More threads by unlearning

First, I'd like to say Hello. Second, this is all completely new to me, I've never looked for advice in this area of my life. I'll give a quick breakdown of who I am. I'm male, white, 27 years old. I live a reasonable fit life, I would consider myself average build 6' 200lbs.

I'm more or less curious as to what I am experiencing is considered a mental health issue.

Ever since I was a child, I've really liked being alone. Throughout high school this changed some, but now in my life I like nothing more than to stay in by myself. This was never a problem really but I've been living with my girlfriend of 5 years for about 3.5 years. I love her, I really do and I like her company but there are many times when I just want to be left alone.

Often times, on weekends, she will have a family function of some sort and I generally don't want to go. They go have breakfast and sit in the restaurant to chit chat. This makes me really anxious as I am no good with small talk and generally they are talking about nothing that interests me. That alone is a good reason for me to not want to go, however it's more than that. When I am in the crowded restaurant I feel like all I want to do is get out. I bounce my knee at about 500 bounces per second and often times "zone out" staring at pictures on the wall. I intentionally try to take myself out of the situation mentally.

So as you can imagine, it upsets my girlfriend that I never want to go with her. I explained to her how I feel and that it's not to do with her family, who I think are fine people, I just don't like to go out. She will often go without me and leave me home alone, for which time I am in heaven. I can go about my day doing all the things I want to do, hobbies like video games, computers, art and working on my Volkswagens.

I should also mention that I've had some stomach issues in the past. When I was in high school I had ulcers. I also had my galbladder removed. I would get very sick to my stomach and get bad cramps. When I go out and am feeling anxious I will often feel sick to my stomach. This is especially true if I have just eaten something.

Crowded places do make me very nervous and I don't like waiting in lines. In shopping malls I often feel ready to defend myself and I find myself looking for ways out. If I feel threatened I'll generally look for someone who looks weaker than me that I could use to get out. Although I feel I'm a gentle person, yet I've been jumped about 4 times in my life for seemingly no reason. When this happened my temper flew and I think it's what saved me as I was always able to come out ok despite the odds. Sometimes I think it's those occurances which make me not want to go out. 2 in particular really make me want revenge, and I often think about what I would do to the people who hurt me if I ever found them. This really makes me feel anger inside and sometimes I'll lose weeks of sleep over it.

I think the focus is that crowded places make me nervous, but the things that make me nervous about them didn't happen until later in my life. I've always liked to be alone and when I'm not alone I feel on edge even if it's just slightly. It's sometimes enough and as embarassing as it sounds, to keep me from going number 2 and I get bound up inside. It upsets my girlfriend because despite what I tell her she thinks I don't like her family or friends which is not true. I'm upset, that it makes her upset however I LIKE how I am, and I LIKE being alone, I don't want to lose that feeling I get when I can be by myself. So it's like I'm searching for the cure to a problem I don't really want to go away. It's very confusing for me and I'd appreciate any advice you might have.

Thanks in advance.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
It sounds as though you might have some social anxiety -- not because you like to be alone (many people like or need some solitary time) but because being with other people seems to create some anxiety/stress for you.

It seems to me that, although you say "I LIKE how I am, and I LIKE being alone", it is in fact a problem for you and part of the reason you don't want to change is that it allows you to avoid the social anxiety. To continue this way may not be a problem for you but obviously it is for your girlfriend -- either you get some help to be able to feel more comfortable in social situations or my guess is that it will continue to create problems in your relationship and may seriously jeopardize the survival of your relationship over time.

I am not, by the way, suggesting that you have to give up solitary time -- simply that you need to learn to balance it and to deal with your social anxiety so that you can have solitary time but also attend various social functions with your girlfriend.


I'm a loner myself, unlearning. I don't care for large crowds of people. However, I don't have the anxiety issues you have. If I must be involved in something where there will be a lot of people around, it doesn't particularly bother me. I can get along with them just fine, and not feel uncomfortable in their presence.

As Dr. Baxter says, it's the anxiety you feel that indicates there's some kind of underlying problem going on. It might be worth discussing with someone to see what's up. :eek:)

Daniel E.
For my mild-to-moderate social anxiety, habituation helps most. When an extroverted family member was unable to drive late last year, my social anxiety decreased significantly by going with him everywhere he went.
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