What If No One Likes Me?

so what button

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At what point in life do we start worrying about being liked?

Does that worry ever go away?

Are there people who never worry about being liked?

Is that possible?

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I read somewhere that the reason babies and baby animals are cute is nature’s way of ensuring that the parents and other adults will like them, thus take care of them.

And yet some animals eat their babies.

Some adult humans have been heard to say things such as – You’re so cute, I could eat you up!

I may have said something like that to my cat on more than one occasion. I didn’t actually eat the cat for being cute, although the cat may have thought I was going to do so. I’m fairly certain the rumour going around amongst the cats (especially the feral ones) at the animal shelter where my cat lived before being adopted was that if a human came to get you… you were done for. Never to be seen again. While you were at the shelter, a bunch of humans fed you regularly, fattened you up, then one day you’d be scooped up and popped in a box (similar to the ones used in takeaways), the box was given to a human who always seemed to be baring its teeth like a crocodile smiling at its next meal, and taken away… that was the last time the other cats ever saw you. Convincing my cat that it was not going to be eaten, that we humans meant it no harm, that what we wanted was to love it… took a while. Now I’m the one who worries about my cat eating me when I wake up in the night to find it sitting next to my head sniffing my face… maybe it thinks I’m cute enough to eat? I’m still not sure if it likes me.

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Meh cat by xangetsuMeh cat by xangetsu

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I think it’s fairly safe to assume that being liked is a popular concern.

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Maybe it’s not safe to assume anything about others…
You do have to be careful when making generalised statements about your fellow Earthlings as what you state may offend someone. It could potentially offend everyone, especially if your statement is being used to single yourself out as being different from the rest and is done in such a way as to infer that you’re better than the rest because of your difference.

Some people do this deliberately to attract attention.

As much as we like being liked, there are those who thrive on being disliked. They like being disliked. Perhaps because we often invest more of ourselves in our dislikes, we’re more passionate about what and who we hate, more obsessed with the objects of our angry affection and envious admiration. We keep peeves for pets and feed them regularly, fattening them up for a feast.

We can always rely on those we hate to be there for us, dependable in their ability to annoy us. They’ll never let us down… whereas those whom we love, the ones we like, they let us down more often than we would like them to and we don’t like it when they do that. We keep count of being unable to count on them and the list has a tendency of becoming a hefty tome which gives us writer’s cramp.

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shakespeare love:hate

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And if we do that to those whom we like… it would be naive of us to think that they are not doing it to us.

Which is perhaps why we worry so much about being liked.

Like… is fragile.

The slightest whisper could break it, turn the thumbs up into a thumbs down.

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We sometimes pride ourselves on our perceived differences from others, because this is how we define our individuality.

Defining ourselves, feeling our individuality coursing through our veins, is a thrill… both exhilarating and terrifying.

The exhilaration makes us want to climb up to the rooftops and shout loudly – Look at ME! I’m awesomely unique!

The terror of it makes us want to dig a hole and bury ourselves in – Don’t look at me, there’s no one here, nothing here to see…

The gaze and attention of others is something we desire to have and to not have… it depends upon the look in their eyes, and the look in our eyes when we look at their eyes. If only we could know what they saw when they looked at us… maybe we don’t want to know, but we do… and don’t.

We sometimes feel that way about our own eyes when they look at us… our gaze and attention on ourselves is the most terrifying look of all.

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Liking ourselves can be the most challenging version of ‘like’ to get.

And this is often why we long to be liked by others, so they can teach us to like ourselves, or at least drown out the sound of our self dislike with their likes so that we no longer can hear it.

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me

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There are times when defining our individuality is something our tribe encourages us to do. The team wants us to be an ‘I’. To stand out and be counted as a number one. Most groups need to have a leader… most groups prefer to choose their leader rather than be lead by a self-appointed one. The group’s choice of leader is often based on likeability. The person we like the most is the one who is going to get our vote, whether they are up to the task of leading or not. Once you’re the leader however, the chances of remaining liked are slim as you may become the lightning rod for every electrical storm which each individual in the group experiences.

When you were part of the crowd, the crowd protected you, now that you’re standing out from the crowd, even if the crowd chose you to stand out, you now have everyone’s eyes on you and each pair of eyes can switch at any moment from a look of love to one of hate. Their ideal appointment has turned out to be a real disappointment, and they’ll probably blame you for it because the group agrees that it’s your fault and not theirs. They like this view and dislike you.

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Sometimes the team needs us to be different for positive reasons, sometimes the positive reasons are positive for the group and negative for the individual being singled out, and on very rare occasions it’s positive for the individual but negative for the group.

There may not be an ‘I’ in ‘team’ but there is a ‘me’, albeit a backwards one which is split… and when we’re part of a group, a team, we sometimes feel backwards and split. Split between being fully ourselves and adjusting ourselves for the group. Backwards because we sometimes feel as though we don’t belong even when we’re belonging. As though we’re hiding within the group hoping no one will notice that we do not belong there.

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uncomfortable comfort

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What inspired this post was a trip down memory lane. Not through my own journey of worries about being liked or disliked, but through the journey of another, one who shared his journey with me as a child, as he did with many adults and children.

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…” he used to say in every episode of his journey.

But I did like him when he was angry, in fact I liked him more when he was angry than when he wasn’t.

Why?

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9 thoughts on “What If No One Likes Me?

  1. About being liked – I just want to know upfront if someone likes me —or not. If not , its ok. I just need to know. I am realistic that not every person will like me just as I do not like every person.
    I dont have fear of friendships ending Some people refer to this as being discarded. . I know that there is an ebb and flow to life and friendships. Things sometimes change and friendships sometimes change. Peoples needs change. Even if the friendship cools down or even seems to end its ok.with me. I’m always braced for this cause in my mind its part of an option that can happen as part of the whole picture. If you get involved with people , you cant expect to possess them .
    I believe in the saying “If you love something set it free- If It comes back to you, its yours , if not it wasn’t meant to be” . Sometimes people need a break from each other and then a friendship can resume. I cant relate to the term “discard” cause I dont think of relationships in those terms. If a relationship ends , it may hurt for a while but overall I just always feel glad I had it in my life at all.

    The part you stated about liking that person more when he was angry— well you saw him at his worst and you saw him authentically. There is special
    aspect to that.raw emotion. It can be ugly and a turn off or it can be brutally honest and kind of sad or tender when you see someone in that state. It really depends on the context of other things.
    Also just the fact that he was saying “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…” shows a sweetness to him in his self awareness. Its kind of endearing.

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    1. The person whom I liked more when he was angry was The Incredible Hulk. The TV series which I watched when I was a child, which gave me a different perspective on certain things to which I could relate. Sometimes our most meaningful relationships are the fantasy ones… because they help us to understand the real ones. But we do need to learn to differentiate, and to know when we are hurting our real relationships because of our fantasy relationships.

      Life, and everything in it, is a blend of unreal ideal and what is real… which is sometimes far from ideal. We live, relate, and learn 🙂

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      1. The Incredible Hulk- funny. When I think about it, I never fantasized as a kid . I was good at observing as a kid but didn’t use my imagination and didn’t think about alternative ways out,ways of being or anything like that.
        Maybe for some reason I didn’t feel free enough or safe enough in my stifling prison like environment to even think of or imagine alternate possibilities for myself.
        I really just started doing that recently as a midlife adult and mostly with what the topic that I’ve been discussing with you.

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        1. As a child , I learned alot of what relationships & families could look like and ways people could be like from watching TV too, so I know what you mean about the Incredible Hulk.

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          1. TV is a window into other worlds, other versions of reality, even if those other worlds/realities are not real, they offer another view, often a much needed one to broaden our perspective so it isn’t only influenced by our world and reality.

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  2. I really love this.Full of interesting quandaries, such as wahy people waht to be liked…is our way of liking them what they were expecting us to?
    true it’s easier to define what we hate or dislike; for instance, I know what i dislike in a job, in a man, in a person, or even in a society, there certain issues unnegotiable for me, whilst i am completely open about what i might like, there are so many hues and colours I have still to discover.
    I think we acons are a bit too sensitive to this as our parents made it clear we couldn’t be liked as they didn’t themselves so it’s huge shock ,a sort of pavlov conditional reflex. i find particularly hard to be part of a team or big group, or association or label, where you have to conform and dike it all, as it happens in religion. I don’t feel myself anymore.
    Very melancholic closing, he seems as an affectionate presence in your life.

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    1. Did you ever watch The Incredible Hulk TV series? I’m fairly certain they did it on Italian TV. He was a melancholic human and I was a melancholic child, with a lot of primal anger which could never be expressed, and sometimes I wished I could turn do what he did when he was angry. In one episode he hurls a man across a room, that man had been abusing his child in a similar manner. After the incident he finds out that the man had been abused in a similar manner and he was repeating with his child what had been done to him. Which didn’t excuse the behaviour, but it explained it. That episode stayed with me. So yes, the character is one for which I have a lot of affection 🙂 As a child I learned a lot from fictional characters about values, more so than I did from the real characters in my life. Or at least the lessons were more straightforward and logical.

      People are interesting quandaries… the fun is in exploring and seeing what answers come up!

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      1. Ah! Interesting to see it was a fictional character..I was a weirdo of a child who never watched the telly, who disliked Disney (except Mary Poppins) but I developed too a sort of a ffection for someone whomi have just seen on stage and never had personal contact with: Vittorio Gassman, whose theatre performances I loved and cherished so much (my parents took me to the theatre very early twice a week since I was nine) he became so familiar to me and his version of what he was playing, that when he died i felt as though a friend passed away, someone with whom i thought I had exchanged thoughts and emotions about life and death. He was real to me, as your hero was to you.

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        1. I know Vittorio Gassman’s work, a great actor!

          We find ourselves in others, and when that happens, those others become very real to us because they make us connect with what is real in ourselves. Real life contains so much fantasy (especially in a narc household) that sometimes fantasy is more real and grounded, gives us the stability which we crave. Even if having our feet on the ground appears to be having our head in the clouds 🙂

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