I'm not good at having friends

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blues_cruise

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I'm not good at having friends
« on: October 15, 2018, 10:06:08 AM »
I can't figure out if I'm just very introverted and prefer my own company or whether I could enjoy having friends if I opened up more and perhaps found others who are on a similar wavelength. I just find it really exhausting and difficult reaching out to someone when I usually don't feel like it. It's not because I don't like people, far from it, I just don't really have any desire to be around people that often. I get overwhelmed so easily and more often than not I'm just very tired and don't feel up to socialising.

I have a friend who I used to work with who I see now and again and that friendship is just confusing to me. I'm a bit better than I was at responding to messages but sometimes a day or so might go by until I feel in a good enough place to message her back. I really have made more of an effort recently though and have explained that I'm just bad at keeping my phone nearby. She seems to have really withdrawn far more than that lately though and on a couple of recent occasions I haven't had a response from her to a message until 5 days later. She is a really sociable person and in the meantime I see her chatting to other people on Facebook. She's not a bad person but it makes me feel a bit  :disappear: Now I'm not really sure how to go forward, because on the one hand I know you should make an effort to hold on to friendships but at the same time perhaps I deserve better. I actually don't really know how to 'friendship' with someone and what should be expected! My childhood and teenager-hood was spent fairly isolated with really just one toxic, possessive 'friend' and I didn't really have any experience of positive, healthy friendship and didn't learn social skills or assertiveness. :sadno: I am trying to put it right and improve but I don't know what's right or what's wrong!

Anyone else struggle like this when it comes to friendship? It just seems like a complete minefield.

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LilyITV

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Re: I'm not good at having friends
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2018, 06:17:15 PM »
Yes I have the same dilemma in wondering whether I'm just a very introverted person or whether it's just the C-PTSD that is keeping me from being more social.  I am very early on in my therapy, but I am already starting to conclude that it is the C-PTSD that has prevented me from having more friends.   

I think the C-PTSD makes it difficult for us to  be in touch with our emotions and even to know what it is we really want.  I didn't know what emotional flashbacks were before, but it can cause you to isolate yourself to prevent being triggered.  So I guess there's a difference between being alone because you really want to and being alone because you are afraid. 

Another problem is our brutal IC.  I can tell see signs of a powerful inner critic at work in your post.  You seem to be assuming that your friend is pulling away from you because she's upset that you're not responding to her promptly enough, but there could be many reasons why she took so long to respond.  That is the same type of thinking that keeps me from getting too close to people. 

In my therapy, we are working on reframing issues, and If I were to do practice doing that in your case, I'd say that there is no reason why your friend would be mad at you so there must be some other reason.  You could ask her and then she might give you that reason and then you would know it would have nothing to do with you.

It also boils down to having to have a certain level of trust in other people as well as a certain of level of self esteem.  You have to trust that people are for the most part good and that they all aren't thinking bad stuff about you for no reason and that you are a worthy person and that no good person would have have a reason not to like you. I didn't realize it before, but I have a deep fear and mistrust of others, and I also have feelings of being less than others. 

It is hard work to be sure, but well worth it.  The good news is that we can learn to change this negative programming and learn effective social skills.  I've tried changing so many time before, but at least now, I think I at least know what the problem is. 


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blues_cruise

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Re: I'm not good at having friends
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 08:04:12 PM »
Thanks for your reply LilyITV, it's really helpful and has given me so much to think about. My inner critic is a nightmare and I think one of my (toxic) core values is that I'm not good enough for other people. I feel like I'm only good enough to ask someone's time from them if I'm in a great mood or have something massively interesting to say, otherwise I just don't bother because I fear the rejection. I fear my physiological reaction even more as I hate the hot flushes and trembling I can get if I don't feel comfortable around someone. I remember actually taking the active decision at the age of about 14 to keep my head down on the way home from school, stick ear phones in and not make eye contact with anyone, so if anyone did bully me I would be oblivious. Of course this blocked out all the good I could have been experiencing from people too.

I think I am naturally introverted but it would be so lovely to be a confident introvert rather than a fearful one. I keep worrying that people think I'm boring and stuck-up because I don't want to do many things or reveal my true self. This is really hard because as you say, with C-PTSD it is difficult to to know what we really want. I'm very much stuck in 'doing' mode constantly too and find it difficult to accept that taking time out to have fun is healthy and productive. It sounds terrible but socialising feels like a chore that I have to get out of the way because it's expected of me now and again, rather than something that's relaxing and fun. I'm possibly just not giving myself permission to enjoy anything properly though.

Back to the inner critic, months ago I was doing well at challenging it and somewhere along the line I stopped and I don't know why. It always comes back to the critic! I wonder if I got too absorbed in reading up on how this all came to be rather than concentrating on the present.

You sound like you're doing well in your therapy and I'm so glad. The social stuff is so difficult.

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woodsgnome

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Re: I'm not good at having friends
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 09:54:09 PM »
I concur with most of what's been expressed here.

For me, it has boiled down to acceptance that yes, I am extremely introverted but also mildly sociable, which makes me appear quite mysterious, I surmise. While that might drive some off, it appeals to others; but I sure haven't run into the latter in a long while. The inner critic would love to pepper me with reasons why, but I'm getting better at turning those notions back to just accepting who I really am, I guess. I find myself holding onto a sliver of hope (or fantasy?) that I can balance that somehow, while also throwing out expectations that there's anything imminent in that regard.

I know I'm not immune to friends. I did have 4 unique and wonderful friends who all died within just a few months of each other four years back, leaving me feeling like the sole survivor of the only group resembling a family I've ever been a part of (the FOO was a disaster, enough said). Lots of fun, knowing they trusted and understood my quirks, and vice-versa.

This closed-in sense is highly characteristic of my worldview, despite the social relationships I once had, though in limited quantity, as quality was/is always uppermost for me. Perhaps it's why I can't fathom much small talk. Not to say I can't with good friends, if there were any about (sigh).

I like the notion of a 'confident' introvert as opposed to a 'fearful' one. There's also no rulebooks for how to bring this about. So it's sort of like deciding how much real work to bring new friendships about or just keep on, open to possibility but resisting the urge to revert to self-blame and/or guilt that we can't just step out there, like those infamous 'others' seem capable of doing.

Something I've noticed is how tricky it is to be totally honest about the cptsd part of the story. While I used to hide it entirely, I don't like those sorts of cover-ups, and would try and relate as much as I could (or dared to). Unfortunately (except for the four friends previously mentioned), this has had mixed results; the worst being an overbearing sense of sympathy from people instead of just understanding me as a whole person, not a victim or poor-me subhuman. Funny how that is, but I've decided just to be honest and let it go wherever it goes. But I have experienced rejection due to that attitude.

I think there's hope. I just have no clue as to where it might come from (but I really never did, come to think of it  :doh:).   

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blues_cruise

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Re: I'm not good at having friends
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 08:01:43 PM »
Hi woodsgnome.  :)

I can also be mildly sociable when I'm feeling fairly well rested and not too stressed. Mental wellbeing has such an impact. Self-care is key but it's so often easier said than done, I guess allowing the inner critic to take hold is the most well-trodden route so if I'm not actively making an effort to be good to myself then that's the course I end up taking. 

I'm sorry you lost such good friends so closely to one another, it must have been really tough.  :hug: It's so special when you genuinely connect with someone and they just accept you. I know what you mean, quality in friendship is important to me too. I think this is why I struggle finding balance with my friend because I prefer to connect one on one now and again and I'm then OK by myself for a while, whereas she prefers to have lots and lots of friends and to socialise in groups. I don't think either is wrong but we are very different. It was less apparent when we worked together as we saw each other daily and bonded over all the day to day office stuff. 

I'm not great at small talk either and find it boring, however I do try to make an effort now and again as I recognise that it is important as a lead-in to more substantial conversation. Plus I'm learning that it makes me appear more friendly than if I allow silences which can make other people uncomfortable. Opening up about the CPTSD is something I've never felt comfortable doing but I totally get what you say about not wanting to be painted as a victim. My friend doesn't even know that my father and I haven't spoken for a year and a half. When I think about it it's not really that close a friendship anymore and I'm probably taking it too seriously.  :Idunno: I think if I get to a point of meeting new people I will be more honest about it if it comes up. I guess if we're rejected for something like that then that at least shows us what type of a person they are.

Yeah there is hope, definitely. I think things might slot into place a bit more if we're kind to ourselves, it's just remembering to be gentle rather than judgemental that's the tough bit!