Do People Mess with You More Because You're Big?

I live in Chicago and get exposed to a large number of people each day. I used to train for athleticism and started powerlifting about 2 years ago. I started to get big, and now I keep getting a lot of attention I don’t want. It’s really starting to F*** with my head. More people look at me as I walk by, which is starting to make me paranoid. Sometimes guys overreact in a macho way over basic things ( deepen their voice, act more aggressively ), and some just outright F*** with me. Some dude on a bicycle took a swing at my head the other day as I was walking to the gym. Literally, out of nowhere. I chased him, he took off. Just stupidity. These things never happened when I was smaller.

I was never actually “big” but even at my peak condition, no, nobody ever did that.

Is there some threshold at which people see another and say “I’m going to mess with that guy.” that I’m not aware of?

I’ve not had any issues with it. No one ever talks to me. My wife says its because I always look like I’m pissed off. In reality, I can’t see well and I’m always squinting which makes me look like I am mad.


If so I’m not aware either. I mess with a few big guys in my gym but it’s good natured. When I’m using 35 pound dbs and their using 65 or something I’ll smile and say why don’t you lift some real weight or something.

Then I get my ass kicked but I heard you have to make damages so your body rebuilds itself stronger. All part of the plan.


Yeah it does happen. Avoid eye contact( watch their hands and the direction of their feet to tell if the are going to try some shit on you).
There are some genuine tough guys, trained fighters that love to bash muscular dudes. They know that unless you also have training or experience most big dudes won’t do well against a trained fighter. They get to look tough taking out a big guy. It also happens a lot to shy, quiet big/tall guys who don’t have a mean bone in their body.


It’s mostly a jealousy issue I think. I have been “big” since High School (Upwards of 250 at 6’3 with a 1400lb 3 lift total) and have noticed the people who try and mess with me are usually about half my size. Also, “alcohol muscles” in college was a big deal. I use to bounce a lot of parties and it was always the guys who weighed maybe 160 lbs that wanted to start crap.
Never had a problem with other big guys for the most part.

It shouldn’t surprise you that, when you start to stand out, people start to notice that you stand out.

Every time it’s warm out, I have to make a calculated risk/reward decision on how much do I want to wear a tanktop and feel cool vs how much do I want to hear a stupid comment from some rando about my arms being big.

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No, if anything I would say the opposite is true, generally speaking.

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Had a neighbor who was 6’6" and wide as a door frame. Really built and never went to the gym, just installed sprinkler systems and smoked weed. He had a deep Lurch/Andre voice and a flat top haircut. He couldn’t go to some bars without beer muscle little guys wanting to start shit.

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That’s basically steroids.

So I’m gathering from the responses that there is actually a messing with threshold.

People say and do lots of funny and inexplicable things for all kinds of reasons. If you really want to experience the tapestry of odd behavior, take a job bouncing. You’re paid to stand there while people drink, and people say what’s on their mind when they drink.

As far as big/little guy violence breakdown, it favors the smaller guy. I’d say 3/4 people who attempted to harm me were well under 200. Of course, 3/4 of guys are probably under 200 to begin with, so that isn’t particularly surprising either.

I size guys up too, especially if I’m working, so I don’t put much stock into the behavior unless it turns into a problem. If I’m out and about I’m pretty good at ignoring anyone I don’t like, which is most people.

Some of the odder stuff I’ve experienced (again, mostly on the job, but not always)… Guys feeling your arms (I never flex for them, it’s a matter of principle). Guys like to paw up my traps too. Getting into a grip battle during a handshake is usually amusing. I get it buddy, you’re strong too.

It’s always fun to talk to someone bragging about achievements in the distant past or unverified stories of athletic or fighting glory. I’ve met a lot of guys who used to lift far more than I can now. Training a new bouncer can quickly become problematic when it’s done on the job, because every asshole overhearing the conversation knows better than you how to handle drunk people.

When an actual fight breaks out you see some interesting behavior too. Very few people actually want to throw down, but many are often ready to swarm in after the fight and act like they’re in charge. I also appreciate the tips on what I did wrong after stopping a fight and removing a customer. I’ll remember the devastating rib chop your uncle showed you next time I need to wrestle some idiot out the door.

Then there’s the text message tough guys, who’ve come in all shapes and sizes. It’s always amusing to get an unsolicited social media message from a guy I just threw out. So far, out of six or so such messages I’ve received, none saw fit to come back and follow up with whatever they said they were going to do.

As an aside, the best tip I ever got was from a group of 4 local bodybuilders who showed up one night. BIG dudes, all over 220 and shredded. I got like $60 from them and a “thanks” at the end of the night for not hassling them or even commenting on their size at all. I told them that being good at lifting weights and eating chicken doesn’t mean you can’t come here and have a good time. They were totally cool the whole night too. I don’t find it surprising that they get hassled for no reason. Those four guys going off would be a handful, for sure.

Boys are silly. Enjoy it or ignore it, it’s nothing to worry about if you have good conduct.


A lot of it depends on where you are (bar vs. grocery store), but yes, there are plenty of guys who will mess with you if you’re big. One of the guys at my college gym, a pretty impressive bodybuilder for being so young, would continuously get his ass handed to him at bars. Big part of it was that he’d party hard and be stumbling drunk, and made for a very easy target.

But this can happen anywhere, last time it did with me was walking with my woman at a park festival with food trucks, and some fat clown is saying “I think I can take him”. So I’m middle-aged, dressed in shorts & polo at a ‘family affair’, and you still get this b.s. But this dude was also inner-city trash, so it’s to be expected. When I’m in the suburbs, everyone tends to be friendly, not due to size, because I’m out enjoying life & not causing problems (imagine that)

Strangely enough, it seems like there is. People do, in fact, go out and select a target somehow with the intention of fighting. It’s happened to me a few times, and I’ve observed it happen to others on many occasions. I may be big and strong but I have a nice guy face, clean haircut with a neat beard, no tattoos and a calm demeanor. Aside from just being big, very little about my appearance is menacing. The last guy who targeted me was bigger, probably a rugged 220 and very menacing appearance and demeanor. 30-something biker with a big bushy beard, tats for days and an attitude to match. It was clear that his mission was to give me a hard time, disregard the bar rules and provoke a confrontation. He accomplished his mission, as have several others over the years.

As an aside, don’t grow a giant fuck-you handle on your face if you’re going to go around starting fights with bouncers. Its not scary and it’s very useful for whoever you decide to fight. If you want to look tough, grow cauliflower ears instead.

I’d even argue that most people who choose to bounce shouldn’t, for the basic reasons we’re talking about in this thread. It seems to draw people looking for an excuse to beat people up or with severely misguided ideas about their own capabilities. Same basic dynamic in play when some random person sizes you up, except you’re kind of there to be sized up and violence is all but guaranteed if you work enough shifts. It’s really the same stuff you can experience while out-and-about, just concentrated in a setting that seems to bring it out of people.

After four years of being on staff part-time, I’ve had a number of regulars come up and say “I wouldn’t mess with you”. I realize this is in good nature, but my stock response is…

“Why would you mess with anyone?”


If you get messed with, you need to do more work for your neck. Big, thick Pitt bull necks look tough.

If your body gets bigger while your neck stays the same it you look More chicken-necked and more of a target.

Nobody messes with Jon Taffer.


That has always been my m.o. when out and about, but the inverse has also been the people I ended up (no surprise) fighting.

I had a great talent for spotting the guy who was making his way around the bar screwing with people, then I’d just wait my turn.

Then free beers for knocking out the asshole!

That’s why I tend to move my operation inside once things start picking up, because these types usually fly flags that are easily visible with their behavior. The pool table is the nexus of fuckery in that bar. All kinds of petty squabbles start up for all kinds of reasons, especially when people are putting money on the games. It is in these moments when the wheels can start to turn in a slow brain…

“I could take that guy”…
“I’m not gonna stand here and let him make me look stupid”…
“I’m gonna fuck him up”…
“I’m angry because of how I was born”…
“As long as I get the first shot in”…

Then BOOM, we got a fight on our hands.

With probably 2/3 fights in that bar starting near the pool-table with pool players, we’ve thought about getting rid of the table altogether. I’m making the case for a stripper pole or a professional arm wrestling table in it’s place.

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Arm wrestling table seems like a good idea. A healthy, non-violent way to allow drunk guys to explore their machismo…also stripper pole…or maybe arm-wrestling strippers?

Nothing could ever go wrong with either of those setups. Turn your cap backwards and settle things like truckers, on the arm wrestling table.

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Stripper pole. Do karaoke stripping, where the patrons can cue up a song and take their shot at fame, fortune, and unresolved latent sexual desires.

Fights would virtually cease. Not many guys can fight with their pants off. Draped in a feather boa.

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We basically have stripper karaoke already, at least after 11pm or so. A number of our lovely regulars on karaoke night are, in fact, current or former strippers by vocation. Others are by choice of action in the bar.

Meanwhile, some guy is in the background stewing about something, probably sizing up the guy who is getting attention from the slutty girl instead of him…

Bar fight glory awaits the bold!

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