7 Harsh Signs Someone Is Threatened By You

They may be smiling when they see you, but do they actually see you as a threat?

two women on a bench

My husband was a full-time DJ…until the people in the local scene collectively decided to stop booking him. They kept offering to rent his equipment, often asking him to pay his own entrance at the club.

Things got worse. Soon, people were trying to book him for free, often at slots that were for newcomers.

My husband is not a newcomer and actually gained recognition from international headliners for his work. He deserved a better slot.


Eventually, people started saying that his popularity was based on his looks. They accused him of being fake or having me carry him through his career. The people who did this got very two-faced with us, so we left. We were told by multiple people, in no uncertain terms, that certain people were jealous of him and felt threatened by his success.

That’s fine. I feel betrayed and so does he, but we’re doing our own thing now. I kind of blame myself for letting this go on as long as it did. There are always subtle clues you should watch for when someone is threatened by you. Looking back, these warning signs are the ones that should have tipped us off.


RELATED: 5 Immediate Signs Of A Toxic, Passive-Aggressive Person

Here are 7 harsh signs someone is threatened by you:

1. They spread rumors about you and badmouth you

This is the number one way to tell if someone low-key is threatened by you, full stop.

Do they tell others you’re awful? Do they lie about you? When you showed up, were you greeted warmly followed by an inexplicable ice-out?


Even if they seem nice to your face, the fact that they’re doing that means they are threatened by you — assuming that you did nothing to them, anyway. (If you earned that bad rap, you earned it and should work on damage control.)

People who are threatened by you are looking to push you out ASAP. This means that they will make stuff up to dissuade others from hanging with you if they can’t find any legitimate reason to hate you.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Tone Down The 'Intimidation Factor' And Make Him Want You

2. They tell you to "check your ego," or make a point of telling you that you’re not so hot

Fun fact: I wrote a whole article about this phenomenon I noticed. Whenever people say that you should "check your ego," it translates into "You’re a threat to me because you’ll outshine me and I know it."


I have yet to ever see this behavior be anything other than insecurity lashing out and an attempt to control someone’s shine. It’s awful.

If you notice this behavior, your best bet is to either avoid the person entirely or ignore them. It depends on the role that they play in your life.

RELATED: Why We Should Never Tell Our Kids "She's Just Mean Because She's Jealous"

3. They actively sabotage you but try to make it look like your failure

I see this most often in corporate settings, particularly when a boss wants to fire you and moves the goalposts so that you can’t actually work. However, it can also happen with colleagues and even subordinates.


One time, I even heard of a coworker altering spreadsheets to add errors in them for the sole purpose of getting their target fired.

Most of the time, though, it’s way more subtle and done by moving goalposts.

This is like having the Queen Bee of a group of friends say you can’t sit with them until you lose weight. When you lose weight, they come up with another carrot to dangle or tell you that you’re too skinny.

Infuriated yet? Oh, wait until you actually get slammed for something else they told you to do or neglected to tell you to do. When you raise objections about this, the people who do this often say, "It’s not my fault you did this!"


RELATED: 6 Signs Someone Is Lying About You To Everyone — And What You Can Do About It

4. They encourage you to hurt yourself

Perhaps the most pervasive way that people show they feel threatened is the way they encourage others to behave.

We all know good advice when we see it, which is why you should hit the pause button when you hear people encourage you to do things that don’t feel right.

This is insidious because this behavior often comes from people who are supposed to look out for you. It can be any of the following:

  • The church counselor who gives you advice they know will hurt you. I often see this type of behavior in Christian fundie circles — particularly with female church elders who are jealous of the looks of younger women.
  • The friend who has a crush on the same guy as you, warns you that he’s "just going to cheat on you." We all have had that one Pick-Me friend in our flanks. This is a classic sign of a bad friend, too.
  • The coworker who tells you not to pursue a certain job role. How strange! That coworker applied for that very same gig! Coincidence? Nope, never.
  • The people who tell you others hate you when there’s really no reason to believe that. This is a way of knocking you off your feet to try to get you to f*** up your relations with those people.

When it feels like people are trying to get you to slip up or make bad decisions, it’s time to hit the pause button and ask why.


More often than not, they have a motive that involves knocking you off your feet so they can steal the spotlight.

RELATED: What Men Really Mean When They Say You're 'Intimidating'

5. You have traits and skills you know they probably want

I’ll be real. Most of us are totally oblivious to how others perceive us.

I, for example, didn’t realize that a lot of women were threatened by me because I had a good figure back in my 20s. That remained true even when I was a model!

Had I realized how threatened so many women were by beauty and sexuality, things would have made a lot more sense in my life. It sucks because all I wanted from them was their friendship.


If you’re reading this, you might be in that boat right now.

Sometimes, people just don’t click. That’s not being threatened by someone. That's just someone being an a**hole to you.

However, if you have reason to believe that they would be jealous of your social life, skills, looks or connections, it could be that they are threatened by you.

RELATED: 20 Things A Woman Will Do When She’s Jealous Of You


6. They try to undermine your confidence in yourself

Did you ever notice how narcissists seem to be threatened by everyone who isn’t praising them and "less than" them? It’s a thing that almost everyone notices to some degree. 

When someone’s threatened by you, they are going to make you want to shrink down.

They often do this by a wide range of methods — most commonly, through ridicule, could-shouldering and negging. (Yes, your dates can be intimidated and threatened by you as well.)

If it feels like people are trying to throw you off your vibe by being mean for no reason, it’s likely a matter of being threatened. Something about you triggers them.


It sucks when you realize people hate you because they see you as out of reach. This is not your fault, but it is your responsibility to react to it by leaving those people in the dust.

How they react to your success is not your problem.

RELATED: Science Confirms Men Are Intimidated By Smart Women

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.