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Ask A Therapist: I’m Not Depressed Or Anxious But Prefer Being Alone

I know there have been several questions on this site regarding preferences for solitude, but most of these questions have come from people with diagnosed disorders such as depression, social phobias, PTSD, etc., and the answers provided have been framed in the context of the relevant disorder. My concern is that, despite being depression and anxiety-free, I am becoming increasingly rigid in terms of my willingness to spend time with others, and it is affecting my relationships negatively. I’ve always been a bit of a loner and required a certain amount of time alone, but I’ve also always had plenty of friends and a pretty normal dating/relationship history. However, over the course of the past year or so I have started to really prioritize solitude over spending time with friends, family, and romantic partners to the point of avoidance. It’s not that I’ve become apathetic towards these people or that I’ve stopped liking them. In fact, I still have a strong desire for affection, friendship, and intimacy, but only in VERY limited quantities, and anything beyond that feels like an obligation. To give you an example of what I’m talking about, my girlfriend lives about 100 miles away, so spending a whole lot of time together during the week is not really feasible. Because of this she would really like to drive to my place after work on Friday, spend the weekend with me, and leave Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately I can’t even begin to fathom spending that much time with someone -even someone I love- and so I always have to come up with an excuse for why she would need to leave Saturday morning or afternoon. And to be honest, by Saturday I’m literally counting the minutes until she leaves so I can be alone. I don’t want to be this way. It’s not fair to the people in my life, and I feel like I shouldn’t be in a relationship, even though I am very much in love. Any insight into my problem would be greatly appreciated!

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Boyfriend Has Changed

Teen Angst
Me and my boyfriend have been going out for almost 2 years. We were so in love and we never fought. In July I started taking birth control pills and became anxious and depressed. we started fighting a lot and everything I guess changed. It’s been at least 5 months from then and my feelings have changed. he isn’t the same person anymore and gets mad at everything. I’m sometimes afraid to to say anything because how mad he gets. He doesn’t listen when I tell him whats wrong and he doesn’t understand why I get mad. he is really hard to talk to and all we do is fight now. I don’t enjoy spending time with him anymore and I hardly think about him the way I used to. I don’t think about other people but I do think about what if I went out with other people, would I be happier? I don’t want to break up. I just want to see if there is hope to save this relationship.

A: Please check with your medical provider to see if there are other options for contraception that will have less impact on your mood. Your longing to explore other relationships is very appropriate for a 17 year old. If you’re really invested in this relationship, you may consider going to counseling together. My biggest questions are “Why are you holding on to the relationship?” and “Is this relationship in your best interest?”

Click the arrow below to listen to my audio response…

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Nathan Csonka Photograph

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