Why Do People Treat Me Badly - 17 Reasons Why People Treat You Badly and What to Do About It
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Sometimes it seems as though people consistently treat us so badly that we can’t help but wonder, “Why do people treat me badly?” These people could be our friends, colleagues, partners, and even our own family. For instance, the number of people treated rudely by their co-workers continues to rise as shown by this graph from McKinsey & Company.
In this far from ideal world, it is all but certain that you have experienced mistreatment from people at one point or the other. You’ve been treated poorly and treated like crap and it has gotten to the point where you are tired of being treated badly and want to know why this is the case.
Truth is, it could be any one of several reasons because humans are different and get ticked off by different things. What experts have observed, however, is that a significant number of those reasons stem from you as the individual being mistreated and allowing the behavior to continue.
This means that you might deliberately be sticking around a person even though they treat you badly for one reason or the other.
In light of that, we shall explore some of those things you might be doing to encourage being treated badly as well as what you can do to reduce or stop it entirely.
12 Reasons why people treat you poorly
Table of Contents
1. You keep hoping that they will change
Have you found yourself in a situation where you know you are being treated like crap and yet you stick around the person? Experts say that this could be because you are hoping that they will eventually change and start to treat you better.
This is not recommended because the person could take advantage of it to keep treating you horribly knowing full well that you aren’t going anywhere. This is especially the case in toxic sexual relationships and the reason why a common saying amongst those in such relationships is, “She/he treats me badly but I still want him.”
2. You have a Savior complex
When people mistreat you, what is your first instinct? Is it to feel sorry for them such that you try to talk to them so that you know how you can help them? If so then you have a savior complex where you feel you must save people around you that are going through bad times.
While this is indeed admirable, it does not apply to every situation. Some people will take it as a license to keep treating you like crap because they know you will find some way to deflect the blame from them. You do not have to save everyone – please know this.
3. You are impressed by their potential
Mistreated people in relationships, be it sexual, friendly, or professional, have been known to take abuse from people that they look up to. Because they believe that the person has potential – and by extension the relationship – they tend to stick around hoping that they can tap into this potential eventually.
This is why some people allow their partners to unfairly use them in relationships both financially or otherwise. It is also the same reason some people stick to an overbearing boss or mentor even if they aren’t benefiting much.
While it is good to have a future perspective on things, it is not good to hurt yourself for the sake of it. Ask yourself, if they are treating you in such a way now, how will they treat you when their potential manifests and they are more powerful? You deserve to be treated well and if they can’t do that, keep them at arm’s length. Chances are that they’ll wake up and become more considerate.
4. You accept their behavior as who they are
In this era where there is a lot of emphasis on accepting people for who they are, some use it as an excuse to project their crappy nature under the guise of, “it is who I am so you have to accept it.”
No, you do not. Stop accepting toxic behavior from people because it is their character. It is a scorpion’s nature to sting you but that does not mean that we have to accept it. Same goes for humans; if they have a rotten character, you do not have to stick around. If you are the type to accept bad behavior because you think it’s, “just how they normally behave,” you will find yourself asking the question, “Why do people treat me badly?”
5. You use the good times to cloud out the bad
When people treat you bad, especially those that you know and are close to, do you allow such behavior because you know that as much as things are bad at the moment, there will be good times later?
If you are, we get it. Humans have different phases and so might be going through things at that exact moment. What is not right, is when this becomes a pattern and instead of calling the person out when they mistreat you, you take refuge in the memories of happy times, biting your tongue till the good times come around again. This is the very definition of a toxic relationship. When someone treats you badly in a relationship, call them out and break the toxic cycle.
6. You have low self-esteem
Maybe one too many times you have noted that “Wow, people treat me like shit.” If that’s the case then it is time for some self-introspection and one of the main reasons this happens is that you might have low self-esteem.
The world is a brutal place where people pick on the ‘weak’ and if you don’t have enough self-esteem, the mean people of this world might take advantage of it to treat you horribly from co-workers to ‘friends’ to that driver that cut you off on the road. Take a good look at yourself and check for signs of low self-esteem and if you find them, work to free yourself from it so that you can assertively call people out when they mistreat you.
7. You have a fear of loneliness
You might be in a toxic relationship yet you can’t seem to leave but you also can’t help but wonder, “Why do I allow myself to be used and abused like this.” The answer, according to experts, is that you may have a fear of loneliness and so you try to please your partner by putting up with their rubbish so that they don’t leave you.
This leads to a situation where your partner has all the power and so continues to mistreat you because you are overestimating their value in your life. You need to remember that a relationship should build you not put you down. You also need to remember that there are a lot of people out there which means that you can find another partner just as you have found this one.
8. You did not establish boundaries
In the same vein, you might be asking yourself, “Why do people treat me like shit,” also ask yourself, “Did I set adequate boundaries?” You see, not all humans have common sense, and some of the ones who do can be quite sadistic. These two types of people might mistreat you if you don’t set the right kind of boundaries which can tell them where to get off.
In relating with people, therefore, you need to establish boundaries such that when they overstep, you bring them to the side and say, “Hey, we are cool but I don’t appreciate such things moving forward yeah? Please and thank you.” Now that they know your boundaries in that respect, they are less likely to cross them.
9. You are rewarding their bad behavior
Rewards encourage behavior. This is the basis of Classical Conditioning by Pavlov and why people who have worked really hard are rewarded with a raise. This is why you mustn’t reward people who mistreat you because they will do it again.
For instance, your girlfriend was mad at you during a minor argument and threatened to leave you, and then proceeded to give you the silent treatment. If your response is to buy her flowers and a gift to say sorry, sir, you should be asking yourself, “Why do I want to be treated badly” because that is exactly what is happening.
By giving gifts or failing to speak up or laughing with the person who mistreats you amongst other things, you are telling them that, “Hey, I don’t mind the mistreatment, please by all means continue.”
10. They are just mean people
There is also a chance that you are being mistreated by someone because they are simply horrible people. Maybe they were brought up that way or they don’t like you; they could also just be going through some things and are taking it out on you.
Point is, sometimes the answer to, “why do I get treated so badly by this person?” is that it has nothing to do with you. So just dust your feet and move on. If you can’t avoid them, keep them at arm’s length and if you can’t do that, find ways to cope that will help you tune them out and keep your mind at peace.
11. They have a personal bias against you
There is this one person who just has it out for you. They cannot seem to be pleased by anything you do and take every opportunity to mistreat you. That person might simply have a bias against you for whatever reason. They might be jealous of you, don’t like your character, or any other number of reasons.
There isn’t much you can do in that situation apart from talking with them to clear the air and if that doesn’t work, avoid them.
12. You upset them somehow
Sometimes we upset people and don’t even know it and so they mistreat us as a way to get back at us. It could be that we made a joke they did not like or did something to them that was not appreciated. Might even be that we wronged someone that they know. All these could be reasons why people might mistreat us and just like when they have a personal bias against us, the best way to solve this is to talk with them.
5 Ways to get through being treated badly
1. Take a break
When you notice someone treating you badly, the first thing to do is to pause and take a step back so that you can give yourself time to respond appropriately. Ask yourself exactly what happened and why you think it happened.
You can then ask yourself how it made you feel. These questions will help you get a clearer perspective of the situation as well as your feelings about it. From here you can then think about what you can do to stop such behavior from those doing it. The advantage of this is that you get to think about a way forward with a calmer mind rather than reacting in the heat of the moment.
2. Talk to the person with assertiveness
It is important that when you are treated badly, you make your opinion known when you can so that the person treating you badly can know that you do not appreciate what they did. When you do this, avoid being aggressive as much as possible as the tables could then be turned towards you.
Schedule a private meeting with the person or catch them when they are alone and ask them, “Why do you treat me so bad?” You must list specific instances they have treated you badly rather than generalizing. Also, try to listen to what they say to understand them as this would make for effective dialogue.
3. Set boundaries
If you keep asking yourself, “Why do people treat me badly?” or can’t help but wonder, “Why does everyone treat me like crap?” it might be that you are not setting the right type of boundaries with people. You need to make it known when someone does something that you don’t. This tells people that you have a line and if they want to keep relating with you, they should not cross it.
Much like talking to people who have mistreated you, it is best that you approach them in private first and explain your stance. This will reduce the probability of them being defensive and more willing to listen to you.
4. Avoid the person
What to do when someone treats you badly and refuses to stop even after you have spoken to them? Avoid them and if you can, cut them out of your life. This applies to family, friends, and romantic partners. You have only one life to live and you can’t waste it being put down by someone that you can leave.
Related article – When should you give up on a relationship.
5. Be kind to yourself
Above all, please be kind to yourself. You are a human being who is deserving of good things. You do not have to put up with people trying to bring you down. If it is an esteem problem, find a way to work on it to boost your confidence so that you can take on those trolls. You deserve better; remember that.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do you do when someone treats you badly?
- Take some time to reflect on the situation to find out what your feelings are about it and why you are tolerating the behavior
- Pull the person aside and talk to them about it. Make sure you are specific about the instances they treated you badly
- Set boundaries with that person
- Cut ties or avoid the person if they continue to treat you badly
- You can seek professional help from therapists and social workers if you feel you are unable to help yourself
2. How do you stop caring about someone who treats you badly?
- First thing to do is to walk away from that person
- Acknowledge your feelings about that person because ignoring them will be much worse
- Then acknowledge that they did not feel the same way
- Remind yourself that you have good qualities – list them – and them not treating you well is their problem, not yours.
- Work on yourself and live for yourself – engage in your hobbies, go out with friends, do the things you like.
3. How do you know if you’re being treated badly?
Signs you are being treated badly include:
- You are constantly the butt of jokes that belittle you
- You have to walk around on eggshells around the person
- You are always tired because you are expecting the person to flare up again
- Your opinions are not respected
- Your feelings are not acknowledged
- Your boundaries are constantly overstepped.
After all is said and done, even if you are encouraging people to mistreat you by not saying anything or sticking around, you have to know that you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. You are not the one mistreating yourself and so you are not the one with humanity issues, they are. You just need to find a way to not let their horrible ways affect you and you will be just fine.
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