17 Silent Signs You Rub People the Wrong Way and Don't Know It

Here's your master class in taking a hint.

jealous husband

"Am I annoying?" is a question everyone has wondered, at one point or another. No matter how good of a person you are, even the best of us screw up occasionally. We all have rubbed people the wrong way or gotten on someone's nerves, even if our intentions came from the right place. But since people rarely tell us when we've crossed a line, it's up to us to figure it out on our own. To offer you some guidance on when you're bothering someone, here are 17 subtle but unmistakable signs that your behavior is bugging everyone around you.

Friends have stopped calling, emailing, or texting you back.


An unreturned phone call is one thing. A missed email response or two, hey, it happens. But when you can't even get a text reply out of them anymore, it might be time to admit that you're no longer on their shortlist of close confidantes.

They're avoiding your personal space.

upset older woman earliest signs of alzheimer's

In general, it's a good thing if somebody isn't getting so close that you feel like your personal space is being invaded. But it can work the other way as well. If they're noticeably moving away from you if you try to get too close, or maintaining such a larger-than-usual distance from you that it starts to feel weird, this could be a subconscious signal. When you take one step forward and they take one step back, they're telling you, "Back off, buster!"

Nobody argues with you. Ever.

man and woman arguing outside, things you should never say to your spouse

You only fight with the ones you love. That may not make much sense in theory, but there's more truth there than you realize. If somebody argues with you, it's because they legitimately care about your opinions and want to change your perspective. If people you consider your friends never push back and argue with you, even when you know that they know you're wrong, that likely means they've given up on you.

They sigh. A lot.

woman exasperated with impolite people

A sigh isn't just a sigh, at least according to researchers out of Norway, who found in a 2008 study that people tend to sigh when they're in a negative mood, or as a "sign of disappointment, defeat, frustration, boredom, and longing." So, if someone sighs in your presence, it might be a red flag that they're less than overjoyed with your company.

You're never in group photos on social media.


Yes, most of what's on social media is fake. As countless studies have shown, people tend to present a socially desirable reflection of themselves on sites like Facebook and Instagram. It may not be the reality, but it's the reality they want to present to the world. And if you're not included in any of it, well, that's a bad sign.

They don't "hear" you.

50 compliments

If someone is suddenly aurally challenged, that doesn't always mean they don't want to talk to you anymore. But there's a chance that they're sparing your feelings that they don't like what you just said. After all, pretending not to hear somebody is easier (and certainly more tactful) than just ignoring them outright.

You go in for the hug, they go for the handshake.

black person and white person shake hands, skills parents should teach kids

The physical touch of another human being causes our levels of oxytocin to rise, which reduces fear and increases trust, generosity, and empathy. Refusing that contact, or insisting on the least-possible level of physical interaction, can only mean that someone is not ready or willing to feel that level of empathy and trust with you.

You hear about parties after the fact.

higher energy person

Just learning that everyone you know was at the "party of the year" last weekend? It might've just been an accident, especially if the host insists they "totally emailed you an invite." But if it happens more than once, you might be getting left off the guest list for a reason.

​They avoid eye contact.

woman angry on a date

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The eyes of men converse as much their tongues." So if someone is looking anywhere but at you, chances are they'd rather be anywhere but with you.

They cross their arms whenever you're talking.


It's a classic gesture of defensiveness, a way of creating a barrier between you and something (or someone) you don't particularly care for. It's the opposite of opening and welcoming. It's saying, "No. Stay away. Whatever you're saying right now, I don't want to hear it."

They reasanswer a phone call while you're in the middle of a sentence.

bad date husband mistakes

It's possible they're just a self-centered jerk who doesn't realize what a social faux pas this is. Or, you might be being the insufferable jerk so they're answering a phone call while you're talking because they just can't with you anymore.

You don't get any of the inside jokes.

group of people laughing at joke

When someone tells a joke and everybody else is in stitches, but you're the only one who doesn't get it, there may be a reason for that. It could be that the joke had its origins when you weren't around, and nobody wanted you around, and you're now one of the outsiders that makes an inside joke so funny in the first place.

They don't ask you personal questions.

women talking, working mom

We all love talking about ourselves. That's just a given, right? And when people pry us to reveal more about ourselves, or ask follow-up questions, we tend to like them more—at least according to Harvard researchers. But when they avoid asking anything even remotely personal about you, that's a pretty big indication that you're not in the company of someone hoping for a long-term friendship with you.

They have emotionless responses.


If their responses to you are so monotone and unenthusiastic that you briefly wonder if you're talking to a robot, you really don't need additional evidence that this person would rather be in jury duty or getting outpatient surgery than having a conversation with you right now.

They look at other people when you're talking.

Online daters tend to pursue users who are roughly 25% "more desirable" than they are

Remember our earlier point about eye contact? If they're not looking at you, but they've locked eyes with somebody else in the room, and they're staring at this other person in a way that can only be described as a meaningful gaze, what you're witnessing is two people commiserating over how awful you are. Yeah, we know, that's kind of harsh. But it may be what's going on.

They talk over you.

man yelling Never Say to a Teacher

When you're annoying someone in an inescapable situation—say, at an office or family holiday party—sometimes their best strategy is to just initiate another conversation and steamroll over you. It's not pretty, but it can be effective. If you're mid-sentence with somebody and they've started a separate, louder conversation with another person standing nearby, take the hint and make yourself scarce.

They smile at you like they're waiting to get medical test results.

Senior woman with short gray hair talking to white male senior doctor, empty nest

You know the kind of smile we're talking about. It's a pinched, uncomfortable grin that says, "I'd rather be anywhere but here right now." And for more behavior that bothers pretty much everyone, check out these 50 Worst Pet Peeves Practically Everyone Finds Annoying.

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