Becoming More Social?

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by MissMichigan, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. KimR

    KimR DIS Veteran<br><font color=teal>Needs to lay off t

    Sep 30, 2001
    Just out of curiosity, what medication did you take? Also, did you have to take it every day or only as needed? I'm completely inept socially and have tried practically everything - except medication and therapy. Therapy because of the obvious - I don't like interacting with people. And I do tend to self-medicate with alcohol or xanax but neither really helps. They do make me more relaxed but they don't help with the other issues and probably make things worse.

    I've gotten to the point where I've resigned myself to the fact that this is just the way it is for me. I'm actually much happier now that I'm not constantly trying to be someone I'm not; however I'm afraid when the kids move out I'm going to be very lonely and this situation will no longer be acceptable.
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  3. gracie1

    gracie1 DIS Veteran

    Apr 5, 2009
    You and I sound just alike!! I used to never talk to people, and it took me a good 6-7 months before I would even hold a conversation at my job! I have been here 13 years now, and I remember breaking out of my shell after a meeting. I remember sitting in the meeting, not speaking up and kind of staying to myself. The chairperson had me stay after the meeting and had a talk with me to basically say speak up. Now, I work with engineers, do project management and am completely unsensored and can start a conversation with a brick wall!!!!
  4. lovemygoofy

    lovemygoofy DIS Veteran

    Jun 9, 2004
    How is your boyfriend helping you? I had socially awkward husband at first but we had to do social situations. We would practice at home some but I would "feed" him information at parties/gathering/meetings or whatever. I would say A is married to B and they have 3 kids or something like the Jones went to Hawaii last week. We worked on basic questions that starts a conversation like best place someone was stationed or where was the best place you ever vacationed. People will talk about themselves when asked but don't do yes or no questions.

    Social chit chat doesn't have to be deep and meaningful especially if you don't see them often. Do you take any classes or have access to some of the classes on your air force base? This is a great ice breaker to start making conversation with people you have basic things in common like being air force family and at least the area you are in.

    There are some great books about conversation starters. Practice on your boyfriend or your family or closest friends. Nothing comes natural if you don't try and practice. For the record there is nothing wrong with being a quiet person but it does become a problem if it is crippling to your thoughts and feelings.
  5. Tralliam

    Tralliam Mouseketeer

    Jan 4, 2012
    I was going to suggest Toastmasters as well. But public speaking like that is different than social interaction.

    I will say that I think it is very brave of your DBf to come to you and tell you that this is an issue. Maybe he could have done it without the ultimatum, but it shows a lot that he came to you honestly.

    As far as suggestions, I think you're doing an AWESOME job. Talking to the cashier and the interactions you described with your friends, sound like great first steps. Keep doing those things. Does it feel forced or awkward right now? I'm sure it does. Will it always feel that way? Maybe, but probably not. Do you feel awkward talking to your DBf?
  6. RC Fan

    RC Fan DIS Veteran

    Feb 10, 2004
    I think the personal growth you are striving for is great, but please keep in mind it is OK to be introverted. Not everyone enjoys being a social butterfly. 'Quiet' by Susan Cain is a good read about introverts.
  7. Shagley

    Shagley If you don't move when I say "beep beep", I will r

    Mar 11, 2005
    I also suffer horribly from social anxiety. I do so much better now that I take a low dose (10mg) of fluoxetine (generic prozac). I tried everything before I tried the medication, but nothing else seemed to work for me.

    I still don't like going to parties, or getting together in large groups, but it doesn't terrify me like it used to. My strategy for making small talk is to figure out what interests the other person, then ask them question about that - for example, do they have kids?, did they just return from vacation?, do they have pets they are crazy about?, do they have an interesting job? It is so much easier to make conversation when you can get someone else talking about something that interests them. That way you learn about that person, they feel good that you are interested in them, and it makes it so much easier to talk to them the next time you see them because you already know something about them.
  8. mantysk8coach

    mantysk8coach Proud member of the DIS chapter of NKOTB Anonymous

    May 30, 2005
    I could have just about written your post. I was very outgoing as a child, up until about 6th grade. Then some incidents in middle school absolutely trashed my self-esteem, and changed the way I communicated from that point on. I am now VERY uncomfortable around people that I am not super close to.

    For a while it didn't really affect me, I was busy meeting my husband, getting married, having babies, etc. Now that my kids are a bit older (I mean, they are only 8,5, and 1 but the older two are getting into their own things) I find myself in more situations where I need to be social...dealing with other parents, friends, people in the various activities they participate in. Plus my husband and I started doing community theater again and are constantly around VERY outgoing people.

    So I finally faced my issues head-on after a disastrous cast party where I pretty much shut down and left. I tried therapy, it didn't really help. I am now on a generic version of Zoloft, and am finally noticing a bit of a difference. I am glad I tried it.

    May want to be something you consider trying. Good luck!
  9. dmiller64152

    dmiller64152 Mouseketeer

    Jan 7, 2013
  10. clutter

    clutter <font color=FF66FF>Princess's Mom<br><font color=b

    Apr 29, 2001
    But there is a world of difference between being introverted and having social anxiety.
  11. Agri

    Agri DIS Veteran

    Oct 14, 2010
    Paxil. I took it everyday since you're supposed to with drugs in that class - they build up in your system for a week or so before you feel the full effect. It honestly changed my life. There are lots of other medications out there and while Paxil is an anti-depressant, it's also for social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder.

    I personally have found Xanax and similar drugs ineffective as they just sort of continue the cycle. In practice, I didn't find it any different than coping with alcohol or anything else because I knew if I freaked out I could just pop a pill and it'd go away. It's fine for start of treatment when you have acute panic attacks, but until I tried something else it was just another form of a bartender or bottle.

    I need to make it clear that while I still *felt* the anxiety, the medication helped control it to the extent that it no longer felt insurmountable when it happened. It gave me a better sense of control over my feelings and reactions so I was able to develop coping strategies to the point I no longer needed it. I was on it for about a year.

    Paxil worked wonders for me, but it was not the first medication I tried. What worked for me and what works for other people would be very different as we're all different people made differently. :) I would also not recommend being on medication without seeing a therapist. It is also a bit of trial and error involved with finding the right match, but having someone who is impartial and whose job is to get you well is an amazing tool to have.

    I also want to add that I think it's great you want to work on this now rather than later. My mom pretty much just had me as her social interaction (outside of work) growing up and it's fine when you're young, but even though she didn't mean it, once I was in my teens our relationship felt a bit strained because of that. I know at one point I told her (nicely) that she needed to find someone her own age to go do stuff with. She liked to dance when she was young, so she joined a class for adults and would frequently go to paint classes with a neighbor. Once that started, our relationship was much better because I no longer felt pressured to spend time with her.


    An introvert prefers solitary activity, but doesn't avoid social contact out of FEAR.
  12. dmiller64152

    dmiller64152 Mouseketeer

    Jan 7, 2013
    Agreed. Although when one doesn't recognize the nature of introversion, that very feeling of being different can cause the anxiety. For me, once I realized that there's nothing wrong with preferring solitary activity, ironically it was much easier for me to face social situations.

    I spent years around Es who continually pounded me for making the "choice" to prefer to be alone. It made me feel terribly bad about myself because I didn't think I really had a choice. So in order to fit in and be perceived as having made a "better choice," I drank a lot just so I could loosen up and talk to people.

    Extroverts generally don't get it.

    My advice to the OP is that she needs to figure out if it's her distinct personality or if it's really a psychological disorder. One can be "treated" while the other cannot and should not.
  13. diznee25

    diznee25 DIS Veteran

    Jul 17, 2002
    I'm concerned that you're changing for your DB, and not for yourself. You only got extreme motivation to change when your DB said he would end things if you didn't change.

    NEVER change for someone else. Only change from within will be effective. If you change for him, and down the road you guys break up anyway, you'll just go back to your old self.

    I would recommend therapy. But even if you can change, this could take months/years. Is your DB willing to stay by your side no matter how long this takes?
  14. Ginny Favers

    Ginny Favers <font color=green>I told my husband I think they m

    Dec 30, 2011
    Seriously! I still feel quite a bit of resentment toward all the people in my life who tried to strongarm me into being more outgoing. For WHAT? I'm shy. That's who I am. Get over it.

    If the OP is fine with being a wallflower and the OP's boyfriend is giving ultimatums because it embarrasses HIM, I'd say there's something wrong with the boyfriend.

    Yes, I've learned over time to be more outspoken, but it was because I wanted to. Mainly because I had kids and needed to be their advocate, or because I wanted to take my career to the next level. I sure as heck wouldn't let any dumb old guy tell me what I need to do.

    ETA: I realized that the OP said she WANTS to change, but I wonder how much of that is because the boyfriend is obviously finding fault with who she is... when who she is is just perfect.
  15. dmiller64152

    dmiller64152 Mouseketeer

    Jan 7, 2013

    EXACTLY. It's really easy to distinguish the introverts from the extraverts by the tone of their posts! :snooty:
  16. StitchesGr8Fan

    StitchesGr8Fan DIS Veteran

    Jul 17, 2009
    I agree OP should only try to change if she wants too. But I also think that if she doesn't want to change, But DBF has the same right. If OP doesn't want to change, no one should expect DBF to change himself and his social life to fit her needs. Aka - he doesn't need to stay home every night to make her happy.

    Should there be compromise? Yes. But sometimes people just aren't compatible. Eventually both sides feel resentment when one side feels forced to be something they aren't.
  17. Lionqueen2

    Lionqueen2 DIS Veteran

    Sep 28, 2006
    One trick in social situations is to try to get people to talk about themselves and be interested in what they are saying.

    If you are going to be in a social situation, try to prepare a little ahead of time. Check with DB and see if he can fill you in on the background of some of the people. That way you can introduce yourself and say things like - DB said you do (insert activity or interest). Say, I've always been interested, but would like to try 'activity' some day. Ask them to tell you about it - what they like, etc.

    For someone who reads, be prepared to discuss a book that you have read, etc. Ask about what the person likes to read, what books they've read lately, compare authors, etc.

    You can get people to talk about their their jobs, interests, hometowns, childhood activities, families, etc., etc.

    Once you become an 'expert' asking questions and keeping people talking about themselves, they will think you are a great conversationalist.
  18. MrsDrewsky

    MrsDrewsky DIS Veteran

    Dec 22, 2011
    When I was single and making new friends, etc. I found listening to podcasts and reading short stories was incredibly helpful. It really gave me talking points to almost anything. I loved listening to This American Life and Wait Wait Don't Tell me. They covered so many broad subjects in an entertaining way I found I could really contribute to conversations and it gave me some interesting ice breakers when meeting new people.

    Also I just wanted to add, I think your BF should make an effort to help a little more. Is he being accommodating in helping you break-in with his circle of friends? Sometimes guys aren't the best at that, I know I had to tell DH what I needed from him to feel comfortable around his friends when we were dating.
    :hug: Good luck!
  19. stsomewhere

    stsomewhere DIS Veteran

    Mar 13, 2008
  20. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2000
    Being introverted doesn't give anyone permission not to interact with their bf's friends. Being extroverted doesn't give someone permission to be obnoxious or to overshare with their bf's friends.

    Introverted doesn't mean fearful, extroverted doesn't mean obnoxious. Neither one is a negative trait. However, if you are at a point where your social difficulties are ruining your relations, regardless of which personality trait you have, I think it's a great time to work on it.

    I think the OP deserves kudos for wanting to work on something SHE sees as a handicap and her bf gets kudos for talking to honestly to her about it rather than just breaking up with her over it.
  21. mrsklamc

    mrsklamc <font color=blue>I apologize in advance, but what

    Oct 29, 2006
    It's been said but people seem to be ignoring it. She's not an introvert.

    Introverts don't WANT to participate in chit-chat. They see no point-although some are quite good at faking it. This is social anxiety, which is 100% not the same.

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