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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked by people. That desire is a natural part of our social and emotional needs. To be liked by people means there is less chance of hostility or conflict, which few people want.
However, there comes a point where the desire to want everyone to like you becomes harmful.
People who feel the need to be liked by everyone may find it much harder to connect and build quality relationships. That’s because the want or need to be liked by everyone introduces some significant obstacles that may not be readily apparent at first glance.
Let’s take a look at those obstacles before exploring this need to be liked in greater detail.
Why is it bad to want everyone to like me?
A good relationship or friendship is built on a foundation of trust. People who need to be liked by everyone are often untrustworthy.
“But wait! I’m not untrustworthy! I’m honest. I try to do the right things!”
Probably. Most people don’t want to do wrong things.
The issue is that people who want to be liked by everyone may not bring their full personality forward. Instead, they may do things like allow themselves to be treated poorly so they can be accepted by the person who doesn’t like them.
They may not be entirely honest about their feelings, interests, and who they actually are to allow another person to know them. They may even act like a totally different person depending on their friends.
Furthermore, you’re subliminally telling your current friends that they cannot trust you for an honest opinion. If they need raw honesty, you’re not the person they’re going to go to because they know you’re just going to appease them. Friends need to be able to trust one another.
This may also be an issue with people who are “emotional vampires.” They just want someone to tell them how amazing they are without ever putting anything back into the relationship. These people will constantly complain, dump their emotional load on you, use you as their personal therapist, and not provide meaningful support in return.
Wanting everyone to like you also prevents you from forming healthy relationships and emotional attachments. An emotionally healthy person with good boundaries isn’t going to tolerate that much. Instead, they may just look at the situation, determine that you’re untrustworthy, and distance themselves from you to avoid any drama.
The want or need to be liked by everyone can also worsen mental health. You may find yourself experiencing more stress, anxiety, or depression when you feel like other people don’t like you. Those feelings can easily spiral if you continuously dwell on why the other person doesn’t like you and how you can earn their favor.
How can I tell if my wanting to be liked is unhealthy?
Everyone’s mental and emotional health is different. There are different levels of needs where one person will feel fulfilled while another needs more
Generally speaking, you want to look at how dramatically the problem affects you. Does it interfere with your ability to conduct your life? Does it make your mental or emotional health worse? Does it lower your quality of life and happiness?
You’ll want to look for things like:
1. A reluctance to go against the grain or stand out.
People who want to be liked by everyone do their best to fit in. They don’t want to cause any waves or problems. Quite often, they will allow themselves to be treated poorly to fit in. They may also temper down their personality or put the group first, even if that would be harmful to them. They may avoid putting their own talents and skills forward to not upset anyone else.
2. A willingness to do almost anything, even if it’s wrong or dangerous.
The desire to be liked by everyone may override your own personal morals or beliefs. You may find yourself willing to do things that you don’t want to do, know are wrong, or engage in dangerous behavior to be accepted. You may set aside your own moral compass to feel as though you are friends or part of the group. The problem is that a true friend wouldn’t ask you to compromise your morals.
3. Seeking to avoid disapproval from other people.
You may find yourself making an effort to not do things that would cause disapproval from others. This may look like people-pleasing, adhering to social standards that aren’t right for you, or doing too much for people that don’t appreciate it. You may seek to avoid conflicts with other people, particularly people you are close to, because you may feel like they will reject you.
4. Fixating on people that don’t like you.
When a person doesn’t like you, it becomes a severe enough problem for you that you fixate on it. You may feel driven to understand why, so that you can fix it and be liked by the person. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking and its behavior can be problematic. If a person doesn’t like you, they probably don’t want you around them. And if you’re trying to curry favor with the person by fixating on them and what they don’t like, you’re probably just going to cause more conflicts.
5. People-pleasing to your own detriment.
Do you have a hard time saying no to people? Are you always volunteering for everything, even if your schedule is packed or you don’t want to? Do you bend over backward for anyone and then find that no one is there for you when you need them? It’s alright to want to help people or make others happy. However, that becomes a problem when you’re sacrificing your own mental and emotional health so they will be pleased with you.
The important thing to keep in mind is that these things harm your mental or emotional well-being. It’s perfectly healthy to want to be liked, do things for other people, provide emotional support, or even take some risks. However, these behaviors cross into unhealthy territory when they become a source of anguish or otherwise negatively impact your ability to conduct your life.
Why do I feel like I need to be liked by everyone?
Few people like to be criticized. It doesn’t feel good to have other people think negatively of you or point criticism at you. It’s easy to take negative criticism and turn it into the perception that a person doesn’t like you. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes honesty hurts because we sometimes do the wrong things and need to know the truth.
Typically, a person will shake off that criticism or dislike and just move on from it. But suppose you find yourself experiencing discomfort, anxiety, depression, or other persistent negative feelings because of the perception that someone doesn’t like you. In that case, there is likely a reason for it.
Those reasons may include but are not limited to:
The need to be liked may be linked to past trauma, either adult or childhood. Currying favor with other people may be a defensive mechanism to avoid conflict, anxiety, or stress from trauma. This isn’t typically a conscious choice that is being made. It’s more of a subtle pattern of behavior that you may not be aware of until you really examine why you’re doing what you’re doing.
This need to be liked by everyone may also stem from childhood attachment issues with parents. Parents who withhold love and affection and force their children to earn it teach the child that they need to seek approval to be loved. And that kind of behavior can carry over into adulthood.
2. Social Anxiety Disorder.
Social situations and relationships are always a challenge for people with Social Anxiety Disorder. People who experience social anxiety often fear being judged by other people. They may also have difficulties with people in general social settings, school, or work. However, their desire to be liked by everyone is one way to smooth the disturbances that come with experiencing anxiety.
3. You may connect your self-worth with an external locus of control.
The locus of control is a phrase that refers to how a person feels like their life is directed.
A person with an internal locus of control will typically feel like they are in charge of their own destiny. It all comes down to the work they do with their own two hands, the effort they put in, and the results they gain.
On the other hand, people with an external locus typically feel like they have little control over their own fate. They feel like external forces guide their life more than themselves.
People with an external locus of control often look to other people for validation and approval to be told they are doing the right thing. And while that is okay sometimes, it’s not so great when the crowd isn’t doing the right thing or you’re looking for approval from not-good people.
4. Dependence on others for emotional support.
It’s perfectly normal and okay to lean on your friends, family, or support group when you’re having a hard time. There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, there is a line that separates healthy and unhealthy support. No person should need to rely on their support network all the time or for trivial matters.
At first glance, it may seem like this couldn’t be an issue. If you’re having a minor problem, you hash it out with a friend, and then you hopefully move on.
The problem is that every time you lean on someone that way, it’s like you’re withdrawing a little bit of money from your bank account. The more you do it, the more you withdraw. The more you withdraw, the sooner you’re out of money. So not only do you need to make regular deposits into the account, but you also have to be mindful of how much money you’re withdrawing.
People seeking validation and approval from their friends and family are constantly making withdrawals on their account. Sooner or later, the support network goes away because they don’t have the emotional strength, well-being, or desire to continue with it.
This is also a reason why it’s important to have professional support when you’re working through these kinds of things.
5. Low self-esteem.
A person with low self-esteem and a sense of low self-worth will naturally gravitate toward wanting other people to like them. That external validation helps them fill a hole that they can’t fill themselves.
Loving and valuing oneself makes it much easier to accept that the opinions of others don’t matter a whole lot.
How do I stop wanting everyone to like me?
In all likelihood, this is a problem you will want to address with a trained mental health counselor. This problem isn’t something that just pops out of nowhere for no reason. A need to be liked is often a symptom of a deeper problem that needs to be addressed. Fixing that problem will make it easier to fix this one.
We really do recommend that you seek professional help from one of the therapists at BetterHelp.com as professional therapy can be highly effective in helping you to address the thoughts and behaviors that stem from a need to be liked.
That being said, there are some things you can do to help guide yourself in a better direction.
1. Identify your approval-seeking behaviors.
You want to look for the different things you do to gain approval from other people. Once you’re aware of these things, you can make an effort to interrupt them and change your course of action.
Instead of seeking approval, you can choose to sit quietly with the discomfort and gain some resilience toward it. No meaningful change or growth happens without discomfort.
2. Improve your self-love.
Many people who seek validation and approval from others do so because they don’t have a good opinion of themselves. Nurturing and growing your self-love and self-esteem can reduce your external need for approval.
You don’t need other people to tell you that you’re good enough by liking you. You already know that you’re good enough, and their opinion is irrelevant.
Practice a kinder internal monologue with yourself. Avoid insulting yourself. And if you can’t be positive, just try not to be negative. There’s a whole lot of neutral middle-ground between the two.
3. Reduce your time on social media.
Social media is essentially a treadmill of seeking approval from other people. You gotta get those likes! Show everyone how great your life is! Get those shares! Jump on the latest trend!
Unfortunately, social media regularly dips into the unhealthy parts of external validation as a conscious choice. Many of those companies have employed psychologists to develop a product that takes advantage of feedback loops in your brain. Don’t be a part of it.
4. Develop your internal compass.
To carry oneself with honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity is an important part of being happy with yourself. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when doing things that do not align with your moral compass.
But to align yourself with your moral compass, you have to actually understand what you value and why you value it.
Take some time to think about the things that are important to you. What matters to you that you feel strongly enough to take a stand on? Can you be honest about those things even if it’s not a popular thing to do? Of course, there will definitely be times when it won’t be.
5. Embrace disagreement.
People will disagree with one another from time to time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s a good thing because we all have different life experiences, giving us different perspectives.
You can disagree with someone and still be close to them so long as it’s not a subject that violates your core beliefs or moral compass. But if you’re an honest person, you can’t hang out with dishonest people and expect things to be okay, especially if you’re trying to gain approval from those people.
It’s okay to disagree so long as you’re respecting yourself and others.
6. Seek out critical feedback from people you trust.
Seek out some critical feedback on something you’re trying to accomplish or a project you’re doing. Don’t seek it out on yourself. The key phrase in this statement is “people you trust” because some people will just take this kind of request to personally attack you. You may not have kind people around you that want to help you build yourself up.
Spend a good amount of time really considering the person you’ll ask for this feedback. This kind of exercise will generally help a person see that constructive criticism or a disagreement isn’t the end of the world.
7. Allow yourself to disagree with people that you like.
Sometimes the people you care about will do things you may not agree with. Stand up and tell them you disagree with their opinion, choices, or actions.
Now, here’s the thing you want to be prepared for. Suppose you didn’t have good boundaries before. In that case, you might find a lot of push-back and people distancing themselves from you when you stop being so compliant.
This is a good thing. You want to get the people out of your life who are not supportive, understanding, or willing to hear you.
8. Realize that other people’s opinions are not your concern.
The interesting thing about opinions is that they often reflect the person’s mindset. So, for example, if you have a positive friend, they may often have positive opinions and perceptions about the world. Angry people have angrier, negative opinions and perceptions. Sad people have negative opinions and perceptions.
It may not be you that’s the problem if someone doesn’t like you. They may just have something going on with them that’s coloring their perception.
On the other hand, it could just be that they don’t like you. They’re free to believe what they want, and you’re free to not care about it.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree, but some people don’t like peaches.”
9. Embrace your authentic self.
What is an “authentic self?” It’s the person buried underneath the expectations of other people, society, and any other belief system that tells you that you should be someone you’re not.
There are so many rules and pressures put on the individual to conform so that you don’t make waves. This is a terrible way to exist if you have more in your soul than that. It’s difficult to embrace and live your authentic self. It may cause some waves. That’s okay, though. And do err on the side of your personal safety.
Embracing your authentic self to live the kind of life meant for you will allow you to create real, deep connections with other people. To be honest with the world about what’s in your heart and soul eases the burden of controlling narratives, censoring information, and trying to control the perceptions of others. Let them have their opinions. They aren’t relevant to you or your life.
Still not sure why you want everyone to like you or how to stop? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
We really recommend you speak to a therapist rather than a friend or family member. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to gradually change your mindset and behaviors to something a little more healthy.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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