How I Learned To Be Okay With People Not Liking Me

It’s never a comfortable feeling to be on the receiving end of someone else’s hatred. It doesn’t matter if it’s your sibling, coworker, or a random person on the street; it’s in our natural wiring as human beings to dislike being disliked.

By Morgan Daniels3 min read
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I once struggled so much with the thought of someone not liking me that I would worry myself to the point of being physically ill. If I caught wind that even a friend of a friend who I’d only met twice didn’t like me, I would obsess over it for weeks, while it slowly destroyed my self-confidence and turned me into an anxious mess. So, you can imagine what I was like when my former roommate and best friend told me that she hated me – and for no specific reason that I could control. I was nothing short of an emotional disaster.

Women As People-Pleasers

While my reaction to hearing of someone disliking me is a tad extreme, I’m not alone in the hating-to-be-hated department. In fact, according to a 2022 survey, about half of Americans identify as people-pleasers, and within that population, the majority are women. No one dislikes being disliked more than a people-pleaser. If you’re unfamiliar with this cultural term, a people-pleaser refers to someone who does nearly anything they can to avoid conflict, including over-apologizing for things that aren’t their fault, never saying no, and feeling great discomfort when someone is upset with them.

So, not only is it in our DNA as humans not to want to be disliked, but women are much more likely to become people-pleasers because of historical customs ingrained in our society. What I mean by this is we as women are taught from a young age that we have to be selfless, raise a family, and put everyone’s needs before our own. And depending on the religion or culture, some women are even instructed to avoid speaking up and disagreeing with others. To make a long story short, it’s no wonder that so many of us struggle with the desire to avoid conflict or dislike being disliked. 

It can be really difficult to come to terms with the fact that someone doesn’t like you, especially when you’re young, emotionally vulnerable, and trying to figure out who you are. Below are some of the strategies I learned to use as I encountered people who dislike me. [Disclaimer: The following most directly speak to non-romantic relationships, but the same mantras can be applied to getting over rejection from a love interest.]

Identify the Truth

Sometimes, it’s hard not to spiral upon hearing of someone being upset with you. Ground yourself in the facts to avoid traveling down a catastrophic path of anxiety. Remind yourself who the source is – is this information coming directly from the said person, or is it coming from a third party who may be trying to start drama? Focusing on the facts of the conflict rather than emotions will help any stress you may be feeling subside. If there’s an explicit action you did that upset another person, let the conflict serve as a lesson and move on. However, if someone asserts that they don’t like you with little to no explanation, don’t take it to heart. A proclamation like this isn’t supported by any logical evidence and is more of a reflection of that person than it is of you.

In several personal experiences, I thought the other person was upset with me, but it turned out to be a big misunderstanding, and the conflict was able to be resolved through a short *in-person* conversation. (Yes, emphasis on in-person because it’s nearly impossible to read people’s demeanor through texts or calls.) If you start to spiral down a path of worry, remind yourself that everyone has conflict with others from time to time. Better yet, remember that it is completely normal and expected to not be liked by every single person you ever encounter. Instead, cherish those in your life who bring you positivity, support, and encouragement. 

Remember, it’s completely normal and expected to not be liked by every single person you ever encounter. 

Practice Self-Love

If you made a mistake or upset someone, apologize and try to work it out if that relationship is worth saving. But part of loving yourself is showing yourself grace, and people-pleasers are more likely to assume blame for conflicts instead of showing themselves the forgiveness they deserve. Self-love looks different for different people, but a few places to start are: meditating, journaling, talking to a therapist, practicing gratitude, surrounding yourself with positivity, and prioritizing yourself. I cannot emphasize enough how practicing simple acts of self-love helped transform my confidence and balance my stress levels. And if you invest in this, you will see its benefits too.

Refocus and Reset

One strategy I used a lot when learning to be okay with others not liking me was surrounding myself with those who do appreciate and support me. When I feel down, I lean on my family members and closest friends to brighten my mood. If a conflict is truly unresolvable between you and another person, channel your energy into strengthening the relationships that you do have rather than trying to repair a lost one. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cut this person out of your life, but cordially take a step back and reset your focus to prioritize the loyal loved ones who make you feel like your best self.

Accept Your Differences

At the end of the day, learning that someone doesn’t like you is a rejection, and if you were close to that person, it’s even a form of loss. Rejection and loss can hurt, badly. Accept this, and know that the pain will not last forever. Also, know that not everyone who enters your life is always there to stay. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you view it, friends, coworkers, roommates, etc. come and go over time. Sometimes it takes accepting your differences with another person to be able to move past the conflict. Allow yourself time to grieve, but be kind to yourself and avoid dwelling on the unchangeable past. 

Closing Thoughts

Trying to win your way back into someone’s life when they don’t want you to be there is a toxic cycle that will leave you isolated and hurt. You should never strive to surround yourself with people who don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. That being said, if you feel that a relationship is worth fighting for, give it your all. Reiterate to the other person that you are willing to do anything you can to win their trust back and make things right. Learning to be okay with others disliking you can be extremely difficult, but using the strategies outlined here will help alleviate some of the anxiety you may be feeling. And remember that this is a lesson that will take lots of time and patience to understand.

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