Since we were little, our parents have often said, "You must be a good girl, because most people like someone who is kind to others," or "People should be happy by seeing others' happiness." In our society too, we especially women are demanded to be good to everyone, as people perceive women to be gentle and have friendly temperament.
In a study by Stanford University, as reported by Psychology Today, the most desirable adjectives to describe women were compassionate, warm, cheerful, soft-spoken, and loyal. These are all qualities of a "good girl". Moreover, if you don't possess some or all of these qualities, some people would perceive you as being less than "good".
Being nice to others or wanting to be called good is not wrong, but you should know that to force yourself to act a certain way or do certain things solely for others' happiness, is not okay for your mental health. This attitude is referred to as good girl syndrome.
Trigger by Parental Control and Society
Quoted from Marriage.com, "good girl syndrome" is the manifestation of traits valued and praised among little girls to the extent that deviating from those traits makes them feel guilty and fearful of being judged. This also ties to society's expectations of who women should be and how they should act.
The signs of this syndrome usually manifest in things such as fear of speaking out about their thoughts, fear of disappointing others' feelings, fear of rejection, avoidance of any conflict or confrontation, and inability to refuse others' wishes. So, why do so many women experience this?
Like the beginning of the article stated, our parents always demand us to be a "good girl", and this situation fits with the research that suggests this gender bias starts early in childhood. Girls are more emotionally mature and better behaved, and hence they take their parents' "please be good" guidance on board from an earlier age.
No wonder we always bring this consideration till adulthood, because most women will keep their emotions or desire for someone else's sake and their happiness. Moreover, women are very easily influenced by others' thoughts until the end they will ignore their own opinion.
Gerda Lerner mentions in her book, The Creation of Patriarchy, that gender is just a "costume, mask, and straitjacket" that drives people's actions. This phrase highlights the way that gender acts as a restraining force, especially for women. What's considered as a normal behavior expected of women is exceptionally extreme. If they perpetually give without getting what they want, gradually they will feel bored and mentally tired.
Good Girl Syndrome for Your Relationship
You should know that good girl syndrome is a barrier to many things you dream about. Because you always worry about your choice, your words or your actions will disappoint you personally. That's why this syndrome will make it hard for you to grow, especially in relationships.
Good girl syndrome can limit a woman's desire to explore the sexual aspects of her life. It makes you believe that going beyond the boundaries set by society will have you labeled as something dirty and no woman wants that. Moreover, women who suffer from this syndrome can't fully enjoy themselves during romantic relationships or sex, because they are constantly judging themselves and being careful about those set boundaries.
When you have good girl syndrome, you unconsciously employ tactics that make it easier to avoid shame and rejection. It means you only ask for some of the things that you want and need and withhold the others. Thus, you'll likely end up sacrificing a lot for fear of doing or saying something to your partner.
All in all, being a good person or a good girl is not wrong. However, you don't have to force and torture yourself to prove your kindness because kindness comes from sincerity. So, free yourself from the social pressure to be someone you are most likely not.