I’m a Wallflower

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

The problem in a nutshell is that I have no close friends and when I’m single (which is the case right now) I’m completely lonely and more depressed than ever. In social situations where I don’t know anybody I fit the definition of a wallflower to a T. I’ve been so desperate to make friends that I’ve pushed myself to go to parties or events but when I get there I’m so awkward and introverted that I’m nearly brought to tears and usually leave early. Once I even traveled 40 minutes to a social event I found online just to see all the people there and turn around without even going inside.

I think I’m a great guy with a lot to give and would make a great friend but the truth is that I don’t have any.

In terms of dating the girlfriends I do get I find on online dating sites and even that is sparse. For every 50 girls I find online that I think we could really connect I’ll get 1 or 2 responses. I’ve tried everything from long, serious thought-out emails to short and relatively funny emails and still I get very little responses. I don’t think I’m that ugly, but I’m no Brad Pitt either. If I was to rate my looks I’d say I’m a solid 7. When the conversation with anyone I go on a date with turns to “my friends” and I have a real hard time lying or sidestepping the truth and usually say that I don’t have any. The girl almost always says “I bet that’s not true, I’m sure you have friends” and this always hurts more than you could know that one could just assume a decent guy in their mid-20s would obviously have a small group of friends.

I had two best friends in my life. One for 2 years when I was in kindergarten and first grade until he moved away and a second for a year in high school until he got caught up with a different crowd and left me behind so to speak. Those two exceptions aside I’ve had nothing but acquaintances my entire life. Acquaintances that I’ve attempted to be closer with but they’ve always kept me at a distance while they kept their own circle of friends close.

My lack of friends and social skills is quite baffling if you look at my parents. My parents are still together, love each other, and did everything they could to give me the best upbringing. My mom is always the life of any party and my dad is the jokester at his work and everyone seems to like him.

I used to cry that I didn’t have any friends in elementary school and my mom would console me and tell me that it would be better in middle school. In middle school she would tell me that high school would be much better as everyone would be more mature and I’d meet lots of friends. When high school came and I would voice my sadness over not having friends she told me that college would be the best years of my life. Well college came and went and sure I had girlfriends from time to time and a number of acquaintances but I never had any close friends, no one who would call on me to hang out or help me out with their problems.

Having this lack of companionship and friendship in my life had made me more and more depressed over the years until finally midway through college I couldn’t take the depression anymore and I saw someone who prescribed me anti-depressants. It wasn’t until my dosage was at 150mg a day of Zoloft that it seemed to make any difference. 6 years later I’m still on Zoloft which definitely takes the edge off, the severe depression is downgraded and the suicidal wishes go away but I’m no less lonely, I’m no more outgoing, and still I’m surrounded by people who have their BFFs while I’m sitting in my apartment typing my life story here online.

I’m now 26 years old, I live in New York City and I just want to be like the rest of the people I’ve seen my entire life. I want a handful of close friends and a best friend or two. Not that television and movies is a good sense of reality but I want to be like Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother and not like Paul Rudd’s character in I Love You Man.

A: I’m so sorry that you’ve had this longstanding problem and haven’t found the help you need. Zoloft may help take the edge off but it isn’t going to help you find the friends you long for. At this point, you may be feeling so defeated in this area of life that you radiate pessimism even when you do approach people.

I strongly suggest you get involved in some group therapy. In group, you will get feedback about what you do and don’t do that gets in your way. You will have the opportunity to interact with people in a safe place where everyone is working on their issues. With the guidance of the therapist, you will not only learn some new skills, but you will have the opportunity to rehearse them with group members before you take them out into the world. This will give you some new and much-needed self-confidence.

Google search either “social therapy, NYC” or “Group therapy, NYC” and you will find quite a long list of resources.

You made an important first step in writing. I hope you will take the next step and get some practical and emotional help. It’s completely understandable that you are discouraged. But you are only in your 20s. If you take care of this issue now, you will have many, many years of having more of what you want in life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). I’m a Wallflower. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/07/im-a-wallflower/