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Tired of Being a "Good Girl"?

Learn the signs of good girl fatigue and how to overcome it.

Key points

  • Constantly striving to meet unrealistic expectations, internal and external, can lead to emotional burnout.
  • The roots of good girl fatigue lie in ingrained societal expectations and cultural norms.
  • We can learn to balance these tendencies with self-care, setting boundaries, and expressing our authenticity.
Source: Nathan Dumla / Unsplash
Source: Nathan Dumla / Unsplash

Are you constantly trying to be the perfect daughter, partner, friend, or employee? Do you feel like there's a script playing in the background, telling you that you must smile politely, follow the rules, prioritize others' needs, and never be difficult or different? If so, you might be experiencing “good girl fatigue.” In this post, we'll explore the roots of good girl fatigue, the signs you might be experiencing it, and, most importantly, how to overcome it.

What Is Good Girl Fatigue?

Good girl fatigue refers to the weariness or exhaustion felt by individuals, especially women, who feel compelled to conform to traditional gender roles, societal norms, and unattainable standards of perfection. Good girl fatigue is more than just feeling tired. It's the emotional and mental burnout that stems from constantly striving to meet unrealistic expectations, both internal and external.

Societal pressures often push the narrative of the "good girl": someone who's agreeable, selfless, obedient, and accommodating. While these qualities seem admirable, the constant pressure to live up to them can be exhausting and often comes at the expense of your own needs and desires.

Signs of Good Girl Fatigue

Identifying signs of good girl fatigue can help us address its impact on mental health. Some common indicators include the following:

  • Perfectionism: Feeling the need to excel in every aspect of life to meet societal standards.
  • People-pleasing: Prioritizing others' needs and opinions over one's own.
  • Passivity: Being afraid to speak up or assert your boundaries due to fears of upsetting or offending others. You do what others want even if it's problematic for you.
  • Accommodation: Going out of your way to help or please others, even when it's inconvenient, costly, or harmful to yourself.
  • Self-doubt: Questioning your worth and abilities because you’re afraid you don’t meet others’ expectations.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Feeling drained from suppressing emotions or constantly putting on a facade to please others.
  • Physical exhaustion: Feeling physical fatigue from overcommitment and neglecting self-care.

Why Do Women Suffer From Good Girl Fatigue?

The roots of good girl fatigue lie in ingrained societal expectations and cultural norms that dictate how women should behave. From a young age, girls are often taught to prioritize others' needs, be obedient, and strive for perfection. These societal messages create an internalized pressure to conform, leading to good-girl tendencies.

Additionally, traditional gender roles and the perpetuation of unrealistic standards are reinforced through media, family, and religious and educational institutions.

Effects of Good Girl Fatigue

Good girl fatigue can negatively impact one’s mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. It can affect women in the following ways:

  • Diminished self-worth: Constantly seeking validation from external sources can erode one's sense of self-worth and identity.
  • Stifled authenticity: Conforming to others’ expectations hinders personal growth and fulfillment since it restricts our ability to freely express ourselves and pursue personal goals.
  • Strained relationships: People-pleasing behavior can lead to resentment and strained relationships, as genuine connections are replaced with superficial interactions.
  • Mental health issues: Perfectionism and people-pleasing are associated with anxiety, depression, and heightened stress due to the chronic pressure to meet unrealistic expectations (Hewitt, Flett, & Mikail 2017; James Madison University n.d.).

Breaking the Cycle

While overcoming good girl fatigue may seem daunting, these strategies can help you reconnect with yourself and challenge unrealistic expectations.

  • Explore your beliefs and values. Consider how they’ve been influenced by societal expectations and how they may differ from gender stereotypes.
  • Ask for what you need or want. Instead of suppressing your needs and wants, notice and communicate your needs, preferences, or desires.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to prioritize your own needs and set clear boundaries in relationships to prevent burnout and resentment.
  • Challenge perfectionism. Redefine success based on personal values rather than external demands and normalize imperfections and mistakes.
  • Redefine "good." Explore what being “good” means to you. Consider ways that good is different than perfect, obedient, pleasing, or agreeable.
  • Prioritize self-care and pursue your goals and interests. Challenge people-pleasing tendencies by scheduling time for self-care practices and engaging in activities that are fulfilling.
  • Speak up when you’re mistreated. It’s essential to advocate for yourself and not allow others to take advantage of your kindness and desire to please.
  • Practice self-compassion. Cultivate self-compassion by acknowledging the pressures associated with being a “good girl” and treating yourself with loving kindness.

Final Thoughts

Although good girl tendencies can be deeply ingrained, we can learn to balance tendencies for perfectionism, people-pleasing, and accommodating with self-care, setting boundaries, and expressing our authenticity. When we do, we can live more fulfilling lives and alleviate the pressure of unrealistic expectations.


Hewitt, P.L., Flett, G. L. & S.F. Mikail, S. F. (2017). Perfectionism: A Relational Approach to Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment. The Guilford Press.

James Madison University (n.d.). Counseling Center: People-Pleasing.

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