Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.
Although we may not like to admit it, many of us wrestle with a need to be liked. Social rejection can be hard to deal with – especially when it’s coming from someone who we like or respect. Whether it’s someone we have romantic feelings for, a coworker we admire, or an acquaintance we want to become friends with, realizing that someone you like doesn’t care for you can be disappointing, embarrassing, and frustrating.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. When we asked our community to agree or disagree with the statement, “It really upsets you when somebody you like does not like you back,” 71% agreed overall, and a few personality traits stood out as having a particularly strong influence on how we cope with this sort of rejection.
Which personality types find that, like Michael Scott from the TV show The Office, they really do need to be liked? And which personalities are more comfortable going their own way? Let’s break down the data in more detail below.
Diplomats (81% agreeing)
Our study showed that the Energy and Nature personality aspects play an important role in how strongly we experience a need to be liked. Personality types with the Feeling trait were 13% more likely than those with the Thinking trait to agree with our statement (78% vs. 65%), and Intuitive personalities were 8% more likely than Observant personalities to agree (77% vs. 69%). That put Diplomats at the top of the results.
Diplomats are some of the most sensitive personality types. Because of their Feeling trait, it’s natural for them to experience other people’s opinions of them (whether positive or negative) in emotional terms. If someone they like doesn’t like them back, their Intuitive trait will kick in and want to figure out why. Why have things happened this way? What does this mean? Diplomats’ tendency to overanalyze things through an emotional lens can get exhausting and make the whole situation feel even more upsetting.
Analysts, Sentinels, and Explorers (69% each)
Interestingly, Analysts, Sentinels, and Explorers all agreed with our statement at the same overall rate, despite their varied personality traits.
Even though we may not immediately associate Analysts with emotional sensitivity, this study showed that these logical personality types still care about being liked by the people who they like. Analysts’ core Thinking trait does give them more objectivity and rationality than Diplomats in situations of social rejection, but they are also prone to the same sort of Intuitive overanalyzing that can make it hard to let go and move on.
As Observant personality types, Sentinels and Explorers have a slight advantage, because they’re more realistic and practical than their Intuitive counterparts about the fact that not everyone they meet is going to like them. Of course, it still stings when someone they like doesn’t share their social interest, but these down-to-earth personalities are less likely to obsess over all the possible reasons for their rejection.
Although Sentinels and Explorers with the Feeling personality trait are more likely than those with the Thinking trait to struggle with a need to be liked, their Observant Energy helps balance out any troubling, anxious emotions when they experience rejection.
Social Engagement and Constant Improvement (88% and 86% agreeing)
The Identity personality aspect was by far the most influential in this study: Turbulent types were 31% more likely than Assertive types to agree that it really upsets them when somebody they like doesn’t like them back (87% vs. 56%). Personality types with Turbulent Identities – Social Engagers and Constant Improvers – tend to care a great deal what other people think of them, and they also tend to struggle with self-esteem. That’s a stressful combination that can fuel upsetting feelings when someone they like doesn’t return their affection.
Turbulent personalities are also prone to perfectionism, which means that if someone they like rejects them, they may feel compelled to fix the problem – trying too hard to make themselves likable and probably only making the situation worse in the long run.
Social Engagers, as Extraverts, are particularly concerned with their social status and may worry not just about the individual who dislikes them, but also about how that negative opinion may affect their standing with other friends or acquaintances in their social circles.
Of all the personality types, Turbulent Advocates (INFJ-T) and Turbulent Campaigners (ENFP-T) were the most likely to agree with our statement (90% each). Sensitive and deeply concerned with their own performance, Advocates can be vulnerable to any form of criticism or rejection. It’s hard for an Advocate – especially a Turbulent one – not to take social rejection as a personal failure. After all, how can they live up to their core purpose of helping others if the people they want to help don’t like them?
Campaigners live for the social and emotional connections they make with others, a passion that can make being rejected by someone they care about feel deeply hurtful and upsetting, especially when the Turbulent Identity is a factor. As independent free spirits, these Extraverted personalities might bounce back from rejection a bit more quickly than Advocates, but they feel the pain of the experience just as much.
People Mastery and Confident Individualism (58% and 53%)
Self-confident and levelheaded, Assertive personality types were much less likely to be strongly affected by social rejection. Generally more secure than their Turbulent counterparts, individuals with the Assertive Identity don’t worry too much about what other people think of them, and they’re better at handling stress and uncertainty.
People Masters, as Extraverts who enjoy being active in their communities and taking the lead in social situations, would surely prefer to be liked than disliked, but they’re not going to let rejection stop them or upset them too much. Confident Individualists, who usually prefer to do their own thing anyway, agreed at the lowest rate, yet a slight majority still indicated that it does bother them when someone they’re interested in doesn’t like them back.
Assertive Virtuosos (ISTP-A) were the least likely of all personality types to agree with our statement (40%). Virtuosos have a reputation for emotional insensitivity and a certain “who-cares-what-you-think” attitude that probably puts them in a position to be disliked more than many other personality types. But most Virtuosos aren’t upset by this – more often than not, they can let criticism and rejection roll off their shoulders, even when the person rejecting them is someone they like. For Assertive Virtuosos in particular, there are always new opportunities and challenges to tackle, and new people to meet.
It’s normal to want to be liked, especially by the people who we particularly enjoy or care about. We want to have those people in our lives, and we want them to feel the same way. So when people we like don’t return our affection, it can feel hurtful and upsetting, especially for personality types with the Turbulent, Feeling, and Intuitive traits.
If you find yourself feeling very upset by this kind of social rejection, it’s important to remember that, in the big picture, the opinions of a few people don’t matter. The friendship, love, and support of the people you already have in your life can help see you through tough times like this – and are helpful reminders that you have many wonderful qualities to offer. While a little self-reflection never hurts, it’s best to try to consider situations like this as the other person’s loss and to move on.
How do you react when someone you like doesn’t like you back? How have you learned to cope with rejection? Let us know in the comments below!