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I Feel Extremely Uncomfortable or Paranoid When Sitting Next to Men

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I don’t even really know if I have a disorder, but this did sound similar to paranoid personality disorder. I don’t know how to explain it, but whenever I am sitting, or standing near a male (unless they are in front of me) I feel extremely uncomfortable and anxious. I think I felt this way a bit earlier on in high school, but in the past year, it has grown worse. I am always trying to make sure that I am not sitting next to a guy, and once one does sit next to me, I become paranoid and cannot focus on anything but what he does. Every move he makes. And if he sneezes or coughs, I jump out of fear. The worst part is that they know I am watching them, I know they do, because multiple awkward times, guys have asked to switch seats. I can’t stop it, and with some guys, it is worse, but in general, the more a guy fidgets the worse it gets. I don’t understand why I feel the need to watch them, and I dread the classes where I know I will have to sit next to a guy in. I just want to know what is wrong with me, and if there is anything I can do to stop it. I feel the need to look away from them, or use my hair as a curtain to shield me from seeing them out of the corner of my eye. I don’t know whether it is all in my head, and the reaction I have to the feeling that makes guys want to not sit next to me. I feel like I am going insane. Please help!

I Feel Extremely Uncomfortable or Paranoid When Sitting Next to Men

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A.

Your phobia has to have a source, an origin. Most likely, there was an event or an unpleasant experience that precipitated it. If I could speak to you in person, I would explore how this specific phobia developed over time.

By their very nature, phobias are irrational. Despite knowing this, many people have trouble overcoming a phobia. They can cause significant distress in a person’s life. The good news is that they are highly treatable.

Behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective for treating phobias. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also good for correcting your thinking. Medication might also be helpful.

The quickest way to overcome a phobia is to directly engage in the behavior you fear (i.e. face your fear). Though highly effective, that type of exercise should be avoided until you are actively working with a mental health professional. In your case, that would involve deliberately sitting next to a man and enduring the anxiety that arises from being so close. Yes, your anxiety levels will increase but they will eventually dissipate. Resist the urge to escape. Your therapist will design a treatment plan at a pace that is not overwhelming and that meets your needs. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Feel Extremely Uncomfortable or Paranoid When Sitting Next to Men

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). I Feel Extremely Uncomfortable or Paranoid When Sitting Next to Men. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/05/06/i-feel-extremely-uncomfortable-or-paranoid-when-sitting-next-to-men/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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