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In 2013 I went into a deep depression and cut myself off from the world. Lost everyone. I'm 2014 I met a guy and entered into a toxic relationship with him. He was horrible to me. It's been a month since I broke free of this guy and now have entered therapy. But what now? I tried going on a date from a guy I met online. Horrible experience.

I don't have many friends at the moment. I'm trying to develop some friends but it's not that easy. As of now I am just working on improving my self esteem but some days I wonder what if I never make friends? Never meet someone? What if this is how my life will be forever? Just work and school and trying to convince myself that being alone is fine. That I will be happy even when deep inside I know I am not. Any words of experience would be appreciated.

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The sky could fall in too. Where is this negative mindset getting you? Take small steps every day towards your huge goals of making lasting friendships and meeting a significant other. Big deal you had one first meet -I had over 100-it's totally fine if meeting someone in person who you first contact on line is not right for you. On the other hand the more you limit dating options the harder it is to meet anyone. Of course dating and making friends is hard but it depends whether those goals are worth the work/effort. To improve your self esteem I would increase exercise, find a volunteer activity where you interact with other people, and find at least one opportunity a day to do a small kindness.

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The sky could fall in too. Where is this negative mindset getting you? Take small steps every day towards your huge goals of making lasting friendships and meeting a significant other. Big deal you had one first meet -I had over 100-it's totally fine if meeting someone in person who you first contact on line is not right for you. On the other hand the more you limit dating options the harder it is to meet anyone. Of course dating and making friends is hard but it depends whether those goals are worth the work/effort. To improve your self esteem I would increase exercise, find a volunteer activity where you interact with other people, and find at least one opportunity a day to do a small kindness.

 

Do you recommend any small steps to take in making lasting friendships?

I do have a negative mindset but mostly because I fear that I'll never accomplish my goal of making new friends and will forver stay where I am

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Friends and family that you see are very important to develop. I think it's important to have that foundation before you start dating.

 

You're lonely and alone and pretty likely to start depending on some random dude you are dating for emotional support.

 

So - what's next? Work hard on non-romantic relationships.

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Do you recommend any small steps to take in making lasting friendships?

I do have a negative mindset but mostly because I fear that I'll never accomplish my goal of making new friends and will forver stay where I am

 

Yes, volunteer doing something you like/love where you interact with people. Volunteer in backstage community theater. Look for opportunities to do small kindnesses and be a good listener - that is a skill worth practicing.

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Yes, volunteer doing something you like/love where you interact with people. Volunteer in backstage community theater. Look for opportunities to do small kindnesses and be a good listener - that is a skill worth practicing.

 

That's an interesting suggestion. I have never even thought of community theater. Do you have experience volunteering there?

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Friends and family that you see are very important to develop. I think it's important to have that foundation before you start dating.

 

You're lonely and alone and pretty likely to start depending on some random dude you are dating for emotional support.

 

So - what's next? Work hard on non-romantic relationships.

 

Didn't realize this. I think I'm going to put a hold on dating for a bit

Thank you

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That's an interesting suggestion. I have never even thought of community theater. Do you have experience volunteering there?

 

Vicarious only. My ex boyfriend volunteered backstage for years. Many resulting marriages and life long friendships. I met a number of people through his work there. My volunteer work was mostly with children and I made decades long friendships that way. These days I sometimes volunteer at the public radio pledge drives and have met people that way too.

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Years ago I became a workaholic and shut down my social life drastically. Then after hurricane Irene I lost all my belongings to mold and needed to change my apartment. It was a high anxiety time, and I didn't want to be alone. I also didn't want to be needy and cling to people and have them worry about me. So I started my focus with my immediate family. I became the family helper--yard work, projects, painting helping with errands, meals, cleaning out garages.

 

I NEVER would have 'felt like' doing this stuff during my days of comfort and security, but as a therapeutic device, it gave my days purpose, and I felt truly valued and valuable. I also introduced myself to neighbors and spent time helping them. Each neighbor became my private volunteer project on any given day. Again, the bonding and feeling valuable not only served as a distraction from my anxiety, but it rewarded me in ways that I could not have anticipated, and it served to reacclimated me to being social in a gentle way. Neighbors introduced me to others, and this became a new network of friends.

 

I also did some reaching out on social media to old friends. It's a mistake to write off people from our past who we've neglected. Nine times out of 10, they view themselves as having been the neglectful one or at least sharing in a not so purposeful fadeout of a relationship that can still have legs. For me this included some school friends, old coworkers, some cousins, and even childhood friends. I started putting meetups with these people on my calendar, and before long, between work, family, neighbors and friends, I was hustling to keep up with my commitments.

 

No single relationship became my primary focus, with the exception of my Mom, who's elderly. I didn't latch onto anyone to try to form a 'best' friendship, and just allowed certain relationships to become more frequent organically.

 

I also became more active socially at work through taking exercise classes, wellness program training, and I started a walking club where @ 3pm I'm walking outdoors along the building property, and I invite people to join me. No standing obligations--I'm always going @ 3, and anyone who'd like to join me can either plan their schedules around this 'meeting' or can simply join when free. I also met coworkers through evening workouts in the gym. Not too much interaction at the moment, but then hellos happen in hallways and meetings, then occasional friendly chatting about work or workouts, and then familiarity over time leads to more investment in other shared interests, lunches, etc.

 

Skip trying to predict the future, Chori. Einstein said that depression paints all past and future moments with the same brush, and it's a lie. The truth is, of COURSE you can't be joyful when you're talking yourself out of joy with the critical voice you run in your head. Try changing that habit. Replace the complaining negative voice with the voice of a kind and inspiring coach, instead. Talk yourself INTO gratitude and appreciation and happiness rather than out of it, and adopt a simple mantra for the times when you least feel like walking out your door to go to work or school or to do something for someone else, "I can do this...".

 

Just float for a while. Take baby steps. Give yourself very small goals each day, and then reward yourself with small things you enjoy for completing your goals. They can be as simple as being kind to someone while getting your grocery shopping done, or being helpful to someone in your office who you rarely notice. I ended up forming what would be my best ever work friendship when I helped a woman untangle her earphones from her chair.

 

Head high, you never know what tomorrow holds.

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Years ago I became a workaholic and shut down my social life drastically. Then after hurricane Irene I lost all my belongings to mold and needed to change my apartment. It was a high anxiety time, and I didn't want to be alone. I also didn't want to be needy and cling to people and have them worry about me. So I started my focus with my immediate family. I became the family helper--yard work, projects, painting helping with errands, meals, cleaning out garages.

 

I NEVER would have 'felt like' doing this stuff during my days of comfort and security, but as a therapeutic device, it gave my days purpose, and I felt truly valued and valuable. I also introduced myself to neighbors and spent time helping them. Each neighbor became my private volunteer project on any given day. Again, the bonding and feeling valuable not only served as a distraction from my anxiety, but it rewarded me in ways that I could not have anticipated, and it served to reacclimated me to being social in a gentle way. Neighbors introduced me to others, and this became a new network of friends.

 

I also did some reaching out on social media to old friends. It's a mistake to write off people from our past who we've neglected. Nine times out of 10, they view themselves as having been the neglectful one or at least sharing in a not so purposeful fadeout of a relationship that can still have legs. For me this included some school friends, old coworkers, some cousins, and even childhood friends. I started putting meetups with these people on my calendar, and before long, between work, family, neighbors and friends, I was hustling to keep up with my commitments.

 

No single relationship became my primary focus, with the exception of my Mom, who's elderly. I didn't latch onto anyone to try to form a 'best' friendship, and just allowed certain relationships to become more frequent organically.

 

I also became more active socially at work through taking exercise classes, wellness program training, and I started a walking club where @ 3pm I'm walking outdoors along the building property, and I invite people to join me. No standing obligations--I'm always going @ 3, and anyone who'd like to join me can either plan their schedules around this 'meeting' or can simply join when free. I also met coworkers through evening workouts in the gym. Not too much interaction at the moment, but then hellos happen in hallways and meetings, then occasional friendly chatting about work or workouts, and then familiarity over time leads to more investment in other shared interests, lunches, etc.

 

Skip trying to predict the future, Chori. Einstein said that depression paints all past and future moments with the same brush, and it's a lie. The truth is, of COURSE you can't be joyful when you're talking yourself out of joy with the critical voice you run in your head. Try changing that habit. Replace the complaining negative voice with the voice of a kind and inspiring coach, instead. Talk yourself INTO gratitude and appreciation and happiness rather than out of it, and adopt a simple mantra for the times when you least feel like walking out your door to go to work or school or to do something for someone else, "I can do this...".

 

Just float for a while. Take baby steps. Give yourself very small goals each day, and then reward yourself with small things you enjoy for completing your goals. They can be as simple as being kind to someone while getting your grocery shopping done, or being helpful to someone in your office who you rarely notice. I ended up forming what would be my best ever work friendship when I helped a woman untangle her earphones from her chair.

 

Head high, you never know what tomorrow holds.

 

Hi there

I took your advice and started with trying to think more positive and also trying to extend acts of kindness to others. It not only makes me feel better but I get so many smiles and warm words from others.

I did realize that being away from my toxic ex has helped my personality blossom.

I know you did post on another post about becoming needy when desperately in search for any type of relationship. So I did put the dating aspect on hold for now. But what would you suggest on cultivating other relationships? Do you think for some time I should try to find myself, my strengths, my hobbies etc before I got searching for social relationships?

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Hi there

I took your advice and started with trying to think more positive and also trying to extend acts of kindness to others. It not only makes me feel better but I get so many smiles and warm words from others.

I did realize that being away from my toxic ex has helped my personality blossom.

I know you did post on another post about becoming needy when desperately in search for any type of relationship. So I did put the dating aspect on hold for now. But what would you suggest on cultivating other relationships? Do you think for some time I should try to find myself, my strengths, my hobbies etc before I got searching for social relationships?

 

Whenever someone is on 'the hunt' to 'get' a relationship, it gives off the same threateningly needy vibe whether the target is a romance or a friend. However, with platonic social relationships you can sidestep this mistake by remaining cognizant of it and by continuing to offer people the kindnesses that you've noticed tend to brighten your days (good job!) and are free of any heavy undertones of obligatory reciprocation.

 

This will keep you feeling good while you stay busy planting lots of seeds. Think of these seeds as beings sprinkled around on other people's property, which means you're not allowed to go back to cultivate them without permission from the owner. So some of those seeds will grow into something beautiful on their own, and you'll enjoy knowing this even while you're busy spreading kindness around elsewhere. Every now and then you'll be invited to discuss the seeds, and you can enjoy that for it's own sake--a passing discussion without expectations. On a rare occasion, you'll hit it off with the owner or one of their neighbors who saw the seeding. If that feeling is mutual, that person may encourage you to revisit and help them to cultivate your seeds.

 

The point is, if you remain busy enough and not overly invested in any given recipient of your kindness, you'll build some skills and comfort with just giving without a heavy agenda. Loneliness tends to come from what we're not giving rather than what we're not getting. When we can just relax into a feeling of invisibility, we build a self-soothing disposition that doesn't need to exploit the attention of others.

 

It might sound counter-intuitive, but self soothing builds self confidence and a lack of neediness, which, ultimately, attracts like minded people. Healthy people respect relationships as voluntary rather than obligatory. So running around to make a show of generosity in order to 'get' a friend is the stuff healthy people can see through. As you start to feel more and more healthy, you'll see through that stuff, too--if you don't already. So the point is to build self sufficiency even while you plant the seeds for a future friendship to bloom. It could be someone with whom your paths cross again, or even regularly, or it could be someone in your future who is attracted the healthy disposition you've built over time.

 

So friendships are not off limits when you can keep a light touch and allow them to blossom organically. You'll notice that this is the exact opposite of going out to seek and grab onto potential friends. It's a trust that you're always exactly where you need to be in your own process of growth, and while it can appear to feel lonely sometimes, it's a foundational thing to learn how to regard loneliness as a temporary rather than a permanent state.

 

Head high.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Whenever someone is on 'the hunt' to 'get' a relationship, it gives off the same threateningly needy vibe whether the target is a romance or a friend. However, with platonic social relationships you can sidestep this mistake by remaining cognizant of it and by continuing to offer people the kindnesses that you've noticed tend to brighten your days (good job!) and are free of any heavy undertones of obligatory reciprocation.

 

This will keep you feeling good while you stay busy planting lots of seeds. Think of these seeds as beings sprinkled around on other people's property, which means you're not allowed to go back to cultivate them without permission from the owner. So some of those seeds will grow into something beautiful on their own, and you'll enjoy knowing this even while you're busy spreading kindness around elsewhere. Every now and then you'll be invited to discuss the seeds, and you can enjoy that for it's own sake--a passing discussion without expectations. On a rare occasion, you'll hit it off with the owner or one of their neighbors who saw the seeding. If that feeling is mutual, that person may encourage you to revisit and help them to cultivate your seeds.

 

The point is, if you remain busy enough and not overly invested in any given recipient of your kindness, you'll build some skills and comfort with just giving without a heavy agenda. Loneliness tends to come from what we're not giving rather than what we're not getting. When we can just relax into a feeling of invisibility, we build a self-soothing disposition that doesn't need to exploit the attention of others.

 

It might sound counter-intuitive, but self soothing builds self confidence and a lack of neediness, which, ultimately, attracts like minded people. Healthy people respect relationships as voluntary rather than obligatory. So running around to make a show of generosity in order to 'get' a friend is the stuff healthy people can see through. As you start to feel more and more healthy, you'll see through that stuff, too--if you don't already. So the point is to build self sufficiency even while you plant the seeds for a future friendship to bloom. It could be someone with whom your paths cross again, or even regularly, or it could be someone in your future who is attracted the healthy disposition you've built over time.

 

So friendships are not off limits when you can keep a light touch and allow them to blossom organically. You'll notice that this is the exact opposite of going out to seek and grab onto potential friends. It's a trust that you're always exactly where you need to be in your own process of growth, and while it can appear to feel lonely sometimes, it's a foundational thing to learn how to regard loneliness as a temporary rather than a permanent state.

 

Head high.

 

Thank you for this. I decided to stop chasing relationships and have been trying to indulge in solitude activities that bring me happiness and peace.

It does get lonely but I am hoping this all benefits me in the future.

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Thank you for this. I decided to stop chasing relationships and have been trying to indulge in solitude activities that bring me happiness and peace.

It does get lonely but I am hoping this all benefits me in the future.

 

I would pick activities that do not involve solitude and also do not involve -directly -looking for a romantic relationship. And balance that with me-time/alone time that feels fulfilling not lonely.

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I would pick activities that do not involve solitude and also do not involve -directly -looking for a romantic relationship. And balance that with me-time/alone time that feels fulfilling not lonely.

 

Yes! Loneliness feeds on itself and builds more loneliness. To break that cycle, push yourself to get out of your own head.

 

Think of a balanced scale of 1 to 10. Isolation on one side, neediness on the other. The goal is to shoot for a balance in between.

 

Start with family and existing friends. Show up and be there for them, or have them over to your place. Treat them to a meal or a walk. Help them around their homes or go with them on errands. Watch movies together or go to local events.

 

Research volunteer.org or a local volunteer site in your area and go help out an org or a cause that you believe in.

 

Research art or craft or antique shows in your area. Invite someone to go with you, or go alone with a goal of learning from vendors about their pieces.

 

Research meetup.org to find a group that hosts hikes or music or other activities in your area. Most people show up to these things alone looking to mingle.

 

The idea is to build social skills while giving something of yourself. Isolation is not the way to build a healthy foundation--it's the problem that keeps you feeling needy. So the goal is not to avoid potential friendships. The goal is just to avoid latching onto potential friends like a lifeline. Not because friendships are taboo, but they should grow organically without a heavy 'save me from loneliness' agenda.

 

Remember the scale of 1 to 10. There is a lot of real estate between those two extremes to find balance. Go there, and enjoy.

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