What’s so bad about chasing approval?
After all, everyone does it.
The 3-year-old dashes to her mother to show off her first doodle.
The young adult tries to break the beer pong record to impress his friends (and the girls at the party).
The hotshot trader tries to impress his colleagues with the bone-colored card with Silian Grail lettering.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
But what happens if that becomes the sole objective of every interaction?
It seems harmless at first.
You’re just going in that extra mile and trying to make others happy.
But what happens when you start to sacrifice your happiness, your self-esteem, your values, your morals, and your overall well-being – all in order to gain others’ approval?
Then you’ve become an approval addict.
“Yeah, whatever. What’s the big deal?” – you say. “It’s not like I’ve become a methhead, right?”
Well, I’d say it’s a pretty big deal.
Probably approval addiction is not going to make you pawn your gran’s jewelry (unless of course, your toxic girlfriend doesn’t guilt-trip you into that).
But it sure can cause some heavy damage.
So here are 12 terrible prices an approval addict pays without even realizing it:
1. Deep Anxiety
For approval addicts, every interaction is a nightmare.
Others see conversations as a way to deepen the bond.
But for them, it’s a chance to destroy everything they love.
They keep replaying the awkward conversations in their head…
“Did I speak too much?”
“Or maybe too little?”
“Or maybe what I said offended someone?”
They worry that others will get upset and no longer like them.
They fear that they will lose face and make a fool of themselves.
One mistake, and it’s game over. They will get thrown out like trash.
Guess what happens when always think like that?
Pretty obvious, right?
Approval addiction and anxiety go like peanut butter and jelly.
2. Feeling powerless and inadequate
Approval addicts expect rewards for playing nice.
They think others will like them, respect them, work with them, love them or marry them.
But this plan doesn’t work.
They don’t create much influence or impact.
Instead, they become a victim.
They learn to see things as out of reach – so they don’t even have to try.
They console themselves:
“I choose to live this way because it makes me a good person.”
And what happens when they are used to feeling this powerless?
You guessed it right – it tanks their self-esteem.
It makes them feel unworthy of love and respect.
It makes them feel rotten and not good enough.
3. No Meaningful Friendships
Approval addicts crave and fear friendship at the same time.
This is how it works…
They want to open up and connect with friends.
But then that feeling of being not good enough crops up.
“If he knew how rotten I really am, he wouldn’t think of even being anywhere near me. So what’s the point?”
So they grow disillusioned about friendship.
4. Being Taken for a Ride
Approval addicts are terrified of being abandoned.
That makes saying “no” almost impossible for them.
They say yes to everything. Whatever the cost might be.
So for whom do they become a juicy target?
Yep, you got it right…
Charlatans and manipulators.
They get exploited regularly.
And they despise themselves for it.
5. Attracting Damaged People
Approval addicts feel valued when they fulfill someone else’s needs.
That makes them feel worthy for a while.
So they find out and latch on to the most damaged person around.
Someone whose needs are never-ending.
They enter into a codependent mess where they enable the other in return for their approval.
And you know the saddest part?
It ruins their chances of ever building a healthy relationship.
6. Ruined Relationships
Sometimes the stars align in favor of the approval addict.
And they get into a relationship with a regular person?
Finally, a happy ending for the poor guy!
But, is it though?
Remember how the approval addict secretly believes that there’s something rotten within them?
So sharing their needs and wants are out of the question.
They believe their partner will abandon them if they get to know their real version.
So they overindulge their partner with romance, sex, compliments, and service.
When that approach inevitably fails, they turn to guilt and manipulation.
Still think there’s a happy ending here?
7. Loveless Marriage
So what happens when two approval addicts get married?
Now, that’s true hell on earth.
Neither partner wants to get too close.
So neither of them feels challenged or worried about their own secrets being exposed.
They still show happy faces in front of the world.
And when there’s no one to perform for, they devolve to keeping scores and dishing out hurt.
The marriage either goes cold or goes south.
8. Undisciplined and Spoiled Children
What happens when approval addicts become parents?
If you thought something would change, you would be disappointed.
They swap between being the best friend or the tyrant with their children.
They worry that their children will hate them.
So they try to bribe them with gifts or money.
Or they become helicopter parents, trying to control everything.
They demand love from their children in return for all the “sacrifices” they have done.
Undisciplined and spoiled children.
9. Loneliness and Isolation
Some approval addicts just say screw it and check out of relationships completely.
They spend their days and nights working, watching TV, and indulging in video games and porn.
They still long for that deep sense of connection and intimacy.
But they imagine others as harsh, and unforgiving.
They wonder if there are people even worth connecting to.
They grow alone, isolated and bitter.
10. Stalled Career
So the damage is confined only to relationships, right?
It leaches into their work life as well.
Approval addicts are a pain to work with.
Even a single mistake convinces them of their ruin.
So they overreact and compound the issue.
They have non-existent boundaries.
So they take up much more on their plate and then fail to deliver.
And then seethe with resentment when they get called out.
Not very healthy for career growth.
11. Simmering Resentment and Rage
So by now, you know how every day brings a new disappointment to the approval addict.
From acquaintances, friends, colleagues, partners, spouses, and even their own children.
They hate saying their needs aloud.
And they hate everyone’s guts for not fulfilling those needs.
They become cynical.
The disappointments and hate slowly build up.
Then it morphs into resentment and anger.
The rage keeps simmering just under the surface for a while.
Then one day, it erupts out of the blue causing hurt to everyone around.
And the worst part?
The others don’t even have a clue!
And what happens to the approval addict?
They suffer from fear, guilt, and shame and become a doormat once again.
Until the pressure builds up once again.
They are doomed to repeat this cycle forever.
12. Extreme Exhaustion, Panic attacks, and Depression
Those angry outbursts cause a mess.
But they still provide an outlet.
Not every approval addict is lucky enough to have that.
Some of them turn it all inwards.
Anxiety keeps them in a perpetual fight-or-flight state.
It keeps pumping cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine into their blood.
It messes up their sleep, digestion, energy, and libido.
Eventually, it exhausts them and makes them feel like a husk of their true self.
And that’s not all…
Combine all that anxiety and exhaustion with feeling helpless and powerless – and the results are not pretty.
It often leads to panic attacks.
And sometimes it even leads to depression.
Phew, pretty heavy stuff, right?
But it had to be said.
Because I struggled with most of them throughout my adult life.
And I had no clue that my approval addiction is the source of my pain.
So I sought to cure the symptoms without tackling the true reason.
Can you, like me, relate to the above symptoms?
Then I urge you to take a deep, unflinching look within and make an honest assessment.
Are you addicted to approval from others?
If the answer is yes, ask yourself if you want to live like that for the rest of your life.
Because that’s what’s going to happen if you don’t commit to breaking out of this rut.
Is it easy? Hell no.
But is it possible?
Hell yeah – I’m a living example of that.
And let me tell you a secret…
The grass is way greener on this side.