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Making new friends terrifies me


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So I am in my 30s and have spent my life feeling really isolated and struggling very hard with friendships.


Although im in a better position now than I’ve ever been - I have a long term partner and I finally have two friendships I know I can rely on, I find making new connections terrifying and cannot turn acquaintances into anything more.


I was raised by a mother with Asperger - she has never had friends herself, discouraged me from keeping friends, stopped me from seeing my best friends and made me change schools 5 times because she didn’t like the way I was turning out.


She didnt show show me affection, never played with me, criticised me and was not interested in my thoughts or feelings on any topics. This was normal to me but I did grow up feeling very frustrated, lonely and eventually angry.


I started drinking heavily when i was 16 and carried on until I was 19. Each school and then college I went to I made friends and then left them behind. College was the last time this happened and I was isolated and after everyone else went to university, I found it hard to leave the house without collapsing in tears for years after - I was so afraid of other people.


I flaked out of job after job, drank at work to try and calm my anxiety and eventually found some peace in working with children which I did for many years. I had some relationships and some friendships which didn’t go anywhere. Eventually I found the man I love and he has given me the stability to build myself up.


I am reasonably strong and stable these days and I can chat hppily to people. It’s only when the idea of making someone a friend becomes a possibility that I unravel.


Creating friendships is not something I’m used to doing. When I like someone I melt down on the inside, I have anxiety to the point that I need to escape the situation and I am left reeling for days.


It happens every time - I like someone, I try and create the friendship and I just crumble under my own thoughts that I am boring, they don’t want to listen to me, they aren’t interested in me. The more time I spend with them the bigger these anxieties get.


This happened at the weekend. I work with lots of amazing people and we went for drinks after work. I was sat surrounded by people who I would like to be friends with and I just shutdown. I overthought what to say, I told myself nobody is interested and eventually I was sat there silent with everyone laughing and joking around me. It was excruciating and although I tried, I did, I left after a couple of hours feeling like I failed.


I realise that my mum didnt create an environment where I could learn to relate to others and be able to communicate and develop relationships. That’s fine, she did the best that she knew how to. But I worry that I won’t be able to create the changes I need to be able to relate to others. There is so much that I don’t naturally grasp about friendships. and so many things that I don’t know how to do. I feel like a fool when I don’t know how to relate to others yet I worry that I never will be able to do this properly. Friendships is something I hve always longed for and hve always been at a distance from. Will it ever be something that brings me joy and not terror and anxiety? Will this always been so difficult? I have spent so long trying. I have improved but it is still so hard and heartbreaking to me.

Edited by Manthatisripe
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I'm so sorry for the way you feel and what you have been going through. Your issues are similar to mine. I have a wonderful mother, but we are products of our parents.


My mother has insecurities and I have some of them too. And deal with them everyday.


Please don't feel like a failure or that it is too late to make friends. It's never too late, but sadly it is hard to make them and even harder to keep them.


My suggestion to you, is to read as much as you can about making friends. I know that sounds silly, but there is so much on the internet, library, etc that might be able to help you.


Find out suggestions on how to talk to people. Conversation starters. You don't have to be the funniest in the room or the most clever. But it starts with you feeling comfortable and confident. And you don't need a bunch of friends, it's better to have a few good friends anyway.


Sometimes it helps to find someone that you have things in common with, but not always necessary. I moved to where I live now about a year ago and befriended a lady that latched onto me. Probably because I was the only one that was available and wiling to go do things. Apparently she doesn't like to stay at home, ever. She always has to be doing things. I don't feel that way, so it drives me crazy that she wants to do things daily. It got to a point I suggested we stay home and hang out either at her house or mine (so I didn't have to fill up my tank every few days). We have nothing in common, except we are both outgoing and friendly, but I seem to attract people that are users, and she is a user. I think because I'm too nice and I can't shake them so they are hang-er-on-ers. She lets me drive when we go run errands, etc. because she wants to save her gas and car. I guess I don't need to. She also keeps track of favors she does for me. And likes to remind me. However, I do favors for her all the time, obviously driving is one of them, among helping her with things like taking down wallpaper, putting things together for her, etc, etc. and I don't rub them in or remind her about them. And she's very competitive. We are both new to the neighborhood and I feel like she wants me all to herself, while she tries to have has many friends possible.


That is why I'm on here tonight. Trying to get some things answered. See if I'm crazy, paranoid or just need to relax and stop worrying or need to worry about this friend and her real motive.


But back to you. Don't try too hard, just learn to relax and just start up a conversation. Even if its a quick one. Or just listen and laugh when you go out with your co-workers. You don't always have to talk. Especially if others in the group are doing all the talking.


People like to be complimented, so compliment what someone is wearing, or about their hair, or say that color looks good on them. Always compliment and be nice. Notice things about people. Or listen to what people are saying, and later on ask them about their children, grandchildren, etc. Say I couldn't help but overhear you say the other day......blah, blah, blah. Offer to help if someone needs some help. I actually have been friends with a woman (co-worker) I met about 20 years ago when I was walking by her desk and she was having trouble breathing. I stopped to help her. We have been friends ever since.


Stop being so hard on yourself. Another thing you need to work on is your anxiety. Go on the internet and read all you can to deal with it. It will never go away, but you might be able to deal with it better. There are ways to get it under control.


I wish you luck and hope I was able to help you, even if a little. Hope you are able to make some good friends soon. I know it is nice to have them. I'm so glad you have a supportive partner.

Edited by Sidekick
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Hello @Manthatisripe


Welcome to our community!


There is so much to unpack here, we cannot choose our family and it sounds like your mother had lots of barriers to communication and friendship which has, in turn, trickled down onto you. It is important that you recognised that a lot of these personality traits may have come from your upbringing but try to not let your past become your present.


I also have a really turbulent relationship with my mother and find that she never taught me how to have a personality or how to make friends so I understand why it is something that resonates for you.


It sounds to me that although you have had some setbacks you have been able to find romantic love and get a job - these people must have seen something great in you.


Maybe you are putting soo much pressure on yourself to ‘make friends’ instead of just getting to know people and seeing where it ends up. You aren’t always going to connect with everyone, and that is completely okay. People can usually sense when you are approaching them with an agenda or desperation (even if it is something positive like wanting to be their friend.) Get to know people without any expectation of taking it further, find common interests and ask people lots of questions about themselves.


Try to remember that although it seems like everyone is fully together, we are all a bit nervous and meeting new people is scary for everyone. Just be yourself there will be people that accept and love you for you.



Thank you so much all of your thoughtful support @Sidekick. We are here for you if you ever need to chat.




Edited by Remi
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