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Feedback Please--Shyness/Low Confidence or Something Deeper?


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I have been doing much introspection in hopes to improve my social situation.


I read about being introverted, social anxiety and Avoidant Personality Disorder. Reading about A.V.D. scared me because there are some questions I answer yes to such as:


1. Do you fantasize to make up for lack of real life intimacy?


2. Do you take a long time to open up?


3. Do you daydream a lot?


4. Do you have recurring feelings of being inept, boring or unappealing to others?

Being shy is one thing but the fear that I may have an actual personality disorder makes me feel lousy.


I will describe below:


I would like to have a boyfriend and usually the men that I am interested in are not interested in me. The guys who are attracted to me are not guys I feel mutual attraction. (I want to point out that I am not superficial and am not into guys that are the "model type".) Of course, everyone experiences rejection or romantic relationships not becoming what they want. The comforting thought is the fact that "there are plenty of fish in the sea". Indeed this is true. However, this is more relevant to someone who is generally more gregarious and easily makes friends and has a wide social circle. I probably miss many great opportunities to meet people because I am generally quiet around those I do not know well.


This pattern in my dating life creates much dissatisfaction and leads me to occupy my mind with fantasy relationships because in reality I feel my options are settling or stay single for a long time. If I went out more and adapted better in social situations, most likely I would have a more fulfilling life and have more choices in dating. I am also really shy about flirting unless I think the guy might like me. If I was more comfortable flirting, I would have more opportunities in dating.


Much of my social discomforts stem from not knowing how to start conversations with new people. I don't think that people would necessarily reject me--I just feel like my mind can go blank and I have no idea what to talk about beyond hellos and perhaps some general talk about work (boring…). Plus I am very busy with school and work and feel mentally exhausted at times.


I am not a hermit. I try going to Meetup groups for hiking, crafts, etc. and generally do not turn down social invitations. At times, I can connect decently with new people.


I can be comfortable if a friendly person reaches out to me and we have enough things in common to have a decent conversation. Alternatively, I can possibly start a conversation if the person seems approachable and there are outward things I can start a conversation over (clothing, music, etc) or if a small group of people who are talking about something I know something about. Generally, I am not a mingler at a party. If I see one or a few approachable people that I can connect with, I tend to stick with them. I have a good time talking to them but the social discomfort resurfaces if they want to leave to mingle with others. I don't want to be a "cling-on" and I don't necessarily see it as an insult if they want to catch up with others too. They will go and mingle and I feel discomfort again if there is no one else I can talk to and I am just standing around again where everyone else is talking to other people and having a good time. Awkward.


If given the choice, I would rather be alone in solitude than alone in a crowd.


I will talk to certain people at work but I do not have enough rapport with anyone to socialize with them (go out to lunch or get together outside of work hours). I am connected with a number of them on Facebook and see them post pictures of get togethers they have with others at work. I don't think people at work dislike me but they probably don't feel enough of a connection with me to want to go out their way to see me. Many of them are funny and sarcastic and joke and have a good time with each other. I can only show these qualities around people I know well. I think that if I could show these qualities to new people easier, people would invite me out to do things.


Does this sound like I just have low confidence that can be worked on or that it is something deeper like Avoidant Personality Disorder?

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Hello. I believe it would be hard for anyone to make a correct "diagnosis" because shyness is present in many different types of personality disorders.


But, from what you wrote I wouldn't say you have something like that. In fact you don't sound particularly shy, because most people are not going to feel comfortable enough to be themselves when they are with people they don't know well.

So, it might just be that you worry about not doing something right when there's not much you should be doing differently, in which case you do have to work on your self-esteem so you can stop thinking that there's a problem.


Don't tell yourself things like "I don't know what to say" or "maybe I'm not being fun", specially at the very moment you are talking to others, if you accept those thoughts they are not going to let you do whatever you want.

You mentioned you have connected with new people without any problems, so that's what you have to remember, and if you feel a conversation seems to go wrong you will surely do better next time.


Best of luck.

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