Honey, When Someone Does Not Like You, You Ain’t Gonna Change That

Let me ‘splain somethin’ to you. (In Southern vernacular, that means “explain something”) When someone decides they do not like you, that is it. Do not waste your time and/or energy trying to change the person’s mind. It is pointless and futile. Besides, you end up making a fool of yourself trying.

Maybe it was something you said, something you did or maybe you just smell bad to them.
If you keep trying to make a person like you, they will just dislike you even more!

I have been on both sides of this type of situation, believe me. It is no fun to be in this situation as either person.

In the South, we are usually pleasantly smiling and hand shake at first meetings. However, this can be short lived. Sometimes it only takes 5 seconds to know that you do not like a person.

For example, my mom is a master at disguising how she feels about you if it is negative. My folks are very social and became more so when they retired. I remember on more than one occasion being with my mom at a party, cook out or social event and watching this ‘master of disguise at work.’

We would walk around an event together and stop to chat with other people to catch up and discuss benign things, like the weather. My mother would smile, give quick half-hugs and chatter about whatever the person was yammering about. She would maintain eye contact, shift her weight from foot to foot, say “ummhumm” and “yes”, then saunter over to another person.

As we walk away from the last person we talked with, with me in tow, my mom would lean to my ear and whisper something to the effect of,” she is such a bitch.” “She drives me crazy with her talk of ‘blah, blah, blah.” “She never has anything good to say.”

SO, I am floored and confused! So, I ask, “mom, you just spent several minutes smiling and talking with this woman. You hugged her and said you were glad to see her. You asked her all about herself. You asked about her family and her recent vacation. You even said it as good to see her. What is the story?”

My mom did not miss a beat. She said, “honey, you must interact with people and be social. You cannot be rude to people without provocation. You do not want to seem like you are not listening.” My mother elaborated, “she is still a bitch, she is still rude, but I will not sink to her level in public.” What?

I was raised as a true, Southern lady, but this one had me stumped. I was always told to “remember my manners” when we were at parties. I always said “please” and “thank you”. If I was not heard saying “yes sir or yes ma’am” there would be a severe “tongue lashing” followed by possible butt whoopin’ from my mom. I never figured out how my mother could hear me not say these words when she was half way across the room. It’s as if she has the hearing capability of a dog!

So, we have laid out the ground rules for behavior at parties that satisfy Southern etiquette. Let’s move onto people liking and disliking each other.

Sometimes no matter what you do or say, some people are just not going to like you. There are a million reasons why people do not like other people. I will not go into detail on this, because you already know what I am talking about. However, there are times when we just can not help ourselves and we insist on trying to make some one like you! Come on, we have all done it. How did it turn out? Crappy or down right disastrous, I would bet.

Psychologists say that when you go out of your way or try to hard to make someone like you, it shows desperation. This in turn causes people to be even more “turned off” by you than you just being you. Have you ever had someone try so hard to make you like them and all you could do was try to get away from them? I have.

On the flip side, I have made an epic fool of myself trying to get some people to like me. I would get so nervous that I would start saying stupid stuff or exaggerate a story for effect. This ends up making you act different than the person that you truly are. Once you start down this path, there is no turning back!

I vividly remember being in the fifth grade and wanted to be friends with this popular girl named Carolyn. She was naturally beautiful (of course), pretty funny, but venomous as a King Cobra snake after you’d stepped on its tail! She also had two “Hench women” that were forever at her side. These girls did whatever Carolyn said to do and at any time she said to do it.

One day, Carolyn approaches me, with Hench women in tow, and asks me to sit at “her” table at lunch. I was on my way to greatness! Fool.

I am at the lunch table early, because Carolyn liked to walk in last, like the queen of Sheba. I am so excited to be included that I nearly wet my pants. I was smiling like a complete idiot and was waiting to be “assigned” my seat at the table. Carolyn showed me my seat and I plopped down like I had just won the lottery. This is where my excitement ended, and my complete torment began.

To start things off, Carolyn requested a number of “favors” of me before I could eat my lunch. These included getting the salt and pepper, getting her extra napkins, and giving her my dessert. These requests were all made as one task at a time, so as to make sure I sat down to start eating between each request. Then, I would stop eating, get up and “do her bidding.” I just kept thinking this was the way it was supposed to go to hang out with “popular” kids.

Had I been a more “in tune” gal, I would have smartly gotten up from the table and left. However, it appears that I was a glutton for punishment and remained in my “assigned” seat.

Briefly, the story grows more painful as the lunch progresses. To spare you the gory details, this is how it went down. Carolyn began with a litany of “loaded” questions related to my appearance, my choice of clothing, my hair cut and my facial features. She says this all while smiling, luring me into a false sense of security. I soon realized that I was invited to lunch in order for the girls to make fun of me and make me look like a stooge. I managed to keep my composure until the dreadful lunch bell rang to return class.

Later, I realized that I was more concerned about their acceptance then my own self-worth. I had changed my behavior in order to get someone to like me. Aren’t people supposed to like you for who you are? Needless to say, I was wrecked. How could some one be so cruel? I promised myself that I would never do that to another person. Unfortunately, I seem to remember not being too nice at other times when I was that age.

I did survive the incident and went onto college. There, I met another batch of girls that were a bit like Carolyn. I avoided them like the plague. I remember one girl in particular that I tried so hard to get along with at school. She always had “snippy” things to say to me and I could not, for the life of me, figure out why. One day, I just plain asked her if I offended her in any way and why she seemed like she did not like me. She curtly stated, “I have no reason, I just do not like you.” OK, well…um. Again, I just stayed away from her grumpy, ugly butt.

On the other side of the equation, I myself, had one or two girls that would follow me around to try to be my friend. I am not sure why, but they just did. I would go out of my way to keep from running into them, but they would eventually find me. I tried to be nice, as I remembered how I felt in fifth grade, but one just would not take no for an answer!

She reminded me of that old Looney Toons cartoon with the big dog “Spike” and the little dog, “Chester”, that kept jumping around him and wanting to be his friend. Chester would say, “hey, Spike, do you want to chase balls?” or “Spike, should we go chase cars?” Then, Spike would say “nah” and pop the Chester in the face to get him to go away. Nice!

So, I kept turning down her invitations and came up with lame excuses as to why we could not hang out. I guess she eventually got the message and moved on to another person to befriend. I thought about her later and realized that her desperate attempts to hang out made me uncomfortable. You cannot truly have a friendship if it is based on feeling sorry for someone. It never works.

As an adult, I have found that there are times that there is no explanation as to why some people like you or do not like you. It just “is.” Sometimes, I am not even sure why I do not like another person or why they do not like me. I have made it a habit to “just move on.”

What I do know is that you cannot “make” someone like you. They either do or they don’t. Period. Don’t worry about the pinheads who are not smart enough to see your good qualities. Seek out those that can appreciate you, as you are. We all have faults, you just have to identify the ones you can live with in another person.

In the words of my grandmother, “Honey, if they like you, they like you and if they don’t, they don’t. You ain’t gonna change that.”

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