If you’re someone who’s struggling to keep hold of friends, it’s time for some personal reflection! Are you truly unlikable? Or, as is most certainly the case, have you fallen into some bad habits that have hindered the blossoming of your social life?
We’re not designed to get along with everyone in this world, but there are times when we fall into bad habits that inhibit others from getting to know us properly. When this happens, it can lead to a deterioration in new-found friendships and cause them to quickly flounder.
Here are ten habits that can make people dislike you:
The worst of all brags, this boast is not so carefully concealed behind false modesty, making you feel that you’re humble while the rest of the world picks up on the unsubtle message.
Examples can be as simple as: “I can’t believe I got accepted into Columbia! I’m still scratching my head as to how I managed it!”
Or the colleague who says: “I won’t be able to join you on our night out this week as we have an interior decorator coming over to help us with our home renovation project. How annoying!”
While both statements are strictly true, the privilege oozes from them, and both could have been rephrased to be less braggy.
There is no doubt that the first merited their place in Columbia – to suggest otherwise would question the integrity of the selection process – and the second was filled with unnecessary detail dressed up as an irritation.
Nothing irritates someone more than having others’ success shoved in their face under the guise of modesty. If you’re proud of it, be proud and celebrate it; anything else is disingenuous.
2. Interrupting others to talk about yourself
This one is, naturally, extremely rude, and it has the added effect of making the person you’re speaking to feel less important than they are.
You may not even realize you’re doing it, but when you constantly interrupt someone who’s speaking, it can make them wonder why they’re bothering to talk to you at all if you care so little about what they’re trying to say.
All friendships are about give and take, and in order for one person to give, they have to feel there’s something to take from the relationship. If not, why would they keep giving into something that just keeps taking?
3. Being unreliable
Do you promise your friends that you’ll be there and then ghost them? Do you promise to do something but then never show up to do it?
Unreliability is an unlikeable character trait that can result in people choosing not to put their faith in you. If you’re as reliable as a paper hat in a thunderstorm, you’re never going to be the first name on a friend’s lips.
Closely linked to unreliability is lying. If someone cannot trust the words that you speak, they’re not going to feel confident trusting you with anything else.
This does not mean you have to swear or promise; just let your yes be yes and your no be no. People can see through lies much more easily than we think they can, so just because you feel you’ve got away with one doesn’t mean you actually have.
Lying also requires a good deal of maintenance and fact-checking. It’s way too much effort to maintain.
Are you always late no matter the occasion? A lot of people find this really irritating, particularly when it impacts social events or meetings.
Brush up on your punctuality. It’ll do wonders for both your professional and personal lives.
6. Attention-seeking self-pity
Self-pity is hard enough to like, but when someone does it purely as a means to attract sympathy or attention, it can be a real turnoff.
It’s okay to feel self-pity at times too when you do it privately. After all, we all have hard days, difficult months, and even excruciating years, and everyone feels the need to sit in their own sadness for a while and feel sorry for themselves.
However, taking that into friendships as a means of gaining other people’s attention or sympathy is never going to work. A friend gains nothing from your perpetual self-pity; the constant leeching will bleed them dry.
7. Always being on your phone
Ever gone out for a drink or meal with a friend and watched them spend the entire time on their phone? Has it made you feel less important than the inanimate piece of tech they’re holding?
Spending too much time on your phone, or even glancing at the notifications, sends the message that what’s in the case is more important than the person in front of you. It may be subconscious and unintentional, but the message is the same.
Of course, this is a very real addiction. Notifications trigger dopamine in the brain, which makes you feel good, and apps have been designed to get you addicted to that dopamine rush. Just the phone being on the table and not hidden away is known to affect people’s ability to concentrate on conversation topics as they’re constantly waiting for the next ‘ding’.
So this is less about you and more about your addiction, but, as I said earlier, the message to your friend will be the same. If you want to master your friendships, keep your phone in your coat pocket and on silent.
8. Not being able to take a joke
Do you find yourself getting angry when someone makes a joke at your expense? Sometimes this can be justified if the joke is cruel and the timing poor; however, in most circumstances, friends like to banter and laugh with one another, and part of that can be poking fun at someone in a playful way.
That mood can be quickly ruined when someone takes offense at the joke and overreacts. It can very quickly lead to people being less authentic around you, feeling they can no longer relax and just be themselves in case you overreact to something.
While I’m not at all suggesting you should tolerate bullying of any kind, gentle ribbing and the ability to laugh at yourself is a valued part of any friendship. We all laugh at ourselves when do something silly; sometimes laughing with friends makes it all the funnier.
9. Complaining all the time
Is your glass permanently half empty? Do you find yourselves always finding the wrong in everything?
If that’s the case, you, my friend, are a chronic complainer. Never content to see the good, you pursue the bad like it’s your life’s goal.
Naturally, this can be a bit of a downer for some people, and they may choose to reduce the amount of time they spend with you if they find themselves constantly having to regulate their mood after.
If you find that there is little in life you enjoy, it may be worth speaking to a medical professional as there may be a deeper root to your dissatisfaction. Life can be hard and full of difficulties, but if you can’t see the good every once in a while, you will find it harder and harder to find people who will want to share that viewpoint with you.
10. A sense of entitlement
Do you believe that everything should be handed to you on a silver platter? Do you berate those around you who do not take your needs into account at all times of the day? It may well be that you’re endowed with a tremendous sense of self, and as a result, you think the world revolves around you.
If this is the case, you are sadly misguided. Furthermore, believing that you come first will also have an impact on your friendships. Not only will people find you rude, obnoxious, and condescending towards people you meet in the street, they will find the way you speak to them disrespectful too.
This can be a hard flaw to identify as you will have believed it your whole life, but it may be worth putting the time in to bettering yourself and seeing the world as it truly is: full of many types of different and interesting people with interesting, varied, exciting life experiences.
There is hope!
Friendships are not lost overnight and we can all have bad days. The important thing is how you react to them.
If you find that you’re not able to maintain healthy friendships, it may be time to evaluate why. This is not a bad thing. We’re all on a journey and trying to better ourselves; we’re all learning and growing as we go.
There are many different tools to help you. Ask your friends; meditate on the good; start journaling.
And remember: you’re not unlikable. You’re a work in progress.
Daniel Hagon is a writer with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a work history spanning financial education, day trading, healthcare and English teaching across three different continents. When he’s not writing stories, Daniel can be found reading, swing or salsa dancing, or wine tasting in a sun-drenched vineyard on some remote part of the country. He currently lives in Canada with his girlfriend and their two cats.