FREE ANALYSIS! Contestant #1

Brief history: I am finishing college. It seems like all the good friends I meet end up moving away, and its hard to make new friends that last. I try to be friendly to people, but I feel like I do things that others think are weird, anti-social, or that make me seem bitchy or unfriendly. At this point I don't know if I'm just overly self-conscious or if I really need to work on major personality things.

[x] Why no one wants to date me
[x] Finding some freaking happiness

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At this point, I don't know either. I'd need some more info and examples, including examples from your dating life. What kinds of things are you doing? Have you ever been told that you're bitchy? Give me a example of that too.

With that said, I'll tell you this. Introverted people -- I'm assuming you're an introvert -- tend to "orbit" around what's happening rather than join in. They like to connect to themselves and watch what people are doing in the center. They watch what the group is talking about but don't fully join in or they watch what they're doing (dancing, playing) but don't really fully participate. There's nothing wrong with that. Most of my life is spent "in orbit" too.The trick is to find a balance where you don't drift so far out that people think you've left the group and are rejecting them but can still maintain a sense of independence and distance.

You're sensing yourself drifting and your romantic life isn't blossoming, so there's a good chance you've been drifting a little too far. You don't need a complete personality makeover, you just need to make a minor adjustment so you stop floating off. That depends on what's happening and you're in the best position to determine how to accomplish that, but I'll tell you what I do. One thing I'll do is hang out with the group but be quiet. If people ask me what's wrong, I tell them I'm fine, or that someone keeps bothering me and asking me if I'm okay. A little humor always helps people relax. When I need to go home, I just say I'm socially exhausted and need to recharge. Lots of people feel the same way, they just don't say it.

Since I have lots of weird things about me too, I try and pay attention to my language: instead of saying "I want to be left alone" I'll say "I need to go hibernate"; instead of "I'm going to check on my tarantulas" you can say "I'm going to play with my baby." Language like that will convert your alarming weirdness into charming quirkiness and bring you a little closer to the group. Overall, it'll help you find a balance where you can orbit comfortably and stably. I'm guessing the same advice applies to your romantic life as well.

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Thanks for the info! That orbit metaphor is spot on! It sounds just like me.

To your first question, I have been called rude by a "frenemy" of mine who I don't talk to very often. But I get the distinct feeling that I do things that are either just socially awkward or maybe are rude. The thing that most hinders my sociability are my bad moods. I sometimes just get into a funk about anything/everything. I know its unreasonable but its hard to shake.

As for my dating life, I don't really have one. My social life is less than meaningful and its hard for me to meet people. And when I do meet someone, I think I just almost instantly put this wall up: "He doesn't really want me, I'm not really good enough, etc." This isn't always a conscious train of thought, but I can feel it seeping into whatever we're doing together. And then as time goes on those semi-unconcious thoughts make me more and more distant until things just cool off and we go our separate ways (not that they ever heated up to begin with).

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I'm going to break this up into 3 areas:

1. Social awkwardness - First you should know that awkwardness tends to clear up by itself. In a person like you, judging by your writing and thinking, I have no doubt the awkwardness will dissipate as you get a little more practice, find a bit more confidence, and find a way to better negotiate your bad moods (see below). When you sense you're being a little harsh or abrupt or rude, just massage the situation a bit. You can make a joke, acknowledge how the other person must be feeling ("You're probably hating me right now, but I just can't"), or promise to make it up to them. The specific technique doesn't really matter because they're all pretty effective and as you practice you'll get more natural at it. Sometimes you may decide that you just have to go along with the other person's plan and suck it up, e.g., if you made a commitment to go out with the person. Little inconveniences, like little social blunders, won't kill you.

2. Bad moods - The trick to dealing with bad moods isn't to fight them but to work with them. It's like you were about to take a trip and realized the radio was broken. You just have to improvise around it rather than spend all your time trying to fix it and dwelling on your loss, otherwise you ruin your trip. The same goes for a bad mood.

How do you work with it? Recognize the advantages that bad moods offer: they make you honest and raw, they open you to deep conversations, they help you see beauty in things, and help you connect with other people's pain. Granted, a club might not be the best place to employ those skills, but a friend's house or a cafe with some music would be a great place. This goes back to what I was saying with being in're finding that balance between being true to what yourself without sacrificing everything else.

Remember, you don't have to be "on." You don't have to impress anyone. You don't even have to have a good time. Eventually, I think your mood will start to swing back up and your social interactions will adjust accordingly. But still, I don't want you to get the impression that you're defective and in need of "fixing." That's bullshit.

3. Romantic scripts - I know exactly what you mean about the distance and subconscious thoughts. Tara Brach, one of my favorite Buddhist authors, calls this the trance of unworthiness. You should check out her book "Radical Acceptance." Here's my advice: when you notice these changes in you, be patient. Listen to them and ask if the negative self-talk and feeling of doom is valid. Is it true that you're unworthy? True that something is off? See what happens.

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