To Be or Not To Be (Liked)

From an early age we learn that it is good to be liked. To be liked by our teachers, neighbors, family members and especially peers. We come to understand that it is important to be found pleasing in the eyes of others and to be someone that they enjoy being around. Therefore, it is basic elementary logic to say that from an early age we ALSO comprehend what it means NOT to be liked.

Whatever your first encounter with not being liked looked like, we have all had one. And it is beyond terrible. It usually happens in the sandbox and it is tear-your-heart-out-throw-it-in-the-sand-and-stomp-on-it awful. But somehow we survive and we wind up surrounding ourselves with the people who DO like us… and we continue on our merry way toward adulthood.

As we age, however, I believe we wind up in one of two camps. The I’m-so-cool-I-don’t-care-whether-you-like-me-or-not camp OR the I-WANT-no-make-that-I-NEED-everyone-to-like-me camp. Unfortunately, my tent is firmly staked in the soil of the latter. And life is harder for people like me. Oh how I wish I could be one of those people who doesn’t give a damn what others think of them.

I am 36 years old and STILL troubled if/when someone doesn’t like me. For example, (yes, this is the whole hopefully-cathartic reason I am writing this in the first place) there is someone in my life right now who just DOES NOT LIKE ME. I have no idea why. What’s not to like? I ask myself this question. You don’t know me. How can you NOT like me when you don’t even know me?

In order to protect myself from further misguided hatred I will not say whether this person is a he or a she or in what capacity they are a “part of my life.”  But suffice it to say that they have made it abundantly clear they have zero time for me as well as ZERO interest in ever speaking to or getting to know me.

This puzzles me.

Please don’t mistake my puzzlement for a massive ego. (Puzzlement? Is that a word? Spell-check isn’t flagging it, so it must be. Cool!) Anyway, I don’t believe—contrary to what my family might tell you—that I am perfect or that the sun rises and sets on me. I just don’t think—to the best of my recollection—that I have done anything worthy of such unsolicited disdain. I’m a very friendly person. I’m a complimentary (though genuine) person, and probably the best measure of all is the fact that I make friends easily and often. Wherever I go.

Joanna plays well with others.

So what the hell then, is this person’s problem? (Heavy sighing) I don’t know. I have asked myself a million times and a million and one times I have come up empty. I guess they just don’t. I have absolutely no clue as to why, but for continued health and happiness (and lower blood pressure) I realize I must let them go. And perhaps… PERHAPS this could be one giant step toward seeking out a plot of land in that OTHER, more-desirable, cooler camp.

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18 thoughts on “To Be or Not To Be (Liked)

    • Yes, I think that is probably an accurate assessment… but thanks for the affirmation 🙂 Because I’m not one of those people (who dislike others for no apparent reason) it is hard for me to understand anyone who IS one of those people.

  1. I have been in your shoes a time or two and YOU NEED TO LET IT GO. It really is not about you, but about the other person. Let that person figure it out and continue on with your life. I realize it is hard to let it go, but you will be a happier and healthier person if you let it go. Take Care:)

  2. Lee says:

    I am not sure if it was my first encounter with not being liked, but I definitely remember an instance such as you have described when I was in the fifth grade. It stuck with me forever. Luckily that person’s disdain for me didn’t last.

    • I’m so glad you were not scarred for life, Lee. I cannot imagine someone NOT wanting to be your friend. She must have been a HUGE brat! AND it’s a damn good thing she came to her senses 😉

  3. Nannette says:

    As someone who suffers from the same problem, wanting others to like me, and as your friend and someone who loves you, I say to Hell with that person. You dont need someone like that in your life anyway. You have so many people that do like you and love you so why focus any of your time or thoughts on someone who doesnt like you. It’s crazy how we spend so much time racking our brains trying to figure out if we’ve done something wrong or been annoying or……the list goes on. You just have to let it go and just be you. I have learned just recently that if you keep on like others learn that they can treat you like crap if they feel like it and I dont deserve that!!! So I am standing up for me and for those that I love. It’s hard because I’m not used to it but it’s good because I am learning that letting people treat you badly just so they like you is bad for you!!! Be good to you!!!

    • Thank you Nannette. I always appreciate your kindness and I know if I EVER needed someone to defend me… you’d be there!! That’s why I love you 🙂 We’ll get better at this as we get older!

  4. Ooh, I’ve been on both sides of this, so I’m going to try to give possible insight into the person who doesn’t like you, even if it means you’re now going to think I’m an evil cow.

    If you honestly haven’t done anything to alienate this person, it’s possible that you just have a personality that they find inexplicably irritating. I know a few people that I deal with now and then who are perfectly sweet and lovely people. I know there is nothing wrong with them in the slightest, but somehow every word that comes out of their mouths makes me want to slap them. I try very hard to cover this, but I’m going to have to assume that I’m not that great an actor and they might notice.

    My advice would be to either avoid or ignore them. Or you could get snarky with them, which might be a lot of fun for you, but also maybe not a great idea if you see them a lot. Whatever you decided, write them off. Do not try to win them over. It smacks of neediness or something and will probably aggravate the situation.

    • I do NOT think you are an evil cow. Thank you for the insight from “the other side.” I have known that that was a possibility with this person as I know there are people we just don’t click with. I too, have been on that side of the fence as well and I keep those people at arms length. However, I may limit what or how MUCH I say to them, you know keep it really brief, but I am still polite to people that I find annoying.

      The thing that got me about this person is that I don’t feel like I ever had the chance to annoy them. Like I said in the post, I don’t believe I am somehow “above” annoying someone else, but in order to annoy them you have to actually TALK to them or be around them. Its as though this person said: “No, I have enough friends and acquaintances and I don’t need another one, so I have no time for you.” Like I said… it is puzzling.

      You’ll be pleased to know that my approach with them from the beginning has been to ignore it. I tried a little at first to get to know them thinking that I was mis-reading the vibe. But when it became clear that I was NOT mis-reading them, I just stopped acknowledging them as they do with me. The whole thing has been a good lesson for me and writing this was kind of my way of getting it down or “out” or something… 😉

  5. Glad you wrote about this subject. This is an issue that I encounter really on a daily basis, particularly in the office. After a lot of pondering and strange experiences, I boil it down to 3 things.

    Some of it has to do with appearances, You, are y o u, how you style your hair, or wear your your clothes is like breathing – you don’t really think about it; however, to outsiders it can seem contrived/a sign of something they generally don’t like about people (stereotypes), so they assume they don’t like You.

    #2, Jealousy/Insecurities – “She looks good for her age,” this makes me jealous so I’ll hate her (even though I don’t know her).

    Lastly, one I catch myself doing – guilty by association. I don’t like you because of the company you keep or you remind me of someone (who I knew well and didn’t like) therefore I’m going to associate those feelings with you.

    It can be hard to let the dislike roll off of you, but you have to remember it’s impossible to please everyone – no one can ever agree on one flavor of ice cream. I’ve had to remember that I was the more mature person, when being disliked by women 10 and sometimes 20 years older than me. Now that I’m a little older (28) I’ve gotten ornery, and nearly relish the thought someone would even take the time to dislike me. I spend so much time being bugged about how stupid other people act, it’s kinda nice to know I can bug someone back LOL.

    • Thanks for responding and for providing your take on the matter. I completely agree with what you said. We are complex beings and there are probably lots of things behind the scenes that we never even know are going on when it comes to how we relate with others. Thanks for reading and for offering up that perspective!

  6. Wow.This post is so eye opening. I’d have to be in the first, “I’m so cool I don’t care if people like me” camp, haha. There have just been so many things that have happened in my life that have allowed me to come to the decision that the most important things in life do not require other people’s approval. Things like happiness, success or failure, my personality…etc etc. I am the type of person who keeps those few close friends that last a lifetime while shunning other folks who do not seem to give a damn about me. I had a roommate in college who was obsessed with making the most friends (she joined a sorority and all) and she wound up with F’s and some drunken nights. I personally don’t know you and think you’re pretty cool for coming up with all of these awesome blog ideas that inspire people! I would just let the situation go with this person.

    • Thank you Melody! I am so glad you stopped and read and shared your thoughts on this. You are so right in your observations. I have a feeling I’ll be back to read your inspirational comments!

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