Dear Dr. Saltzman,
I have had something on my mind, a problem, that I can't seem to get out of. I am 18 years old, and I just can't like anyone except for my family. Is it wrong to not like anyone? It's not that I don't have any friends, but when I first start to know them it seems as if they are great people. But after a while, I start to see their "bad" personalities, like being selfish, sneaky, cunning...etc, and I just grow apart from them. It just kills me, because I have to act like I still like the person, when I'm actually screaming inside to get myself out of here.I am hurting inside, but I don't want to show it on the outside. Its so hard to act nice and clueless as if nothing is going on, but I just don't know what to do. I mean most people, I feel just like to take advantage of me. Most people, I feel, only come to me when they need something or lack something, and afterwards they just leave me as if I was useless. It's been happening to me my whole life and I don't know what to do. I do not like any of my friends at all, but on the outside it may seem like I feel enjoyable and comfortable around them when I'm not.I actually feel really lonely and sad on the inside. I feel like almost all teenagers go out with their friends, but I'm always staying at home watching t.v. Even I've been friends with someone for a long time,I still feel like I don't fully know them..like they are still strangers to me. Throughout my whole life, I've never seemed to have many friends. I roughly have about 5 or 6 friends, but I don't even like them. I've also tried meeting people, but something just doesn't seem right. It has been like this from my first grade elementary years till now. I really want to fix this and I don't know how. I am a very lonely person, and I can only rely on my mom and sister for joy. I sometimes come to think that I am antisocial, but maybe I'm just shy or I don't want to be hurt anymore. Am I a cold blooded person??Please tell me what I can do!! Please help me fix this problem. I just don't know who else to talk to.
I think I can relate to what you are going through, and yes, it is a sad and lonely place to be. I don't believe you are cold-blooded - particularly given you share a good relationship with you mother and sister, and, despite thinking you don't like your friends, you do want to have friends.
I think perhaps you need to develop some skills in being assertive so that you can begin to be yourself around your friends and start to express your needs to your friends. Perhaps it is that your friends don't know what you want. They cannot know what you don't tell them. The reason you probably have a close relationship with your mother and sister is that you are comfortable with expressing your needs and feelings with them.
Take pride in the fact that your friends come to you when they have a problem. You must be a good listener and they must appreciate your advice. Feel good about yourself when you are able to help them. But do the same in return. Reach out to these people when you have a problem or need help. They will most likely appreciate that you have put your trust in them. Give them a chance to help you in return. That is the reciprocal nature of relationships. It's not easy to ask for help and it takes a lot of courage. But give it a go. It feels good to be on the recieving end of loving kindness. I don't believe it is humanly possible to give and give and give without receiving. I suspect you are burnt out from doing this for so long and from not expressing your needs and wishes. You will replenish your energy to start giving again by allowing yourself to recieve.
Good luck Claudia.