I Can’t Have Relationships

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Okay, so, here it goes: I can’t talk to people, I can’t relate to anyone, I can’t have long lasting friendships or a steady boyfriend or anything. The only relationships I can keep are familial ones.

I get really anxious when I hang out with people, and unless they’re close with me I won’t tell them anything personal. I barely tell my own mother anything personal. I like to keep to myself, but sometimes I really need someone to talk to and let it all out. And I have no one I can do that with– and it’s all because of me. I just can’t trust another human being. I always feel like everyone is judging me, whenever I say something I feel like it was stupid (even though it probably wasn’t) and I shouldn’t have said it, so then I just turn quiet and even though I know I should keep talking I get too scared of saying something else that could be potentially embarrassing. And even if no one is judging me, or mocking me or whatever it is that I’m scared of, the possibility that they might is enough to make me want to lock myself in my room and never come out.

I never had a serious relationship. The closest thing to one lasted a couple months and ended in disaster because I just couldn’t handle it. The second we were a couple I wanted out (but I wouldn’t break up with him, I waited until he got fed up enough to break up with me), and the second we weren’t I regretted not being able to be a good girlfriend. But men/sex (notice how they’re grouped together?) freak me out. I’m not a virgin, but the few times I’ve had sex I was intoxicated. Otherwise I feel too vulnerable, and I can’t make myself go through with it. And men, even if we’re just having an innocent conversation, in the back of my mind I think they want to have sex with me, if that makes any sense. So they scare me, because sex scares me (which sounds freakin’ nuts, I know), and to me that’s all a guy cares about.

And my Ex even told me he wasn’t going to rush things, that he wasn’t going to make me do anything I didn’t want to, but I STILL couldn’t be alone with him or be really intimate. I just kept thinking he was going to take advantage of me, because he’s a guy and that’s what they do.

I don’t know why I think like this, but I do know that I want it to stop. I want a boyfriend. I want to be able to be intimate with someone without being intoxicated. I want to be able to hang out with my friends without constantly worrying whether they really like me, or what they’re really thinking, or worrying whether I sound stupid or looked stupid. I want to be able to depend on others.

But the entire idea has me hyperventilating.

Please, help me. Help me understand why I’m like this, or what I can do, or something. I’ll take anything at this point, because the more I try to ignore it, the worse it gets.

So, please help me!

A. There seem to be two overarching issues: your inability to trust others and low self-esteem and self-confidence. Your inability to trust others is a multifaceted issue. You feel as though you cannot relate to other people. This ‘feeling’ may inhibit your ability to connect to others. It may be similar to a self-fulfilling prophecy: you believe that you cannot connect with others and thus act in a manner that is consistent with your perceived self-image. This may have been the case with your ex. In this example, the second you two became a couple you behaved (as per your letter) in a manner that essentially drove him to break up with you. That is self-sabotage.

Another possibility is that fear is holding you back. Whenever someone becomes too close it frightens you. The reasons for this may be related to trust issues. It may also be related to anxiety. As you mentioned, you are constantly focused on what other people think of you. This focus may be altering your behavior in the presence of others. Fear of what others think of you may be prohibiting the development of your authentic self.

I mentioned the possibility of having low self-esteem. Many confident individuals seem to be immune to the opinions of others. When an individual is confident about his- or herself and his or her abilities, what other people think of them is of little or no importance.

If I were interviewing you in person, I would inquire about a history of abuse. Some of the issues that you are struggling with are consistent with an individual who has a history of sexual, emotional or physical abuse. Individuals who have been abused often fear intimacy.

What is very positive about your letter is that you recognize there is a problem and are highly motivated to change. This makes you a perfect candidate for therapy. I would recommend finding a good therapist to help you deal with your relationship, intimacy and self-esteem issues. Those are among the most common reasons why individuals enter therapy. You can locate a therapist by clicking on the find help tab at the top of this page. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). I Can’t Have Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/19/i-cant-have-relationships/