The husband who thinks to himself, "how will my wife feel about this?" before making a decision that will affect both of them is a person we admire for his thoughtfulness and his attunement to his wife's needs and feelings. The adult daughter who wonders about her father's reaction to her choice of a romantic partner may appear to be respectful and mindful of her parent's judgment and ideas about her best interests.
Too often, however, individuals like those in the preceding examples, are not simply interested and concerned about the reactions of important and influential people in their lives. They are operating with fear or trepidation about the real or imagined consequences of provoking reactions that they feel they must avoid at all costs. This is what I mean by living "at the mercy of the other".