No One Likes Me

“No one likes me, and I’m sure of it. No one likes me in school. No one likes me at work. No one calls me or checks up on me. I always have to reach out to other people first. I think people just put up with me, but that’s it.” – Anna.

Do you feel like nobody likes you? If you have relationships, do you believe they are more obligatory than genuine? Does it seem like you’re always putting in more effort?

Whether your beliefs are true or not, thinking that nobody likes you can feel incredibly lonely and frustrating. Let’s get into what can cause feeling like no one likes you – and explore what you can do to cope.

Examining if no one likes you or if it just feels that way

Sometimes, our own negative thoughts can distort how we perceive our relationships with others. Some common cognitive distortions include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: You look at things in extremes. The world is in black-and-white. Therefore, everyone likes you, or nobody likes you. Things are perfect, or they are a disaster.
  • Jumping to conclusions: You tend to assume how other people think. For example, you may believe someone doesn’t like you, even if you don’t have any real evidence to confirm that belief.
  • Emotional reasoning: You confuse your emotions for actual facts. If you feel like no one likes you, you assume this is true.
  • Discounting the positive: You automatically disregard positive experiences or moments because they “don’t count” compared to the negative ones. For example, even if you had a great interaction with someone, you assume it was a fluke.

In the next step, I’ll share how to get a more realistic view of the situation. If you want to learn more about cognitive distortions, check out this guide by David Burns.

Dealing With Your Distorted Thinking Patterns

Working through cognitive distortions can help untwist some of this negative thinking.

  • Change your wording: Stop using absolutes like “no one” or “always” or “everyone.” Life rarely lives in extremes.
  • Cognitive restructuring: Ask yourself, what’s a more realistic way of looking at this? For example, instead of saying, no one likes me, can you say, I struggle with relationships or I’m not sure if I have good friends. These thoughts can still feel frustrating, but they aren’t as negative and absolute as no one likes you.
  • Challenge your inner critical voice: If you feel like no one likes you, can you come up with evidence of the opposite? Perhaps you realize that you do have friends who you know like you. Or, you might find examples of past experiences where people showed that they liked you.

While feeling like no one like you can be an irrational thought, it’s also true that we sometimes do things that put people off. In the rest of this guide, I’ll share common behaviors that can make someone less likable. I’ll also share common life situations that can make it harder to make friends.

Focusing On The Wrong People

There are over 7.5 billion people on the planet, but we often spend our time focused on just a few of them! The reality is that we won’t mesh with everyone. We may have clashing interests, or our personalities may be wildly different. Sometimes, people just aren’t interested in making friends at the moment.

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No matter the reason, focusing your energy on the wrong people can increase feelings of depression or anxiety. How do you know if you’re focused on the wrong people? Consider these warning signs:

  • They are overly critical.
  • They try to one-up you, as if everything is a competition.
  • They are always “too busy” to hang out with you.
  • They guilt-trip you if you make a mistake or don’t do something the way they prefer.
  • They flake on you after confirming plans.
  • They encourage you to go against your morals.
  • They make mean jokes about you (even if they insist they’re just joking).
  • They exclude you from activities or conversations.
  • They talk poorly about other people to you (which means they probably complain about you to others).

None of these factors alone indicate that the other person is a bad friend. However, if they have most of these warning signs, it’s worth examining. The right people should make you feel energized, happy, and supported- and not like you’re walking on eggshells.

Read more in our guide “I have no friends“.

Coming Across As Judgmental

Everyone is judgmental to some degree- it’s a part of our human nature. However, if you come across as overly judgmental, people may dismiss you before they even really know you.

To focus on being less judgmental,

  • Label when it’s happening: When you find yourself judging someone, say to yourself, I’m being judgmental right now.
  • Identify a positive: When you notice yourself judging a person or situation, imagine a stop sign. Then, reflect on at least one positive feature. Over time, this exercise can help counteract some of the automatic tendency to judge.

Complaining Frequently

If you’re constantly negative, people will pull away. We want to feel excited and inspired by the people in our lives. If you’re pessimistic, others may deem you as a helpless victim, which can be unattractive.

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To stop complaining,

  • Know your triggers: Do you complain more around certain people? In various settings? When you’re feeling a particular emotion? Consider when you tend to complain most often. By recognizing these triggers, you can develop an insight to change the pattern.
  • Stop yourself when you complain: Use a hair tie and flick it around your wrist when you catch yourself complaining. At first, you may be reaching for your wrist often! However, you’ll become more aware of your tendencies, which can inspire change.
  • Identify two things you feel grateful for in that moment: Every time you catch yourself complaining, reflect on two positive parts of your life. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are. Just get in the habit of counteracting negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Interrupting When Others Talk

Many of us don’t recognize when we interrupt others. Interrupting usually isn’t malicious- we often just get excited and want to share our opinion. Sometimes, we just feel an intense urge to contribute, because we feel afraid we won’t have the opportunity to talk.

However, constantly interrupting an easy way to irritate people, as it can make them feel underappreciated or disrespected.

If you struggle with interrupting others, consider the following tips:

  • Take a deep breath before you decide to talk (this can help you focus on pausing).
  • Literally bite your tongue as a reminder to stay quiet.
  • Repeat the mantra, “There is enough time for me to talk.”
  • Commit to improving active listening. For more on active listening, check out Lifehack’s step-by-step guide.

Not Putting Enough Effort Into Relationships

You know that relationships require a mutual take-and-give. But how do you put more effort into your existing relationships?

Take the initiative to set plans: Be direct when you want to hang out with someone. Often, people are vague and throw out statements like, we should hang out! However, by making concrete plans, you give people an actual opportunity to accept your offer.

  • Do you want to get coffee with me next week? I’m free on Tuesday.
  • I’ll be studying tomorrow night. Do you want to join me? I can order a pizza.
  • It’s cool that we go to the same gym! I’ll be there on Weds. Wanna meet up?

If they don’t answer, don’t push it. Offer another opportunity in a few weeks. If they still don’t answer, that may be a sign they aren’t interested in the relationship. While that can hurt, at least you know, and you can consider moving on.

Do kind things for other people: Kindness can be contagious, and doing acts of service helps the people around you. This, in turn, can make you be more likable.[1]

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  • Buy a stranger a meal or cup of coffee.
  • Assist a neighbor to unload their groceries.
  • Offer to take a shift for your coworker when they need coverage.
  • Help a classmate with their homework.

Reach out and show your support: Support is such an essential component in healthy relationships. Consider these simple scripts if you need help:

  • That meeting was rough. How are you doing?
  • I saw your Facebook post. I’m so sorry. I’m here if you need anything.
  • I can’t believe that happened. Let me know if I can help in any way.
  • I’m sorry that you’re going through that situation. Can I drop off some food tonight?

Not Showing Enough Interest In Other People

Even if you feel like no one likes you, consider asking yourself if you like other people. This question may sound strange, but sometimes we struggle to feel a genuine interest in the people around us.

This desire doesn’t always come naturally. But if you want to develop an appreciation for others, consider the following tips:

  • Ask questions about their life: When asked the right questions, many people enjoy talking about themselves. Need some inspiration? Check out our article on 210 questions to ask friends.
  • Pretend you are interested: Although this advice seems crass, it goes along the lines of fake it til you make it. In other words, by feigning desire, you might find yourself sincerely engaged with others.
  • Learn more about empathy: Empathy refers to the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When you are empathic, other people feel understood and validated. It’s an essential component of any healthy relationship. This article by the New York Times offers several actionable steps for developing more empathy.

If you really don’t like people, I’d recommend you to read our article “I hate people”.

Not Having Hobbies

Hobbies are an important part of self-esteem and overall happiness. They also make for excellent opportunities to connect with other people. You may find like-minded individuals who also share the same interests as you do.[2]

If you need help finding a hobby, consider trying these steps:

  1. Refer to a list of hobbies: Boredom Busted has a master guide of 1,000+ ideas!
  2. Narrow down your choices: Select 10-15 hobbies that seem most interesting to you.
  3. Narrow to the top 2-3 you can try NOW: Choose a hobby that seems realistic and has a “low-entry” point, which means that it doesn’t require excess upfront costs or time commitments to get started.
  4. Write down your intentions: Identify exactly how you plan to engage in that hobby (i.e., if you want to start gardening, you may watch a YouTube tutorial about which plants to start growing. If you want to learn to cook, you will practice two recipes this week).
  5. Assess your level of satisfaction after 10+ hours of engaging in the hobby: Give yourself at least 10 hours in engaging in each hobby before dumping it for something else. Keep in mind that the beginning can feel rough because you’re learning a new skill.

Refer back to your list if needed. It’s okay if you have one hobby that you like devoting all your free time toward. It’s also okay if you have a dozen hobbies you dabble in whenever you have the chance. But you need to have something that keeps you excited and motivated and growing. Keep trying new things until you find one that clicks.

Struggling With Depression

Depression is a mental illness that can severely impact how well you connect with others. If you struggle with depression, you might experience chronic feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and apathy. It’s hard to reach out to others when you feel that way!

It’s not easy to manage depression, but consider the following tips:

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  • Self-Care: Self-care means honoring your physical and emotional well-being. When we feel depressed, we often neglect ourselves. Unfortunately, this neglect tends to reinforce our depression, which makes us feel worse! Self-care can refer to any activity that makes you feel good. You should schedule at least 10 minutes of self-care each day- no matter how busy you are. Some examples of self-care include taking a walk, writing in a journal, listening to your favorite music, playing outside with your animal.
  • Limit or avoid “escape” activities: Many times, people abuse substances like alcohol or drugs to numb their pain. While these may provide temporary relief, they don’t address the root problems.
  • Professional Support: Depression is challenging, but it can be treatable. Therapy provides a safe and nonjudgmental place for you to discuss your thoughts and feelings. Your therapist can also introduce you to healthy coping skills to manage your symptoms.
  • Medication: Antidepressants can help with the chemical imbalances associated with depression. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist to discuss your best options.[3]

Oversharing Too Frequently

Oversharing can be off-putting, as it may make other people feel awkward or uncomfortable. To be likable, you want to balance sharing things about yourself without it seeming like you lack boundaries.

To avoid oversharing, be mindful of your language. Aim to shift into using the words “you” or “they” more frequently than “I” or “me.”

Consider this: If that person told ten other people what you just told them, how would you feel? If you would feel extremely uncomfortable, it’s probably a sign you’re oversharing.

Not Being Social Enough

Everyone needs to understand social skills. For some people, these skills come more naturally. However, if you’re shy or introverted or anxious, they can feel much more challenging.

Here’s our guide on how to be more social. Commit to implementing these actions into your daily life.

The more you expose yourself to different social settings, the more likely you are to come across people who like you!

Not Giving It Enough Time

If you’re just starting to work on your social skills, remember that growth doesn’t happen automatically. You probably won’t make new friends right away. It can take several months for real change to occur.

That said, don’t disregard the importance of baby steps. Keep working on building your social skills. Commit to the practice every day- even when it feels challenging or discouraging. Eventually, you will notice a difference.

Accepting That Some Relationships Don’t Work

Relationships aren’t always permanent. Life circumstances change, and people evolve, and relationships naturally ebb and flow.

Sometimes, we try to hold onto relationships that no longer serve us. We often do this because we want to recreate the way things used to be.

Allow yourself to feel sad or angry or hurt. But try to remember that it’s normal for some relationships to fade out.

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Nicole Arzt, M.S., L.M.F.T. is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She provides therapeutic services for individuals, couples, and families. Nicole received her master’s of science degree from California State University, Long Beach in 2014.

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