OK, CLaPorte - I totally get where you're coming from, you're where I was not too long ago. I did a heap of research and experimentation and discovered the trick is to be assertive, to not try and please people all the time. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be kind or generous, it just means that you should demand (and command) respect.
If you always took a step back from a horse, gave it treats, let it rub its head against you etc, it wouldn't respect you and would pretty soon be a total jerk toward you. Same with people. Clearly define your boundaries, stand your ground, give but also accept (and if the other party doesn't give, move on). Obviously, in a relationship between people you're more aiming toward equality rather than being the lead mare, but the way to get there is the same.
Respect yourself, don't let people walk over you and you will be a lot happier (money back guarantee - but as you didn't pay me...oops
). Becoming assertive in relationships fixed my love life. I'm still working on being assertive in the workplace, but I'm getting there.
ETA: Oh yeah, and if he gets pushy at dinner time, just grab a stick and smack him with it
Also, make your needs known. If you don't articulate what you need and want from a relationship, even the nice people won't be able to provide it. Then you'll get frustrated because you didn't get what you needed. Communication is essential.