From a voicemail to my brother after a date. A rational, non-anxious person would also react this way…I think.
I went on a date last night.
It’s part of an ongoing campaign to push through the anxiety in order to conquer it. This was actually the fourth person I’ve seen in the last seven months.
Bottom line: I hate it and it’s terrible.
During my flirtation with mental wellbeing (the Nortriptyline period), I started to think that maybe I could have a relationship. The wellbeing didn’t last long enough to figure out if I wanted one, but I began to think it was something I was capable of doing successfully.
Though I no longer identify with that thought, I remember having it. What follows are my current, scattered thoughts. Strangely, these scattered thoughts feel less anxious and depressed than usual. They kind of feel like thoughts regular people have. Small steps, right? Don’t tell me if you disagree.
Socializing is exhausting.
I know the math doesn’t really make sense – calm down, nerds.
Let’s consider the equation A – B < C.
- A = amount of anxiety created and energy depleted while socializing
- B = how much I want to see this person again.
- C = how much I enjoyed the socializing
These parameters must be true in order to consider the date successful. If we substitute in the numbers, the problem becomes clear
1,000,000 – 15 < 30
999,985 < 30
That is simply untrue. A – B < C is never true.
Social Anxiety is tough. I don’t want to spend time with others but am also kind of lonely. I don’t want to spend time with myself, which is simply impossible unless I’m at the movies. But until we start living like Theodore Twombly, there is no in between.
Ultimately, this is another case of not knowing what is real and what is anxiety – what do I want? And what is realistically achievable?
I am broken.
Then I try to think about potential upsides. What happens if I meet someone I do like? How long it will take to reveal how broken I am?
There’s no easy way to say, “Hey buddy, I get super anxious and super depressed. There are months where I need to cordon myself off like a crime scene or wild animal. It’s not great. Sooooo it was nice to meet you but you don’t want to get involved with this bag of crazy.”
It’s just not fair to bring another person into my life right now. What’s the saying – that you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else? Is that even true? Or do other people help you love yourself? I’m starting to ask a lot of questions.
Maybe the first step is to hate myself a little less.
Self-esteem is tricky.
When necessary, I can be delightful.
I call this delightful personality my “tour guide mode,” since it stems from the fake persona I adopted as a college tour guide. I’m engaged, inquisitive, enthusiastic, funny, a little sarcastic, capable of speaking for minutes at a time.
Tour guide mode is exhausting and unsustainable. It’s essentially forced hypomania.
I date these gentlemen under tour guide mode because it’s the way I interact with strangers. It places a barrier between myself and others. It matters less whether you like or dislike tour guide mode because it’s not really me. Failure is less of a blow.
But translating from tour guide mode to myself doesn’t work. In comparison, myself…sucks. I feel terrible so much of the time – it’s not fair to subject anyone to my consistently terrible mood. I’m better off spending time alone.
Added to that, it takes me at least six months to be comfortable with a new person, i.e. enough to consistently be “myself,” and that’s simply too long. These barriers apply as much to new friendships as new relationships.
Society, man. Oof
Part of the trouble is society. Dating and relationships fall under that “things that people do” umbrella.
It’s tough to watch the overwhelming majority of people follow particular patterns while personally feeling removed from that pattern. So I ask myself, “Ok. This is a thing that people do. Is it something that I do?“
This isn’t me.
This idea of whether you fit into societal norms is surely something with which we all struggle. So how do you think about it? Where do you find yourself going against societal norms and how do you deal with it?
Social Anxiety and Dating Posts:
Part 1 – my all-time most popular post