Need help getting over my fear of intimate friendships
September 1, 2014 5:57 AM Subscribe
I have fear of intimacy issues - how do i overcome them? I'm currently a 33 year old male. I was pretty unpopular when i was in middle and high school - i was a particularly awkward kid and i often got rejected when trying to make new friends or invite people to things. I spent much of high school feeling particularly lonely or alone and isolated. Though the adult world is different, i'm still carrying these same fears and it's been terrible to my social and personal life. What are the best steps to work out of these?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I'm posting this anonymously because there's friends and coworkers that I know that read Metafilter (and you'll see why i'm insecure about it, below).
Going on to college - it was a totally different place. I was normal - but I carried this on-going fear of being not good enough - not cool enough - so that everytime I was welcomed into a social group I would stay somewhat at the fringes of it - making sure I was at the fringes of other social groups as well as to not put all my 'popularity capital' in one baskey. I would do this because I feel like I was scared of being seen as a fake or not worthy to be with that group. I would keep people in ALL these groups at arm's length and not tell them my fears, my worries, my emotions or anything else. So lots of people would know me and invite me to stuff. But they wouldn't know me well.
I would also try to get into really co-dependent relationships - having an attractive but needy girlfriend would give me the confidence to vault myself into lot of social situations where i was insecure about being unpopular. I would seek out someone that was younger and codependent so they were reliant on me as well so I wouldn't be dumped (like in the type of social manner that i was scared of above). It wasn't a healthy way to do things by a long shot but i did this a few times.
This has continued later in my life as well. I join a lot of activities because I am by nature curious and excited to try new things. But at the same time in all these things, I also keep people at an arms length. It is easier to get away with this now, becausein a professional, adult setting , people are busy this creates a dynamic where I know a lot of people and a lot of people know me.
To overcome some of my fear - I try to have solid social events to bring all the people I know together. I've successfully had house parties where 40-60 people show up - everyone has a great time, meets new people, loves coming (lots of friends and acquaintances have remarked how they always meet kind, friendly people there)
The secret? Everyone thinks I'm really super outgoing and have - well, basically a close ring of folks in my life. Which isn't true - i've held everyone at arm's length because i still have this ridiculous fear that people are going to discover the real, unpopular me (which is so ridiculous for someone in their early 30s - no one really thinks like that anymore). So people have tried to become closer friends with me (or think i already have that and no space for it), but it's all a lie.
I recently got out of a three year relationship a few weeks ago where I realized both my desire to seek a codependent partner was destroying my emotional wellbeing, and that was also keeping me from building close relationships with anyone else (because of my need to attend to her and my own fear of intimacy issues).
So Mefi- best suggestions for navigating my way out of seeking out codependent relationships AND also dealing with my fear of intimate relationships? Working on therapy but books or methods or different types of support groups are absolutely appreciated. I don't want to live like this anymore!