9 Signs Someone Is Low-Key Desperate

Is the person you’re talking to desperate, or just friendly?

desperate girl begging Luis Molinero / Shutterstock

One of the most common tropes in teen movies is the loner girl who wants to fit in with the "in crowd" at school. You know the one — the girl who might be overweight or plain, or the one who just doesn’t quite have the right clothes to fit in the right way.

Though I have a lot of bones to pick with teen movies, the truth is that this trope is one that’s very real to many people in high school.


How do I know? Well, duh, I was that girl. 

Like many people who had a hard time in school, I was the type of person to end up replaying things over and over in my head. After decades, I kinda figured out why I kept having the same situation happen over and over again.

It often feels like certain people are more prone to being outcasts than others, even when they have uniforms and stuff. Truth be told, it actually took me stepping away from everyone to figure out what the problem was.

I was low-key desperate, and desperation is human repellent.

The thing is, it can be hard to tell if someone around you is a desperate individual or if they are just super-friendly. These signs suggest that you (or the person you’re talking to) are low-key desperate for friendship…or more.


RELATED: 15 Signs You're Trying Way Too Hard To Be Liked

Here are 9 signs someone is low-key desperate:

1. They keep making plans with you, even though you always break them or never reply

Did you ever have someone who kept hitting you up, even when you feel like you’ve subtly made it clear you don’t want to see them?

Speaking as someone who’s been that person, it’s an act of desperation. They desperately want to be your friend or date.


When you don’t have a lot of friends around you, you start having grandiose delusions. You start thinking, "I know this person is currently repulsed by me but if they give me a chance and hang out this one time, they’ll like me!"

Blame it on movies that show the nerds fitting in or whatever, but this is a common occurrence. It also tends to be a dead giveaway that you are desperate for some kind of human interaction.

In reality, when people reject you, it’s best to realize they see you’re not compatible with them for one reason or another. Maybe they’ll change their minds later, but begging them for a chance is not going to do that.

2. You’ve caught them giving you "pick me" eyes when you’re talking about having plans with others

Look at this scrunch-snoot pup. Do you see him begging? Do you see those big brown eyes begging you for a treat?


When someone is low-key desperate to join a clique or get the attention of people around them, you’ll see them make a similar expression.

Their eyes basically plead with you to invite them along. Depending on who it is, it can be pretty overt or fairly subtle. But it’s hard not to notice that look of mixed hope and beseeching on their face.

I’ve been that doggo. It sucks because that means they know asking to join in is kind of weird, but they want to ask, but they also know the people who they want to ask are going to say no.

3. The person in question is offering sex in exchange for friendship or trying to offer friendship in exchange for sex

Yeah, I’m not going to front. When I was very lonely, I basically allowed people to be intimate with me even when they weren't the least bit interested in me.


Why? Because it was either that or I go months (literally) without anyone talking to me at all. It was abusive towards me, but if I didn’t give in, I lost anyone I had around me — even on a superficial level.

Most of the time, men who are desperate make the mistake of trying to turn friends into f-buddies.

They may have good friends, but they aren’t their friend’s "type." So, they try to extract sex out of people. A lot of them, on the down-low, realize their behavior is coercive. They don’t care.

Those who don’t realize it’s coercive often end up wondering what they should and can do to fix things. This often leads them to bad dating advice and incel-like groups. But honestly, that’s a whole ‘nother article.


RELATED: The Real Reason It's So Hard For Adults To Make New Friends

4. They make a point of flashing cash and frequently offer to fund outings you turn down due to funding

How someone treats money tells you a lot about where they are in their life and mind.

It only really struck me how much it shows recently. Lately, I noticed that there are three particular moves socially desperate people make with money:

  • They flash it. As I’ve said before, I’ve met a lot of rappers and a lot of hype beasts. The rappers who I met tend to flash cash as a job, if even. Most of the people I see who do this, do so because they don’t really know how to attract others to them without it.
  • They act like sugar mommies and sugar daddies. Many people I know who "sugar" act this way because they really just feel alone or cornered. It’s also a Wall Street thing, but mostly, it’s people who live out a fantasy.
  • They knock down rejections for hanging out by offering to pay. This can be either courtesy or desperation. When it becomes a regular thing and you notice there’s an insistence, then it’s desperation.

5. They are always free, even when they shouldn’t be

Whether it’s for a relationship or a friendship, desperate people always make a point of clearing out their schedule — just in case someone wants to pop by.


You know, in case anyone decides to give them a chance.

Just in case.

Because they have no one else to talk to and nothing to do.

At times, it’s easy to do this unintentionally. When you sound like you have nothing going on, it’s easy to end up sounding like you’re desperate when you’re not.

6. It seems like they are always trying to insert themselves into things

A person who is overtly desperate will usually do major grabs for attention — things like insulting people to get a rise out of them, being loud for no reason and trying to get into peoples’ personal space. They also tend to cling a bit.

If someone’s low-key about it, though, you might be hanging out with people and then they’ll start to talk about some drama happening between people. Or they may dish secrets about other people to get some attention to them.


That’s desperation talking. When you are desperate, you don’t mind dragging others in the mud to get what you want.

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7. It’s clear that they are settling for people who treat them like dirt

I’ve been that person. When you don’t have any other options and you can’t seem to find anyone, you learn to tolerate people who treat you poorly.

You start to say, "Something is better than nothing," because you get so sick and tired of being alone.

And it sucks because everyone who sees this tells you that "it’s better to be alone than to be with the wrong crowd." 

It’s true, but it doesn’t solve anything as far as your current situation goes. So, you settle to hang around scumbags and bullies.


If you notice that a certain person just kind of "lays back and takes it" when others insult them, it’s partly due to low self-esteem and it’s partly because they’re desperate for anything social.

Until they stop giving a crap or find a new thing to do, they’ll keep settling for less.

8. They are resentful or have recently blown up at people around them over ignoring them

If a person who is desperate for friends or a relationship is left alone for too long, it will affect their mental health. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

More often than not, people who have been unsuccessful in getting connections will have a breaking point.

When this happens, they’ll make remarks about being left out. They may also make self-deprecating jokes or start to dig at people who they feel jilted them.


At this point, it may not actually be subtle anymore — unless you’re like me and think subtle involves being bludgeoned over the face with a carp.

The real tell is when someone publicly goes out and says that they are alone, they feel neglected and they can’t take it anymore. (Also, been guilty of that. A lot.) It’s cringe behavior that sometimes is irresistible to people who feel like they are not getting attention or help or connection any other way.

I mean, I’ve been there. I understand how that toxicity breeds. Unfortunately, it usually takes a lot of therapy, a brand new (and distracting) hobby, and a new change of scenery to get out of that situation.

9. They pay an inordinate amount of attention to their looks and status

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with self-care and looking cute for cute’s sake. However, there’s a difference between that and going balls-to-the-wall on all things looks.


Unless you are trying to be an influencer, a model, or a YouTuber for a career, chances are that you don’t have to worry about your looks too much.

There’s nothing wrong with looking cute on Instagram, but there is something that goes wrong with trying to look runway-chic every day.

If you have to spend two to three hours getting ready to go to the mall, there is something going on that’s not healthy. If you constantly have everything photo-ready and are asking randos to pose with you on Insta, there is a problem.

Usually, it’s low-key desperation. This is done as a way to try to get attention of any sort from people.

The idea is simple: people want to hang out with high-status, good-looking people. By going all in on looks, they think it will attract others.


Sometimes, it works. But if you take it too far, it often doesn’t.

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