Wanting to be liked is one of the fundamental human desires. Our brains have evolved to believe that social acceptance is part of survival and that we have higher chances of defending ourselves as a group. We may not have to defend ourselves against wild animals or fight for survival anymore, but we still have the innate need to surround ourselves with like-minded people, feel accepted, love, and be loved. So, when we’re in a situation where people don’t seem to like us, the feeling can be quite upsetting.
Whether no one laughs at your jokes, you weren’t invited to the group chat, or nobody wants to come to your birthday party, you may ask yourself: Why don’t people like me?
Feeling that nobody likes you can be quite damaging to your self-esteem. It can make you feel isolated and unwanted; it can make you question yourself, struggle with feelings of inadequacy and, the more the feeling persists, the more you risk getting caught in a vicious circle of obsessive thinking.
Before you can decide how to move forward, first you have to answer this question:
Do people really don’t like me?
Because it’s entirely possible for people to like you, but only be under the impression that they don’t. This can happen for several reasons:
If a person doesn’t seem to enjoy your company, the most straightforward way of clearing all doubt is to ask them about it directly. However, that doesn’t always work because you may not be close enough for this kind of question to be appropriate, or the person may avoid giving you an answer. More often than not, you need to do some self-reflection to find out why other people don’t gravitate towards you.
Here are some of the most common reasons that can make you come across unlikable:
The healthiest way to react when people don’t like you is to turn inwards and understand the cause for their attitude. If the problem does indeed come from you, it’s important to be proactive and start working on yourself.
If people don’t like you because you put up too many walls, let them get to know you. If you talk too much and always take over the conversation, learn to listen and give them space.
If you judge others too harshly, be more tolerant.
No matter why other people don’t like you, it’s essential to understand that you cannot change them; you can only change yourself. If you have a negative habit that makes other people uncomfortable and prevents you from making friends, but your reaction is to victimise yourself or insist that they accept it, then things won’t change anytime soon.
Some people seem to be naturally and effortlessly likeable. However, no one is perfectly good or perfectly awful. We all have flaws; the trick is to not let them overshadow our virtues. Most of the time, making new friends and being likable takes work and no one is 100% good at making friends. So, don’t bring yourself down if you behaved in a way that made people dislike you. Accept your mistake and focus your energy on improving yourself. Without realising it, people will start liking you.
No matter how nice or interesting you are, there will always be people who don’t like you or don’t want to be friends with you. While it’s normal to want to be liked and belong in a certain group, the excessive need to be liked can stem from a deeper issue.
People who have been victims of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse and emotional neglect can have an unhealthy desire to be liked because they grew up with the idea that they are not good enough. On the same note, people with low self-esteem tend to seek approval from their peers. Excessive social media use can also turn into a risk factor because it makes you overly sensitive to the opinions of others and instills the idea that your self-worth is connected to your number of likes and followers.
How to tell if you have an unhealthy need to be liked:
If you feel that you rely too much on other people’s opinions and struggle emotionally when someone rejects you, a therapist can help you boost your self-esteem, work on past traumas that may be behind this negative thought pattern, and help you form meaningful relationships.