|How do you deal with being openly disliked when you've grown up so used to people pleasing/basing self worth on being liked? And does being disliked mean you've done something horribly wrong?
Yikes, I feel deep shame and guilt even writing this askme post. I'm hoping to find others who have been in my shoes though and have somehow figured it out. It seems like such a common thing, to want to be liked by everyone, but it's not realistic--I know. I think I'm so bothered because I'm ruminating on it and I also have a reminder of it daily because of my neighbors. ]
Essentially, my partner and I moved into this building a year and some change ago. We ran into a new neighbor who was super friendly, and he was very gung ho about turning our apartment building into a dorm (his words, not mine)--by having parties, neighbor get togethers, everyone in one big group chat. It sounded great because we were new to town too! We met a group of neighbors and it did start to feel like a college dorm, but it got cliquey quite quickly.
And I started to get really uncomfortable at these parties. Either my queerness was brought into question ("Your partner is a man, how can you be queer" or "bisexuality is just you not making up your mind") or I plain just didn't vibe with the whole group. I was friendly but drained. I knew the group liked me, because I kept getting invited to things, but I kept turning them down over time because I just felt less and less like myself when I hung out with them. I felt like I was in high school again and I just didn't want to put in so much of my energy into that group. They had parties every weekend.
Over time, I stopped getting invitations and then my partner did as well (understandably! I get someone saying no over and over again sends a message, but I do feel guilty if I was the reason my partner stopped getting invited.) However, I still was friendly when I saw them and said hello and did chit chat in the hallways, or I would say yes occasionally when it was a birthday party because that felt more significant to go to.
Since quarantine, they (the group of neighbors) have been having huge parties. I mean, we can hear them from our place. Three weeks ago they had another one. We got one final invite and we had to say no, because....COVID. The neighbor we originally met, who is the social curator of the neighbor group, apparently jokingly said to my partner: "Wow, buttonedup really doesn't like us, huh?" I am guessing he said that because I'm the one who says no, while my partner is super friendly and has said yes to invites more than I have (pre-COVID.)
Ever since then, the neighbors have been super cold to me (but not my partner.) I'll say hi, and they'll ignore me. I'll wave and they'll stare and then turn away. If my partner is talking to one of them in the lobby and I come through the door, they'll turn away and stop talking. It is quite weird. I thought I imagined the first few times, but now my partner has commented on it. And it does feel like I'm back in a dorm! A high school dorm. We are in a perpetual episode of Degrassi: COVID.
I feel terrible. In a way. I also am trying to tell myself that it's ok to not vibe with everyone, that it's not cool to have people dismiss my identity, and they are all older than me (in their early 30s or late 30s) so I feel like they would be smarter than me with the COVID things. But I am historically a people pleaser. I have always put others needs or desires before mine, to a fault and I hate it. I had to do it for my parents and my siblings and I did that for so long to survive in a town where we were the only POC. I was bullied a lot as a kid so I just became super pleasant and funny and easy going to combat it. So I became great at being pleasant and liked and molding myself to others.
I do know that I am genuinely likable, even in the past few years I've been better at not being so moldable to others and just being...me. I have many friends with mutual love and I get along with many people. It took me a while to believe I was genuinely likable--I still get a little surprised when I get invited to parties or to join groups or get introduced to new friends. Thinking back to times I have been genuinely disliked (and I knew it) were few and I probably made it worse because I didn't know how to speak up for myself and was very avoidant. That was my bad, that was back in college days. I know logically that I will never be universally liked, but this kind of behavior from neighbors who don't like me is making me fixate on if I'm just an unlikeable, awful person to have a whole group of 5 people be so cold towards me. It maybe wouldn't feel so awful if I didn't run into them daily at the mail room.
I go over and over in my head what I could've done wrong (besides turning down the invitations, which is the only interaction I can think of, because I have hardly interacted with them in the past few months beyond chit chat.) I mean, once a neighbor asked me to come over to vent about a horrible thing that happened to some of our mutual friends, and I was so confused because we weren't close and I thought they disliked me. They told me that they couldn't confide in the other neighbors, but I seemed like I would listen. Then after that they continued to give me the cold shoulder. I was thrown for a loop.
Part of me also is learning to speak up. With therapy, I've gotten much better at saying "Hey... So, X thing bothers me. Can we talk about it?" or drawing boundaries at my last toxic job (where name calling was the norm) by confronting bullying behavior. I still don't love confrontation. In my fantasy, I would love to see a neighbor in the mail room, they give me the cold shoulder, and I just plainly but nicely say "Hey, is something up? You seem to be acting strange around me." But I don't think that would actually do anything.
I am just trying to understand if I've done something horrible (is turning down invitations but just being generally friendly means it's understandable to be ignored to this extent? Was a rumor or misunderstanding started? I don't know. Maybe they think I'm being snooty by saying no so often.) and would like to self reflect and do better if so. Sadly, the fear of being disliked carries a lot of weight for me. I also would like to know if I did what any average human being who doesn't really want to be close friends with their neighbors did.
So, if I had to sum it up, what's the best way to "be ok" with being disliked? And should I speak up and ask what's up to at least clear the air on my side (I'm leaning towards no...)? How can I best self reflect on this to make sure I'm not being a bad person without beating myself up?
(Yes, I am in therapy! We are talking about this at my next appointment :D )