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What If People Don’t Like You?


Are you someone who believes that if people don’t like you there’s something wrong with you? Many dysregulated eaters who think this way interpret rejection as meaning they aren’t likeable or lovable. To curry favor, they therefore become people-pleasers. Emotionally healthy people have a less personal, more reality-based take on the issue. 

The goal is not to never feel hurt if you’re not someone’s cup of tea, but to avoid taking every brush off as an assault on your personhood and proof of your unlikability. It’s okay to feel a ping of hurt or even an occasional sting of serious ouch when people aren’t interested in you. But if you believe you’re defective and unlovable just because someone doesn’t ask you on a second date, won’t go for coffee with you, or doesn’t invite you to their 20th anniversary party, you’re in big trouble. 

Better to learn why rejection happens to you and everyone else on the planet. One solid read that provides basic healthy assumptions on being ignored or spurned is How Not to Care When Others Don’t Like You—for example, how rejection can’t not happen (yup, you read that double negative correctly) and how to make a rational meaning to de-personalize it when it occurs. 

First is not to expect everyone to like you. I’m a strong progressive, secular feminist and I don’t expect people who are highly religious or on the far Right politically to like me or my views. Ditto people who are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. If we get along on other issues, that’s cool, but if they dislike me due to my political views, I could care less.

Plus, as the article explains, “it’s not just normal to be occasionally disliked, but in fact, it’s healthy. Rejection is a way to suss out who’s compatible with whom . . .” Think about how we often enjoy people simply because they’re like-minded. Not everyone will be compatible with your or me which works out well because there are enough different kinds of people in the world that everyone can find someone (actually, many someones) they’re compatible with.

The article goes on to advise against seeking blame when rejection occurs. There’s no need to find fault and make you or them bad or wrong because the two of you didn’t jive or fall madly in love. Instead, change partners and keep dancing. If you want to analyze the situation, feel free. But don’t do it to point fingers. Do it to learn about yourself and the people you seem to desire and choose. Take interactions and rejection as a learning experience—about your presentation and patterns, and about whom you like and who seems to like you.