The ‘Everyone Hates Me’ Feeling, Explained

Psychologists explain that sudden haunting thought that maybe nobody likes you.
everyone hates me feeling explained social anxiety mental health psychology relationships trauma perception detached attachment style
No, people probably aren’t mad at you. Photo: Williams+Hirakawa, Getty

Have you ever gotten that out-of-nowhere feeling that someone—no, everyone—is mad at you? If you have, you know that it doesn’t stop there. It’s inevitably followed by the harrowing thought that they never liked you anyway. 

OK, first of all, calm down. I like you. 

While there’s no guaranteeing that you’re everyone’s cup of tea, it’s unlikely that they’d all rather throw you out. In fact, there’s something you can learn if and when you’re struck with that sudden, isolating feeling. Sometimes, it can be the result of unconscious and unhealthy thought patterns. It can also reveal important things about your relationships


According to clinical psychologist Kirren Schnack, different things could be causing this “everyone hates me” feeling. Maybe a friend is lagging on their replies to your messages, or not minding them at all; maybe they declined an invitation or left abruptly the last time you saw each other. 

“People who have this fear [of everybody being mad at them] often find themselves reading into these things,”  Schnack told VICE. “Let’s say a person has declined an invitation because they have to see their grandmother on her birthday. Rather than accept this as the reason, the person may assume it’s because their friend is mad at them, or doesn’t like them.”

Another example, said Schnack, is when a friend sounds more curt than usual in messages they’ve sent. Instead of considering varied possibilities, like that friend might have been busy or in a rush, people might jump to the conclusion that that friend is mad at them. 

The feeling can also arise in people who struggle to tolerate uncertainty and become distressed when things aren’t clear. When this happens, they resort to making black-and-white conclusions, even when there is hardly any evidence to support them, because doing so at least provides them the sense of certainty they think they need. 

Diante Fuchs, a clinical psychologist and anxiety coach, said that everyone can experience this feeling, though in varying degrees. For her, it largely depends on people’s experiences while growing up.


Many people experience one form of rejection or another as kids. This is particularly true for people who grew up in angry, hostile, or volatile environments

“We all long for acceptance and belonging. When that is threatened, we feel sensitive and emotional. Some people have had multiple experiences of being rejected and unwanted as they were growing up. Their core beliefs about themselves are that they are not good enough, [are] unlovable, or that there is something inherently wrong with them. So when it feels like someone is mad at them, the next conclusion to jump to aligns with their core belief about themselves—you were never liked in the first place,” Fuchs told VICE.

That means that people who felt rejected as children tend to be hypersensitive to things that may make them feel rejected as adults.

“The higher your self-esteem is, the longer it takes to come to this conclusion. But those with low self-esteem will likely come to this conclusion pretty soon,” said Fuchs.

Schnack said that the feeling may also be a sign of social anxiety, which can develop when people feel rejected, judged, or simply excluded by others. These things can also lead to an insecure attachment style, which can be characterized by a neediness for or detachment from intimacy. 


The danger is that people who feel this way, be it because of current triggers or past events, can get stuck in patterns of overthinking, over-analyzing social interactions, and misinterpreting things that happen. This is all thanks to an anxious mind that is on the prowl for things that fit its narrative. 

But the person who feels this way isn’t always to blame. 

“Although feelings experienced by an individual belong to them, they are also influenced, intensified, or dampened, by others,” Schnack said. “If a person is consistently feeling this way about lots of relationships, or has noticed a pattern over the years, then it may be more likely that these feelings are to do with them. However, if the people around them are the same people who are treating them in ways that feel hurtful, then perhaps something unhealthy is at play.” 

This means that if the feeling regularly arises exclusively in certain relationships, the problem may be with those relationships. In that case, the feeling wouldn’t be irrational. It would just be a product of the toxic interactions. 

“All feelings are normal. Feelings just are. We have to accept them. The problem arises when feelings dictate our behavior, causing us to act in ways that may be unhelpful, either to ourselves or to others,” said Schnack. 

When not dealt with, these feelings can make people withdraw from social situations or avoid certain people altogether. They might be doing this to avoid the stress and anxiety of feeling like nobody likes them, but that only puts their mental health at greater risk. According to Schnack, they could feel lonely, sad, or even worthless. 


“This may increase the risk of certain conditions like depression, or anxiety disorders. If anyone finds themselves in this position, they are advised to speak to their [doctor].”

Feeling like someone or everyone is mad at you, then, could be a sign from your emotional radar. Maybe it’s something about you, or about the people you’re around. If we can understand that, then Schnack said we can do something about it (if we want to). 

Schnack advised people who feel like their friends don’t like them to ask themselves a few questions: Is what I’m thinking true, based on the facts I have, or is it an assumption? What evidence do I have to support the story I’ve come up with? What evidence do I have that goes against the story I’ve come up with? Instead of the other person’s behavior being a sign they’re mad at me, what other possibilities are there?

Fuchs advised asking the people you think are mad at you if, well, they’re actually mad at you. 

“We need to remember that we cannot read minds, and any attempts to do so end up in assumptions that usually cause damage to the relationship. So if you are feeling concerned about the other person’s feelings toward you, ask them for clarity.”

Let’s say that you did upset someone and that they are mad at you. Even then, all is not lost. You can confront the person, communicate, and apologize. 

“Sometimes it happens, and taking a more realistic and accepting attitude of this can be more helpful, and bring more peace, as it helps us understand the fragility of being human,” said Schnack. 

In any case, constantly being on guard and over-sensitive to others’ behavior can leave people in a perpetual state of anxiety. While there may of course be people who actually do not like you… would that be so bad? 

“There will always be people that we get on with and like us, and some that simply don’t,” said Fuchs. 

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