It's not really a matter of "deciding not to pursue" sinse nothing I've tried in the pursuing line has ever actually done any good at all. I've been out in the literal sense with many female friends, in fact probably %70 of my friends are! female, though this is probably more due to the fact that singing and on stage performing is a major part of my life, and for some social reason not many men are as interested in that sort of thing (which also means I'm more useful as a tenor, which helps).
But whatever time I've spent with any girl, i've never noticed this mysterious exchange of signals that is supposed to happen, indeed even on the few occasions that mental pressure has forced me to admit openly how I feel, this isn't under any expectation of anything happening, rather it's just been an attempt to releave my own feelings.
I've often wished indeed that I was female, sinse it seems the relationship thing is so much easier for girls, as all they need to do is sit around, wait for a man to make his feelings known, then have all the power to accept or reject. As I said though in This thread
I'm now thinking that there is something intrinsically broken in my perceptions of the feelings of others, simply because for me (as for other survivers of Sa), physical communication and closeness is automatically bad.
it was a failed attempt to make my feelings known to a girl that made me realize what happened to me as a teenager wasn't as dead and buried as I thought. Sinse then, the realization that the closest anyone has been to me was while spitting in my face, and the desire for the communicative experience I've seen betwene others has been extremely painful, so I completely understand.
I started recovery when I was 25, and am now 29, and have watched everyone I met at university get married (I've been invited to loads of weddings), and I absolutely agree, it is a difficult thing to live with. However, I realized that the desire, the ache, the pain of not! having that sort of communication with someone was just causing me problems.
I've not completely rid myself of it, but now, I'm at the stage where (as happened in fact just this evening), a friend talks about their relationship, or talks about dating, I don't feel a sense of shame, jealousy and inadequacy. Indeed, just this evening at my role play group, one couple was discussing their upcoming wedding. They mentioned a tv show where the bride gives the groom two words to arrange their wedding, and I stated that if they were getting married the groom should have a good idea of what the bride wanted which caused a gale of rather synical laughter. Yet, where as in the past this sort of incident I'd have found extremely upsetting, now I don't particularly bother about it, sinse ultimately, it doesn't matter to me all that much. So what if I don't know about mariage, does it really matter? It's an experience, nothing more, and there are lots of other good experiences to have.
This is really what I mean, giving up the pain, shame and hurt of not having a relationship, and replacing it with a more positive focus on the things you can! have.
In the time I had counceling, I did discuss this, but none of what was said really helped all that much, sinse it boiled down to "give it time" and "your not learning" both of which I could've done without, then again, all the best efforts I did with recovery have been on this site, rather than with a T.
On the social issue, well so what if I'm not with someone in public, or the way that others expect. I've learnt that any judgement about myself (especially when comparing myself to others), will be based on my own feeling of worthlessness, therefore I've learnt to stop paying attention to those sorts of judgements, the same way I'd pay no attention to the judgements of a bad crytic.
As for the questions issue about why your not with someone, well myself I just tell as much of the truth as possible, then change the conversation. I say quite happily "never really met anyone" and leave it at that, but if I volunteer less information, people do not usually ask for clarrification. I do the same thing if people ask me if I'm gay, I just state "oh no, not gay, just never met the right girl" and stop there.
If I make my manner such that the topic is supposed to stop, that is usually where it does stop.
I completely understand your reluctance with groups, hobbies, meeting new people and making friends. Myself, I have distinctly struggled with spending too much time alone and isolating from people, and the belief that any group of people wouldn't particularly want me joining.
The fact that I'm visually impared, and most people actually do! treat me like an alien when they first meet me doesn't help either, not the least because there are! groups of people that in the past have made it pretty clear that they don't want me either.
One advantage however to living successfully with a visual imparement, is that you must! learn the art of conversation, of reading people's emotions and how to make yourself as friendly, open and approachable as possible so that people stop! treating you like an alien.
as a natural intravert who relaxes by being alone anyway, this was hard for me to learn, but is now something I have learnt, and something that can! be learnt. It's generally though just a matter of relaxing, and being receptive to people's emotions, telling if they are interested, board, upset etc, and again this is another reason why I think my relationship receptors are broken, sinse in other respects I am pretty good at communicating with people and making friends, just by being receptive and empathic.
I once heard a great set of lectures on the art of smalltalk, which might be of help, though really the only way to learn this is to practice as much as possible, even with taxi drivers, employees in shops etc.
Making friends takes time, but where as relationships I've always found a none starter, making friends is something I find I can do far more easily.
indeed, I remember one abortive session with a new counselor, where for the first half of the session we were just chatting, and he actually said "why do you need counselling?" then I suddenly realized I was employing my people skills, and focusing on conversation and interest, and abruptly had to swich modes to focus on myself.
This isn't to say that I lye, falsify myself or in any sense change, only that I alter my focus to being aware of the other person, rather than myself.
Of course, the one area where this falls apart is discussion of s/x. I hate! even the word. When a teenager, discussion of anything to do with s/x, stupid adolescent humour that at the time I just saw as pointless and silly, and what started as "jokes" were a major part of my abuse, so this is something I find difficult.
Being on this site and having honest discussion with men who understand has helped a lot, and now I no longer get into a literally panicked state when people start discussing it, and have moderated my reactions when it's discussed to mere distaste, or discomfort.
Usually the best way I find to deal with it is simply to avoid it, and change the subject in conversation if I can, or to straight out say "I'm not comfortable discussing that" If I get someone really stupid who insists on using the topic to actually make! me uncomfortable, I simply leave, or ignore what is being siad entirely, sinse odds are anyone with that sort of mentality isn't worth talking to anyhow.
It's actually quite surprising how affective simply saying "i'm just uncomfortable with that" is.
I've also learnt to change the subject from direct, s/xual humour to something more surreal, but less triggering. For instance, just this evening in my rp group people were making jokes about a convent full of nuns. I said "well better than a convent full of confused monks!" which of course changed the focus from s/x directly, to transvestites, which is a far less dangerous subject.
I do admit though, I still have trouble with this. I often skip passages in books describing it, or flip passed it in films, or I simply ignore it and think of something else until that scene is over.
while I'm fairly certain if I ever found! someone I could communicate with, I could learn some new associations about s/x, sinse I can't find anyone, and even physical touch and miner affection such as a hug is something I find difficult, I can't really see this being fixed any time soon either, ---- so once again, better to simply resolve to live without it.
I really hope some of this is helpful. Basically, my atitude is that I might as well just focus on other important things in life. Friends, creativity, enjoyable experiences. I'm just finishing my phd thesis, and when I'm done I'll be training full time to become a professional tenor, both of which are very important to me, indeed you could say that for me, music has replaced relationships.
When I succeed at my resolution, I always think of my tutor. he is one of the wisest, most ensiteful and compassionate people I know. he writes absolutely beautiful pieces with a real understanding of life (which is surprisingly rare for a philosophy lecturer), he even extended my phd into part time when he found out I was having such severe problems working due to recovery from abuse (my mum told him that it had happened, and that I was dealing with it).
yet he is in his late 50's, certainly not married, and as far as I know, quite happy not to be so.
if I ended up anything like him I would not be in the least sorry.
I can freely understand if you choose not to go down this route, sinse your life might be different, though from what you've said it does strike me your desire for a relationship might be as much due to others expectations, as to your own personal desire for closeness with others, and that you can! certainly do something about, which will in turn help you be more relaxed around others and at peace, which might help in finding friends.
I really hope some of this ramble is useful.