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The Truth About Mean Guys That “Like You”

We’ve all heard the age old adage growing up: 

“He’s mean to you because he likes you.” 

In grade school if a boy pulled your hair or tripped you at lunch, we were meant to believe that it was because he secretly had a crush on us. But, what about now? If a guy is purposefully mean to you, is it because he’s a bad guy? Or, is that just his way of showing you that he cares? 

To put it simply, the answer is no. 

It’s unfortunate that girls growing up were taught to accept the treatment from a boy that they believed “liked” them. (It’s also unfortunate that growing up it was a rarity to see someone telling that boy that he being nice was a better way of showing his feelings.) Still, this seems to be a traditional lesson brought down by parents that learned it as a child from parents that learned it as a child. 

Many would argue that as a child, a boy being mean to a girl that he likes is just a harmless way of showing that he cares. But, at what age does this meaning change? 16? 18, when he’s legally an adult? 21, when he’s able to put something in a drink that he buys for someone else? If this guy has been told his whole life that this is how to get the attention of someone that he is interested in, then at what age does that go away? And, at what age do we as women stop accepting this BS saying as our reality? 

Well, we don’t have an answer for the first series of questions. But, we can tell you that now is the time to take a step back from the boys who mistreat you, and take a look at what their actions really mean. 


If he purposely ignores you whenever you’re around his friends, 

then he’s not as into you as you may want. Why wouldn’t the person that you’re with want to show you off to their buddies? If he cared, he’d introduce you to them, and have you join in on the conversation. If he’s able to have a full on conversation with a group of his boys, and you stand there feeling like an outsider, it may mean that he doesn’t value you being around as much as you had originally thought. 


If he goes out of his way to make you jealous, 

then that should be a huge  red flag. A guy that is genuinely into you won’t want to make you jealous. Jealousy is a tricky emotion, and can often times break down someone’s self confidence. If your guy is overly-flirty with girls, or acts suspicious about his text messages (when really, there’s nothing going on), he wants you to feel a little more self-conscious. It’s also a way to boost his ego, knowing that he can make your blood boil. If your guy does this, the number now way to ensure that your relationship doesn’t work out is to turn around and try to make him jealous. This is just a recipe for disaster, and a sign that you both may not be made for each other. 


If he brushes off your concerns about anything that matters to you by telling you that you’re “overreacting,”

he legitimately doesn’t care. If he cares about you, then he cares about what you’re going through. This doesn’t mean that he brushes off the fact that you popped the belt loop on your favorite pair of skinny jeans. This means that he isn’t bothered that you failed one of the most important tests of the semester, or that he’d rather play Call of Duty than hear about the fight you had with your father. When you have genuine problems in your life, and he couldn’t care less, and then has the nerve to tell you “you’re overreacting,” then that may be a way of him showing his actual level of interest.



If he is physically abusive towards you, 

run, (if you can). 

There is absolutely no excuse for your SO to physically abuse you. There’s no “I made him mad,” or “I deserved it,” or “He said he was sorry, and that this would be the last time.” Someone that hits you or otherwise abuses you is dangerous, and very clearly does not care about your wellbeing. While it is completely your decision to give the first time a pass, it’s still a very risky situation to be in if you can get out of it. 

Still, there are times when you can feel trapped in a relationship. If you are worried that your partner may be even more of a threat if you try to leave the situation, then enlist in some outside help. Some relationships like this are hard to leave, so if you need help from your family to a court system, then that is what you do. There is no shame in self-preservation. 



Guys that genuinely like you will not look to hurt you emotionally or physically. They care about whether or not you feel disrespected. That is the bottom line. When someone cares about another person, they do not go out of their way to belittle or demean them. So, if a guy is mean to you, disrespects you, or purposely hurts you, he does not like you. He likes that he can get one over on you, and know that you’d still be by his side. 

If this is someone that you really care about, talk to him. Make him see that this is behavior that you won’t tolerate anymore. If he brushes it off or ignores you, then walk. That is a guy that does not know how to respect other people, or rightfully care for someone. And there are plenty of guys that know the best way to win a girl over doesn’t start with making her feel like crap. 


My name is Maya Dartiguenave, and I am a senior at the University of North Florida. I'm a communications major, with a focus in public relations. Reading, writing, anything to do with words is what holds my true interest, which is why I'm so happy to be a part of Her Campus! I'm so excited to have started UNF's chapter of Her Campus!While I claim to be a Florida girl for now, my heart belongs to Philadelphia, always. (Go, Eagles!) I hope to move away from Florida after graduation, work my way through grad school, and begin my career in publishing. The future is definitely going to be an adventure, and I can't wait for it! 
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