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I wanted some of your opinions around the concepts of social anxiety with a general unease of social situations, and if it does in fact differ from social apathy. Those of you who have social anxiety; do you actually feel the desire to have conversations with people, or do conversations 'happen to you' and you have to accommodate, where the feeling of general unease of the situation stems from?

The majority of the time, I have no real desire to talk to people about many things. My head is, in most cases, a garbled mess of disorganised thoughts and feelings, which usually results in the internalisation of my thoughts, and an attempt to work out my life by myself with little external input from outside sources.

I am usually happy enough doing my own thing, so when I am interrupted from my headspace by a person who wants to chat, I find it somewhat irritating, and it knocks me out of my own personal moment. I have a lack of interest in people, where they come from and what they are doing. So when I am forced into a sitation that involves some sort of back and forth repartoire; I find it stultifyingly awkward, artificial (on my part) and pointless. Yet, I have to involve myself to some degree. I may be uninterested in people, but I don't go out of my way to offend them or make them feel bad. I care for people's feelings, but I don't really care about them as a person.

There are exceptions. I have time for my family, and my partner. But, I usually find myself 'within' conversations, rather than starting and upholding them, even amongst my closest family unit. Personally, if I don't talk to people for days, I am not particularly phased by it, but in order to survive in the world, there has to be a degree of communication. You won't get a decent salary, or support a family and partner if you have a data processing job in a darkened room for very long.

Do you think an interest in people can be learned, or is it a case of going against the grain and my natural inclination and desire in order to be successful? Learning foreign languages has been difficult, because there is a lack of effort and internal motivation to actually speak to people. I need to learn a language, but I don't have anything to ask people, because frankly, I'm not interested in them. It's a bit of a dilemma.

I think the question is. Is my indifference just a pure coping mechanism that has been cultivated over 15 years to subjugate the symptoms of social anxiety, or is my lack of interest in socialisation an actual personality trait. My family doesn't share the same physical conditions.

It might be worth mentioning that I have a terrible working memory, my attention-span suffers, and I tend to have very scatty moments. It may be linked to something more cognitive than just a general disposition.
 

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I used to have social anxiety. I was a very shy person. Nowadays, unless I am under extreme amount of stress, drained, or in the midst of intense emotions, that anxiety isn't there anymore.

However, apathy is frequently present. Unless I am working with others or making quick small talks at the cash register, I prefer not to talk. I enjoy doing things by myself, need a lot of introvert time to recuperate, and also enjoy my time in my head as well. When there is a group making unnecessary conversations or gossip, I tend to not care, even if I know what they are saying is wrong. I don't feel the need to correct them or add additional comments.

I was alone the other day and all of a sudden was engulfed by all of these emotions. I was thinking about how strange I was. The natural way of interacting, attaching and detaching was just not natural for me. Like you were mentioning above, I care for people's feelings, but not them as a person. I asked myself if I enjoyed deep connection because I got to see the deepest parts of the person, and the answer I came to was yes. It wasn't because of the connection it led to. It was because I find beauty in their raw emotions. Then I thought to myself, I treat people as ideas. I observe the way they talk, they act, and just act accordingly. I collect information to find the right answer. And when I get the right answer (winning their heart, acting the right way) I get a sense of high, then I grow bored. It's like finding a discovery, and then getting hungry for more, for something different. People to me are like stars to astrologists.

I felt so strange and distant. And all of a sudden became extremely bored of my surroundings. I am not sure if this feeling comes when I am afraid of attaching to something. It's a feeling that comes when I feel I grew too much attachment, realized that, and trying to detach from it. Because that sense of distance does make me detach, and I feel safe again. I no longer feel clingy. I am not sure if that is healthy, but I am trying to find out if that is just coping mechanism as well.

But if you have a set of exceptions (I do as well), I don't think it is extremely serious. You are able to healthily attach to certain people, and as introverts, I don't think it is necessary to have a lot of human-beings around you. Just a few connections that you are able to trust and care deeply is enough. That's the conclusion I came to for myself. I think a sense of detachment is common in INFPs as well, although I can't speak for all INFPs, I have witnessed it quite a few times.
 

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Okay, I'll fully admit it ..................... I have one husband, my family and a couple friends. That's it. That's my "circle". Desire and energy is limited with me. I prioritize. I pay attention to them.

What the heck do I do with my life, if I'm not out there talking to every Tom, Dick and Harry?

Fun stuff.

Social indifference > social anxiety for me, however, it's more an idea of lack of desire or need (to converse with many) and limited energy. I always thought the point of MBTI was that different people want different things. Ahh yes.... gifts differing.
 

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I've always had both, but at different stages of my life one was more accute than the other.
When I was younger, social apathy ran my life. I never desired to socialize, it was painful to be dragged out of my own mind and my own bubble to have to interact with others. I had social anxiety whenever I was forced to leave my bubble. But since I didn't leave it often, I didn't experience the anxiety often. I spent most of my time in my comfort zone, alone, happy.

When I hit my 20s, my desire to socialize began to grow slowly. It was super gradual, and I almost didn't see it. Since my desire required me to risk vulnerability, and I had all those Si experiences of past rejection, the anxiety exploded and was running my life. So no matter my desire to socialize, I could never do it because anxiety was bigger and it stomped on the desire.

After many, many years, I learned to manage my anxiety. To this day, it's as big as ever, and there are days where I can't leave the house, my heart pounds so fast and loud, I can't do it, my spirit feels weak. But there are days when it's under perfect control, I can manage it, negotiate with it.

My desire to socialize has gotten bigger and bigger with age, but my concept of "bigger" is a tiny ant compared to someone else's desire. I'm still a hardcore introvert and spend most of my time desiring aloneness. I do enjoy texting with people every single day, though, and that to me is low-key socializing.

Now on to the Qs:

Those of you who have social anxiety; do you actually feel the desire to have conversations with people,
Yes, almost every day. I don't act on it everyday though, because my energy is limited so I need to manage/negotiate, because I have to take care of myself otherwise I get emotionally sick.

or do conversations 'happen to you' and you have to accommodate, where the feeling of general unease of the situation stems from?
Both. (If I'm understanding the sentence correctly). It doesn't matter if it's me who desire to interact, or if it's someone wanting to interact, the feeling of unease happens in both scenarios. What I have learned to do is that when I feel myself in the anxious state, I pause and try to breathe, and I allow myself to come across as a crazy person xD I think "I'll just be myself in my shaky weird state, and I give it to the gods" and so I give it to the gods.



I am usually happy enough doing my own thing, so when I am interrupted from my headspace by a person who wants to chat, I find it somewhat irritating, and it knocks me out of my own personal moment. I have a lack of interest in people, where they come from and what they are doing.
Yes, me too. But it also depends on who is that person. I have patience with certain people, but not with most others. I love being lost in my own world, doing my thing, and being interrupted makes me so angry I need to punch a thing, and if these “interruptions” are my parents calling on the phone, or a client approaching me at work while I’m daydreaming, I will be fucking mean tbh.

I care for people's feelings, but I don't really care about them as a person.
Yes.
This is exactly why I often explain in many threads how people consider me their friend, but to me they are strangers or acquaintances. I can be someone’s confidante for 5 hours, and I truly care about knowing this person, and I will probably find them fascinating (otherwise I wouldn’t be listening, I’d make an excuse to disappear), but I don’t feel anything for them as person. It’s like reading a fascinating Wikipedia page that gives you food for thought and makes you think about something fascinating that exists in the world. But once I have that fun experience of “getting to know”, that’s it, there’s nothing else going on, I will proceed to go eat something and paint roses and be in my own world and not care about the person, as a person. Obvsly I want them to be happy, and I want them to have blessings, all that stuff. But I’m not personally invested in making those blessings happen or caring for their happiness or anything. I feel detached.

Do you think an interest in people can be learned
I think so because that was my experience. But! I think there is a natural reset point that we have. Maybe. I don’t know, at least that’s my experience. I definitely learned to feel genuinely curious about people. I throw the word genuine in there on purpose, because just because it’s something learned, it doesn’t mean it’s fake, at all. What happened was I always had a certain muscle inside me (the curiosity for people) but it was very weak because I learned in my childhood not to use it, I learned that people hurt you, so you must stay alone. So I started using this muscle in my 20s, and I used it and used it, built it and built it, to a place where I felt it was at its bigger size ever. But it was stressful to keep it at that level, so much socializing was starting to cause me a sort of emotional pain. So I decreased the amount of training. I played around with how much socializing was the sweet spot for me, and after trial and error, I naturally fell into my sweet spot. At this point in my life, I have a kind of socializing that feels very effortless and natural to me, and it nourishes me. So I stay walking on that line. Whenever a job forces me to cross that line, it causes pain. And if I isolate for too long, I also notice pain.
This was unthinkable of me fifteen years ago. I was a hermit and very happy about it. It’s just that my priorities changed, what I valued changed.

I think the question is. Is my indifference just a pure coping mechanism that has been cultivated over 15 years to subjugate the symptoms of social anxiety, or is my lack of interest in socialisation an actual personality trait.
Obvsly, only you can answer your own question. I don’t know you.
But if I relate it to myself (and I related to your entire post, story of my life), I saw a breaking point when I was extremely depressed and suicidal. Hitting rock bottom made me choose to go up up up. And that’s how over time (took a few years) I discovered that I actually enjoyed other people, I was simply terrified of them. Once I understood that there were many versions of myself living in one single brain, and that I had opposing desires co-existing, I could finally detach from my own internal war and make “objective” choices that I thought “objectively” would be beneficial for me. I started to give myself personal challenges and accomplishing them, in order to know myself better. The only way I learned that I actually have a small-to-medium sized need for socializing was because I forced myself to go to an extreme, to the total opposite of my isolation, and see what happened. I treated it as an experiment, I was my own guinea pig. And it’s all perception. I chose a new perception of myself and of the world, I chose suspension of disbelief, temporarily. I chose “I’m going to do this and discover who I truly am”.

Now, socializing doesn't equal friends to me. I have no particular desire to get really close to people, because friendships require a lot of responsibilities and obligations that I don't want to fulfill.
 

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I've found, as I have gotten older, that I empathise less with people and have started to see them as some form of spendable currency. I'm approaching my 30th year before this year is out, and instead of gaining curiosity, love and respect for people; it seems that I now just see them as units of profitibility. What can I get out of this person. If this person offers me nothing, then I have absolutely zero interest in them. I'm not talking some monetary incentive, but it's usually contrasted with trying to improve my position as a person, either through achievements or successes of any kind I hold as part of my value system.

Once I have achieved my aims; I see very little value in them, and whilst they may have become attached to me, through almost fradulent interest and fooled empathy, I will just see them as people who has passed through my life. One day, I will leave my current occupation, and whilst there are people in my workplace who I am more drawn to than others, the reality of me actually making time for these people outside of occupational hours is near to zero.

I recognise nice people; I recognise kind and helpful people. Can I appreciate these traits? Of course I can, and I think everyone should inspire to live kind, charitable lives. But I do not really care to see them in the future. I don't feel the need to go out and bond with them over drinks; I don't feel the need to invite you all over to my house warming. But, because I don't feel these things, do I still need to play the part and act them out in order to survive? These are just hypothetical scenarioes, but in order to get the best out of life, it seems to also have to play the game. Am I capable of playing the game, or will the mental energy withdraw from my so quickly, because I am not motivated by that particular process.

I wouldn't say that I have 'any' friends. Does my life feel unfulfilled because of my lack of friends? Not really. My life feels unfulfilled, because I feel I lack the neccessary emotional and cognitive abilities that other people have and utilise. It's not a loneliness problem, it's a feeling of defectiveness that is the issue, which causes my mental state to be fraught with imbalance, depression but co-morbidly with the feelings of ambivilence and apathy. I look at other people with these strengths, motivations and talents, and that causes envy, jealousy and angst. If the world was devoid of other people; I wouldn't feel depressed or dejected. In essence, other people are the cause of my struggle.

I don't care what other people know, I only care what I know. It's not narcisism, because I do not believe I am better than anyone else, and most of the time, I consider myself worse (intellectually, physically, emotionally) than others. So the existence of other people causes my anxiety. There is no cure for that, except nuclear fallout. Haha.
 

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I don't feel social apathy at all. I always have this wish to meet more people, befriend them, grow my circle and do something new thanks to those new influences but then social anxiety just hits me hard and stops me from being able to converse or even just move my feet towards them.

I don't think they are linked. Maybe there is a correlation there, I don't know.
 

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This is how I see the relationship between a need for social interaction og social anxiety.
my desire required me to risk vulnerability.
Because social interaction is important it makes me vulnerable so I experience social anxiety. Its through interaction with other people I feel loved, accepted, and respected for who I am or what I do. As an introvert I don’t have as much energy for interaction as many others but it important anyway. But my social skills don’t always match my social needs. I am not good with group dynamics, and not really interested in small talk. The result is that I often find it difficult to fulfill my needs through others. And when I try to express what I want, it is often done in a way that is not understandable to others. The result is that I fall short of my own expectations and end up with a feeling of inadequacy, embarrassment and humiliation.

At times this problem it strengthened by the fact that it is not always clear to me what I want to achieve when I interact with others. I seldom experience the same level of anxiety if I interact with people I am indifferent to.

I still struggle with social anxiety, but the problem has decreased in recent years. This is in large part due to the fact that I am now married with children. My family now my is main priority. As a consequence my need for, and the significance of interaction with others is reduced. Today I usually have a more clearly defined and less ambitious purpose when I interact with others. My life became much easier when I understood that it was not necessary to befriend my co-workers or even empathize with them, something I didn’t try to do anyway. Sometimes it is enough to be polite during lunchtime conversations.
 
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