I Hate Making New Friends

There are many ins and outs to me trying to navigate a new friendship, and as an outgoing and talkative person, it probably surprises you that I even struggle with social anxiety. However, such a large part of my own anxiety struggles are social.

For most people, making new friends is extremely exciting. It can be fun to meet a new person and navigate a new relationship. There’s a feeling of fresh and new that comes with the first few times you hangout and as you learn new things about each other.

However, as an anxious person, making new friends can be terrifying. For me, making new friends triggers a large amount of my anxieties. There’s an uncertainty in if I’m coming on too strong, I’m feeling closer to them than they are to me, or if I’m just plain annoying them. There are many ins and outs to me trying to navigate a new friendship, and as an outgoing and talkative person, it probably surprises you that I even struggle with social anxiety. However, such a large part of my own anxiety struggles are social.

The following are just some of the anxieties that I experience through the start of a new friendship. Note that these are not a cry for help, a demand for a change in someone else’s behavior, or a pity party of oh woe is me. As with any time I speak of my anxiety, this is simply a presentation of information and an attempt at giving someone outside of my worry-filled brain a sense of understanding.

1. A change in routine means I think you’re mad at me.

This first one is particularly difficult. Naturally, new friendships aren’t on strong footing. The relationship itself is still being developed and a routine or standard operating procedure is still being established. This routine–still in its infant stages–could be something simple: talking to a co-worker after work, texting every day, or even just sending each other funny GIFs. As soon as there is a change in this regular operating procedure, my brain decides that I’m just too much and or I’ve done something wrong.

2. I immediately apply complaints about someone else to myself.

If a co-worker complains about another to me, I immediately rack my brain trying to figure out if I’ve done the same thing that is being complained about. Have I also complained about the copier, come in late two days in a row, or overshared during lunch? I am so worried about being annoying to someone else that I try (too hard) to make sure that I am not That Person™. When I hear the complaint, my brain interprets it as a light hint that I am actually the one being obnoxious, and to spare my feelings, the issue is being presented as if it is someone else.

3. I almost always immediately regret sending a text the second I send it.

This is doubled if I don’t receive a reply. There really isn’t anything deep to this. I simply always feel like I’m coming on too strong, and when my text is read, the recipient rolls their eyes in annoyance.

4. I never know if I care more than you do.

I’m a fairly open person, which means that I tend to attach to others fairly quickly at times. While I obviously have more than one friend, there are friends that I just feel a connection with on a different level. There’s almost always a moment with these friends where I feel we really click. It’s a feeling I struggle to articulate, but it is comparable to when you’re on a date and you just know things are going well. There’s a feeling in the air when these moments of connection happen.

While these moments are admittedly my favorite part of a new friendship, it also brings about a fear that I’m connecting to someone, but they aren’t connecting to me.

5. I feel creepy if I remember too much.

I’m a person that loves connecting with others. There are few things I find more thrilling or rewarding. I’m also a person deeply invested in the research of psychology and the processes of social interaction. (I bet at this moment you wouldn’t believe me if I told you my degree includes communication and psychology, would you?) Because of this interest, I consider myself a pretty good listener. Sometimes, I might be too much of a listener. I remember small details that a new friend mentions in passing, and when I bring these up later or mention them, I feel like a weirdo.

The above are just a few of my social anxieties stemming from new friendships. There are countless more depending on the day, the relationship, or the new person I’m connecting with. However, while these worries may seem far-fetched and irrational, they’re real to me. They’re so real to me that they can be debilitating.

The good news is that I don’t experience these all of the time. These worries only happen when I’m feeling particularly anxious. Yet, when I am, they irk me to my core. They twist what I think is happening and change my perception of every person around me into something I barely recognize.

I’ve tried to hide my social anxiety for years, but that’s really left me in an even worse state than I am to begin with. For about the last year or so, I have shared my social anxieties rather quickly with those I’m newly connecting with.

While terrifying and sometimes hurtful or disappointing, this vulnerability has provided me with more time, closer friendships, and quite frankly, friendships that are higher in quality than those in which I hide my struggles. Through sharing my struggles, I have found friends that understand, are willing to give a little extra reassurance where it’s needed, and who truly just care enough to accept me for everything I am.

While only in my mid-twenties, I no longer have time for surface level friendships. I have a career, a family, and responsibilities. Those that I both make time for and want to spend time with are only those that I feel add value to my place in the world.

There’s definitely a benefit to exposing my worries early on. While not without its disappointments, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

To read more about wanting people in your life that accept you fully, check out my post, I Am Not Your Buffet.

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