Dear Dr. Hurd: I feel conflicted about my loneliness, because sometimes I think the people around me, who are seemingly rejecting me, are not worth knowing anyway. On the one hand, I want to know more people and feel less lonely and isolated. On the other, I can’t help but think most people will be uninteresting or perhaps reject me. Your thoughts?
Dr. Hurd replies: With respect to “other people”: Are you giving them enough of a chance? Are your writing them off in a prejudicial way? Are you rejecting them before they can reject you? I ask these questions because these are things that socially shy and very lonely people often do. Maybe you’re doing one or all of these, either consciously or without realizing it. “Other people” is a huge group. Are you viewing them in one large lump? Big mistake, if so. No two people are precisely alike, and there are many, many different groups and categories of personality traits, too numerous to detail here.
It’s possible, because of the way you feel, that others are getting the impression that you don’t think much of them, or like them. Remember, most people have some insecurities. Some even have more than you do, and some have fewer. You won’t necessarily know that, but it’s true. You won’t know what they’re feeling inside when you seemingly (or actually) rebuff them. Try to pay attention to that. If you want to rebuff someone, and you know the reason, then fine—do so. But if they don’t really deserve that yet, make sure you take initiative and are outgoing with them, and showing interest. Otherwise you’re turning away potential friends and connections without even knowing it.