This is my first time writing to an advice column and this question is not really a furry-related one but I have a very limited number of ways to seek unbiased feedback on this and since it's probably not uncommon with furs I figured I'd ask :)
I am not a social person. I'm not a misanthrope, I actually quite like people, I just have a very limited amount of socialization I can do before I burn out and need to be alone. I'm mentally ill (Schizo-affective disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depressive bipolar. All but the first one are severe and the first one might also be, but I disagree with that diagnosis, so take my opinion on it with a grain of salt!), but it's under control and so I function on an emotional level more or less the same way a sane person does, but the nature of mental illness could prevent me from seeing its influence in the first place so it might be worth putting out there. Anyway, I've been seeing a lot of stuff lately basically saying that you NEED to have an active social life or you are a miserable loser and I get the impression that people (such as my partner's family) think either that I must be severely depressed or severely delusional to be alone so much.
Thing is, I really don't feel like I am. I live with my partner and see him every day, I have about 10 or so online friends I am quite close with who I speak with every other day, and my best friend IRL who I see every couple of months. This is a very, very low number and part of me feels like it should be alarming, but the rest of me is very defiant of that shame. Despite being disabled and neither working nor in school I have very little difficulty meeting people if I choose to, and getting along socially is effortless. I feel like it's an issue of knowing my boundaries and what I can handle so I don't end up making more friends I just won't have the mental energy for and end up neglecting.
An example--my partner and I met a couple local furs for drinks and dinner recently and I had a good time, I really liked them, and I have zero desire to meet them again. It's not that they weren't up to my standards or something silly, it's just that the commitment involved in maintaining two new additional friendships when I'm at capacity just isn't feasible for me so I feel it's best not to let it get to the point where my not showing up is taken as a personal thing.
I dunno, I'm rambling a bit trying to explain where I'm coming from, but the bottom line is that I know that my social life is abnormal and can be seen as a giant red flag but the only part of it that causes me any pain is how much I worry about if I'm "a normal person," I guess because growing up mentally ill it's been kind of a scramble since recovering to understand what about me is a Big Bad Problem vs. what's just an issue of perspective. Anyway, if you could maybe weigh in on if I sound healthy or not (at least in this regard) I would appreciate it :)
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Questions from Papabear’s readers do not necessarily have to directly relate to furries and the fandom. Any question that is of a concern to one of this bear’s furry brothers or sisters is legitimate and will be addressed with all earnestness. Thanks for writing.
While for most people, sane or not, social interaction is beneficial to their emotional and mental well-being, there is no law that says such a guideline has to be enforced. It is important to emphasize here that there is a HUGE difference between being—let’s call it—asocial and being anti-social. Anti-social people don’t like other human beings, sometimes to the point of wanting to cause them harm. Asocial people are generally indifferent to other people but are not a danger to others.
Papabear wouldn’t even go so far as to say you are asocial because you state quite emphatically that you DO like people, you just don’t see a need to have lots and lots and lots of friends. A pawful suffices. Part of the reason for this being that you struggle to maintain a worthwhile contact with more than a few people (possibly related to your anxiety disorder). In other words, you favor a few quality relationships over having a large quantity of less substantial relationships.
Given the choice between a few really good relationships, like with your partner and best friend, and hundreds of mere acquaintances, I would certainly choose the former. There are many people out there who have numerous “friends” out there but are miserable because they don’t have a love in their life. You, on the other paw, have that, which puts you way ahead of most furries who have written me in the past.
Bunz, don’t worry about what other people say you should be or how you should live your life. Sounds to this bear that, even with your mental disadvantages, you are ahead of the crowd. Relax, take a deep breath, hug your partner, be good to the friends and family you have. You’re doing great.
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