the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Eager to Please


Thank you to those of you who sent me emails with advice on therapy.  I haven’t taken any action yet, but since this is my blog, I figured I can start my therapy already — right here with all of you.

Therapy – Day One

I feel an urge to please people.  It’s not a terrible trait.  If you met me, you would probably think I was a decent enough guy.  But I hate the feeling of NOT pleasing someone.  It makes me anxious.  Sophia has made fun of me about this for years.  For instance,  if I suggest that a group of friends go to a restaurant, and that restaurant ends up sucking, I feel responsibility.  I need to apologize to everyone, as if I cooked the meal.

Despite my charming demeanor, most of my women readers would hate to be with me in bed.  I’m the type who won’t leave you alone after sex:

“Did you have an orgasm?  Are you sure you had an orgasm?  Do you want me to try again?  You don’t blame me, do you?   I’ll try again if you want.   I’ll try to give you two orgasms next time.  Is that fair?”

Even now, anxious thoughts of pleasing my readers are at the forefront. 

“This post sucks.  My readers are getting bored.  In a second, they’re gonna move over to Brandon’s site.  I better say something funny… and quick.” 

The last week was a tough one for me and blogging.  A different blogger seemed to be upset at me every day.  Was I too flippant when I joked about psychological conditions when I wrote about therapy?   Maybe I shouldn’t have put a photo of a woman’s prison movie when writing about Blogher.  To top it off, I got a nice anti-Semitic email today, although I doubt it was from a regular reader.  (unless it was Brooke?)

Uh-oh, now she’s gonna be pissed.

Really, I just want people to be happy and to like me.   I like when people like me.

That is until I get some real therapy and learn to get some balls, so I don’t have to give a shit anymore about what ANY of you think.

Only kidding.  Ha Ha.  Only kidding!   I love you.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Kissing


  1. Paris Parfait

    Neil, don’t worry – we love you anyway. None of us can please everybody all the time (even though we may try – it’s called good manners). You have the priceless quality every woman longs for in a man -the ability to make us laugh.

  2. Non-Highlighted Heather

    It’s like the Jewish grandmother who got kicked off of jury duty. She kept standing up and shouting, “I’m guilty, I’m guilty!”

    Seriously, I get it. You don’t even know how much I get it.

  3. jamy

    I had a boyfriend who had a constant need to please me (oddly, not in bed!) and it drove me crazy. I used to say, “try making yourself happy for a while and leave me alone.”

    Something to think about is why you need to make people happy. What is at the root of the need? Figure that out and you might learn that everyone else’s happiness is not your responsibility. We don’t need an apology when things go wrong. It’s just life.

  4. mari

    what are you hiding that you think people may not like about you?

  5. elle

    Trying to please others is not a negative thing, its quite admirable. You just have to remember that you can only be responsible for YOU and YOUR actions. You can’t take on everyone’s feelings, no one can. It is impossible. And anyway, people like to have thier own feelings all to themselves, even if they are not pleasing. Let go of the guilt. Be willing to work through obstacles, guilt only poses more.

    Did you know that guilt never makes the food taste better in a shitty restaurant?

  6. Wendy

    I think this is something that gets easier with age. As you get older, you think there are people that 1) are never going to like me; b) can’t be made happy by anyone; c) don’t deserve to have you waste your life worrying about pleasing them. It is one of the hardest things to accept in the world – I like to be liked too. But there are people who will hate you simply because you try hard so I have found the more you chill about it, the better you feel. Come on – what else ya got? Lol..

  7. Charming, but single

    Look at everyone getting all serious.

    Neilochka, the only thing obsession about giving a woman orgasms will do is cause me , er, HER to fake them. Because my Catholic guilt plus your need to please equals a lot of orgasm anxiety.

    You know what would make me happy? More Penis photo shoots. ;P

  8. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    Wow, I’ve totally lost my train of thought to what you said; these commenters are as brilliant as you Neil. I’ll have to come back a second time to see what else was said.

    I got a new blog – food only.

    You could make this need to please work with you. Say you and Sophia show up as slave and dominatrix. Would that help your case? 😉

  9. Alison

    I like what Wendy said. It’s taken me a long time to learn that, and I’m still not sure it has sunk in.

  10. M.A.

    I would argue that many blog writers are pleasers. I know that I am.

  11. Neil

    Therapy – Day 2 —

    Sophia is only going to laugh at all the nice things you’ve said about my people pleasing personality. Remember, I’m also passive-aggressive, so when the anxiety kicks in from trying to please, I close myself off and withhold from being a people-pleaser, just to make things worse. For example, if I felt too much pressure to write a good post, I might not write a post at all. In a way, blogging is very freeing for me because I hardly second guess anything I write or worry about reactions, which is very different than how I would act in real life.

    I have a feeling after one more day of this, I might not even need that professional therapist.

  12. jaymarie

    see – this is me, NOT heading to brandon’s site…
    *slowly steps away – starts whistling*

  13. V-Grrrl

    Another Amen to Wendy.

    I’d like to think my over-40 attitude has to do with accumulated wisdom but maybe it’s declining estrogen levels. I especially care much less about all the expectations hung on women by other women.

    For example, I’m not sorry that I hate to bake cookies or organize kids parties (an issue if you’re an elementary school mom); I don’t care if my house is spotless and I’m not embarrassed if you know that; despite being a mom, I’m not necessarily good with kids who are not my own; and even though I like to socialize and work with women, I’m not into women’s clubs or church groups, and hey, I need a lot of sleep and don’t anyone give me crap about it.

    All that said, I like when people like me too. Let’s face it, I think bloggers are all a little anxious for approval–or we’d turn off our site meters and comments sections.

  14. Tuck

    1. You don’t suffer from mental illness…you suffer from Judaism…it’s your DNA, man.

    2. Hmm, if I had to choose…someone who is concerned about pleasing others or someone who is only concerned about pleasing his/herself. Yep, tough choice.


    I’ve been looking and looking for the bedroom-people-pleaser-man, maybe the therapist could just leave that trait alone…. It’s sounds like you’re self aware enough to be you’re own therapist.

  16. peefer

    If you have sex with Sally Fields and give her an orgasm, she’ll like like you. She’ll really really like you.

    And so will we all.

    ‘Ball’s in your court Neil.

  17. Viscountess of Funk

    Hi Neil:
    I feel your pain. I feel responsible for everyone’s bad day, even for the demise of the local economy. I did therapy for awhile. Take it from me: save your money, grab a beer (or six) talk to some friends, and just keep blogging. It’s a better solution.

  18. deezee

    ah, I know your condition all too well. used to suffer from it myself until one day I woke up and realized all my focus on others was an easy way out from making MY life better and myself happier. the thing is, as I’ve gotten happier, those around me like me better……

    but as a writer? it’s tough to stop thinking about those readers. just means more ahead on the learning curve…

  19. Sarah

    I like you, Neil.

  20. pam

    I got an anti-Semitic mail the other day too. I really don’t like that guy. Was it from you?

  21. better safe than sorry

    i think we all have little quirks, i’m obsessive complusive. i have no idea who brandon is, so i won’t be heading over there.

  22. kristen

    I’m guilty a lot and maybe all my therapy has helped me to not care (as much) what others think or if they like me.
    But you are funny you know and it struck me as funny, that you get mean email……i’d feel too guilty sending it.

  23. Nancy

    Please don’t go to therapy and get all normal on us. We love you just the way you are.


  24. rekabek

    I’m pleased with you.

  25. lizardek

    You’re so cute when you’re being passive-aggressive.

  26. Annie D.

    It’s like sex, Neil.

    Aspiring to have everyone like you is like trying to satisfy every woman sexually. Different women like different things, so it can’t be done.

    I’m willing to bet that you do at least one thing fantasticaly well in bed. Maybe more? Not fishing for details here. Just giving you the benefit of the doubt.

    And no, obsessively asking about orgasms doesn’t count.

    My point is, why try to please all women/readers/bloggers when you already know what you do well, and can satisfy an appreciative, select audience by doing that?

  27. chantel

    Well, I think at some level we all suffer from a need to please others. I do care although I hide it well behind a joke and a martini. The moment you feel secure in the fact that people like you and your are loved enough will be the most liberating moment of your life because the rest of the world doesn’t matter.

    I have a friend with one Catholic parent and one Jewish parent. I could never dream of having anything worse.

    She’s an athiest now!

  28. justrun

    I know it’s hard to be obsessed with trying to make everyone happy, believe me. I think the first step, though, could be realizing that you are not the only one. You wouldn’t believe the clarity that comes from knowing so many other people are having the very same struggles. And if they’re not having the same struggle, not to worry, they’re still messed up about something. My point is, try not to be so hard on yourself.

  29. brandon

    that’s great how you want to please others, but don’t forget to please yourself. perhaps next time i’m in LA, i’ll stop by and show you my techniques. first one’s free.

  30. Bob Yu

    I highly recommend The Work by Byron Katie. It’s the best self-therapy that I have ever encountered, allowing me to forgive everybody and everything in my life, as well as ask for forgiveness from others. Allows me to live in harmony with life’s ups and downs.

  31. LisaBinDaCity

    People will either like you or not. I DO think most people respond to honesty though. I personally appreciate those folks who are real, (read authentic.)

    Passive-agressive behavior is the worst. My friend once described it as a covert f*ck you. She was right.

  32. treespotter

    you should just use a code, like a lightswitch next to the bed, so she can just switch the light on/off to indicate orgasm. One with dimmer switch is also good.

    if you still need more help, i provide email based therapy.

  33. sara lee

    I like you Neil, I really do!

  34. Tatyana

    Was your nice Anti-Semitic correspondent be the same that sent me this comment recently (Prague IP):

    “please stop spreading hatred. thank you” ?

    You gotta love those from Czechia. Well-raised people. With manners.

  35. mrs mogul

    Don’t worry! Be HAPPY! And about the orgasm part COOL! Where were you when I was single? Most men were like I GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE, I have work in the morning!

  36. Jules

    Neil my friend, we Pisces always tend to be pleasers…combine that with the fact that you are a Jewish son…you’ve got yourself some major issues trying to please everyone!

    You consistently please me!

  37. Nance

    (I’m still reeling from the shock of finding out that v-grrrl and I might be twins separated at birth…!) But, Neil, have you ever tried standing in front of the mirror and getting all Jesse-Jackson-esque and repeating in stentorian tones “I AM…SOME-BODY!”? And I think we’d like to see it, via U-Tube.

  38. laurie


    And while it is true that I can only know this because I have been a people-pleasing “Yes ma’am, no ma’am” kind of girl my whole life, last year I found my balls (metaphorically speaking) at the bottom of a fifth of gin, which was waaaay cheaper than therapy 😉

    heh. found my balls.

  39. Miss Syl

    There was a whole discussion over at AlwaysArousedGirl’s blog this weekend about “post-mortem” sex talk. Lots of people do it. Nothing that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I think there’s a middle ground to be met between the equally unhealthy extremes of caring what everyone thinks and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks. Not sure I’ve found that happy medium yet, but I’m working on it.

    In any case, it can’t hurt to care more about what you think and really want for a change. If you don’t, who will do it for you?

  40. Miss Syl

    Ugh I hate when I make a typo and can’t erase and redo the post. I’ve just displeased you, haven’t I?

  41. schrodinger

    we like you, we really like you!

  42. Sandra

    I’m a people-pleaser too. We’d be a disastrous pair, wouldn’t we?!

  43. Bre

    I’m with you 100%! One of the hardest lessons I learned in college was to say “no” when my plate was full and someone was asking me to put something else on it. It was really really hard for a person like me who just wants everyone to be happy!

  44. cruisin-mom

    yeah, I really hate when men try to bend over backwards to please a woman in bed…cause that happens all the time.

  45. Dustin

    Anti-Semetic e-mail!?!?! It wasn’t from Del Fibson was it?

  46. SmartSocratics

    Hi Neil,
    First, let me say that if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were serious about your self esteem. Hey, if you want some therapy, you could come see me at my office. I would reduce my fee for you. Of course the travel would cost a bit much, but then you sure could get a lot of time to process and if it would help, we could talk about reducing the fee even more to help defray the cost of the airline ticket. I wonder what Warhol would think about that image of Fraud aka Freud?

  47. SmartSocratics

    Oh, Stuart Smalley would like you. If you wrote him, perhaps he would send you his book of daily affirmations. And remember, you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and dsoggone it, people like you.

  48. ms. sizzle

    your neuroses are cute.

  49. Pearl

    Eager to Please? Or did you really mean to type Easy to Please?

  50. Nelumbo

    Do you also try to avoid conflict at all costs? In my experience, it helped just to realize that people-pleasing can be really annoying. My husband and another good friend were open enough to tell me that they actually get frustrated with me not stating what I really want, and appologizing all the time.

    So I imagine your therapist will recommend assertiveness training (been there, done that).

    Ok that’ll be $35. I take paypal.

  51. Fitena

    Neil Babe, I just knew we had a lot in common! pheewww! Am learning slowly but surely to get rid of the guilt. That’s the hardest part of it.
    I don’t get it when people don’t like me. But maybe its finally because I try so hard to please that they’re put off I tell myself. I don’t know about you put this trait of character of mine dorve me to spend money i didn’t have just because I wanted to see my friends happy. But they’re i for a bog surprisenext time we go out for lunh or movie. I bet none of them would be carrying a purse. I’ll have a great laugh.

    Oh, I like you. Do you like me?

  52. bella

    I feel responsible when I choose the music while I’m driving, and want everyone else to either like it or at least not make their ears bleed. I think I need therapy for that.

  53. madeleine

    OMG, Neil. i also suffer with an over-compensating disposition..feel a need to pleeeease all the time.can’t even put my own choice of music on in case anyone hates it……however, when it comes to sex, my need to make sure the other person is ok seems to disipate!
    funny that!
    like i said before..any advice on the know?!!

    p.s. i’ve only just noticed that i’m your blog crush of the day.
    i blog crush you too!!

  54. Something Dirty

    Totally agree with Bella’s music thing and your restaurant thing.
    Recently I find the more I try to please the less I do.
    Try therapy, it can be awesome.

  55. Rhea

    Don’t worry, Neil. Your anxiety is perfectly natural — for a woman. No, I’m not kidding. You are experiencing what 99 percent of all women experience every day of their lives, the whole pleasing people thing. I hope you can continue to please people and be a good guy but not feel anxious over the whole thing. Growing older helps, believe me.

  56. Neil

    Rhea — You mean the older you get, the less you give a shit about other people?

  57. Rhea

    Well, it’s not really the less you give a shit about people. It’s the less you are affected by what they think about you.

  58. Marcia

    What you described as PA sounds more like NO or Nonsensical Oppositionalism to me. It’s a congenital affliction, so use a condom.

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