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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5821
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate - Thank you for helping me with my previous question. I

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Kate - Thank you for helping me with my previous question. I have a related question that I'd like your advice about too. I'm a creative person and need a lot of time to myself to generate and then gather my ideas into workable projects. This need to be alone is huge. I work at home and could go for weeks (yes, weeks) without seeing or talking to anyone and be perfectly happy, productive, and engaged with my work.
My question is about my two dear friends who I want to keep close. It's hard for me to know what kind of time they need from me when I don't feel an equal need for time with them.
I love them both, and my love doesn't fade when I'm not in contact with them, and I can pick up right where we left off without a hitch. They can't do this, and it's already strained one relationship nearly to the breaking point. If I don't have enough alone time, though, I get painfully anxious, my agoraphobia and phone phobia (and driving phobia) flare, and eventually I get terribly depressed.
It feels as though I'm always trying to be somebody I really can't be for my friends, and I always fail and feel miserable about it. Can you give me some suggestions about how to handle my own privacy needs and my friend's need for close time with me. I'm very frustrated and starting to feel as though they want more from me than I'm able to give.
Thank you again for your time.
Hello and thank you for the request. I am happy to help.

It sounds like you are an introvert trying to fit in with a friend (or friends) that is an extrovert, or at least more social than you are. That can be a difficult mix.

Introverts by nature are drained by social interaction whereas extroverts are energized by it. An introvert can go a long time without socializing. They thrive on being on their own and feel better when they are. That does not mean they don't want to be with others, but they find their time alone to be better. Extroverts on the other hand, like to be with others. They feel down when they are alone. They have a difficult time understanding why anyone would want to be alone and often try to "fix" their family and friends who are introverts.

People who are introverted tend to be more emotionally connected and empathic. They can socialize and may enjoy being with others, but just prefer not to. There is a line between social phobia and/or a fear such as agoraphobia and it is important to be sure how you feel is just not your agoraphobia preventing you from being social. But if you are able to go out when you choose to most of the time and just prefer to stay in, then you are most likely just an introvert.

The conflict you are having between what your friend wants and what you want is causing you distress. It sounds like you want to please your friend, which can cause you to feel upset when you cannot meet her requests. What can help is to alter how you think about your friend's request. Putting pressure on yourself to meet her needs only makes you feel bad. Instead, tell yourself (and your friend) that you are doing what you can. Let your friend know that you need a lot of time to yourself and that it is not about your friendship with her, but rather about what you need. Also, make sure your time you do have together is very meaningful. Do something that you both find fun and exciting. New experiences can create memorable ones. In between the time you see each other, send her a card or a note. You can also email her with fun things you find that relate to just the two of you. That can create closeness even when you are not together.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Kate. I'm definitely an introvert, and I also have agoraphobia with phobias. I can tell the difference between my introvert need to be alone, which feels good and does recharge me, and the agoraphobia, which feels fearful.

I've already told my friends the things you suggest in your reply, and have come to understand that my needs are important and need to be respected too. I wish there was something more I could do, but I see that's not possible, and it's sad to know that.

It seems like the answer to any of the problems in my life has always been that I have to learn to live with things as they are, which is frustrating to accept and why I ask for help now and then. This isn't a reflection on your answers to me, which I know were the best that could possibly be given to my short questions. It's more of a reflection on life in general. At least it's good to know that I've been handling this current situation as well as possible.

Thanks again for your advice.

You are very welcome!

I understand your frustration. It is difficult to find that balance so you and everyone else is happy with the results. With the situation as it is, you really have just a few choices- do what your friends need, leaving you with sacrificing your own needs; do what you need to do and sacrifice your friendships or find a balance. Trying to make everyone happy is difficult at best. But I believe you are doing a good job making it work. The key is to look at it as you doing your best and try not to feel guilty about it. Changing those thoughts can make a lot of difference.


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