Hello! To be honest, I don't really know how to start this, so I guess I'll just dive straight into it. First, though, I'll apologise now for the ridiculous wall of text and thank you very much if you read this all.
I'm actually very happy with my life is going, I'm going to a good uni, I have improved with my Social Phobia, I have many friends now and I love them all very much. My problem is this: When I meet a new person and especially one of the opposite sex (which, of course, was my entire college class) I've always got this little voice in my head saying that if I get to close, they'll hurt me. I get uncomfortable with emotional stuff directed at me, people saying thanks or congratulating me or telling me I'm a good friend or something. But while I'm able to kinda ignore those, the worst thing is when somebody says they have feelings for me. I've had about 4 guys in the last half a year or so say they've had feelings for me. They were all lovely guys but all but one I had no feelings for. The moment I sensed the conversation taking a more...personal tone, I start to get flustered. And when I say flustered, I mean that all that comes out of my mouth is literally nonsense and I have/come close to having a panic attack. I usually end up crying once I've excused myself and found somewhere private. After that, I just turn instantly cold and try to avoid them as much as possible, I know it makes the situation worse and I feel terrible for doing it because I don't want to hurt them. I'm 21 now, I should be able to deal with these kinds of things. I know that it should be all under my control whether I choose to pursue a romantic relationship with someone but I still fear losing control of the situation. One of those guys, I did actually have feelings for. I ended up going out with him for about a week before things got complicated (he also had an anxiety issue) and it just fizzled out. That time was honestly one of the most stressful and yet nicest experiences ever. He has been, so far, the only man I've ever had feelings for and before that I was starting to wonder if there was something wrong with me and I was just born without the capacity to feel romantically attached to someone.
Anyway, What is really getting to me, is that I would really like to be in a relationship sometime soon. At my school, it was often said that if you hadn't kissed anyone by the time you were 14 that you were lesbian/ugly/defective. I still haven't. I'm not ashamed of it but I was very much in the midst of my anxiety when that, among other things about boyfriends, was reinforced. It made a profound mark on me as well as being told I was ugly and that I'd never have a boyfriend if I didn't stop being so weird. I'm rational about this, I know boyfriends should not total my existence, I wouldn't want someone who didn't like me for me and I'm happy with myself but it still left a mark on me. I can't shake the feeling that I'm somewhat defective and no one will ever love me for me. I know that isn't true and yet it still sticks in my head. I feel stupid because I want to be stronger than this, I really do. I consider myself a pretty strong person so I feel pathetic whenever I have anything remotely like romantic feelings for someone, my mind tries to get me to focus on all their imperfections to try and dissuade me from doing anything. How am I really supposed to develop feelings for anyone when my mind is constantly telling me that this will only be detrimental for me and I'll end up broken and used? There's so much everywhere about divorce rates and relationships breaking down, it just makes me wonder that if I get in a relationship, the odds of it working are minute. I don't really know what I'm looking for by writing this, other than to vent. Reassurance? Is there anyone else who feels similar? Is there anyone who has gotten past this? I'd really just love some help setting my mind at ease. Again, thank you very much if you read all this, if I sound like I'm complaining or whining, that really wasn't my intention and I hope it doesn't come across like this.