tl;dr Have had plenty of associates through life, not shy or especially awkward, but no friends and no invites anywhere as I watch others not struggle at all.
Most posts about friends here are about ditching an old circle for a new. I feel like that at least gives a chance to segue, which I don't exactly have. Even the most beta guys here casually mention all the time "I was at this party and this girl..." or "my guy friends don't respect me" etc and I can't relate to that at this juncture.
I used to be a stoner and in college all social activity was to smoke weed. I could call other potheads with the purpose of asking them to smoke, and sometimes they'd do the same. I latched onto some guys that way, I wouldn't call them either beta or alpha. I rarely went out in college. I'm not a nice guy in any sense, so that's not the diagnosis which is another thing that frustrates me trying to find solutions, because everything's geared towards pushovers. I don't have a problem looking people in the eye or talking, though I do often have a hard time coming up with things to talk about with anyone. I'm tall, visibly out of shape: definitely fat, but not obesefat (obviously another problem to work on, but fat guys have friends so that's beyond the scope of this). I get along fine with people at work and at school, but they always remain just work friends or school friends, so moreso associates than friends. After college I had a drug addiction for some time and didn't talk to anyone, and when I came out of it I moved cities to go to grad school. Throughout my 20's I've had a couple girlfriends that I either met online (all of which had much lower SMV than (I think) I have) or girls with whom I faked being alpha but that veil quickly dropped. But again, girls aren't why I'm writing...
Socially I would guess most people think of me as somewhere between a non-presence and kind-of-a-dick. I realize this, but don't know how to be even tolerantly amiable. Three of the biggest eye openers regarding my social ability that I'll never forget.
A. In my last college house, filled with stoners (again, all somewhere between betas and alphas) the other guys in the house went and scouted and signed a new place without me. One of the guys in a candid honest moment explained it to me that "[I'm] dead weight, [I] bring nothing to the table". It wasn't intended to be disrespectful, just blunt.
B. In grad school one guy I would actually call a friend cut me off one time after I said something probably dickish "Dude, what's that about? You remind me of my uncle who isn't smart or funny and has nothing to say so they just insult people". In context for him it was just a passing comment but it hit close to home... it made the top three list.
C. Through college I was friends with stoners who crossed paths either by their frat (which I wasn't in) or because they were from the same home town. In my home town everyone's kind of... hickish, or lower class or something. So I always told myself that I'd make friends once I had people I could relate to. When I came to grad school I thought this is it, its the perfect time, everyone's starting fresh so I'm not the weird outsider. And I got invites for the first few weeks or months, and I made a conscious effort to "try" by hosting a weekly poker thing, which people came and still come to. But a few months into grad school I noticed cliques forming even amongst the groups I thought I was part of, until I start realizing that there's group texts and emails and bar nights that I'm not part of. I don't even think it was a conscious thing, I think it was moreso nobody even thought of me. And now the cliques are formed and now when I do show up to the very few invites I get (only the ones where its obvious they invited their whole phonebook) and grad school's almost over, but at least it served as the final nail in the "it's not the people, it's me" coffin.
But I don't know what the problem is. My way of relating to people is to what I consider banter, which from the above obviously doesn't make them feel bonded to me. If I drop the bantz then I have little to talk about other than weak small talk (how's classes, etc). Othewise I got nothing. And the problem escalates; the more I got without a thriving social circle, the more other people are atuned to social cues, etc, and the less I am. And it's not just the overthinking, either; I genuinely thought I had fixed it and was rolling with the flow when grad school started and I was hosting, etc, until the reality that I was still an outcast set in.
There'll be no more opportunities as "fresh start" as the beginning of grad school was. I know "get involved with hobbies" is one valid answer, but the problem's deeper than that: everyone around me in those easy situations like grad school even though a lot of them are some mix of beta, or not especially funny, or don't have any interesting hobbies. There's something else that I can't figure out that has put me at 28 years old with no friends. I want friends, guys or LJBF girls even, to call me, to ask me to come places once in a while. I know friendship's a two way street, but my hosting poker weekly for literally months with a wide net of people coming, but receiving 0 reciprocity turned me away from that as the default response: friendships should have reciprocity, I think.