People who are happy on the surface but sad underneath often display these 7 specific behaviors

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You might think that sad people are always, well, sad, but the truth is actually much more complicated.

In fact, there are plenty of people out there who are “sad clowns” – they pretend to be happy and joyful when they’re around others, only to spiral into sadness the moment they’re alone.

The reasons they strive to mask their sadness vary. For example, they might feel like confiding in others would make them a “burden” or like there is something inherently wrong with them, giving rise to feelings of shame.

Of course, their sadness isn’t their fault. They may even be struggling with mental health issues, which means that they are incredibly brave as they’re dealing with difficult challenges every single day.

Here’s how to tell someone isn’t as happy as they seem. 

People who are happy on the surface but sad underneath often display these 7 specific behaviors.

1) They are the “clown” of the group

It is often the “happiest” of people who are incredibly sad on the inside. 

This is because they essentially overcompensate for their lack of genuine happiness by faking it and taking it a bit too far. 

While “fake it till you make it” sometimes works, it all depends on how you apply that strategy. If it’s a coping mechanism that helps you escape your deep-seated fears and issues…

I’m afraid it might not be enough.

If there’s a “clown” in your group of friends – in other words, someone who is always the life of the party, cracks jokes, and loves being in the spotlight – take a step back and have a think.

Is your friend truly as happy as they seem? Or do they actually need help and emotional support but are too scared to ask for it? 

2) They socialize too much or too little

Not everyone reacts in the exact same way to the same set of circumstances. 

While some sad people always enjoy a buzzing social life (the moment they’re alone, the sadness hits them, bubbling to the surface and forcing them to spiral), others may hide themselves from the world for the majority of the time.

When they do get outside, they put on a mask of enthusiasm, but they can only keep it up for so long. 

Eventually, their batteries run out, and they isolate themselves once again. Their loneliness grows emptier, their sadness heavier, and the sadder they are, the more alone time they seek. 

It’s a vicious circle. 

And one of the few ways to break it is to go outside one’s comfort zone and meet people face-to-face. 

No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on – self-isolation or hyper-socializing – remember that balance is the best way forward.

Alone time is wonderful. Being around friends is wonderful, too. You can have the best of both worlds.

3) They are always busy 

What’s the best way to escape spiraling thoughts and sadness so heavy you can’t breathe?

Don’t think. Just do. 

Create an insanely long to-do list and run through it day after day. Always keep moving. Don’t stop.

If you stop, it will all catch up with you.

And if you’re out of breath and can feel the sadness snagging at your heels…

Just run faster.

Unfortunately, this strategy will inevitably end up with your body lying somewhere in a ditch because you’ve fainted from exhaustion.

Staying busy isn’t an effective way to combat sadness, and yet it’s what many people who pretend to be happy do. 

They hope they can shake all the negativity off if they just don’t think about it, but the truth is that their sadness will only grow until they eventually have to pay attention.

4) They rarely open up to others

When you’re dealing with someone who hides their sadness, conversations with them usually go along the lines of:

“Hey, is something the matter? Do you want to talk about it?”

“Me? Oh, not at all! Don’t worry about it.”

This isn’t that surprising. The fact that they’re pretending to be happy in the first place means that they don’t want to open up about their struggles and confide in others. 

If you ask, they are likely to just wave their hand and dismiss the whole issue as something completely inconsequential.

They would rather keep their troubles to themselves than “burden” you with it or admit they aren’t doing okay.

5) They display toxic positivity

Unfortunately, the “fake happiness” coping mechanism can easily get out of hand.

If you stick to the pretense for long enough, you might start to suppress and ignore all negative feelings – even those that don’t belong to you.

If a friend comes to you with a problem, your advice is to “just look on the bright side” or “cheer up”.

If you’ve gotten into some sort of conflict with someone, your go-to reaction is to either distance yourself from the person in question or immediately give up lest you have an argument.

And if you find yourself in a situation that’s charged with negative feelings such as grief, you automatically try to lighten up the mood instead of providing genuine emotional support.

That’s toxic positivity in a nutshell. 

6) They are perfectionists

One of my friends used to always pretend he was happy – even when he very much wasn’t. 

When I asked him why he couldn’t just tell me the truth and let me be there for him, he said, “I don’t want to trouble you with this stuff. I want to be a source of positivity in your life. Always.”

“But that’s not how friendships work,” I told him. “You can’t always give me your most positive self. And I don’t expect you to. I want to be your friend through both the good and the bad.”

Coincidentally, this friend is also a huge perfectionist. 

He sets up such high standards for himself that he struggles to meet his own expectations and every time he makes a mistake, he spirals into self-doubt.

No one can be happy 100% of the time. It is in our raw humanity that we connect with each other and bond

7) They are in love with escapism

Books, video games, online communities, parties, whatever it is, people who try to run away from the deep sadness within them will grab onto any form of escapism they can get their hands on.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of escapism myself. I devour fiction books at a frightening speed. 

But when someone spends more time escaping than they do living, it becomes an issue. 

It means escapism has officially turned into a coping mechanism.

But you can only keep running for so long. 

Eventually, you’ve got to stop. Eventually, you’ve got to confront the real issue underneath it all.

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Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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