Unrealistic Expectations For How Other People Should Help You With Your Social Issues

It's great when others can support you as you work on your shyness, anxiety, loneliness, and social skills gaps. However, not all kinds of assistance are realistic to expect from people. It's a great bonus if they do provide them, but it's not something they owe you. You can become needlessly angry, resentful, or discouraged if you believe people aren't delivering a kind of help they never had to provide in the first place.

There are situations and settings where it's reasonable to expect certain kinds of support or accommodations will be given for mental health, neurodivergence, or developmental conditions. A school system or large corporation has laws and policies they have to carry out. A casual group of friends, or a bunch of random people you've just met at a drop-in meet up, don't have any official rules they need to follow.

I'm not saying every socially awkward person has a million entitled demands of everyone. Most of them are easygoing about this stuff. Though occasionally a few unrealistic expectations can creep into their thinking. Here some of the main ones:

That they'll do most of the work in a conversation to make you comfortable and draw you out of your shell

Some shy, insecure people think, consciously or not, "I'm really fun and interesting once you get to know me. I'm just bad at making conversation at first. I need the other person to understand that, put me at ease, and lead the interaction until I feel relaxed enough to show my true self." If they go to a party and no one puts in the effort to draw them out they may get annoyed and think, "I could have had a good time and brought something to the table, but everyone was too lazy and selfish to help reveal my positive qualities. Now they all think I'm quiet and boring."

It's true that lots of shyer folks have wonderful traits hidden behind their outer fears and inhibitions, but it's not someone else's job to unearth their true personality. If you want people to appreciate your hidden strengths it's usually on you to find ways to feel more comfortable around them.

That they'll be tolerant, understanding, and patient in the face of things you do that bother them

Not everyone with social challenges is awkward or annoying. In fact, some of them are overly nice and considerate and could stand to make a few more waves. However, even if they don't mean to, some people with interpersonal issues can be irritating at times. They might make inappropriate comments, act too needy, or be flaky and scatterbrained when it comes to making plans.

Ideally everyone would be sensitive and compassionate about these things. They'd think, "They're doing their best. They can't help it that they're coming across as negative and pedantic right now. I'll cut them some slack." The fact is some people don't want to be around anyone who gets under their skin. You could say they're being intolerant and unsympathetic, but it's their choice.

That they'll give you useful feedback about your mistakes

Many people who struggle socially have experienced the demoralizing gut punch of thinking they were doing well in a conversation, or at getting along with a group of friends, only to find out later they were unintentionally being off putting. They often think, "Why couldn't someone have just told me where I was going wrong?" Similarly, they may get rejected seemingly out of the blue, and want to know what lead up to it.

They may expect things such as:

While it's clearly useful to get direct feedback about your errors or why you were rejected, even if it stings at the time, here are some reasons people may be not want to give it:

Correct or not, they might justify these choices by telling themselves things like, "Everyone should just know it's wrong to do X,Y,Z. It's not my job to tell them" or, "I shouldn't have to be direct with anyone. If they're bugging me I'll give out plenty of subtle hints they're stepping out of line. It's not my problem if they can't pick up on that."

Of all the types of help you'd like but can't expect, not getting this one can feel the most frustrating. It already really hurts to get rejected or realize you've messed up with someone, and it would at least soften the blow to get an explanation, some constructive criticism, or a sense of closure. It makes an already rough situation even harder when you don't get any of that.

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That they'll be direct with you

For various reasons some people are bad at taking hints. They don't do nuance, innuendo, and "You should just know what I meant!" They'd prefer it if everyone was straightforward with them: "If you want me to start or stop doing something, or if you like me or don't like me, just come out and say it. I can handle it, I promise."

As I just covered, some people aren't comfortable being direct if it involves giving feedback. Others are simply too used to being indirect. It feels alien to be straightforward, so they don't do it. They may have been raised in a culture where they were taught directness was rude and unnecessary, and that vague, roundabout communication was more polite, diplomatic, and harmonious.

That they'll be knowledgeable about any conditions you've been diagnosed with

Someone may be an hour late to meet their friend, get chewed out, and think, "I've told them I have ADHD. They should know I can't help that I often lose track of time." Or they might cancel a plan at the last second and think, "I have Social Anxiety Disorder. When they agreed to hang out they should know I may get too nervous the day of and need to bail." If someone is up to speed about mental health or developmental conditions, that's awesome, but your average person isn't that informed about them and can't be expected to know every detail of what you're going through.

That they'll accommodate your anxious fears and limitations

Anxiety makes people do all kinds of things to avoid the situations they fear. They may steer clear of entire types of events like concerts and parties. They might avoid taking certain types of transportation. They might do everything in their power to dodge entire methods of communication, like talking on the phone. They may use more subtle safety behaviors, like always taking the aisle seat in theaters, so they don't feel trapped and can get away more easily if they suddenly panic.

Some friends may be willing to play along, if it doesn't hinder them too much or they really value the relationship, but you can't expect other people to always meet your anxiety's conditions. They may find it too illogical and inconvenient - "No sorry, I'm not going to stick to your side the whole party just because you're too nervous to mingle on your own."

If you really grapple with nerves you may hate it if someone doesn't accommodate your avoidance strategies. Your anxious brain may tell you they're uncaring monsters who don't know what you're going through. Yeah, they may not completely get what it's like to live with anxiety, but they still don't have to do everything you want them to.

That they'll accommodate your sensory sensitivities

People with autism, ADHD, and trauma can have sensory sensitivities, where they may find things such as fluorescent lights, high pitched sounds, and strong scents painful and overwhelming. They want stay away from environments that bother them, like brightly lit restaurants, or nightclubs. Most reasonable, sensitive people will try to accommodate a friend or colleague with these kinds of sensory processing differences, but it's not something anyone can full-on expect. Sometimes everyone will just want to go to a venue that's too much for you, and be okay with leaving you out this time if you can't make it.

That they'll provide lots of whatever kind of emotional support you'd like

Some people who are lonely, insecure, or socially anxious are often upset about it and want to be able to turn to others for emotional support. Don't get me wrong, many decent people will make themselves available if someone they know is going through a tough time, but strictly speaking, they don't have to do it. They especially don't have to provide frequent, on-demand support to someone who wants a ton of it. They're allowed to set limits for how much they can give of themselves.

This article lists a lot of ways to ask for support without overdoing it:

Ways To Ask For Emotional Support From People Without Draining Them In The Long Run

That they'll want to be friends with you

This one is rarer and more extreme, but some people believe if they're interested in being friends with someone, the other person is obligated to reciprocate. Their reasoning is, "I'm a good person. They'd know that if they gave me a chance. It's not fair that they can turn me down without giving me a shot." It's upsetting when you want to be closer to someone and they don't feel the same way, but no one owes anyone a closer connection, even if it seems like a good match on paper.