawless life she wanted her parents to see her live and prioritized everyone else’s happiness, was shocked. She couldn’t do anything, much less write a love story.


Consequences swarmed. Her editor was counting on her. January was broke. She and her mom dodged talking in an uncompetitive game of phone tag. Imperfection made January uncomfortable; she’d never let people down before.


January was a placater unable to placate. Instead of facing her problems, January avoided them.  


In all families, members take on stability-maintaining roles, like family hero, placater, scapegoat, lost child, and mascot. In a healthy family, roles shift with flexibility. Conversely, roles can become rigid, toxic, and problematic.


Placaters are people-pleasers who make others happy regardless of personal consequences. They make excuses for others, focusing solely on people’s best qualities. Placaters are caring, empathetic, and great listeners - frequently at personal expense.  


Here are tips to help change from placating to authentically connecting:


Explore Your Role: Identify your relationship superpowers and list moments when you’ve used them.  January might say, “I’m good at helping; instead of going to grad school, I helped when my mom was sick.”


Find a Line: List situations when placating made you feel bad or held you back. Identify a question to help you decide whether you are merely helping or enacting an unhealthy role. January’s question might be, “What emotional cost does this hold for me?”


Prepare for Some Rejection: Placaters don’t generally get rejected. When you are authentic, people in relationships with you for the wrong reasons may not like you. That’s OK. January could tell herself: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”


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