It seems as though you like superficial interaction but when the interaction becomes too personal or too deep you don’t like it. Deeper forms of interaction seem to cause you anxiety. As you described, when you receive a phone call or a text, you feel immense pressure; your heart races, you get chills and your palms sweat. That is the definition of anxiety.
Both preferring to be alone and having a lack of interest in social interaction, are symptoms of several mental health disorders including schizotypal, schizoid and avoidant personality disorder. Some individuals with autism also prefer to be alone.
It would be helpful to know more about what you were like as a child, what your childhood was like, what you do when you are alone, what you think about when you are alone, your dating history, and what you believe are the benefits of being alone.
It is quite possible that some people prefer to be alone at certain times. The question becomes why? If you see the benefit of being alone as not having to feel pressure from social interaction, then this is a sign of social anxiety. If you are choosing solitude as a lifestyle for the aforementioned reason, then it would seem that you are avoiding social interaction because it makes you feel uncomfortable. As you said, you do enjoy superficial interaction but it’s the more personal social interaction that makes you uncomfortable. You dislike it so much that you would prefer to avoid it altogether.
If you wanted to be alone because you were immersed in writing a novel or a major research project and solitude made it easier to concentrate, then you would have an understandable reason to want to be alone. The reason why you prefer to be alone is the key to understanding whether your desire for solitude is healthy or related to social anxiety.
From a mental health perspective, there is a basic assumption that social interaction is very important. Most theories of psychological development assert this. Existentialists, in particular, believe that the ability to connect with others is vital for healthy and successful human development. I do not believe you should be looking for ways to avoid people. Instead, it would be healthier if you sought treatment to deal with the underlying anxiety that seems to be driving your avoidance of social interaction. Please click on the find help tab at the top of this page to find a therapist who specializes in the treatment of social anxiety. Please take care. I wish you well.
Post Updated: October 2018
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on October 20, 2010.