Monday, February 23, 2009

Confessions of a desperate approval seeker

I've never quite understood those people who make such broad claims as "I am who I am, and anyone who doesn't like it can screw off."

I am more of the type to say "... and anyone who doesn't like it, I will desperately try to win over all the same."

You see, I am really bad about the idea of not being liked.
I don't care if I actually can't stand the thought of being around you. I still want you to find me a kind and worthwhile person.

I remember once having a conversation with my mother. She was chastising me for something along the veins of doing something I didn't want to do because I had promised a friend. It came down to a fundamental disagreement, in which she asserted boldly that it didn't matter what people think of you.

I replied to her that this notion was bullshit. It's just a cliche we all say to our kids  in some half-hearted attempt at building self-esteem. The truth is, to a good proportion of us, it does matter what others think of us. To say otherwise seems like a touch self-deluding to me, despite how nice it would be to not need this approval.

This weekend, I met someone new, a friend of my boyfriend's. There was a bit of nervous anticipation, as we had both heard a lot about one another. Although I didn't get much of a chance in the midst of a busy party to connect with her, I did like her, and I thought we managed a good conversation-- despite my girlfriends chattering and hovering about me, asking me "Who's that girl? Why is she talking to your boyfriend so much?".

Then, yesterday, when chatting with her, the Duke says "So my girlfriend really liked you!", to which she replies "Oh yeah."
Then nothing.


Stupidly, this hurts my feelings... the fact that she couldn't even muster up an "Oh yeah, she seemed sweet" or even a "It was nice to finally meet her."

Even, perhaps even more moronically, I begin to feel some sort of moral outrage. "She's not allowed not to like me!" my indignant mind shouts. "I was nice to her! I offered her drinks and snacks! I asked her about her research and sat by her when she didn't know anyone else at the party!"

And, perhaps most telling, my mind then declares, "I liked her-- she has to like me!"

Of course, she doesn't. She has the right to dislike me or be completely apathetic about me or just have nothing to say about me, no matter whether I deem it irrational or unfair.

But, damn it, it doesn't mean I need to like it.

38 comments:

Dan said...

No matter if you try or not, some people like you, some people grow to like you, and some people will never like you. Worrying about the third group will gain you nothing.

Essentially Me said...

See I was like this. But then I realized that I don't have time to make everyone like me. I learned that if I have to bend over backwards for someone, then chances are they're not worth it. The thing is that I'm a nice person who will do what I can for you ... until I see that you are taking advantage and that's when the niceness stops. Not maliciously either ... it just stops. SO if I have to try harder than you're trying, then you're not worth it. And I love so dearly the people in my life who are worth it.

ablogofherown.wordpress.com said...

I've felt this way a lot too. I want people to like me, at least initially. I mean, let me give you a reason to decide you don't like me if that's how it's going to be.

However, I've definitely been on the other side. There are times when I meet someone for the first time and just know I don't like them, for reasons I can't put my finger on. I just don't. It's not malicious or ill-willed, just some inherent feeling...like how after the first 5 minutes of a date you just know this is not a good match.

I just don't want to ever be that person for someone else!

E said...

I am the same way. I'm a people pleaser, and proud of it. It's not that I expect to be everyone's best friend, but I sure as heck don't want them to dislike me.

Blaez said...

she's jealous. you got the hot guy and he wants more than friendship out of you, he WANTS you. HE brags to HER about his relationship with YOU.

your awesome, she's lame.

Hope said...

I am the exact same way. Everyone must like me even if I don't like them. Or they can really dislike me. The one that gets me the most riled though, is the apathetic one.

When they couldn't even care to like or dislike you. Yea, I really, really hate that.

Jack said...

Maybe this is a chance to change your attitude about things. You made a good effort to reach out to her and you spoke well of her to your boyfriend. You did a nice thing. If she doesn't want to be a part of that then she doesn't have to be.

It would be petty and/or judgmental of her to decide she didn't like you on that interaction alone. If she's a real friend then she too should try to give you a chance.

She has the right to do whatever she wants but if she can't be a half-decent friend to your boyfriend then she's just going to be a toxic presence in your life. Perhaps she's not a person worth investing too much in, your time would be better spent on enriching the lives of the people that love you back.

insomniaclolita said...

how lame of her not to like you. shes just jealous, i bet.

Brett said...

I try to get on with every one at work, not because i like them, it just makes life easier. My feelings were that they all operated on the same basis, so i was quite shocked to find that in a conversation with my work mates i was thought to be on of the most like people in our area!

Michelle said...

Oh god, I'm the same way. I need people to like me.

(you like me, right?)

OK, that was me making fun of myself. But I feel like that all the time.

Ant said...

First off, I've got fairly strong feelings about this: the "be who you are" mantra is definitely not bullshit, but it takes an extraordinary amount of time to realise that (I'd say my philosophy changed when I was about 22/23).

My epiphany was along the lines of "why are other people more qualified to cast judgement on me? They're all so full of their own neuroses and agendas that surely me, with my smarts and unusually objective outlook on life, can make better judgements."

But approval junkies never seem to get to this stage. Nowadays I make sure that I'm pleasing the folk that matter to me (a very select few) and I even enjoy it when folk don't like me - it usually signifies that there's some jealousy/ego thing going on, meaning I'm a threat and therefore more accomplished in some way.

Which brings me to my second point: major alarm bells surrounding your man's "friend". Keep a close eye on her - I'm sure he wouldn't stray but women are sly and based on this little excerpt I think she's up to something...

Ant said...

Another point I just thought of (sorry, like I say - strong feelings about this one): by seeking approval all the time you actually reduce your general trustworthiness and the value of your friendships.

For instance, if you support me in some way, I would probably need to evaluate whether you really are supporting me, or whether you're just wanting me to continue to like you. If it came down to some conflict with someone else, chances are you'll sit on the fence rather than take a stand based on frienship or principles because you want both parties to still like you. In the end neither ends up trusting you very much (I've seen this played out in my own social circles many, many times).

Princess of the Universe said...

Well the first thought that occurs to me is that she likes your bf...might that be the case?

If not, she sucks. Who doesn't like you?? It's just a ridiculous notion that anyone might not. :)
xo

Deutlich said...

I'm horrible at not being liked...unless I don't like the person in question. Then I don't much care. Haha.

Daisy said...

Really well put- I totally hear you on all counts, I absolutely hate not being liked, and I too put myeslf out for people in order for them to like me. Sometimes I wish I didn't care, but I'd be a different person if I didn't and hopefully there are enough people out there who appreciate the efforts we make to make it worth it.

Crushed said...

I think, if we're honest, it matters to all of us. I think we all want others to see us the way we want them to see us.

But my view is this 'If you love me, I love you. If you don't, not my fault you have bad taste...'

myself said...

I think the not caring thing came with age for me, because I really used to give a crap.

But now, I don't. You don't like me, ok cool, I don't get it because I'm pretty terrific, but hey, what ever.

I just either don't care enough, or don't have enough energy to make an effort for those that don't like me, and that extends to worrying about it.

Tristan|the almost right word said...

To be honest, I think it's pretty amazing that you can openly admit to feeling dependent on being liked/wanting to be liked/etc. Most people, I think, kind of convince themselves that stuff like that doesn't affect them, that they don't care. The fact that you realize it, and acknowledge it, is a huge thing!

That being said, I know, to a certain extent, many of struggle with this. I think that blogging certainly has its moments of "oh, I'm not getting a ton of comments on this post," or, "Why don't I have more readers?" Etc. And I think it all comes down to the same concept you're discussing. I think it's totally natural -- we're all human, we're all insecure in one way or another, and we're all looking for approval from someone.

EP said...

I am exactly like you in this. I want people to like me, and I would have been upset if that girl didn't like me after I went out of my way to be nice to her.

The fact of the matter is not everyone will like you (or me.) And we probably won't like everyone we meet. Does that make me feel better when someone doesn't like me, though? Not a bit. Hopefully, these people won't matter much in the long run.

MAH said...

You mean that there are people out there that could possibly not like me?!

I choose to go through life thinking that everyone likes me (if even a little) as the possibility that someone wouldn't seems so outside of the realm of reality...

When in actuality, Perhaps it is me that is so outside the realm of reality.

Good post - this is something I often think about.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Oh, PP, but the thing is, it's not always about you (and I say this in the most gracious of ways). By that, I mean, it could be that the Duke's friend had her mind elsewhere and didn't even realize she came off so apathetic about meeting you. Or maybe she secretly has a crush on the Duke and will never like you for taking away her chance with him. Or maybe she's just the type who isn't grateful for a gracious host (and would show that apathy towards just about anyone). The list of maybes goes on for quite some time. And as other readers suggest, it's just not worth getting your panties in a bunch over it. Not this one time. Now, if it becomes a pattern of people not showing enthusiasm when meeting you, then I might suggest you look within. =)

verybadcat said...

I'm recovering. You get to the point that it just becomes exhausting worrying so much about what people think, when half the time, it has more to do with them and their issues than ours.

All that said, I am suspicious of this girl, because the proper thing to do would have been to say something polite and noncommittal, and the absence of it raises my hackles.

20somethinginsight said...

I'm totally the same way though I rarely admit it b/c I feel like that would be a serious weakness. But it's not. It's just the way we are. I'm getting better about it though, I think it comes with finding extreme confidence. and it comes with the realization that other people really suck, and you are AWESOME. So FUCK EM ALLLL hahah

longredcape said...

I know how you feel. It's like, "did I do something wrong? Am I actually really not as great as I think I am?" when in actuality, it's really the other person's problem. I have to accept people not liking me all the time at work. It sucks, but I'm like, "You know, if they can't see how awesome I am, then I really don't think I like them either."

Abbey said...

I'm the same way. It's important to me that even people I don't like like me. I like to be able to make the decision for us to be 'not friends'.

I found it amusing that you picked up on the possibility she didn't like you based on her decision to not compliment back.

Surfergrrl said...

Oh I do the same thing. The thing is, she might be writing a blog post at this minute thinking, "uh, why didn't I open my stupid mouth and say I liked my friend's girlfriend?" Like maybe she was distracted or something. Either way, it does waste a lot of energy trying to guess what she might be thinking. But like I said, I do the same thing.

Yoda said...

You're right, it does matter if people like us or not. Otherwise, we wouldn't be social creatures if we didn't care for what people think.

That said, "The Art of Indifference" is a very useful thing to be masterful at. Sure, you care about the people near and dear about you ... and what they think of you. But this friend of BFs? Srsly, this is one person you do not *have* to please. You're the one with the boy, right? If she wants to hang out more with him, she'll have to realize that she can do that only by being friends with you first.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I am such the approval seeker so this rang true for me....I can't simply apply the adage that people take me for who I am and that be that - it is much more complex then that. Do I like this particular charachter trait of mine? Not really...but I can't seem to shake it without feeling insecure...wah....

Tough Girl 101 said...

not everyone is going to like you... At least tht's what I think. Then again I have a polarizing personality, people loveor hate me. People are rarely indifferent.

Jacqueline said...

I agree with you on this one. People who proclaim boldly that they do and say whatever they want and don't care what people think of them are lying. I know a few people like this and although they put on a brave face, I recognize their insecurity.

smidge said...

I think by the amount of comments you have received on this that its proof that we all feel this way at times.

I agree with Ant's comment that people are all so full of their own neuroses and agendas - she was probably worrying so much about you liking her to think about how she came across to you. If not, then she's a bitch and who needs to be friends with a bitch?

Michael said...

Casey Stengel used to say the secret was to keep the five people who don't like you away from the five who were on the fence.

Seriously, having other people like you isn't important, unless you, like, need to interact with people. Ever.

Are you sure you're not overinterpreting her response? Maybe she likes you just fine, but didn't see any need to elaborate? I'm laconic by nature, and I also clam up when I'm angry. Thus, among my loved ones there is often confusion whether I am furious or just being me.

Paula said...

I always seem to make more of an effort when i get the impression someone doesn't like me . . . even if I don't particularly like THEM based on their behaviour towards me. It really annoys me that I do that.

lissa said...

great post. i completely get what you're saying. i used to really care about everyone liking me but it got so futile and frustrating that i've completely gone to the other extreme and it doesn't come off the best in certain situations. i need to find a middle ground, i think.

chasinglibby said...

i am the EXACT SAME WAY. i have this need to be at least respected and not trash talked by others. i like being the mild floater who makes people laugh! you can't NOT like me, dammit!

Z said...

I'm with you on this one. For sure!

Anonymous said...

WoW.. I feel the exact same way with your post.. thanks for making me like Im not alone... oh and we better be friends now...

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

The rule of 1/3rds:

1/3 of people like you...they are in your corner.

1/3 of people don't like you...no matter what, they don't.

1/3 could go either way.

It is funny how much effort people put into the 2nd group.