T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 105716
posted 03-16-2013 02:21 PM
I'm a longtime reader, but this is my first time posting.
I'm a 19-year-old college freshman. I've never had a romantic relationship, never kissed a girl, never been physically close with a girl, never even held hands. I have had crushes before, so I know that I am attracted to girls. I think I know where my problem lies: me. I've always been pretty shy and socially awkward, and I don't think I have ever had any really close friends. I do hang out with a group of people who share some of my interests at my college, but I wouldn't say I'm really close to any of them. When I start thinking about this stuff, I feel really lonely and isolated, and most of all inadequate. Everybody else seems to be able to get closer to other people just fine, but I just can't. It might be helpful to know some of my medical history. I have moderate Major Depressive Disorder, and after a really rough time in High School I'm on SSRI Antidepressants. They help out a lot with "evening me out" and keeping negative feelings from persisting. In addition, I've been diagnosed with mild Asperger's Syndrome, but I'm not really getting any treatment for it, apart from my antidepressants. I've been to a therapist before, when I was in High School, but I haven't been to one since I graduated. I have talked with my mom about my feelings, but she doesn't really know what to do. I want to have a romantic relationship and know what i feels like to really be in love for an extended period of time. I feel like I'm failing at one of the most important parts of life, and that I'll never find anyone to share my life with. Every time I start thinking about this, I start to feel depressed again. Can you please give me some sort of help or advice?
Member # 3
posted 03-16-2013 03:17 PM
Welcome to the boards, nosalis. Sorry to hear you're having such a hard time.
So, what information I don't feel like I've had is if you're tried pursuing dating to see how that goes for you. Can you fill me in on that? I'm also wondering why you feel like any of your friendships haven't turned into deeper, closer relationships. You may not have the answer to that, but if I knew a little more about why you thought that was, and, like with romantic relationships, had some sense of what you've tired to change that, it'd help me figure out how to help you best.
Member # 101745
posted 03-16-2013 03:21 PM
I have a few thoughts here. First, I think it would probably be really helpful for you to talk this over with some sort of therapist or counselor. It looks like you're in the US and most colleges have some sort of counseling service through their student health center; that would be a great place to start. Any of us here are happy to talk with you about relationship stuff but I think working on ways to manage your depression will be really helpful as well - medication can be really great at evening things out, as you say, but I think it's equally important to be able to learn skills to get yourself out of negative thought patterns and a good therapist can really be a great help there. I want to say and really emphasize that not having a romantic relationship yet doesn't mean you're failing at life. It can be really hard to want that connection with someone and not have it, but everyone approaches relationships on a different time-table, and while it might be really frustrating to not have had that experience yet it doesn't mean you won't get there. This is probably cold comfort right now, but it's still true and I want to make sure I say it. Right now you're in college and probably have opportunities to get involved of a lot of things - you might feel like you're missing something huge in your life by not being in a relationship, but I'd encourage you to spend some time filling that space with other interesting and exciting things right now. Sometimes I find it helpful to think of times when you're not in a relationship as times when you can do a lot for yourself, both as a form of self-care and support and also because being a well-rounded and interesting person often means you will have more interactions with potential dating partners and a lot of built-in things to talk about with someone new. It sounds like you're already spending some time with people who share your interests, which is a good start. If you're not connecting with people there, maybe there's another group on campus that looks interesting? Or maybe you can set some small goals to initiate conversations or try to get a little more involved with the group you're already in? I think it is good to think about this in terms of making connections with interesting and friendly people in general and not just trying to meet people you could date; approaching all social interactions through the lens of "maybe you will want to be MY GIRLFRIEND?!?" tends to be pretty off-putting to everyone, potential-girlfriend or not. But if you can slowly reach out and make more social connections, the chances increase that you'll meet someone you're romantically interested in who will be interested in you too, and you can go from there. Feeling shy and awkward makes this sort of thing more fraught, I know, but approaching social events with good intentions, being willing to listen to other people, and giving yourself a little push to speak up when you feel nervous can all go a long way.
Member # 105716
posted 03-16-2013 04:04 PM
Thanks a lot for getting back to me.
I have always been a real loner/introvert, and that might explain a lot. I can communicate well enough in small groups, but I feel overwhelmed in larger groups. In addition, unless I'm well acquainted with the people I'm around, I can only stand to be around people for so long; after that I feel like I just need to be alone and have some time by myself. As a result, I'm pretty sure I'm lacking in the social skills department. That might help explain why I don't feel like I'm close to any of the people I know; I just get tired of being around them after a while. I'm able to talk to and am friendly with some girls I know on campus, and I keep my worries about not being in a relationship to myself (like I do with a lot of things). Unfortunately, the college I go to, which is in Arkansas, is pretty small, so its hard to find people who are into the same stuff you are. The thing is, I just don't know how to really initiate any process of building some sort of deeper connection with someone. I'm afraid that I'll come off as awkward, stupid, or worse yet, creepy, and I'll ruin whatever goodwill I've built up with someone. I'm home on spring break, so I'll see if I can't set up another appointment with my therapist from when I was in High School. She was a real big help in working through my ongoing depression and helped get me on my meds. As for my college, I'll see if they have any counselling services available for students. Does that help at all?
Member # 103145
posted 03-16-2013 04:39 PM
Thanks for sharing. I'm going to echo Molias and emphasize that not having a romantic relationship yet doesn't mean you're failing at life. But I think feeling down because your not dating someone is something that so many of us feel. I definitely remember feeling that way in college. Do you think that building close connections with friends would be a good place to start or would lift your spirits?
Member # 3
posted 03-16-2013 04:58 PM
I totally understand some of the challenges of introversion. As someone mostly very introverted who has to be on with much bigger groups sometimes, where all eyes are on me, no less, I know how daunting that can be.
How have you done, if you have, with other introverted people? What about, per building relationships, with asking for more time with someone -- like, you hang out with them, enjoy their company, and ask if they want to go do something with you sometime again? -- but also holding your own lines with your needs to also have time alone?
Member # 105716
posted 03-16-2013 05:00 PM
Thanks for answering.
My problem is that I don't really know HOW to go about building closer relationships. Sometimes I think that I'm just too introverted to relate to people or function in social situations.
Member # 3
posted 03-16-2013 05:06 PM
That's okay. Not everyone knows or learns how, and when you put introversion and then Aspergers on top of that, it's of course going to be extra challenging for you.
Do you want me to start with the serious basics and we can work from there? I'm happy to do that if you like, and it's absolutely fine if this winds up being one of those conversations that's a bit on and off for weeks or months to really get you started with that. I could also suggest a couple books that could likely give you some helps.
Member # 3
posted 03-16-2013 05:26 PM
(Just FYI, silence from me for the rest of the day will just be because I'm heading out, but I'll be back in the morning.
Member # 105716
posted 03-16-2013 08:09 PM
Thanks for getting back to me Heather. I'm setting up an appointment with my therapist from High School so I can talk about and go over this stuff in person. I'm on spring break, so I'll have time to meet with her. It's really nice to hear some reassurance from someone right now.
Would you mind suggesting any books in particular?
Member # 3
posted 03-17-2013 10:59 AM
I've seen Social Skills for Teenagers and Adults with Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide to Day-to-day Life by Nancy J. Patrick and really like it. It's also something I'd suggest to someone having trouble with basic social skills and relationship-building who didn't have Asperger's, too. Also, The Social Success Workbook for Teens: Skill-Building Activities for Teens with Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, and Other Social-Skill Problems by Barbara Cooper.