I hate groups..
May 1, 2009 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I feel overwhelmingly anxious over sentimental-ish type situations, like seeing long lost friends, reuniting with family, etc.. to the point I avoid it entirely. How can I just ease off??

In the facebook era of running into all these people I knew it's making me face my biggest fears.

It's probably more emphasized with my family, since I haven't seen them in years and most of that has been voluntary on my part. But there never was bad blood, it was mostly me and being insecure over certain things, I had a really avoidant nature while I was with them (going off to other rooms to eat, not going to anything 'everyone will be there', etc)

So like my family, my old high school friends were like an extended family too. I was one of them, I assume that meant they must like me and thought of me as one of the crew, but I just drifted off one day, and it's been 15+ years, and next thing I know I see them all on facebook and that mixed with the prospect of having to see them again in real life is bringing back these anxiety/avoid type feelings.

I thought I was over this. This past 15 years just doing my thing alone, had few friends, I like it but I hate it. I like that I don't have the anxiety.. yet I hated the loneliness. So that's why I signed up on facebook cause I knew they're all on. But now that they're adding me.. and I'm seeing other people connected to our group who I haven't added nor want to.. the anxiety is mostly "oh s**t.. they now know I exist. Sooner or later they're going to ask me to hang out. I'm going to have to see other people I don't want to. I can't/don't want to fake that I like them and miss them. But maybe one or two of them I really do want to see."

I guess that's where I get my anxiety.. having to control the situation so I only see X and Y, but not A, B, C, D, E and everyone else. But since they're such a close knit group, like a family, it's impossible to know one without having to know the others.

The problem is in doing so, I exert a lot of energy in maintaining this. And sometimes, X and Y don't understand I feel this way, so they see my avoidance of the rest as me not wanting to be a part of them. It's like they want me, but only if I also embrace the rest of the gang. It is like an eternal high school life, but that's how everyone I know is.. even after they're married. Their kids just join into the group dynamic.

I'm such an individual person.. group dynamics make me clam up and not be myself.

How can I keep things limited to just the few people I DO want to know, considering they might not be capable of understanding this or really enjoying it. They're just social ants who are part of a larger thing, and want you to join.. but when you want a more personal individualistic relationship with them, maybe it scares them.. cause they don't know how to function like that, but only as part of a group??
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how to deal with your anxiety. But, with facebook, people often friend each other, get a kick out of it, and then go back to their own lives. 15 years in the past is a lifetime ago.

I get a strange feeling when people from my past friend me as well. I am a different person now, and really don't have much interest in visiting the past. I generally friend them, chat with the a bit, and then 'hide' their posts. If they need to contact me, they can send me an email.

And just because your friends have a certain dynamic, doesn't mean you have to join in. Most other people have moved on from high school, they sound like an anomaly, so do what you feel comfortable with.

Sorry I can't give you more...
posted by Vaike at 4:33 PM on May 1, 2009

It may be hard to keep group gatherings limited to your friends A, B, and C, but not their mutual friend D, because it's hard for people to understand why a group of 4 but not 5 is enjoyable for you. Instead, it's easier to explain to someone that you'd really like to get together one-on-one rather than in a group. So, if I were you, my strategy would be to target the friends you like individually and get together for coffee or other non-group options. I don't have your anxiety about groups, but I do prefer to get together with friends individually--I've thus far not lost any friends for saying "let's get coffee, you and me" instead of "let's put together our own softball team with all our friends."
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:40 PM on May 1, 2009

I don't know how the facebook dynamics works but I know I don't want to see some people in my life again. And again, since these people are all connected and there are some people I am in touch with who know these people through other not-important people so I do tend to be a little wary. The good thing is that you can control a few things. If someone asks for your contact info or wants to get together, you can always say that the best way to keep in touch with you is via email. Of course this would be tricky if all of you are in the same city and you are clearly hanging out with X and Y. But if it is really that important to you then don't socialize with A-E. Do what Meg-Murry says- one-on-one meetings also work best for me and they are so not stressful. But do keep in mind that even though over sometime A-E will get the message, they won't be very happy about it. And 15-20 years from now if you decide you want to hang out or whatever, they may not respond very positively. I guess it really depends on why you don't want to hang out with these people. And you know best.
posted by xm at 11:45 AM on May 2, 2009

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