Should I See A Professional For My Dating Difficulties?
Published: April 26, 2009
I'm a 19-year-old female, and I've always been somewhat lacking in social skills. (I don't believe it has anything to do with a lack of self-esteem. I just often feel uncomfortable around people.) I can mostly handle this, because I find there are usually one or two people who I click with and can feel comfortable around. Also, this past year at college, I've had a job as an undergraduate researcher, joined a club, and have even been elected President of said club. Life is pretty good. However, one social area that I just cannot seem to breach is the romantic sphere. I just feel completely awkward with romantic notions, and to think of becoming intimate with someone is scary beyond words. I often feel awkward just watching kissing scenes in movies! Through high school, I definitely received no romantic interest from any boys. Through my first couple years of college, I have had a few boys express interest. However, I am very good at acting distant and pushing people away, and thus nothing has happened further than a first date. Sometimes this has been because I just had no interest in the person, but this happens even when I do like a person! What's worse is that when I try to explain my social awkwardness, the guy will think I "need practice" and will try to force me to have a pleasant conversation. When that doesn't work, he'll leave and I'll never hear from him again. However, as I said, even if I were to get past that, I just can't imagine myself being intimate with ANYONE. Do you think this is just a personality trait that won't matter once I find the right person? Or is it perhaps something that ought to be checked out with a professional?
Signed: Should I See A Professional For My Dating Difficulties?
Dear Should I See A Professional For My Dating Difficulties?,
It sounds like this discomfort you feel around people is starting to interfere in your life in terms of your being able to form or maintain long-term dating relationships. Since you seem to be feeling distressed about this and are having a difficult time figuring out how to address this issue on your own, FX thinks that it would be completely appropriate for you to meet with a mental health professional. A therapist could help you to get a better understanding of what contributes to your discomfort, as well as how to better manage your discomfort so that you can pursue dating relationships with greater ease.
Many colleges have their own mental health facilities right on campus where there are social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists on staff. You might start by finding out whether or not your campus has one, as that would be a convenient and easy way for you to set up therapy for yourself.
If your college does not have a mental health program on campus and you live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers.