Is there someone in your life you can’t please no matter how hard you try?


By Chuck Woodbury
I could never please my father. No matter what I did, it was never enough. He envisioned me a certain way, and I wasn’t that way even though I was a good person, respected by my peers. I believe he was proud of me, but he could not show it. I’ll never understand why.

He was the same way with my brother, who eventually left the family, never to return again. Many of my friends have similar stories.

Alas, I have problems today with some members of my family. They do not approve of me for one reason or another. There seems nothing I can do to gain their acceptance. As time has passed we have become more estranged. It’s a shame.

I knew a woman once, mid-60s, who had done well with her life. But when she visited her mother, in her 80s, she couldn’t drive her Mercedes there or risk criticism about how unwise she was with her money. It was the same with every aspect of her life.

Years ago I attended a lecture by a psychologist about this. She called these people our “irregular persons.” No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, no matter how successful we become, we’re just not good enough.

How about you? Do you have an “irregular person” in your life, or did you once? Please leave a comment.

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Not anymore.


I was raised by an overcritical person. Now, years after their death I beat myself up in their place. I’ve struggled all my life with a voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough and I place the blame for that voice on how I was raised. Some people need to not be parents.

Greg Bryant

Had to learn the hard way. Had a father that I was never good enough for. He finally came around a few years before he died. It occurred to him that his definition of success was simply his. I was a successful person in my definition and he finally got it. My first wife became unjustifiably arrogant and narcissistic sometime after our son was born. Since I was not good enough for her, she found it easy enough to get the divorce.

So now I say that since these people rarely ever change, be rid of them. They either will never accept that each person as they are, not how you want them to be or they just get off on making you miserable. I do feel for my son though. He still will make an occasional attempt to have a relationship with his mother. But at 21 he’s beginning to accept the reality that to personalities like his mother’s, relationships are just weapons.

Al Florida

You asked “is there” so the answer is no. Was there? Well yes, My father, but he is long gone. Probably, like you he was proud of me, but not in a way that he showed it. Now, do I please my wife and two adult (mid 40’s) children. Not always, maybe not usually. But then again I was not put on earth to please everyone.


Didn’t answer the question because if I can’t please someone, but I am pleased with myself, I don’t really care.


Not since my 2002 divorce! Had three fabulous kids, but 25 years was enough.


I’m surprised and saddened by much of what I’m reading here, from Chuck and in the comments. Even though I and my close and extended family members have chosen a variety of lifestyles and beliefs, I don’t think they were ever anywhere near that judgemental or critical of one another. If my parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. were ever disappointed in my choices they didn’t criticize me for them or make me feel like I’d let them down. I always felt like they were proud of me. They did have some concerns when I had a mega mid-life crisis at 50 and got divorced, retired from a stressful career, moved across the country, and remarried . . . but they knew I was a Big Girl and had it figured out before making those decisions. They even thought it was cool when my current husband and I sold our house to RV full-time. I guess I’m lucky my family was always supportive — or at least didn’t voice any negative opinions that I could hear!

Kevin Loving

Something for all of us to “Ponder”…… “Unless they are still in diapers; YOU CAN’T “CHANGE” them”


Not anymore! My Mom died in 1981.


So sad to read about all the people who have no more contact with other family members or friends. I am blessed to have been brought up in a loving family and my older brother and I have always loved each other, even as youngsters (he is 7 years older). All our cousins are beloved family members and still keep in contact. We are all “senior citizens” so that reflects the kind of upbringing of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Today is so different.


My mother was like Chucks father, I was never the person she thought her daughter should be. But I figured out at a fairly young age that it was her not me, so I was good to her but lived my life as myself. She died some time ago and I didn’t do much mourning.
Then I had a person who considered me her best friend, I tolerated it for many years, but finally just broke the relationship. I sometimes feel bad about doing it, because she didn’t have much in the way of friends, but not enough to contine in such a negative relationship.


This question requires a third option. Something like “I no longer care about pleasing people. Making them happy is not my job.”


Sure are alot of miserable people out there- I can’t believe the poll. What a waste. I’m sure feelings carry over into other parts of their lives as well.

Wayne Caldwell

Not so many any more. Most of them have died and I don’t have to concern myself with them. As for others, I have family that I’ve not seen or heard from for decades. Tried to reconnect, to no avail. Don’t know them and don’t miss them. Ain’t gonna try any more.

Bob Godfrey

My children. Lost 2 of them in my divorce from my first wife since they took sides. What is surprising is that they are adults and are both divorced themselves. My remaining married son is the only one who speaks to me.

Captn John

Yes,,, OH YES!! A sibling my brother and I feel is simply crazy and nasty. We both finally gave up and wrote her completely out of our lives. Sad as we were close as children. Don’t miss her and don’t think or talk about her.

Alaska Traveler

I had a step-daughter that cut me out of her life. I tried for several years to repair our relationship but had no luck. A co-worker confided to me one day that his parents insisted to have contact with him and forced visits. He said it was horribly stressful for him. I wondered if it was stressful for my daughter when I tried so hard to maintain contact. So, painfully, I cut off contact. Recently she cut off contact with her father…. I believe she may be a irregular person… I so hope I wasn’t part of the reason for that.

Barbara Brooker

I am who I am and you can take me or leave me. It won’t upset me either way. I think I was in my late 40’s when the light bulb came on for me.


Yes. That was the story of my life. You summed it up well: “No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, no matter how successful we become, we’re just not good enough.” In other words, the “carrot stick” of approval was always “just out of reach, but not out of sight.” Thankfully, I was accepted by my Mom and that was important … but it wasn’t enough. As a male, I wanted to be affirmed and accepted — and approved — by my Dad. And, not surprisingly, it took its toll on me — esp., with interpersonal relationships with other men… and esp., with those in authority over me. I’m sure that’s one reason my upward advancement was “capped.” It wasn’t until I was 33 or so, that I realized my dad didn’t get the approval from his dad, etc. So, I tried to switch to focus on God, who loves me and accepts me as I am, but works with me as one “in progress under construction” to get better & overcome my faults, flaws, and shortcomings. At any rate, it wasn’t until several years AFTER they died — through a process of forgiveness and “letting go” — that I accepted them for who they … and ALL of us are — imperfect people (sinners) through this journey called life. And, for some, “saved by grace” by faith in Christ Jesus, makes the journey tolerable and eventually, worthwhile and meaningful.


Ricky Nelson song line says it all. No you can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself.