How do i get over my fear of intimacy in friendships, and actually let myself get into close friendships and not push people away? Help me sort out my problems with intimacy and social anxiety, and fix it.
posted by anonymous to human relations (8 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Usually this question comes up in the context of romantic relationships. I've read through the series of MeFi questions, but I can't find anything on this - so here goes.
I am a male in my late twenties, and live in an east coast city (ECC). For work, I have been temporarily sent out to a west coast city (WCC). My time here so far (just a few months) has been helpful in giving me perspective to a problem that I have been ignoring for years.
I have been here a few months in WCC, and have a few months left before i go back to ECC. I don't know that many people here, and the loneliness has hit me pretty hard. When I talk to people from back here, they expect me to be having a lot more fun than i am, and I'm just miserable.
What i've realized here is that I have deep intimacy problems. I realized that back in ECC, I do know a lot of people - I just don't let them very close at all. I have a lot of casual acquaintances, and sort of have a busy enough social life, but I don't have lots of close friends. Living in WCC, since i'm alone a lot more, has given me a lot of perspective on this...
I had moved a lot in my early twenties, and I kept on trying different places - and I've finalyl realized that it wasn't the place - it was me! It was my fear of letting people get close that pushed people away.
Part of this problem comes from a fear of intimacy, and part of it comes this fear that people think that I'm a socially awkward friendless loser, so I try to build up my life in a way that seems more active and social that it is. And most people think I have a far more active social life and romantic life than I do.
So, you know how some guys have a number of girls in their life, and the presence of other (available) girls in their life makes them more desired by other girls? (which isn't healthy, i know).
I have that mentality when it comes to relationships as well, even though (obviously) that doesnt work at all. I think what it is, is that i am afraid to let people close to me know how vulnerable I am, so I hang out with different people and hold them at arm's length, even when they want to get closer.
So I'm always 'looking' for new friends, even though I have people in my life already.
I think I'm worried that I will get into a friendship with someone, and that we won't click - and that i won't be able to extricate myself (I feel like this happened before to me in college - i got in with a group of friends that i found myself very different from, and leaving was awkward and painful for all involved)
(Romantically, this has not worked well at all either - I have slept with many girls but i won't let them get close emotionally to me either)
I have a lot of individual relationships, all with different groups of people. Some of them are very, very different from each other. I have this fear of them not getting along, so I never bring different groups together, and I think people seem slightly off-put by that fact. But bringing them together generates such huge amounts of anxiety for me that I get scared and won't do it. For instance, I went out about four times last week with different people - but I never brought them together or invited one from one outing to another.
Or another example - i haven't done anything for my last couple birthdays - everyone always expects me to do something and have a big gettogether, and people always ask me when i'm planning to gettogether or the party for (the answer? i get so stressed out about it that i hunker down, and dont do anything, and mumble some answer about how i was too busy to plan anything)
But again, I think it's the fear that people will see a vulnerable me - so i put up a false facade that everything is great and there's nothing to worry about and that i have a super exciting life.
Otherwise, things are good in my life, there is no reason for me to struggle. I have a well-paying, very stable job making in the high five figures, no outstanding debt, very well educated, and no real struggle on that side of life. In this economy, I know this is worth a lot and I am thankful for that each and every single day.
What i just want is to be happy and not be lonely and have CLOSE friends. I need to change, and I need to figure out the best way to fix things and get things on track before I leave WCC and go back to ECC.
I do have kinda bad bouts of depression (medical, not situational), and social anxiety as well.
Thoughts on the best way to approach therapy (to find one), good books to read, and any way you have pulled yourself out of a situation like this would be appreciaetd. I have been like this for too long.