17 Reasons Why People Are Mean to You

If you’ve noticed that someone in your life is suddenly being mean to you but can’t bring yourself to confront them, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll uncover 17 common reasons why people are mean to others—one of which might be your situation. While it’s never okay to be mean, these explanations might help you understand why.

They Perceive You as an Easy Target

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People have an unfortunate tendency to target those who appear weak or vulnerable. This is often a projection of their own insecurities, but the behavior persists. To prevent this from happening to you, it’s important to stand up for yourself and show people you won’t take it.

Jealousy or Envy

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Those who feel threatened by your success or abilities may lash out, expressing their insecurities through mean behavior. Once again, this is often a reflection of their internal struggles. As shared by Psych Central, “Some people can feel so inadequate that they simply can’t stand it if someone else has something they don’t.”

You Unintentionally Make Them Feel Bad

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Have a good think about it. Your actions or words might have unknowingly hurt the person who is now being mean to you. It’s important to be mindful of how you affect others with your actions or words. If this is the case in your situation, learn from your past mistakes and focus on improving your interactions moving forward.

Physical Pain

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Pain can make people irritable and short-tempered. And, in most instances, pain-induced unkindness is often unintentional. While it’s not acceptable, it’s understandable that those in pain can lash out unintentionally. The impact of physical discomfort on behavior can’t be understated, so don’t take it personally.

They Are Dealing With Depression

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Depression can lead to irritability and meanness. According to the NIH, it can also cause increased anger, feeling on edge, and becoming negative. Once more, this often reflects their internal feelings rather than their feelings toward others, like you. Recognizing the link between mental health and behavior can explain why someone may be acting mean.

You Are Triggering Unpleasant Memories or Feelings

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You may not know it, but your presence or actions may inadvertently trigger the person who is being mean to you. They may have unconscious associations with you from past negative experiences. Emotional triggers in interpersonal dynamics are complex, so you should try to be understanding while distancing yourself from the negative situation.

It Is a Learned Behavior

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Certain people adopt mean behaviors from their family or social environments. This is often learned by observation of others acting mean and the interactions they have with other people. While not an excuse, you should attempt to understand the impact of surroundings on personality development.

Inebriation or Substance Use

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American Addiction Centers says, “Alcohol encourages people to engage in behaviors they would typically suppress, like aggression.” Alcohol and drugs both impair people’s judgment and inhibitions, potentially causing heightened aggression or meanness when intoxicated. If someone you know is mean only when under substance influence, you know why.

Their Temperament and Personality

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A lot of the time, it’s nothing that you’re doing that is causing someone to be mean to you—it’s simply their innate personality traits influencing their behavior. Some individuals are naturally more prone to meanness. Genetic factors could also play a role in their personality development. We suggest steering clear of these people!

They Are Experiencing Grief or Loss

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The pain of loss or grief can lead someone to lash out at others. This is because these are both intense emotions that can make people act out of character. Grief truly does have a transformative effect on behavior.

They Feel Triggered by Your Actions

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Your behavior might inadvertently trigger a reaction. You may not realize it, but you could have done something to hurt or annoy the person who is now being mean to you, which is causing their negative behavior. It’s important to be self-aware in your interactions to avoid this.

They Want to Teach You a Lesson

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You may perceive their behavior as mean, but the person acting this way might see the way they’re treating you as a form of tough love or correction. It’s important to differentiate between constructive criticism and controlling behavior. There’s also a thin line between helpful and hurtful intentions.

They’re Going Through a Rough Patch in Their Life

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Personal struggles can lead to mean behavior, which may be what is going on with the person treating you badly right now. Stress and challenges can truly affect interpersonal interactions. While it’s not an excuse for someone to be abusive, try to understand what the person is going through and why they may be acting this way.

They’re Dealing With Emotional Issues

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Similarly, emotional turmoil can manifest as meanness. According to Healthline, emotional distress can affect people’s moods and cause unusual irritability or aggression, which can in turn yield relationship conflicts. Mental health can have a big impact on behavior and actions, which may be the cause of someone’s meanness.

They Desire Attention

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Seeking attention through negative behavior is not healthy, but it happens. Someone could be acting mean because they want you to react and give them your attention, even if it is negative attention. Or they could want the attention of other people who witness the behavior. Either way, it’s best to ignore this person and remove them from your life where possible.

They Are Shallow and Arrogant

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Arrogance and superficiality often lead to meanness. This type of person will target those they perceive as weaker or nicer. Believe In Mind says, “Don’t take the bait. Shallow people often try to provoke reactions and make you feel insecure. Remain calm and detached from their actions.”

You Have a Toxically Positive Attitude

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Excessively positive attitudes can inadvertently trigger meanness in others. This occurs when an individual’s constant optimism dismisses or invalidates genuine emotions, creating frustration among those seeking empathy for their real-world challenges. Striking a balance between maintaining a positive outlook and acknowledging the complexities of human emotions is crucial.

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