18 Common Reasons People Might Be Acting Mean Towards You

Sadly, most of us will experience someone being oddly rude towards us at some point in our lives. But here’s the good news: their actions usually say much more about them than you. This list reveals 18 common reasons people might be acting mean towards you.

They Are Projecting Their Insecurities

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You’d be surprised by how many people criticize others from a place of their own feelings of inadequacy. This kind of behavior is often rooted in past experiences of low self-esteem, insecurity, and shame.

They Feel Threatened by You

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Similarly, people who are mean towards others often feel intimidated by things they perceive as achievements and successes in the other person. These individuals sometimes act out in order to regain a superficial sense of superiority.

They Are Struggling With Mental Health Issues

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Those struggling with mental health issues often experience a range of negative emotions, from anxiety to anger and irritability. This can also influence their actions and behaviors, potentially causing them to lash out at others at times.

They Are Dealing With Personal Issues

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People can become more irritable and difficult to deal with when they’re going through personal challenges. Perhaps they’re experiencing stress, problems at home, or health issues. In these cases, their meanness is usually not really about you but a byproduct of their personal struggles.

They Are Envious

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Seeing something we desire in someone else’s hands can really bring out the worst in us. Envy can often manifest as mean behavior when the envious individual’s attempts to cope with their feelings come out in an unhealthy way.

They Feel Misunderstood or Misrepresented

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Sometimes, when people feel misunderstood or misrepresented, they can become defensive and lash out at others. This may not really be because they want to hurt others but because they feel like they have been unfairly judged or stereotyped. It’s a good idea to try to clear up miscommunications or misunderstandings when this is the case.

They Seek Attention or Validation

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When people feel a need for attention or validation, this can cause them to act out to gain the recognition or response they crave. While this is not a healthy way to deal with their needs, it usually has nothing to do with their target. If you want to help them through their feelings, you can help them gain attention or validation in healthier ways.

They Have Different Cultural or Social Norms

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If the person being mean towards you is from a different country or culture, their meanness may not actually be intended as meanness. What’s seen as normal, acceptable, or even polite in one culture can be perceived as rude or mean in another.

They Are Influenced by Peer Pressure

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Sadly, sometimes people will conform to cruel group behavior in an attempt to fit in and not fall victim to the group’s attacks. While this is not an excuse for cruel behavior, it may help to know that their actions or words don’t say anything about you as a person.

They Have a Need for Control or Power

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People who feel a strong need for control or power may attempt to exert their dominance over others through cruel words or actions. This often comes from childhood feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. It may be helpful to establish firm boundaries with this individual in question.

They Are Mimicking Learned Behavior

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When children grow up around overly critical parents or mean peers, this can cause them to replicate the same behaviors in their adulthood. In these situations, the meanness isn’t really about their target but is a learned response to times of stress or conflict.

They Are Experiencing Grief or Loss

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As noted by Verywell Mind, people who are going through the stages of grief or loss can experience more anger than usual. This anger can manifest as hostility or meanness at times, but they usually aren’t intentionally being cruel. If you know the person being mean to you is experiencing grief, it could be helpful to offer them your support or comfort.

They Feel Overwhelmed by Their Responsibilities

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When we’re stressed and overworked, our feelings of stress can lead to a shorter temper, irritability, and lashing out at others. This is yet another example of someone’s meanness being more about them and their internal struggles than you.

They Have Unmet Emotional Needs

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People who have unmet emotional needs will sometimes seek any form of interaction they can, even if it’s negative in nature. This can sometimes cause them to antagonize others in order to get attention or provoke a response.

They Lack Empathy

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Some people lack the empathy needed to understand how their words and actions can affect other people. According to the National Library of Medicine, this can cause them to be overly rude or callous in how they interact with others. However, they are not always intentionally causing hurt.

They Have a Fear of Intimacy or Vulnerability

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When we have a deep fear of intimacy or vulnerability, we can sometimes use unhealthy coping methods such as aggression and withdrawal to protect ourselves from potential hurt. While this can be hurtful to the target of their actions, it is not really about them as a person.

They Are Dissatisfied With Their Life

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People who are dissatisfied with the state of their lives sometimes project their negative feelings and thoughts onto others. They may hyper-focus on any negative aspects of other people’s lives so they can feel better about their own.

They Are Influenced by Substance Abuse

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When we’re under the influence of substances like alcohol or drugs, we don’t always make the best decisions. Some people become more aggressive and antagonistic in these situations, which can cause them to act cruelly towards others. However, it is a myth that alcohol always causes people to say what they really feel about others, so you don’t have to take their personal attacks to heart.

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