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Roy H.

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Haven't been here in a while.

Not sure where to post this kind of stuff as other places I don't think my anonymity is as good as it is here.

I'm starting to have some frustration in my life (regarding finding a mate at least - my life is a mess at all times psychologically otherwise).

Lots of questions to ask. I am in my 40s now, been sober now for almost 3 years. Working full time.

Haven't had a relationship now for 5 years.

Been trying to stay sober and get medicated right for:

Anxiety
Depression
Social phobia(?)

I have issues around people - extreme fear of making eye contact, I avoid people (neighbors when they are outside, for example) and I pretty much creep eveyrone out at work. I keep sunglasses on inside buildings at all times.

I guess I am starting to come to the realization that I'm just too creepy to interact with the opposite sex? There was a new woman at work that I thought I might be attracted to but just the thought of even approaching her scares me. Is it possible I am gay? I don't know. It's never a question I wanted to seek.

I have been attracted to the opposite sex I believe going back to my teens, but maybe I just made myself believe that? I mean if I am too afraid to even interact with them, maybe I'm closeted gay?

I have had a relationship or two with women that were sexual, but in the 5 year relationship I drank heavily. The other one I was using liquor moderately. I think I used to ease the fear of being next to them. I am not sure.

I have always had social anxiety issues - phobia, as long as I can remember.

I don't know anymore. If I can't get a woman at this point coming up on 3 years sober, and now into my 40s, what the hell am I to do?

The other night I thought maybe I should just say the hell with it and get a half pint of vodka and maybe go to a club? If liquor is what it takes, and it's this late in the game, then I have to? Or maybe I'm gay?

Just so much. Too much.

I am seeing a therapist but I don't want to approach any of this garbage with him. Only seen him now a half dozen times.

What does anyone here think about any of this?
 

Daniel

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been sober now for almost 3 years. Working full time.

That's awesome.

If I can't get a woman at this point coming up on 3 years sober, and now into my 40s, what the hell am I to do?

Well, dating is partly a numbers game. What have you been doing to meet people?

I am seeing a therapist but I don't want to approach any of this garbage with him. Only seen him now a half dozen times.

Maybe it would be easier to show your therapist what you wrote above?

Sexuality and dating can be confusing or stressful at any age. There are a number of issues people may face (or avoid) even in 20+ year marriages, not only sexual orientation (and the stigma of sexual minorities including asexualities) but also commitment vs. casual sex, isolation vs. intimacy, trust issues, insecurity vs. self-acceptance, having a sex partner with lower/higher libido, anxiety about sexually transmitted diseases and/or unwanted pregnancy, sexual performance anxiety, hypersexuality (as with bipolar disorder), porn use vs. porn addiction, the increasing popularity of cybersex and online sex workers, open vs. closed relationships, etc.

But concerning sexual orientation, it is on a spectrum, which makes things less black-and-white. Are there any men at work you have been attracted to?

OTOH, some people with OCD have a theme/subtype of OCD called HOCD: Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (HOCD). Basically, they don't want to have homosexual sex, even though they have intrusive/unwanted thoughts about it. They keep trying to make sure they aren't gay. But no matter what they do, they still have doubts since OCD is the "doubting disease."

Regarding social anxiety and dating:



For me, the best part of the above video is where Ellis talks about catastrophizing. So not only does Gloria fear being rejected by a particular man, but she then catastrophizes that one rejection means more rejections and then a lifetime of rejection and loneliness.

The other night I thought maybe I should just say the hell with it and get a half pint of vodka and maybe go to a club? If liquor is what it takes, and it's this late in the game, then I have to?

Of course, that would be a good example of maladaptive, short-term coping. If you think you don't have any real positive or healthy choices, then that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I tend to feel that way when feeling tired, stuck, or hopeless.

An alternative mindset is a growth mindset. One that sees future personal growth as inevitable as previous personal growth, though the going may be slower than one would like. (There is the the joke that life is like walking into a movie that is half way over. By the time you have it all figured out, it's almost over.)

Exercise, especially regular aerobic/intense exercise over months and years, can help with anxiety sensitivity and other components of anxiety. The obvious problem is motivation/desire/consistency since most people don't exercise as much as they would like.

But often what helps me the most is just normalizing what I am feeling, which makes "unwanted private mental events" seem less isolating. Like just yesterday, a Phoenix news anchor was open about having suicidal ideation earlier this year (since he was talking about September being suicide awareness month). Most people would assume a news anchor for a major city would "have it all together," but he has a history of substance abuse and other mental illness--like a lot of other people on TV. A similar idea is embracing neurodiversity:


Having worked in the mental health field for many years, I have come to believe that mental health symptoms often arise in those who have never found their fit. I consider neuro-exceptionals to be people who are very analytical, unusually sensitive and aware. They have very active minds and like to keep busy. They also tend to be introverts in typical social settings but get them comfortable and on a topic that interests them, you find a completely different person.

And personally, I like small, solution-focused approaches--like doing one thing different. Like eating out more often, for example, as a way to be around people more. Or in the case of dating, using a different way or app for meeting people.
 
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David Baxter

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Excellent post, Daniel.

Roy H. At this time, I really don't have anything significant to add to what Daniel has said. Especially the point about taking what you posted above to your therapist and simply giving it to him/her to read at the start of your next session.

And after all the work and anguish it took to get sober and stay sober for 3 years, whatever you do don't throw that away. With or without a relationship, it just isn't worth it. And breaking your sobriety will only make finding a relationship or interacting with people more difficult.
 

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