Why doesn’t she like me??

This morning at the school bus stop I ran into my neighbor, or former neighbor, I should say. She and her family just moved over the weekend but came back to tie up loose ends. I was happy to see her and told her we were going to miss her and her family, blah blah. And so we chatted for about 60 seconds before she (in my mind) made a sprint to talk to someone else…to a child.


In the two years that we had shared the same street I never really did connect with her despite the fact that our sons are good friends. She was very reserved, and so after a while I just let things be, not wanting to make her uncomfortable by forcing conversation. The only thing is, she seemed quite warm and friendly with some others on the street. She seemed cold or uncomfortable mainly with me.

What is wrong with me?

Of course, I’m 4x years old, not 14, or even 24, so I’m not going to waste too much time obsessing over this (just the 60 minutes to write this post) or feeling the need for everyone on this planet to like me. But let’s face it, I grew up needing to please and needing to be liked so while I won’t obsess, I will think about this, and allow this to bug me, just a little.

We face this all the time, don’t we? The neighbor who refuses to return hello’s, the mother on the playground who will chat up a storm with everyone but us. Last year my girlfriend and I went on and on about the mother of our children’s classmate, who barely ever looked in our direction whenever we said hello. What is wrong with us, we anguished; what did we ever do to her? We thought about what we could have said or done, but really, in our limited exposure to her, we really couldn’t have been anything but friendly. Our husbands, in turn, shook their heads at us. It is not our problem, they tried to convince us; it’s the other woman’s.

Yes, that may be true, if we’ve searched and searched and don’t believe we could have done anything wrong. But still we carry these accusations around with us like recycled baggage, this silent finger pointing at us that we have failed. Failed to conform to the person that the other woman would have liked.

Years ago in our 20s my closest girlfriend said something that blew me away when she found out that the guy she’d had the biggest crush on was, in fact, dating an Asian woman. She said to me, “I have this thing against well-dressed Asian women.”


First of all, I was (am) an Asian woman. I’d considered myself not a badly dressed person, or maybe she didn’t, or otherwise she wouldn’t have made the comment. Second of all, it was just a mind-blowingly inane and racist thing to think, let alone say. But it was eye-opening because it made me realize how the basis of some people’s reactions really is grounded in nothing at all. As our husbands believe, sometimes it really is the other person’s problem.

And I am ashamed to admit that I myself have not always risen above this. In college I remember disliking this classmate simply because she was so damned perky and sure of herself, even though she was short – shorter than me – and she had frizzy hair. How dare she be so imperfect and confident at the same time?! I was so jealous. My negative feelings toward her said a ton about me, and had nothing to do with her. But she never knew that.

And so I have wondered about my former neighbor. I get along so well with all our other neighbors, but her…I was never able to penetrate. So maybe it’s because I’m Asian, I had once thought, until I saw how close she is to the Korean woman down the street. Or maybe it’s because I don’t go to church, and she and the Korean woman go to the same church, and somehow I ooze heathenism in her eyes. Or maybe I remind her of someone she didn’t like. Or maybe…maybe…

Or maybe we just don’t have that much power over other people, over their pasts, over whatever they’re going through right now, and whatever connections they make in their heads when they meet us. And it’s okay – we should believe it is okay – to let go of the need for that power.


10 thoughts on “Why doesn’t she like me??

  1. I wonder this, too many times in a week.

    It’s hard to believe, and I hate to consider the possibility: but perhaps it is just that. The ideal of the perfectly dressed Asian woman. The unknown of the quick too anger Latina down the block who wears heels–everywhere.

    There it is,and maybe it’s true. But no, Cecile–you are not alone. Not in these thoughts, and not in this world–I have come to depend on your friendship and will always remember how I cried when I thought I’d never hear from you again.

    • Thanks Alexandra. At first I was so afraid to write this post, because it seems like such a juvenile thing to worry about. But apparently I really am not the only one.

      It is difficult to say why others may not like us, and it could be anything from that person’s own issues to some unappealing vibe we are giving off that we’re not aware of. I usually try to think so hard about what impressions I could have been giving.

      I’m so sorry if I myself have ever put you in a position to doubt….

  2. No matter how old we get, there’s always going to be a little bit of high school in us, where it does matter if someone likes us or not, and it does sting when others are favored over us. I’m not sure that ever ends. It’s happening right now to me, in fact, and I will send you more details later, but as much as I’d like to brush it off and say it’s their problem, I just can’t help wondering if it’s me too. And that’s why I was so eager to read this post – it hits pretty close to home.

  3. “But let’s face it, I grew up needing to please and needing to be liked so while I won’t obsess, I will think about this, and allow this to bug me, just a little.”

    I think we’re the same person, or at the very least kindred spirits. Kindred heathen spirits, no less. 🙂

    • It’s so complicated, isn’t it, Justine. I felt bad for keeping a little distance from a new friend I had made…I liked her a lot, but some of our values were a little different and so it was hard for me to put 100% into our friendship. I feel that she sensed it, and was puzzled as to why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about getting closer. I hope your friend situation gets better. Let me know if you want to talk…

  4. “…I grew up needing to please and needing to be liked…” <—– Me too. I grew up always trying to make others feel comfortable so it still bothers me when I'm not able to do that.

    I realize that I can't control how other people react to me but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it! I'm glad you shared this because I have so many similar stories and it reminds me that I'm not alone. 🙂

  5. Oh, how I can relate to this post!! Yes, I do worry often about why others seem to not like me because deep down I want to be liked by everyone and really have a hard time understanding what about me would make someone decide not to like me.

    But your husband is right. And my husband has told me the same thing, often.

    I find that often I lean towards people who I think don’t like me just to see if I can win them over. I do this and I forget about the people who really do like me. It’s horrible but I’m learning to change. I’m learning to focus on those who really do like me and accept that if someone doesn’t like me, it’s not something I should worry about. It really is their problem. 🙂

    • It really is curious as to why we would care so much, eh? I think it bothers men less…maybe because they are less likely to tie someone else’s reactions to their own self worth. I don’t know. Or, that sense of connectedness is just so important to us. I’m glad we are not alone in this!

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