How can I get over this certain kind of "friends" anxiety?
February 21, 2009 8:04 AM   Subscribe

How can I get over this certain kind of "friends" anxiety?

I think I have a sort of "loser anxiety syndrome".. for a lack of better terms..

I'm just going to describe it like I feel it.. it's that feeling that I need my phone to ring, or to have some kind of evidence--pictures, but best would be having another person in the picture. Like if a coworker comes over and we're just hanging out, on the inside I'm so desperately hoping my phone rings, even if it's a wrong number or something.

This happens after some time has passed though. Maybe, say the 3rd or 4th time we hang out. The first few times I don't care. It's after I see them enough times or there's some nonverbal sense of us heading to be friends. I guess my anxiety comes from the thought "I don't want this person knowing they're my ONLY friend".

I want them to have some external proof that they're not.. be it people calling me, or hearing me talk about other people.. as in "yesterday me and mike .. or yeah I have this friend, she .." whatever.. but I also can't lie.. I can't do white lies anymore cause I guess I've done that so much, I feel I need to just be "real" about it, but I can't. The loser factor is too much there. Maybe it is the type of people I'm choosing to be friends with too. Not flaky judgmental people, I mean they're good in that way, but they really have vibrant social lives, and maybe can't understand a person like me. These are the people with 128 friends on myspace, and new comments everyday. I'm the one with just Tom and no picture.

I can't seem to choose people I know will be more tolerant of it. I think I really am more like a social person, that's why. I can't hang with other loners, cause it seems they either choose it or it's some force beyond themselves.. while for me I think I don't chose it and people accept me but I just have really weird issues in my head.

Either way, I must of gone through hundreds of potential "friends" because I give up after it reaches that point.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If they don't like you, why would they be hanging out with you? Relax. Maybe invite a few people out to dinner together. For most people, "friends" aren't best bosom buddies forever, but rather just people that you know with whom you get along. If you do the setup, you can pick the people you like; they will meet each other and might like each other too.

It's a no-lose situation.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:12 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Therapy. If your anxiety is so pervasive that it causes you to give up on potential friendships because of your belief that you're not good enough on your own to be friends with, you should consult a professional about ways to control it and to improve your self-image.
posted by decathecting at 8:19 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

So, if I'm following this right: you're pushing away hundreds of potential friends, because you're worried they might think you're a loser because you have no friends, therefore you have no friends?

That's a pretty airtight self-fulfilling prophecy there.

Most people aren't going to care whether you have lots of other friends or only a few; if they thought you were a loser they wouldn't be hanging out with you in the first place (let alone three or four times.)

The obvious solution is for you to stop preemptively dumping people out of fear of some imaginary predicted behavior on their part which they've given no evidence that they'll actually do, and instead continue to hang out with them and be friends on the assumption that if they're hanging out with you, it must be because they actually like hanging out with you.

And if you do that with a handful of people, you won't have this problem with new people anymore because you actually will have other friends.
posted by ook at 8:21 AM on February 21, 2009 [6 favorites]

You could be a jewel to some peopleā€”an actual friend whose uncorrupted by their own social web.

Usually, the fact that a person isn't friends with everyone makes him or her a better friend, not a loser.

It's the clinginess that's difficult, and it's good for you to recognize that as the biggest barrier.

But don't push away friends only because you don't have any.
posted by trotter at 8:54 AM on February 21, 2009

Somebody close to you treated you poorly when you were young and you are approaching every situation using protective mechanisms you used to survive back then. Therapy will help with that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on February 21, 2009

I don't have your particular issues - I have a handful of people I consider good friends and probably another handful of less-good friends/acquaintances - however does it help at all for you to know that my phone NEVER rings when I'm with others? And they don't seem to care in the least. Nor is there much other evidence that I have other friends. Yes, I do have a Facebook profile with a decent number of 'friends' but (a) there's about zero activity on my account and (b) 95% of those 'friends' I haven't talked to in over 2 years.

I do have another issue sort of related to yours, which is that I'm very easily hurt when I propose plans with friends and they're not up for it (even if it's for a perfectly legitimate the way these are my less-good friends, i.e. ones I've met since I've moved to a new city, 2 years ago). And then I start to think about how I'm the one who always calls/emails/proposes plans, and they never do, and so I think I'll just let them make the first move the next time. Which is just shooting myself in the foot because it most likely means no social life for moi for a while until maybe they start to think they haven't heard from me for a while.

Anyway, social-ness is a spectrum and you, like me, are probably slightly to the right of loner but to the left of social butterfly. I agree with everyone else that your would-be friends probably don't really care very much about your roster of friends, but rather care a great deal more about whether it's enjoyable to be around you. And that you should explore these anxieties more, and also try to focus on just enjoying yourself - with or without the potential friends. And that goes for me too!
posted by goalie at 11:59 AM on February 21, 2009

You know the people that have 128 friends on Myspace/Facebook aren't really Good Friends with most of them, right? I have about that many people on my Facebook, but I'd say only about 5 are people who I would be cool with calling up to hang out for no good reason or who I'm comfortable enough with to really talk to (aka, "real" friends). And two of those people I've known for 20 years. Everyone else is old coworkers, a friend of a friend I met a couple times, people that are regulars at my favorite bar, people from the neighborhood I'm buddies with, my mom (oh, I've got other relatives in there too), etc. I was talking the other day about how I decide to approve someone who friend requests me, and I came up with "If I ran into them in the supermarket, would I say hi?" So yeah, if my 6th grade teacher wants to friend me (true story), so be it. Also, if people are getting new comments on their pages every day, it's because they're posting on other people's pages.

Please don't use these sites as a barometer of how awesome people are! I know someone who I think is a horrible, selfish person, but if you were to look at their Facebook page, you'd think he was #1 Awesome Guy. But people write on his wall because he spends hours a day writing on theirs, and gets kind of snarky if you don't return the favor. I guess he's looking for attention, which I think makes him a pretty big loser.

Anyway, I'm not saying these people are losers like this guy I know, but...they're getting back what they put out. If they're talking to people and sending them funny pictures and Happy Birthday messages online, they're gonna get that back. If they're calling people to hang out, they're gonna have someone to hang out with. You, on the other hand, are (perhaps subconsciously) putting out that you think you're a loser with no friends...and guess what.

I know it's hard (because on some level, I am totally right there with you, and I really do understand where you're coming from), but why not try inviting people to do things? If they can't, no big deal. Try again in a few weeks. I made sort of an unofficial resolution that I would say yes to every invitation (as long as I was available/could afford it) without expecting it to go anywhere, and just to consciously enjoy myself. Like, if it's a date, I won't sit there thinking, "Ok, should this guy be my boyfriend?" Or, if it's an acquaintance and we meet up for happy hour, I won't think about "Ok, will this person make a good friend? Can I trust them?" I just try to enjoy the moment, you know?
posted by AlisonM at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2009

If you were on facebook i'd friend you. if that would be of proximate help.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2009

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