I’m socially dysfunctional. It’s horrible! I’m not shy or anything, it’s just I’ve never felt connected to ANYONE in this world. I have plenty of friends and I’ve had my share of girlfriends, but every time relationships get closer I seem to trigger something that blows it up. I even rejected the ONLY girl I actually loved. I keep making excuses for myself: “Oh, I can’t ask her out. She’ll never be into me …” But that’s the thing — they’re excuses and I know they’re not true!
I don’t know if I have high or low self-esteem, but this self-destruction/sabotage is killing me. I’ve spent sleepless nights afraid of waking up alone, crying. It’s crossed my mind that I might be “depressed,” but I don’t see why — my life is good on the outside; I have a loving family and good friends. And I know it sounds like I’m taking them for granted, but I’m not. I need help.
— Dysfunctional Dyke
The wonders of human emotions! You are probably just obsessing over nothing and making yourself feel crazy when you’re just like most people. Everybody goes through periods where they don’t feel connected, and everyone else on the planet seems distant, foreign, shinier, and vaguely threatening. Anyone who claims never to have felt this for at least a few minutes in their life is a dirty liar.
I am a little concerned that you feel there is absolutely no one you can confide in — you are simply tricking yourself here. List your five favorite people. Call one of them up and ask them to coffee or out for a beer. Once you have them trapped, dump on them. Just tell them you are going through a rough time and you need to unload your shit somewhere and that you love them so much, you picked them. If they run, move to the next person on the list. Act quickly before word spreads and no one will take your calls.
That may sound funny, but it’s true: You have a friend who will be more than happy to hear it all. That’s what friends are for (sing it, Dionne!). Working to develop your non-romantic personal relationships will help you open up for potentially more successful romantic relationships.
How is your empathy for others? Sometimes when we feel isolated it is because we are failing to identify with the emotions of those around us. It can be hard to just turn this sensitivity “on,” especially if your friends and family are vapid black holes. (Not that yours are, but I’ve watched enough VH1 and Bravo to know they’re out there.) A good way to exercise your empathy and connect with the world is through volunteer work. Hit up a soup kitchen, hospice, or a women’s shelter and sign up for some time on the lines. Maybe some time at a local LGBT or other cultural center where you will find some like-minded ladies? Helping others is personally rewarding, builds self-esteem, fosters new friendships, and ultimately makes us feel more connected to our community.
As I have posted in several of the last months’ columns, there is affordable therapy out there if you really want it. Sure, it can be a pain to jump through the hoops to get signed up, but once you’re in the system, it’s easy and fun. Check the archive online or email me directly for links.
I’m going to wrap this up with a few thoughts on relationship “sabotage,” as I am an expert of sorts.
1. Don’t go looking for love if you aren’t
ready. Being lonely doesn’t make you ready, just lonely.
2. Call a friend or adopt a pet.
3. Falling in love with someone doesn’t make
the person right for you or even relationship material. Nor does it make you right for them. Remember that the person who refers to “the only girl I ever loved” is a melodramatic movie character (one who is bound to conceptually self-destruct!). Try to date real people, and treat the people you date like real people.
Much love and understanding,
Your Uncle Mat
Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, myspace.com/yourunclemat, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.