9 Behaviors That Prove Someone Is Socially Awkward

Socially awkward behaviors are more than just quirky traits; they’re real challenges some people face daily. From dodging eye contact to making jokes that miss the mark, these behaviors can make socializing a tough gig. We’re going to break down what these signs look like and what they really mean for the person struggling with them. Buckle up, it’s about to get real.

1. They feel extremely anxious in social situations.

Someone who’s socially awkward often experiences intense anxiety in social settings. It’s not just nerves; it’s full-on stress. They might sweat, stutter, or even freeze up. This anxiety stems from a fear of being judged or not knowing what to say. It’s tough because it can turn even a simple conversation into a daunting task. If you know someone like this, understand that their discomfort is real and intense. They’re not being standoffish; they’re dealing with internal struggles that make socializing a challenge.

2. They often misread people or don’t pick up on social cues.

Socially awkward folks can have a hard time reading the room. They might laugh at the wrong moment, not realize someone’s joking, or miss cues to end a conversation. It’s not that they’re clueless; they just process social cues differently. This can lead to awkward moments or misunderstandings. Being patient and clear in your communication can help ease these interactions. Remember, they’re not doing this on purpose; it’s just a hurdle they face in understanding social dynamics.

3. They prefer to be alone as much as possible.

If someone always seems to be avoiding group settings or social gatherings, it could be a sign of social awkwardness. They find comfort in solitude because it’s predictable and stress-free compared to the unpredictability of social interactions. It’s not about disliking people; it’s about feeling overwhelmed by the demands of socializing. Giving them the space they need without making them feel excluded is key. They might join in when they feel ready.

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5. People keep their distance or lean away when they get too close.

Sometimes, socially awkward individuals don’t quite get personal space boundaries. They might stand too close or not notice when someone’s leaning away, making others uncomfortable. This isn’t intentional; they just might not be aware of the unspoken rules of personal space. If you’re dealing with someone like this, gently letting them know about these boundaries can help. It’s about guiding them, not calling them out or embarrassing them.

6. They avoid making eye contact as much as possible.

Avoiding eye contact is one of the most classic socially awkward behaviors. It’s not about being rude; it’s about the discomfort and anxiety they feel in social interactions. Eye contact can feel too intense, almost like a spotlight, making them feel more self-conscious. If you’re talking to someone who struggles with this, try not to take it personally. They’re dealing with their insecurities, and direct eye contact is just another hurdle for them.

7. People don’t get their jokes or find them offensive.

Socially awkward people might try to fit in by making jokes, but often, these can fall flat or even come off as offensive. It’s not that they’re trying to be inappropriate; they might not grasp the nuances of social humor or the line between funny and offensive. It’s a tricky area, and if you’re around someone like this, a gentle heads-up about why their joke didn’t land well can be helpful. They’re likely just trying to connect, even though it’s not coming across as intended.

8. Conversations with them just don’t flow.

Ever had a chat that felt more like pulling teeth? That’s often the case with socially awkward individuals. They might struggle with keeping a conversation going, leading to awkward silences or abrupt topic changes. It’s not for lack of trying; they often just don’t know how to navigate the give-and-take of a smooth conversation. Being patient and maybe helping steer the conversation can make a big difference. If you notice a lot of strained silences as well, this is one of the most common socially awkward behaviors.

9. They’re always picked last for group projects or team sports.

This isn’t just a trope from movies; it happens. Being socially awkward can make someone seem less approachable, leading others to overlook or undervalue them in group settings. It’s tough because it reinforces their feelings of being out of place. If you’re in a position to choose teams or groups, consider giving them a chance. Sometimes, all they need is an opportunity to show they can contribute just as much as anyone else.

10. They always stay on the outskirts of parties or events.

You’ll often find socially awkward people hanging around the edges at social events — it’s one of their most common behaviors. They’re not necessarily anti-social; they’re just not comfortable in the thick of things. Crowds, noise, and lots of activities can be overwhelming for them. They might be happy just observing, or they might be wishing they could join in but don’t know how. A friendly gesture or invitation to join a group can go a long way in making them feel included.

Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.