Once upon a time, there was a little girl who liked everybody. She quickly learned that not everybody liked her. Sometimes it felt like nobody liked her. she spent a few years trying to do things that would make people like her. Her first lesson was that once someone decided they didn't like you, they rarely changed their minds.
As she got older, she realized that a lot of the reasons people had for not liking her were, basically, silly. They didn't like her because she was fat. They didn't like her because she got better grades without studying half as hard. They didn't like her because she didn't like what they liked or want from life what they wanted.
Finally, she said "Aw ***k it!" and she did what she wanted to do. Now there were even more people who didn't like her. She just didn't care any more. After awhile, she started having people come to her. They seemed to like her!
Mostly these were men. They didn't like her as a girlfriend. They liked her as a friend friend. Now she was not so little, and sometimes she wanted them to like her as a girlfriend. She quickly learned that many of the reasons men liked women "that way" were also, basically, silly. so finally she said "Aw ***k it" to that too. Almost as soon as she did, someone began to not just like her, but love her "that way."
Here's what she has learned about being liked. Some people will like you for your looks. Some people will like you for what they can get from you. Some people will like you as long as you meet their expectations. Some will like you because you make them laugh. Some will like you because you listen to their problems. These people will all desert you if your looks go, you quit giving them more than they give you, you fail at something, you get serious, or you have the audacity to want them to listen to your problems. ~You can probably guess what I have to say about these people. :)~~
It is the rare person who likes you for who you are. Even rarer is the person who likes you for who you are when you're different from them or what they think you should be. I think this is true for men as well, but not to the extent it is true for women. I have come to believe that what people want from women is that you make them feel good about themselves, no matter how they make you feel about yourself.
I have never mastered the art of living with myself when I'm stroking the ego of someone who wants my admiration and wants me to respect them while they never give a thought to reciprocating. I've watched other women, and I've heard what they say when the person they've just been buttering up walks away. I watched women at work flutter their eyelashes and talk subserviently to some man who has authority over them but basically sees them as a piece of furniture, sometimes a step ladder. This is one of those "people skills" I lack.
As a young adult, I thought education, competency at my work, and civility would carry me through. I quickly learned it would be better to be really pretty, act a bit dumber than I am, and make all the men feel big and strong and desirable, and make all the other women feel pretty too. That made me barf.
So now I can say that it has been close to 25 years since I've made a really close female friend, when my friend from childhood died about 9 years ago, that was the last living female friend I had with whom I had an equal exchange of confidences. The last close female friend I had made after age 18, as I approached 30, betrayed me in ways it is still painful to think about. There are a lot of women I like, but until very recently, I have not allowed any to get close enough to ever do damage to me That has been made easier by the fact that I haven't worked in a long time, due to SLE, and I didn't have children. Still, I would say this to any woman.
Like your self, and protect yourself from being used. Beyond that, don't worry about whether others like you. If you really like yourself, it doesn't matter whether anyone else likes you. People who do like you when you aren't worrying about who likes you are people who are most likely to hang in there when things get rough, and when you get rough.