Feel Like Your Friends Are Always Mad At You? Here's What To Do

Adult friendships can be incredibly difficult to navigate. Does your friend really have to work late again, or is she just avoiding you because she's secretly mad about the joke you made at brunch last Sunday? If you catch another friend rolling her eyes at one of your comments, is it because she actually can't stand you and only tolerates you because you are part of the rest of the friend group?


Constantly worrying over whether or not your friends or other loved ones are mad at you is distracting, painful, exhausting, and can become downright unhealthy. Yet, it is far from an uncommon experience. If you find yourself constantly agonizing over every social interaction you have with your friends, it's time to take back some of your energy. Here's how to examine your feelings about yourself and your friends and determine the best course of action to alleviate your anxieties. 

Identify the primary emotion

The feelings you experience, when you worry that a friend is mad at you, are typically not primary emotions. In these situations, you might feel angry, defensive, or anxious. These are secondary emotions and their purpose is to protect you from experiencing the more vulnerable primary emotions at their core. Accessing those primary emotions, however, is what is needed in order to process how you really feel.


The next time you feel like your friends are angry with you or have slighted you in some way, take some time to yourself to contemplate which emotions you're really experiencing. Try writing down your first reaction to what you experienced with your friend, then one emotion deeper, and so on, until you've reached the core emotion.

For example, if you felt angry when your friend appeared to be mad at you, perhaps the emotion beneath that anger was embarrassment or shame. Beneath that layer might lurk loneliness and under that, a deep-seated fear of isolation or rejection. Once you identify these emotions, it becomes clear that the issue is more about your own triggers than your friend's behavior.


Practice positive affirmations

A preoccupation with the way other people may feel toward you is often rooted in your beliefs about yourself. Addressing your own self-worth can help you feel more confident in your own ability to express yourself and maintain a healthy identity that isn't dependent on approval from others. One way to start increasing your self-worth is to begin using positive affirmations.


Create your own positive affirmations by writing down what you value within yourself on notecards. If you find this to be a struggle, consider it confirmation that building self-worth is where your attention needs to be focused. Are you a loyal friend? Write in on a notecard. Do you consider yourself intelligent? Nurturing? Funny? Avoid writing down attributes that come from a place of external validation, like "loved," "well-liked," or "popular." Instead, focus on traits that highlight how you exist as a whole, well-rounded person — with or without approval from others.

When you've finished, organize the cards into a face-down stack. Each morning, draw a notecard from the stack, repeat it to yourself a few times, and keep it in mind throughout your day.


Gather the facts

Sometimes, a situation can be diffused simply by stepping back, pausing your emotional reaction, and assessing the objective facts.

If you break down the interaction you're ruminating over, you might find that the facts of the matter don't really warrant the amount of attention you're giving away. For example, if you think your friend is mad at you because she has read your text massage but hasn't replied, it is a good idea to examine the facts. How long ago did she read the message? Does it actually require a reply? Is there anything going on in her life that could take reasonable priority over responding?


Another example: If your friend has a new baby, has recently started a new job, or hasn't been feeling well either physically or mentally, she is unlikely to prioritize replying to nun-urgent text massages in general. Take a look at the facts surrounding the interaction and you will likely realize that a one-off comment, tone, or small action actually has nothing at all to do with you.

Communicate with your friends

If you can't shake the sense that your friends are mad at you, sit down and have a conversation with them. While worrying about social rejection is often reflective of a person's own issues within themselves, it isn't always the case. If your friends actually are unhappy with you, the only way to resolve the issue is to have an open conversation with them about how each of you feels.


Friend groups change and evolve over time, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that you might be picking up on subtle shifts within yours that have you feeling uneasy. If these friends are no longer valuing your contributions, it's best for you to know that information as soon as possible so you can move on to cultivating other friendships that better serve your strengths and needs. You might find that surrounding yourself with the right friends quells your worrying about whether or not they seem mad at you.

Consider a professional assessment

If you've tried reasoning with yourself, increasing your self-worth, assessing your feelings, and speaking with your friends and you still can't shake the feeling of everyone being mad at you, it might be time for professional help. In particular, you may wish to be assessed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In addition to making causing symptoms that can make managing friendships challenging, according to the Cleveland Clinic, a common comorbidity of ADHD is a condition called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.


Women with ADHD are more likely to struggle with RSD than men with the disorder. Treating ADHD through medication, therapy, or a combination of both also treats the symptoms of RSD. If you feel like you've tried everything to no avail, reach out to a local or online mental health professional with your concerns. You don't have to live with anxiety, worry, or rejection sensitivity that disrupts your life.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.