When I was in seventh grade I thoroughly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember how impressed I was with the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes in Silver Blaze. In that short story, a race horse disappears and some sheep are found injured. Only Sherlock Holmes notices that the dog, which would ordinarily bark if a stranger approached the sheep pen, failed to bark and alert everyone that the sheep were in peril. Everyone else is focused on the events that occurred, failing to notice what did not occur.
When teachers or family see a child acting out and causing a disturbance, they take notice and often action. But socially anxious children are not the proverbial squeaky wheel, preferring instead to blend into the woodwork and avoid interaction with others. They are less likely to be noticed, meaning others are less likely to act.
The same may be true for adults. Avoidance may go unnoticed. Does anyone notice when relatives or neighbors don’t mix with the group?
Maybe it’s time for action. Why not ask the relative or coworker who remains on the social periphery if they are interested in joining in? Many clients I have worked with appreciate being invited, particularly if the invitation comes with no pressure. If you are close, why not share with them strategies you have learned for your own social anxiety. Chances are, your new strategies for dealing with social anxiety make you more aware of the quiet needs of others avoiding social engagement. Perhaps you are Sherlock Holmes of your social network.