Lonely, Shy, No Friends and Depressed

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m an only child, and have always been an introvert. For the most part I enjoy being by myself, but it can get really lonely at times. I have been in few relationships since my middleschool days, and most recently, a year long long distance relationship. She lives in California, me in Massachusetts. We just came to the conclusion that things cannot work out between us at this stage in our lives, being so far apart. She really dreads the distance and wants someone close by to constantly do things with, and who am I to deny her that? It would be selfish. I just want to throw in here that we did meet in person, twice, and it was the most amazing 10 days each visit, that I had ever spent with someone in a LONG time. There was no shyness involved even when I was meeting her for the first time as we had been constantly talking over the computer and phone for months.

I get the feeling of loneliness a lot. I do not go out much except for College classes, or to see other members of my family. As I said I enjoy being by myself and doing things on my own, but sometimes it gets very lonely. That said, I do not have many real friends. I could think of at least double the amount of friends I have online I do in person. I can get very lonely sometimes. I think my LDR relationship kind of filled that small void I needed. Now that it is gone it’s made me realize a few things.

What the heck am I going to do with my future love/friendship life? I am really shy and quiet around people I have never met before, especially in crowds. I tend to always get feelings for the first girl who garners me any attention or interest.

I am slightly overweight (5’9, 190lb) which I am trying to convince myself is causing self-esteem/confidence/shy issues and is why I feel much more comfortable speaking to people I do not know over the internet or phone. I am not positive that is the sole reason though. Part of me is afraid getting in shape will not be enough. I want to make friends, but I don’t know how to begin with already being a shy introvert. More importantly, I want more female friends. I don’t want to feel like everything I do around a female may be a decisive factor in whether or not I would get to date her in the future. I cannot get that way of thinking out of my brain.
I know one way would be to attend school events, join a student counsel, city activites etc. Those things do not interest me at all. Not that I am not shy, I am, but I believe if I force myself to attend or do something I do not like, then I am already starting off with something the other people there attending enjoy, and something I don’t. Something we already don’t have in common. I’m not even quite sure what I would do to get myself out there in the world. I’m currently unemployed, I did have a good job over a year ago. I was working with a female there, and of course garnered a bit of a crush on her too. Why am I always getting crushes on any female I speak with? I want that to stop. I enjoy videogames, I am majoring in Game Design in College. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly the biggest “chick magnet” activity. I feel most comfortable in front of a computer, I feel I can express my feelings better through typing rather than speaking. I am basically the opposite of the social butterfly. I really enjoy the person I am when I am being myself, around people I am very familiar with. People I have known for months and spoken to a great deal.

Again, I really want to take steps here. I don’t want to be the life of a party because I don’t believe that is the kind of person I am. I don’t think I would enjoy going to any clubs or parties. I cannot decide if that’s because of my introvert shyness, or just something I am truly not interested in. I really want to change this, but I don’t know how to tackle it.

Please help, as I have been dealing with these issues for years now, and I am already 20. I don’t want to have long distance relationships for the rest of my life.

A. Social anxiety is not uncommon. Many people struggle with this issue. It is important that your anxiety levels match a given situation. In your case, your social anxiety levels are higher than they should be and thus it is creating a problem.

My assessment of your situation is that you are avoiding dealing with your social anxiety. As you mentioned, you spend a lot of time on the Internet. You have many more interactions on the Internet than you do in person. The Internet is a way to escape social interactions but it is a poor substitute. The Internet helps, but it does not sufficiently fulfill your need for social interaction. One appropriate way to use the Internet would be to identify local people to meet and interact with in person.

You mentioned that you do not want to join in-person activities because of your shyness. You mentioned that it would be inauthentic of you to join a group that that you did not truly believe in. You do not have to join groups or clubs of that kind. You could join groups or clubs that you are interested in. You could volunteer for causes that you do care about.

It is easier not to deal with this issue and ignore your shyness but that will only make your anxiety increase. I would encourage you to force yourself into social situations and not to avoid interaction with others.

You understand that you are shy and have difficulty interacting with others. Now that you are aware of this ongoing problem you should seek in-person counseling. It is important that you get the support of a therapist who can teach you how to deal with your social anxiety and who can help you to develop healthy social interaction skills. I would advise against seeking online help including Internet counseling or joining Internet support groups. They can serve as an adjunct to face-to-face counseling but they would not decrease your problems with shyness and social interaction. If you’re interested in therapy, click the ‘find help’ tab at the top of this page to locate a therapist in your community. Please take care. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Lonely, Shy, No Friends and Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/06/lonely-shy-no-friends-and-depressed/