How do I stop acting like a complete weirdo? It freaks people out, which freaks me out, which freaks them out more on and on in an infinite cycle.
In many situations I seem to cause a lot of tension and nervousness/awkwardness to the people around me. I sincerely don't mean to but I'm not sure what to say/do or how to behave to put people at ease.
Some background and examples:
First of all, I've always been shy and introverted and have had issues giving off "mean" vibes growing up due to rarely smiling, and basically being that weird kid
that everyone wonders what happens to after high school. I've had tremendous trouble making and keeping friends my whole life (while there is no shortage of people who are friendly to me, in the long run most people can't stand to be around me too often without being severely annoyed). In my early 20's I finally learned how to be a little more friendly and smile more and have obtained a large handful of acquaintances, but still have difficulty creating any sort of close intimate friendships.
I realize this is due to the way I act; there are many social rules I'm only learning now through the power of the internet. Sometimes I read about certain unacceptable behaviors and suddenly realize why entire groups of people have frozen me out of their lives in the past.
I've learned to dress more flatteringly, and apply makeup and style my hair, so at least I appear
to be a normal person at first, but then once people start talking to me I say and do things (and probably have weird body language) that creeps people out. Examples:
- When I see people I know I blurt out "Hi!" to them, which creates some sort of awkward moment. Usually they make an uncomfortable face and say "hi" back, but seem pretty weirded out regardless. I usually smile and if they're a little far away I'll throw in a wave which makes people even more uncomfortable, and sometimes they nervously laugh or look away. It seems rude not to say hi to them, but is there a different way to greet people that won't freak them out? This happens extremely often and makes me feel embarrassed and sort of sad. Am I being too enthusiastic?
- Any place I go to get my hair or nails done I struggle to make small talk with the person doing my hair or nails. I'll laugh too much at small things (mostly out of nervousness) and smile a lot (too much) and not have anything interesting to talk about, then the remainder of the appointment is conducted in mostly silence. The hair stylist/manicurists are always nice to me but seem extremely relieved when I leave.
- My "closer" friends aren't afraid to crack jokes around me, but I never have any funny things to say in response. I usually just laugh the whole time, and then they get irritated that I'm laughing too much. I have no clue how to spontaneously make funny observations (when I do, nobody laughs). Sometimes they get so exasperated that they start to pretend that I am no longer there.
- I've never had a romantic relationship, ever. Guys have expressed interest but recoil once they get to know me a bit better. Unless I have something specific reason to speak, I am terrible to talk to on the phone and in real life. My conversations have a lot of long, awkward pauses for which I have nothing to relieve with a joke or anything at all.
- I especially freak out mid/upper class and highly educated people. If I'm with my sister they're very receptive around her but alone, they try to avoid me. Admittedly, I start to get more nervous when I realize my presence is making other people uncomfortable which makes me even more nervous which makes THEM more nervous, etc.
I'm awkward! This is not normal human behavior. It annoys everyone and it's affecting my social life, my professional life, everything. I get the same reactions around my family as well.
How do I even begin to stop being so weird?