Everybody has a desire to be liked. Let’s be positive about it. But how happy would one be then?

We live in a society of augmented reality, hence it’s easy for us to “create an impression” of our identity in the virtual world. In personal life, the fixation to get people’s approval by living to certain standards can be stressful. It may force one to live at the expense of one’s own autonomy.

Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis talks about how people undergo stress out of the fear of offending someone. They suppress their opinions to sink with the common/dominant opinion. The excessive desire to be liked is to less likely be in a conflict.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) prevents people from being their own selves during social interactions. The need to be liked comes with a fear of being hated. Fear of being judged negatively prevents people from expressing themselves. It pulls them inward to make decisions or actively take part in activities.

Wanting to be liked can incite people to socialise, but the “need” to be liked could burden them with anxiety. Although it’s easier to manage independently in today’s world, people still seek recluse from social connections. A healthy social network can safeguard physical and mental health.

People’s attempt to please others includes a willingness to do wrong or dangerous things for others. It also causes FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)- the reluctance to stand out from the group. It can get worse with possessiveness in the fixation on a person who doesn’t seem to like them back.

It also includes sugar-coating things for the sake of others, changing one’s interest to please someone, turning down chances in fear of not being good enough, keeping away true emotions from expressing in fear of others’ judgment etc. These aren’t healthy as they negatively affect one’s perception of identity and disrupt individuality.

Acceptance is always preferred over denial. People don’t generally take critical feedback positively. The persistent anxiety when someone doesn’t seem to like them points to the external locus of control in them. External locus of control is one’s perception that external influences determine the course of their life.

People might connect their self-worth with the number of people who like them. This dependence on others or sociotropy can overwhelm one’s autonomy. Sociotropy is a state of being dependent on other people and a preoccupation with people-pleasing. It stands in contrast to man’s assertion of individuality and independence. Several researchers came up with the connection between sociotropy and external locus of control.

Ben Michaelis suggests to follow the “85% rule”. It says, “If about 85 per cent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing something right. If it’s much less than that, you are probably not doing enough to get along with others. If more than 85 per cent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing too much to get along”. Human perception, ideals, experiences and thoughts are unique so it is IMPOSSIBLE to win everyone’s approval in life.

Studies show that social and emotional support can boost a person’s confidence. But too much dependence on others’ approval can counteract. Having a meaningful conversation with family members or a few close friends might make people worry less about others’ approval. It is liberating not to have the stress of living up to everyone’s expectations. While wasting time to maintain likability, one may make choices based on the consent of others. That reduces their confidence to make decisions on their own and it would be like living someone else’s life. Once out of this, people make choices that are aligned with their interests and ideals.