Interpersonal relationships are in part related to one’s attitude; some may find it easier than others to relate properly to their peers within the framework of social norms. This responds to the individual differences that exist between people.

Therefore, it is relatively frequent that the question arises: “why do I find it difficult to relate to people? . In this article we will see what factors can be behind this kind of social difficulties, and what can be done about it.

Related article: “I have a hard time making friends: causes and solutions”

Why do I have trouble relating to people? Possible reasons

The causes can be varied, and can be mixed between the personality characteristics of the subject and the social environment in which he has been developing since childhood. To answer the question “why do I have difficulty relating to people” it is necessary to understand both causes.

For example, a child who is prone to extroversion but who develops in an environment where excessive composure predominates , will grow up restrained, and will most likely have difficulty relating to others during his adult years.

The same happens in the opposite case, when children are introverted and significant people in their environment try to force them to relate to others in an arbitrary way . The child will grow up remembering aversive experiences linked to social relations, and then in his adult life it will be more difficult for him to achieve meaningful and lasting relationships.

It can then be said that difficulties in social relations depend largely on how these two factors (environment and nature) are balanced, so that the subject develops and grows up with good self-esteem, and also knows how to recognize and manage his personality characteristics. In this way, personal factors such as extroversion and introversion can be prevented from playing against each other when establishing and maintaining social relationships with others.

Ideally, people should acquire the skills necessary to moderate their personality characteristics within the framework of social norms, without this affecting their natural development in any way.

Factors affecting social relationships

Next we will see the factors that influence the psychosocial development of people.

1. Natural factors

The natural factors that influence social difficulties are all those that come from the genetic predispositions of the subject . Depending on the family history, they could be hereditary, although in many of them the learning history also has a great influence. These are some of the most common:

  • Autism spectrum disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Some addictions (alcoholism, pathological gambling, etc.).
  • Diseases of the thyroid gland
  • Propensity to stress.
  • Antisocial personality disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
  • Social phobia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Agoraphobia (irrational fear of open spaces)

All these are just propensities whose negative social impact we can overcome if we modify our habits, as we will see.

2. Social factors

Social factors, which are mainly learned, have a high impact on the social relationships we are able to establish. Let’s see how our environment can influence this aspect of life:

  • Dysfunctional family environment.
  • Child abuse .
  • Very permissive breeding styles.
  • Authoritarian breeding styles.
  • Child abandonment .
  • Separation from parents.
  • Severe trauma.
  • Pathological grieving processes.
  • Reduced social circle .
  • Influence of negative groups.

It must be taken into account that the presence of the factors seen above only represent a higher index of probabilities of presenting problems in social relations, but they are not absolutely determinant . That is why they are known as risk factors.

How to avoid difficulties in relating to people?

In the same way that there are risk factors that can lead the subject to present difficulties in their interpersonal relationships, there are also ways in which you can avoid this type of limitation . They are the following

1. Be selective about the social group

The fact that you don’t relate well to a social group doesn’t imply that it should be so with everyone ; keep in mind that it’s not worth forcing interaction. If you feel that in order to fit into a group you have to get too far away from who you really are, then maybe it’s time to stop fitting into that scheme.

2. Set goals

The goals help a lot to overcome little by little our social limitations ; it is about climbing our fears in a controlled way. For example, if we are anxious about talking to people; we set a daily goal of starting at least 3 conversations a day.

Doing this will allow us to overcome our insecurities , and the time will come when we can do it naturally. These goals should have a deadline, so that we can measure how well we have done in that time.

3. Share experiences

Dare to share personal experiences with people close to you . It’s OK if you sometimes comment on things that make you feel vulnerable. Contrary to what many people think, being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness in all contexts.

If you are able to open up to telling others about negative experiences, they will feel more confident with you, and the interaction may become more meaningful to all members of the group. But keep in mind that they must be people you trust.

4. Attend therapy

A resource that is not often used by people is psychological therapy , probably because of the stereotypes that still exist towards the figure of these sessions. But the reality is that going to therapy can clear up the picture of what is limiting you socially, and it will help you to make plans for “opening up” to relate better to others.

Bibliographic references:

  • Chavira, D. A.; Stein, M. B.; Malcarne, V. L. (2002). Scrutinizing the relationship between shyness and social phobia. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 16 (6): 585 – 98.
  • Paulhus, D.L.; Morgan, K.L. (1997). “Perceptions of intelligence in leaderless groups: The dynamic effects of shyness and acquaintance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 72 (3): 581 – 591.