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(re)Building up social skills

21stCentury21stCentury A lovely pixel artist and gamecrafter[They/Them]Registered User regular
So, long story short, because of an event in my life about 10 years ago i stopped hanging out with friends. As a result, my social skills never really built up and now i'm in a pickle. I feel super lonely but i don't know how to act with people outside of work.

I have friends right now but my only interactions with them are through texting/online chatting. I want this to change, though. Sadly, an extra complication in the situation is that i have a crush on a lot of my friends. I don't really want to pursue relationships with them because A) They're already in relationships and B) I'm asexual and they're not.

So, my questions.

-What's a good way to suggest an activity with (a) friend(s). Is it better to go for group activities?
-What are common activities for young adults. I just turned 30, most of my friends are in the latter half of their 20s. Also i met all of them working in the games industry so we're all pretty nerdy.
-Are there good resources for learning social skills? I really don't wanna blow it with my friends but on the rare occasion where i go out with them, i end up being aloof and distant and weird, then leaving early, because i'm so afraid of doing it wrong.
-Again, i have a crush on many of my friends. It's probably more obvious for some. I can't really control that and i don't want to make things awkward. Anything to look out for?

I realize this is pretty weird but I've dug myself a hole to protect myself and it's no longer comfortable, so i need help coming out of it.

Posts

  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    I moved to a new area a year ago and have been in a similar situation. One thing that I did was invite some of my new work friends to "movie night" at my apartment. Find a movie you like (or want to see) and just call people up and say, "hey, I'm having a movie night on X day, you in?" Make some snacks beforehand. You can do the same thing with board game night. Or just find a bar that does a trivia contest or something and invite them to that.

    21stCenturyLostNinjaRhesus Positive
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    I want to start with this: This isn't weird at all.
    I'm guessing that it's an issue that's going to be becoming a larger part of reality as more and more interaction goes digital, and people eventually realize that isn't a substitution for actual in-person human interaction.

    I wish I had some more useful advice for you beyond "No, you're not weird for wanting actual human interaction that you don't know how to do", but I'm in very much the same boat (+10 years). I've done a couple seasons of the bowling league at work, and that helped a little. The problem being that rotating opposing teams every week meant it was hard to impossible to get over my initial period of stranger shyness before more people I don't know showed up, so it wasn't much help forcing interaction. Also, bowling league people take the game way more seriously than I'm willing too.

    The bigger thing that helps socialization is a recurring social event with a recurring group (again, that stranger shyness makes it rough to interact with or around people I don't know). In my case it's still through work, but it's a monthly-ish after hours poker game. It's mostly the same people who play which helps get over the shyness thing.

    Since you're all fairly nerdy, maybe some nerdish activities? See if anyone would be interested in a regularly scheduled tabletop RPG campaign? If you're the GM that will force considerable interaction in a controlled environment with a (somewhat) stable group of peers. Possibly suggest a LAN party if you have the space. That'll give you a common ground to work with if you're all playing the same game, especially if one or more people aren't overly familiar with the game.

    But really, the best advice I can offer is don't feel like this is weird or different. To borrow your metaphor, it's entirely too easy to dig yourself into a nice private hole away from others, and it's far easier to dig yourself in than to climb out.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
    21stCenturySmrtnikEddychromdomCalica
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Do a board game night!

    21stCenturyzepherinRhesus Positive
  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    If you want to practice becoming strangers, go on meetup.com, look for activities you'd want to do even if you were by yourself, find a group that does them. Go to the next one that's scheduled.

    Best case scenario you make a friend that's into same stuff you are. Worst case, you spend an hour or two doing that activity (while other people are as well), and you move on with your life. It's win win either way.

    steam_sig.png
    EncKyouguElvenshae
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Do a board game night!
    Also in this vein see if your local board game shop does meetups and events. Learn to plays, and tournaments are a good way to meet some people in a relatively safe setting. Be aware you may meet annoying jerks, but practice makes perfect and you can meet all sorts. Heck I met my wife doing a meetup at a game shop.

  • 21stCentury21stCentury A lovely pixel artist and gamecrafter [They/Them]Registered User regular
    All good advice but it’s more looking for stuff to do with existing friends and not stuff to do to meet new friends.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Hi! I second Meetup.com.

    I actually been running a very active meetup for 10 years. My entire social circle is made up of people I met through it. Hell, a bunch of us just flew to Peru earlier this year for a wedding of two friends/members who met through it. Everyone starts right where you are at, so the important thing is that this is not weird at all. No one teaches us how to make friends as adults or establish new platonic relationships.

    Activities are going to be dependent on what you all enjoy but I'm honestly a big proponent of stepping out of your comfort zone. Try something new! Rock Climbing was something I didn't think I would ever do but I signed up for a meetup and and ended up loving it. Became a regular and slowly started seeing the same people the times I was there, and suddenly I was talking to more people. Go on a hike, cooking class, escape room, etc. Groupon is actually really good for this stuff too if you already have a group of people you want to invite.

    If you're into boardgames a lot of breweries and bars now do boardgames night. They're usually ran by people who are used to having random people show up so I found them to be very friendly and welcoming.

    As far as how to be social, it sounds easy but honestly just talk to people. Introduce yourself, ask questions, find common grounds, etc. It'll probably feel like you're being too overbearing, but I guarantee you no one will.

    Good luck. This is totally doable!

  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    -What's a good way to suggest an activity with (a) friend(s). Is it better to go for group activities?

    I'd start with group activities and go from there. If you get along you'll start to find more specific interests you share and smaller groups or individual hangouts will appear naturally.
    -What are common activities for young adults. I just turned 30, most of my friends are in the latter half of their 20s. Also i met all of them working in the games industry so we're all pretty nerdy.

    Movie night, boardgames, food or drinking, escape room, festival/fairs, hiking or other outdoorsy stuff.
    -Are there good resources for learning social skills? I really don't wanna blow it with my friends but on the rare occasion where i go out with them, i end up being aloof and distant and weird, then leaving early, because i'm so afraid of doing it wrong.

    My guess is there's no way your social skills are bad enough that you're going to blow it, and the only thing you need to work on is anxiety. :P Just ask people questions about things you know they're into and if they respond positively, ask follow-up questions. Most people like to talk about themselves and the ones who don't will make it obvious quickly.
    -Again, i have a crush on many of my friends. It's probably more obvious for some. I can't really control that and i don't want to make things awkward. Anything to look out for?

    Umm... how do you think it's going to evidence itself in a way that would be awkward? :P My guess is that most people will just interpret it as friendliness and interest, which is a positive in social interactions.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod

    -What's a good way to suggest an activity with (a) friend(s). Is it better to go for group activities?

    People have already suggested what you could do, but as for how:

    Small Groups are my preference, you dont have to talk all the time, and it doesn't feel as focused as 1-1 stuff. Try to think about the people that make you the most comfortable and invite them first.

    If you're organizing it, I generally choose facebook, as I can give people all the info they need up front. Who's invited, wheres it at, how long it might take, and when you want to go. Asking people to do stuff is a bit nerve wracking, but the event takes the work out of it, you'll know if people are flaking up front. If your peeps dont have facebook, might take more work.

    -What are common activities for young adults. I just turned 30, most of my friends are in the latter half of their 20s. Also i met all of them working in the games industry so we're all pretty nerdy.

    Think about what you'd actually want to do first. Are you more comfortable at home, would you like to cook for people? Do you have a favorite place to eat? A indie movie you want to see?

    My friend used to throw a cereal party where we'd all bring a box of sugar crap, some milk, and watch cartoons and drink mimosas on a Saturday morning. It was the fucking best. Maybe that's more your speed than being out at a bar, even if its for board games. Make a list of some stuff that you'd like to do, and then pick one and pitch it to a friend you find easy to talk to. "Hey I was thinking, would it be fun to get these guys together and do X"? I'd bet they would say "Oh, sure!"

    -Are there good resources for learning social skills? I really don't wanna blow it with my friends but on the rare occasion where i go out with them, i end up being aloof and distant and weird, then leaving early, because i'm so afraid of doing it wrong.

    You dont mention therapy, so just to put it out there: it can be super helpful to talk out specific interactions with a therapist, it can help give you perspective and mental tools to help if being social is overwhelming. If you are already seeing a therapist or have in the past, that's great! Just something to consider.

    Working on yourself, so you are more comfortable and less afraid is the way to go. You are already valid and can have friends as you are, and so you have to warm up to the vulnerability of being who you are, and accepting that there might be some rejection along the way. Therapy might help you discuss boundaries in a safe space where you dont have to feel weird asking about things that everyone pretends to know already. Most of us learned how to be social by making all the same awkward mistakes, so try not to be hard on yourself.

    -Again, i have a crush on many of my friends. It's probably more obvious for some. I can't really control that and i don't want to make things awkward. Anything to look out for?
    If you can find an Asexual meetup group, you might be able to just get a casual coffee with some people who at least have a little common ground and you can practice opening up. Since a lot of your friends are coworkers, its even more difficult to navigate those feelings. You might not want to meet new people, but not letting yourself get caught up in the emotional roller-coaster of having strong feelings for people, even if they are non-sexual, can be pretty tough.

    Open up your circle, at least casually, might give you the opportunity to find outlets for that part of you without putting a strain on your work life, and that might be a real benefit to your anxiety.

    21stCenturyLocal H Jaychromdom
  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    Also the vast majority of my adult friends are people I work with, or friends of their friends. At my house every week we do Anime Night, but it's a lot looser than that. Sometimes we play Smash Bros. Sometimes we watch YouTube. It's just an excuse to get everyone together on a weekly basis, at a time that works for everyone.

    Having something like that helped me build a sense of community after just moving to a new state. I didn't know many people here but I find that with the right people, they didn't care if I was quiet or didn't engage much; most people are content to just hang out not saying much at all. It doesn't have to be riveting conversation or constant fun, just hanging around like-minded people is a good time even if you're not going anywhere.

    Social anxiety is a bitch because you build things up in your head to be bigger than they are, at least for me. I'll have entire conversations in my head, guessing how each thing could play out. But then you actually get into a social situation and freeze up, afraid to say or do the wrong thing. And that's normal, I think everyone or atleast most people experience that. If you realize a lot of people struggle with it and just go with the flow, it'll probably work out. Vast majority of people are friendly and understanding, and if they aren't, that's cool- they weren't meant to be your friend anyways.


    Also you mention having a crush on lots of your friends, and that's natural too. The difference is, once you spend enough time with them, that feeling will probably mellow over time. Not everyone is as endearing after you spend more and more time with them. I find myself idealizing certain people as partners but, then later on see them in a different light once I get to know them more. Long story short, everyone is probably having a hard time too, everyone is just a nervous as you or probably was at some point, and it's tough but gets easier as time goes on.

    XB1/360 - Local H Jay
    PS4 - Local_H_Jay
    Sub me on Youtube
    And Twitch
    21stCentury
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Trying to remember but aren't you in a largish Canadian city? For rebuilding social skills and just raising your general comfort level in interactions I'd suggest improv classes. They basically consist of getting you comfortable talking to people in a variety of situations. Bonus, the other people are there for the same reason to build the same skills. Intro classes are going to be strongly focused on getting you comfortable and have a strong focus on listening skills as well. It's also generally enjoyable.

    21stCentury
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited August 9
    So you basically want ideas of what to do with your existing friends?

    Just have them over to your place is a good place to start. Do an anime night with snacks, cook them dinner, run a D&D one-shot, have a Smash Brothers tournament. Not all at once!

    CelestialBadger on
    21stCenturyBurnage
  • chromdomchromdom Why do bad things keep happening to me? Oh yeah, because of the things I've done.Registered User regular
    And just to throw this idea into the mix: you say you are a nerd with nerdy friends. I suspect they would appreciate the honesty and problem solving nature of just say "Hey, I feel like I should be more social. Want to come over/go do [any of the great ideas already presented]?" Do that with a couple people at a time, and gradually feel more comfortable.

    Mr. Rogers wrote:
    You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.
    21stCenturyRhesus PositiveCalica
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    As people get older, their rhythms change, and so do their social interactions. You've got to keep that in mind, things won't be like a decade ago.

    Most of my friends have busy jobs and children, which means time is at a premium. It also means people moved away from the city, so travel time starts factoring more too.

    To keep things going, we've mostly moved to event based things. We go to see movies together, a few of us try new board games once in a while, bbq's in the summer.

    If you're willing to put in the time coordinating and/or hosting more will happen. Don't take it personally if things fall through.
    Planning things a little bit in advance helps too, I usually send movie suggestions 3 or 4 weeks in advance, otherwise it doesn't come together.

    An option: See if you can join whatever fitness thing nearby friends are doing. Spending a few hours a week on a goal is a nice way to hang out on a regular basis and reconnect. Or see if there's a friend to pick a goal with together. (A 5km run is an achievable 3 month project for instance)

    Nevertheless, compared to just out of college I see the same friends a lot less.

    So to compensate you've got to expand if you don't want to be alone. Gamestores often run game nights, or Organized Play for pnp rpgs, or tournaments for mini stuff.

    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
    21stCenturyIrukaSmrtnik
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