When You Feel Like You Just Don't Like People

Some statements I've heard from people who are quite lonely and socially isolated are:

When someone says "I don't like people" sometimes it's just their semi-facetious way of stating, "I'm not super-social by nature. I don't need a ton of friends. I'm selective about who I hang around. My personality-type, values, and interests are unconventional, and I've come to realize most people don't have a lot to offer me." That's fine. Not everybody has to be ultra-mainstream and love everyone.

At other times "I just don't like people" is said in a much more wounded, hostile manner. That's the use of it what I want to talk about in this article. Below are my thoughts on this not-uncommon sentiment. As you can probably guess I don't think this issue is a one-sided matter of "People actually do suck" or "You're just discouraged and angry. It's all in your head." When someone comes to feel this way there's often a lot going on.

Thinking you don't like people may be a totally reasonable conclusion based on your life so far

People who think like this often haven't had the best interactions with others up to this point in their lives. They're lonely and socially inexperienced. They don't look at other people and think 'rewarding relationships'. Such a thing may have never have happened for them.

When they try to make friends they may get ignored or shut down. They may have been misunderstood and picked on by their classmates all through school. People may routinely overlook or subtly disrespect them. They may have unsympathetic, rejecting, or downright abusive family members. At present their only social interactions may be with their toxic co-workers, and their prickly, nitpicking boss. When that's all someone's known, where they haven't seen much of the good side of anyone, it's hardly surprising that they'd come to the conclusion that people suck.

It's easier to form a negative opinion of people when you're at a distance and view them in the abstract

If someone spends much of their time alone, and their only social interactions are fleeting and superficial, a lot of the information they're receiving about other people is more general and abstract. They're not having those firsthand experiences, like a fun night out with friends, that viscerally reinforce how great and funny and supportive others can be. Instead they're reading articles about the latest bar-lowering hit reality TV show. They're hearing news about how everyone elected another corrupt politician, or how a majority of the public supports a bigoted law, or how a bunch of far-off countries are mired in atrocities. They're going on their favorite website and seeing how dumb the commenters have become lately. When you look at people from that detached viewpoint it's not so difficult to be down on your fellow man.

Saying you don't like people can be an attempt to make yourself feel better about your social struggles

Not the deepest, most-shocking insight here. I think many people who say they hate everyone do want friends and meaningful relationships. They may be hurt, discouraged, conflicted, or wary about the whole idea, but they still want closer connections deep down. They may also feel broken and hopeless about their chances of ever having a fulfilling social life. Saying they don't actually like people can take some of that pain away. They're telling themselves they don't care about what they think they can't have, or they're devaluing something they need so the lack of it doesn't bother them as much.

I'm sure a minority really do have no use for other people, and they're not just trying to fool themselves. If they want to do their own thing and not worry about socializing, that's their decision to make.

If you manage to have more fulfilling interactions with people the feelings will likely go away

You knew this point was coming. If you're really in the depths of social isolation, and you have some social skills gaps, anxiety issues, and a history of rejection, then it can be hard to imagine you may one day have a life where you have a solid group of friends and you enjoy people's company. Like the intro was saying, it may never be your style to be a bubbly Chatty Cathy with a million casual acquaintances, but that bitterness toward humanity can dull. If you start addressing your problems you'll likely find your opinion of people begins to turn around, as you start to have more intrinsically-rewarding interactions.

I realize 'get over your fears and baggage' is easier said than done. If you've been mistreated throughout your life you're not going to become trusting and self-confident tomorrow. Working through what you've been through may take years. But once you're on the other side you'll be able to see everyone in a more-balanced way.

Related articles

These articles talk about some closely-related topics. First, disliking people sometimes goes hand-in-hand with an attitude that you're better than others:

Is Falsely Believing You're Better Than People Holding You Back Socially?

This one may help diffuse a general sentiment that other people are shallow and vacuous on the whole:

Other People Often Aren't As Shallow As They Seem

Sometimes it's not so much that you outright dislike people, as you have trouble feeling interested in them:

When You Don't Feel Interested In People And What They Have To Say

Finally, feeling really down on other people may be a symptom of depression, which can make your thoughts become really negative and self-sabotaging:

When Depression Is A Factor In Your Loneliness And Social Problems