Where to meet people to develop a social circle? - Talk About Marriage
Physical & Mental Health Issues Marriage and relationships are difficult by themselves, but coping with physical or mental health problems can make things even more difficult.

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-25-2016, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Where to meet people to develop a social circle?

Thanks to my IC, I have come to realize that I have a paralyzing social anxiety.

I was able to avoid being aware of it by being moderately successful in my jobs. As long as people seemed willing to interact with me at work, I could successfully ignore the fact that I had no interactions outside of work, other than my spouse.

My spouse has been in full support - she's a cave-dweller and actively prefers home to elsewhere, and absence of visitors. In 16 years, we have never been to a concert, even though I play in bands and produce them, we have only watched movies on our own TV, and so on.

IC has certainly provided a step-by-step procedure: 1) Select a purpose for being there. Such as "my purpose is to spread joy to at least one person", such as by complementing him on his skills at something or style of attire.
2) Get out there
3) Vow to myself to conduct at least one interaction with someone I don't know
4) If need be, go home right then and there
5) Keep doing this until I'm comfortable doing two interactions...and so on.

The struggle I have is "get out there". I don't do bars - I literally cannot hear a conversation in a bar. So, where does one go to simply find people milling about? IC suggested Meetup...I thought it would be an OK idea, but I have to say that the Meetups I found within 25 miles of me seemed to be focused on board or other games...and I simply don't do games....never figured out strategy...or they're about physical prowess.

Guess I need to explain that one...I have a mild visual impairment that prevents me from succeeding at any form of athletic endeavor that requires judgment based on fast action or action close to my face. Therefore, I can't hit a baseball, I suck at the net in volleyball, etc. And...I grew up in a very small neighborhood where all other boys were jocks...and they had no interest in me. I suppose I feel some form of rejection, but I think more importantly - I never learned to socialize as a child. My parents were loners, so I never saw health adult socializing either.

In college, I was surrounded by like-minded learners, typically in the same classes, and socializing seemed as if it was literally thrown in my face. And college would be the only period in my life when I had more than a single friend at a time.

After college, I was again, without a social outlet. Met a girl at work, we hooked up for ten years - just with each other, and still no social life. The last few years we were together, I finally had a bit of a social life, this time with colleagues from work - we were all displaced from home, working in a highly unique technology and all about the same age. That industry died, my ex and I split..and...there I was again.

Drifted about without connection, met a girl at work, we got married.

And now I am realizing that I still have no social life, and because of that, I pin WAY too much on the marriage - I expect my wife to be the entirety of my social connections and it's taking a toll!

So, I need to do this. I have mastered emotions in other areas of my life, so I think I can handle that aspect. I just don't know the mechanics of where it is that you go to put you in the presence of others...shopping? Seems a difficult place...your goal is get in, get out, take your stuff home. It's not a social experience, IMO.

BTW, because of the sports thing as a kid, I have realized that the WORST place for me is any place where I'm expected to physically perform, such as a dance class...tried that once and wow, was I sensitive to comments from others. I need something a bit gentler. I actually tried to get myself to a Yoga class yesterday and incredibly, found my throat tightening and my gut sinking and realized I was experiencing anxiety - because the instructor had said "it'll be a small class, only 5 people", meaning I could not hide in a corner, trying the movements/whatever until I felt I would not embarrass myself.

So, if possible, something that doesn't involve physical...positioning, I suppose. I run and bicycle OK, just with little speed or endurance.

Look forward to the suggestions.

Dusty Crusty Dawg


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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-25-2016, 07:05 PM
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Re: Where to meet people to develop a social circle?

Find a small local bar frequented by regulars, not the flash place 20s and 30s hook up. And go frequently.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 12:03 AM
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Re: Where to meet people to develop a social circle?

My wife suffers from social anxiety. It used to paralyze her, until I started pushing(hard I might say) to get her out into the world and meeting people. For about four years she was house bound.

I accepted her reactions, kept her emergency meds on hand, and got her out of the social situation during a panic attack. Then I would take her back to the house and cuddle and sing to her and such until she felt better, and would generally find a way to reward her for getting out there to begin with.

One thing we have found lately that seems to really help has been the game pokemon go. It requires you to get out and walk around. Downtown areas are the most active areas of the game, so you have a high chance to run into people you don't know. Generally speaking, SOMEONE will initiate a conversation with you. As long as you are walking around staring at a smart phone, people will wonder if you are out playing the game too. It is an instant ice breaker. If you bump into anyone playing the game, you already have something to talk about.

You don't have to be athletic, smart, strategic, anything really. You already have something in common with anyone playing the game.

The game itself is not interesting to me, but I LOVE the social aspect of it. If you let it, the game WILL put you in touch with people who are eager to talk about it.

Anyway, it's worth a shot. The BIGGEST thing that you can do is simply accept the fact that you get anxious, and that it is ok to feel anxious. Informing people that you have social anxiety seems to make it easier to talk to them. It's like it gives you a way to explain why you are awkward. We find that most people are ok with it, and are often even willing to be the drivers for most conversations until you get comfortable enough to talk freely with them.
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