Please help me get more comfortable with doing things alone.

Hello Everyone.

It’s been almost two years now since I separated from my husband and I still can’t get past this hump. If anything, it may be getting even more difficult for me.

On Memorial Day, I drove to an event, but then just turned around and came back home after being completely overwhelmed just by the parking options. I felt so stupid.

So, help me out. How do I conquer this fear?

More clarification needed.

Have you always been antisocial, but your husband was your guide that pulled you into social interactions?

Or has it just been since the separation, that you now feel antisocial?

I would suggest doing some social things with one other person first, like coffee or lunch out. Do that a few times.

Then do a larger group (3 or 4 people) lunch, etc. Work your way up.

It doesn’t sound antisocial to me, just anxious. I would say do things that require less interaction at first.Maybe going to a movie, or dinner out at a familiar restaurant. It can be easy to think that everyone who sees you knows there "should"be someone beside you, and sees that he isn’t there. Or it may be that you are afraid they will feel sorry for you, and assume that you couldn’t find a date.

In the words of Samuel Clemens: “We wouldn’t worry so much what people thought of us, if only we knew how little they do.”

I have always preferred to take that word “little” in the sense of “seldom” of course. But really it works either way. The key to overcoming self-consciousness is not to think more of ourselves, but to understand that most other people do not notice us at all. If they do, it is mostly to wish that we were walking faster.

In thirty-odd years of taking myself out to restaurants, concerts, movies and museums, I have only twice run into someone who treated me as “less than” because I was alone. Both of them were teenagers seating people at restaurants, and both of them were corrected by wait staff who knew me to be a good tipper.

Otherwise, honestly, the only people who could possibly care would be those with lives so pathetic that one can’t help wishing them whatever small pleasure they can wring from their smug little moment.

If your anxiety is truly insurmountable though, and is keeping you away from things you enjoy, it might be worth discussing with your doctor. They have medicines these days that can help with anxiety without turning you into a zombie or an opiate addict. If the doctor offers you opioids or benzodiazapines, get a second opinion. It is possible that such things are necessary, but you should be very sure before going that route.

I sympathize a little.
I’m one of those people who needs and doesn’t want a ton of folks around, but I do need a few close mates there.

When I was a younger lad, late teens, there was an odd period where I was either just a bit older or younger than all of my friends so couldn’t do a lot of stuff with them. I started hanging out at a local diner, sitting at the counter drinking coffee and talking with the wait staff when they had time. Pretty soon I was joined by 3 other old guys and bam! Male coffee klatch that met pretty regularly for about a year.

Maybe not for you, but perhaps it will inspire an idea in your mind.

Maybe start by doing things where it’s normal for random individuals to come together to do things together. Here are some examples:

  • Fitness class
  • City cleanup events
  • Improv classes
  • Church activities

These are things where you can often interact as little or as much as you like. If you want to go to a fitness class without talking to anyone, no problem! Or you can say hi. Or interact as much as you feel comfortable. Go to these kinds of activities over and over so you get more comfortable with going out and doing stuff. It won’t be weird that you’re all alone since everyone else is as well. In a fitness class, likely everyone there also is just an individual going to the class. It’s not like like a concert or a restaurant where most people will be paired up. The more you go to those events for individuals, the more comfortable you’ll feel about going to events where people are grouped up.

One thing I would really recommend is to go and do these kinds of events even if you don’t feel like it. The less you go, the less you’ll want to go and the problem will just get harder to overcome. Instead, find some group activity that you’d enjoy where it is normal for individuals to go and then do it often.

You interpreted the OP differently from the way I did. The OP was talking about doing things alone, which to me is different from social interaction. I interpreted it as being able to go somewhere or do something she wanted or needed to do, when she didn’t have someone else to go with.

And I guess my advice for that would be: start small and work your way up.

I like doing stuff by myself. Some low stress suggests are taking a tourist walk through a nearby city or going to a museum. Museums are good since you can see them anyway you want, schedule special features if you want and spend as much time looking at one painting as you feel is required.

I’m right there with you, not what you’d expect, so I can offer more empathy than actual advice. In fact, I don’t really have any advice. But I’m right there with you. My ex moved out seven months ago, and my mattress hurts my back, but rather than go out mattress shopping I’ve been spending the last few months sleeping on the couch.

Try to tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and very few people give you more than a passing thought. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone you have just as much right to roam a parking lot looking for a spot as anyone else.

In more practical terms for the Memorial Day parking, if possible try to plan ahead. You could have tried scouting the area on Google Maps to find likely parking locations, or if it wasn’t far you could have driven there to see what it was like.

It can be hard doing things on your own but you’ve got to be your own independent person and be happy with yourself.

Thanks everyone.

I’m not anti-social, just very shy until I get to know you. My current self confidence is low, which is causing a lot of anxiety. I’m doubting my every decision.

The parking situation should not have overwhelmed me. There were several options, I just couldn’t commit to anything. I think.

My husband and I lived pretty quiet lives. We moved to be closer to my daughter and her family and so now I have not one friend in my new area. My daughter is busy with her husband and three kids. I have a very hard time meeting people and making friends.

I feel quite stuck in this horrible loneliness.


I’m alone and always have been and getting out of the house is difficult when there’s so much to do at home - like read the Dope. :slight_smile:

This struck me. Do you visit them at all? Do they visit you? Do you babysit? If you cook, how about having them round regularly for a meal? I’m sure your daughter and her husband would love some ‘us time’ without interruption by children. Perhaps you could host the kids on the Saturday night overnight and host lunch on Sunday?

I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’ve operated the same way for 40 years, only I haven’t really had a partner to lean on most of that time, so I don’t have the experience of the loss of that pairing that has made this more difficult for you. I only feel that recently I am confidently out there by myself. I don’t know if it comes with age or practice. I’ve got both now.

**filmore **gave really good advice. So did others. Keep giving yourself chances to be “out there” an don’t beat yourself up when you don’t succeed. Just keep making the effort.

You will find your confidence. You will find your comfort. You will find your tribe. Just maybe not today.

Maybe take little steps. Go do something mundane like visiting a nearby library or a store/restaurant you wouldn’t normally visit. Keep repeating that until you get comfortable. Then try something a little more ambitious, keep ramping it up. Don’t rush through it, force yourself to slow down and be calm and cool.

Well antisocial may have been a poor word choice, but it sounds like your recent separation combined with your move to a new city has resulted in you losing confidence in being put in social settings.

As I said before, work your way up. Also, the majority of people out there are not assholes and are friendly and will reciprocate kindness. Are all people like that? No, but fuck those that aren’t. Approach social interactions as if you were a telemarketer. If you don’t find a pleasant interaction with someone, move on to the next person. The odds are that you will meet some friendly people. Odds are probably significantly higher than if you were an actual telemarketer, because you are just being a friendly you.

If you feel weird because of crowds and you’re solo, try going at times when it’s not as busy. Like if you can, early afternoon to go eat at a restaurant or see a movie. You may even find out you’re not the only one doing so.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s so hard to make new friends as an adult, and putting yourself out there is scary.

I’m not in any kind of similar situation, but I get analysis paralysis sometimes when there are multiple choices and no clear way to evaluate their relative merits. I’m in the process of buying scuba gear and there are just so many brands and so many models within each brand and I just can’t even get started figuring out how to choose. It’s exhausting, even when it’s a happy problem I’m lucky to have.

Do you think doubting your decisions is a new problem, or just that it’s interfering with your life more now because you’re trying to get out more? As in, 3 years ago you wouldn’t have had this problem because you would’ve just hung out at home on Memorial Day, but if you did go out you would’ve still reacted similarly to the parking situation? Or do you feel like your husband would’ve helped by just picking one option and saving you the stress? Or do you think you would’ve been confident enough then to just pick something yourself?

Do you ever go to the movies alone?

I feel weird when I do it, but I go alone quite frequently. And when I go, I always take note of all the other singletons sitting in the audience. None of them have horns. None of them look like “weirdos”. And when the lights go down, no one is noticing anyone anyway.

I do a lot of stuff alone. Museums, shows, concerts, plays. But there are some things that are just painful doing alone. Like I don’t stroll up into “family” oriented events alone because you don’t see a lot of singletons at those kind of things and I hate feeling like I stick out like a sore thumb (even though I know no one is looking at me). I remember once I went to some Fourth of July celebration thing and left before the fireworks started because it just wasn’t my kind of scene.

Volunteer. They won’t care that you’re alone, since lots of people in relationships volunteer by themselves. They’ll be happy to have you, and I bet that some of the people putting themselves out to help the community will make you feel welcome.

I used to go to the movies alone, but just can’t seem to work up much interest these days. Plus I fell asleep at the last one I went to.

I did sign up for volunteer work last year. I signed up through an online volunteer match site and they matched me up with a blood donation agency. My job was to offer snacks to the donors after they gave blood. Frankly, I felt pretty useless. All of them knew where to get the snacks by themselves and everyone just stared at their phones.

Doubting my every decision is new for me. I’m “where” I am at this late stage of my life due to all the decisions I’ve made up to now, so maybe I just shouldn’t make any more decisions?

I think that might be a good way to phrase what’s going on in my head. But I can’t seem to shake it.

It sounds to me like you are going through some very normal aspects of grieving. But maybe you are a bit stuck and feeling like these are personal defects instead of the results of loss and aging?

At times like this, group therapy is immensely helpful. A group of others who are going through something similar can go a long way in helping us gain perspective and begin to feel connected again. Conversely, that sense of disconnection, if allowed to grow and fester, can become seriously detrimental. Try googling your local city or zip code and the words “grief counseling.”