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I'm a 30 year old male who has never had a relationship. I have zero social skills and don't have any friends. Throughout my 20s I became depressed with my inability to talk to women at work or when I was studying and this led to me giving up work and living at home with my parents. I had Cognitive bhavioural therapy when I was 27, but it barely scratched the surface of the issues that I have.

This has been the case for the last 3 months after I was introduced to a woman who I was attracted to and just fell apart. I was unable to make eye contact or talk with her. This was the first time in my life that I realised I have no chance of meeting a woman with my current frame of mind. I had assumed throughout my 20s that someone might come along, but it seems that even when that happens I am far too messed up in my mind to sell myself to anyone.

I feel an immense frustration and it seems to me that time is running out due to my age. I try to challenge myself, but the best I can do is to go out in public and be around people in coffee shops, which is still so far away from being able to form a relationship with anyone.

The other issue is toxic shame. My mother and father could never talk to me about relationships as a normal subject, but actually teased me about girls when I was a kid. I am convinced this messed my mind up from a young age, and I feel a paralytic level of shame when I am around my mother and she mentions my lack of any relationship.

In addition to my anxiety with men and women in public I have big issues of not being assertive enough. I seem to fear conflict and do everything to avoid it. I also have very low self esteem, and often get depressed for hours by seeing a photo of myself or looking in the mirror. I also have some kind of inferiority issues around other people, especially based on looks.

I feel like I am invisible to women, and that I can't find a way to challenge myself to talk to people. The only progress I have made is that I can now go into a coffee shop and sit on my own if it is not too busy, but my heart still races if I see a woman I am attracted to or if anyone stares at me - especially young men, who I assume might start trouble.

I have started taking SSRIs at a low dose about a week ago, but I don't know if this will help. I am hoping to see a shrink but am not hopeful about this being a big help, as the last psychologist I seen was quite ignorant and wanted to confine my treatment strictly to social anxiety and cognitive behavioural therapy.

I never communicate with my parents on a meaningful level, but feel like telling my mother that her shame about talking about sex was passed on to me, and that I feel shamed just about expressing a desire to have a relationship. I can't really articulate the emptiness that I feel at being alone.
Trixibel made some great points. By the way, I also suffer from this disgusting 'disease' of social anxiety and find a lot in common with you.

But for me, as Trixibel suggested, living with my parents is absolutely brutal. I'm not quite at the age you are, being 23, but I'm in my 6th year of a 4yr program, who also suffers from pretty bad self esteem, and it just seems living here with my family depresses the crap out of me. I feel totally guilty and like an underachiever, a failure, way too much. The problem I have is I don't have any money and actually owe them a good 20 grand, so moving out is not an option. But I think this would otherwise be a great idea. Personally I'd absolutely HATE to bring a girl home to my family. Not only that I'd hate to get into a relationship and speak on the phone in my house here. Also living on your own might take away the constant feeling of failure. I know personally its a massive burden and I feel they weigh me down tremendously. It doesnt help my father makes "jokes" about my failures quite often.

Also, the other good idea is try finding someone on the internet. I've never tried it but it's become a much more commonplace in today's world and isn't really as frowned upon. It also instantly eliminates THEE hardest part about meeting a girl; the initial awkward interactions when you don't know what to talk about. If you've been chatting up a girl online who you know shares many interests, you'd probably feel much more at ease when you actually hang out as you actually know her a little.

Lastly, without getting to philosophical, I've done so much reading on this stuff and I think obviously the biggest key is becoming comfortable with yourself and loving who you are. Albeit, this is easier said that done. Unfortunately society has always gravitated towards copying or comparing yourself to someone else and it's kind of sad. No one person is the same as you in this world, and that's something pretty special in itself. We all have a great unique personality that resonates when we're happy, and no matter what we perceive as wrong with ourselves, if we're happy around people, smiling, just showing we accept others unconditionally; 9 times out of 10 (especially as we get older and ppl mature) we will be accepted and liked. Ask yourself this: do you 'only' befriend perceived "cool" people or good-looking people, or 'un'awkward people, etc? No. You befriend someone because they genuinely care about you and accept you for you. But until you, and me, start loving and accepting who we are, it's impossible for us to let others.

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