8 subtle signs someone doesn’t actually like you, even if they seem perfectly polite

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People can be hard to read sometimes, can’t they?

Just the other day, I saw an older lady shouting and trying to pull a handbag away from a young, tough-looking man.

But when I rushed to help, she ran off, and he thanked me for saving him from the thief.

You just never know.

Or do you? When we just glance at people and situations, we only see what’s on the surface.

But just like a duck’s feet madly paddling underwater, there’s usually way more going on than meets the eye.

But if you can train yourself to look for subtle cues and clues, people become a lot easier to figure out.

Take polite, formal people.

On the outside, they seem to be ticking all the right boxes.

They mind their P’s and Q’s, keep a respectful distance, and use appropriate language.

But sometimes, you can glimpse something through this veneer that lets you know they’re not your biggest fan.

To help you pierce the veil of illusion, here are eight subtle signs someone doesn’t actually like you, even if they seem perfectly polite.

1) They’re always perfectly polite

This in itself is one of the biggest clues that a person isn’t your number one fan.

The fact is that when people get to know each other, they usually form more intimate bonds.

I’m not talking about romantic stuff here.

I mean intimate in the sense of being closer and knowing each other better.

People joke with each other, touch more, use inside jokes and comments, and do a whole lot of other things to tell the other person, “Hey, we’re buddies!”

Of course, it’s weird when someone does this way too soon in the course of your relationship.

Case in point: overly familiar servers at restaurants.

Have you ever sat down at a booth and had a server wander over, squat down, and give you a riff like, “Hey guys, how’s it going? I’m Jeremy and I’m going to be working with you tonight. Looks like you guys just came over from the movie theater. What did you see? And was it good? I’m dying to see that new Jenna Ortega film. She’s great. Anyway, what can we get you to start with tonight?”

I know you’re trying to establish a friendly rapport, Jeremy, but it’s just too soon!

But what does the opposite look like?

Imagine you meet a person a dozen times, and they’re just as polite and formal with you as they were on day one. What does that say?

Either they’re keeping a social distance due to protocol and feeling that they need to “keep in their place”, or they just don’t want to get to know you better.

They’re keeping you at arm’s length while still treating you politely so that anyone looking in would see their behavior as perfectly fine.

But the truth is they probably don’t like you!

2) They use your title, not your name

Another way that people keep you at arm’s length is really simple.

They use your title, not your name.

Or they call you sir or madam.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.

Sometimes, people call me Mr. Deer because they have to maintain a professional relationship, but if not, it’s really weird and awkward for them not to call me Marcel.

Have you ever met someone like this, and you specifically ask them to call you by your first name, yet they can’t seem to do it?

Sometimes, it’s hard if people feel there is a major difference in social status between you.

But if there’s no reason that you can think of, the one you’re left with is that they’re not feeling you and don’t want to make the relationship any more personal than it already is.

Don’t worry about it though – there’s no way everyone in the world will like you, no matter who you are.

3) They keep too much distance

People are pretty sensitive about their personal space, and a big part of that is cultural.

In the US, inner space is somewhere between 18-24 inches away from you.

The only people you’re going to let into this space are your partner, kids, other family, and close friends.

Everyone else should keep between two to four feet from you depending on how well you know them and what the situation is. 

That’s the cultural norm in America, while in other countries, people like to stay closer or farther apart.

So what happens if you notice that a person is staying really far away from you all the time, hovering around four feet or even farther?

The first question to ask is whether this person is like this with most other people or not.

If they are, it might just be their personal style or they could have some social anxiety that’s keeping them away.

But if not, you have to think about the context.

Has that person known you for a while?

Do you socialize with them often, at least in a group?

Do they ever physically contact you with a handshake, hug, fist bump, or anything else?

If you feel like you know each other, yet they’re always keeping their distance, and there’s no sign they’re doing this with anyone else, you can guess at the answer.

They may simply not be an admirer, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re an enemy.

4) They don’t look at you

I know I’m personally guilty of this one because I actually got called out on it once.

There was this guy, Ben, who started hanging out with my group of friends in college.

I took an immediate dislike to him, particularly because he was really negative, rude, and something of a bully.

However, it seemed like everyone else thought he was OK, so I just kept my distance and didn’t have much to do with him directly.

I mean, we were around each other often and would exchange words, but he also didn’t seem to have much interest in me, either.

Then, one day, when the gang was going to meet up, he and I arrived first, and things were a little awkward.

After two minutes of conversation, he asked me bluntly, “What’s up with you? How come you never look at me?”

Oh dear.

My heart was straining to blurt out, “Because I don’t like you!” but I think I managed to say something dumb like, “Oh, uh, I’m not really into faces.”

Not too long after that, Ben moved away, and only then did I find out that nobody in the group really liked him.

I learned that making assumptions wasn’t all that smart.

But I also learned that eye contact can reveal a whole lot, especially how you feel about a person.

5) They talk over you

If you’ve ever been in a conversation where one person keeps talking over you, interrupting, it could be a sign they don’t like you.

Only if they do this to just you and not as a general style, though.

It’s really frustrating because not only do they not listen, but they also actively block others from hearing what you have to say.

That’s a pretty good sign they don’t have a lot of time for you.

6) They cut you out of plans

Imagine you’re part of a social group that spends a lot of time together.

Now imagine that everyone goes off and does some activity together, and you don’t get invited.

That can make it pretty clear that someone doesn’t like you, though it’s not always clear who.

You might have to do some dirt digging to find out, but if you look for other clues, you’ll probably find the culprit quickly.

7) They give you backhanded compliments

“Wow, you look great today. That’s really different for you.”

“It looks like you’ve finally decided to lose weight. Good for you!”

Recognize these backhanded compliments?

While they might look good on paper, make no mistake – they’re designed to be nasty.

They’re the sorts of things that someone might say to your face and manage to insult you while still seeming to be polite.

Don’t fall for it!

8) They’re tetchy with you

This last sign is probably the least subtle of all, but it’s still a good one to remember.

If a person seems grumpy, snappy, and belligerent with you and only you, it’s not their mood. 

They’re probably showing you that they’re not your biggest admirer.

They might snap at you but still do it with words that sound polite (“Yeah, no thanks!” versus “No, you idiot!”), but that politeness is a façade. 

Final thoughts

Have you ever noticed these eight subtle signs someone doesn’t actually like you, even if they seem perfectly polite?

If not, now you’ve got the tools to arm yourself with.

The next time you detect these behaviors, you’ll be able to figure out where you stand with people really quickly.

I hope it works out for the best!


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