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Ask the Friendship Doctor

Why would someone have no friends?

There are a host of reasons why some people have no friends…and it is more common than you might think.

QUESTION

Hi there,

I am so happy to have found your blog! I have a problem that has been ongoing for my entire life, pretty much. I have no friends. Well, let me restate that: I have no friends who keep in touch without me doing all the effort and even then it is spotty! I am 35 years old.

A little history, in case it is applicable to my current problem: in middle school, I had a very close best friend but she dumped me, which was really tough. Then, in high school and into college I had some best friends that I ended up dumping abruptly over the littlest thing, which I have since realized was due to trust issues that I have worked through now. So why can’t I keep friends?

I have a group of three friends whom I have known since I was about 21. They don’t call me or email me really, but if I email and rally everyone for a get together we have fun… but then nothing. And I hear from them that they have gotten together in the meantime. I don’t get it- what is wrong with me?

Around the neighborhood I chat, make meals for the new moms, etc. but then nothing. And the other moms get together without me. I have female cousins who are really great, we have fun when we are together—but they never call or ask me to get together. It always has to be me.

The fact that this is a pattern in all my female friendships troubles me and makes me think that I am doing something wrong, but I don’t know what. I am a caring person and go out of my way to ask people about their lives when I am having conversations. My therapist has said that there is nothing wrong with having to be the one to always initiate a get together, but then I see my others who have a group of close friends who get together and really support each other, and I wonder, why not me?

I am an only child and sometimes just feel very alone. Other times I feel okay with having no friends. But all in all, I wish it were different. Do you have any advice for me?

Signed,
Amanda

ANSWER

Hi Amanda,

Ouch! It sounds like you feel like you’re a pariah. It’s impossible to guess why your friendships don’t “stick” and there’s no uptake by others but the problem seems to be a pattern rather than a one-time occurrence—and something you want to change.

Can you self-identify your specific problem (s)? Here are some of the possibilities why people don’t have close reciprocal relationships with friends. I’m sure other readers will add to the list.

Temperament – Are you shy and uncomfortable around people? This can make people around you feel uncomfortable too.

Insecurity - Do you feel like you can’t measure up to the people you want as friends? Are you able to trust other people? These may be barriers that create distance between you and your friends.

Preference – Are you introverted? When push comes to shove, do you actually prefer being alone rather than spending time with friends? Do you think people know this when they’re around you? Or, are you extraordinarily social—so preoccupied with making lots of acquaintances that you lose out on making close friendships?

Psychological Issues – Do you have a history of difficulty establishing intimate relationships with others? Are you uncomfortable with people knowing the real you?

Lack of Experience – Regardless of age, some people lack the skills needed to make and maintain friendships. Do you think you have what it takes to be a good friend?

Situational Obstacles – Do you live in a geographical area where it is particularly difficult to connect with people? This might include living someplace rural where there are few people or because of a history of frequent moves, being someplace where you feel like an outsider.

Disabilities – Do you have a mental or physical disability? Unfortunately, because of stigma, people shun individuals with mental or physical disabilities. In addition, being homebound can limit the opportunity to make friends.

Personality – Is there something about you that others find grating? Are you too needy? Too pushy? Too talkative? Too controlling? Are you fiercely independent—wanting to call all the shots regarding what, when and where? Sometimes, there is something off-putting about a person’s behavior and the individual lacks awareness of the problem.

Communication Style - Do you respond to your friend’s overtures as well as initiate contact? Are you available on line or by phone, depending on your friend’s preferred mode of communication.

Time Management Problems – Do you have a hard time juggling all the responsibilities and demands placed on you? Do you consider making time for friends selfish or frivolous?

Unrealistic expectations – Have you led your friends to believe that you will always do the organizing? Do you have an unrealistic, romanticized notion of friendship? Do you expect all friendships to be perfect and last forever?

Talking to an objective third party is a good way to gain insight into something you can’t figure out about yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a therapist; it could be your spouse, a sibling, or someone else you trust.

Since you are already in therapy, perhaps this list will provide a useful starting point to explore various possibilities with your therapist. I agree that something is amiss given the scenario you have described and your desire for more reciprocal friendships.

Hope this is helpful.

Warm regards,
Irene


Prior blog posts that touch upon having no friends:

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (2,232)

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  1. Ben Kelly says:

    I’ve got no friends and I love it because I know nobody will ever use and abuse me again. I’ll be a friend to others though. I had a real friend once but he died in the Australian Special Forces. I had a girlfriend for 3 months when I was 31 and her name was Amanda! No, it is pretty lonely. :( Just silence.

  2. Missy says:

    I think Tom’s post was fantastic and cut through a lot of the fat. I just wanted to add that after finding this wonderful blog it occurred to me how everyone who has posted/read posts sought out as a seeker to find someone that captures their experience in order to put words to it: myself included.
    That alone (I would like to think) separates us from the folks Tom mentioned in his post. Those folks are disconnected on so many levels: from their truth (what is going on that makes them say they are busy?) and many from their own lives. I’d like to think that all of us far and wide could meet in another day and age before technology became such an obstacle because connecting was more natural and genuine. Yes, having 1000 facebook contacts are contacts NOT friends. Folks are “busy” opting many times to bullshit about who said what on facebook instead of connecting over dinner with someone like Tom. Hence, clearly I don’t do Facebook.

    Now, for those of us “in touch” with the pain of having to be left with loneliness and that raw sense of vulnerability while Navigating our marriages, lives etc we know enough to know Facebook is not the connection we seek but instead that thing that is born out of human contact. We’ve opted to even seek a connection here versus connecting to the disconnect.

    I wish you all well as I have learned much from your posts!

    Missy

  3. Tom says:

    Irene,

    I was doing some internet research about family and friends who don’t care or seem to not communicate the same way I do.

    This past year, with both friends and family, I am realizing I am just DIFFERENT and in life, folks are just plain RUDE.

    You see, I am not oblivious to how we live our lives in this hustle-bustle, slaves to work, busy families, internet and social media and tech driven world we live in these days. Matter of fact, after being in the military and having more time on my hands, I can see that my life is not the same as many others.

    One thing I can definitely tell you is people these days make EXCUSES for why they don’t communicate properly and timely, as well as, they make excuses for why they don’t have time for why they can’t hang out stating the BIG LIE…….I AM BUSY.

    What does “I am busy mean?” It really is translated as “You are not a priority to me right now and I don’t have time for you in my life.”

    Why do people, family, friends, coworkers, etc.. constantly make excuses as to why they can’t hang out, why they don’t return texts or calls, why do they always say “I am busy.”

    It’s because as humans, we are LAZY and SELFISH and unless it benefits us personally, most of us don’t go out of our way to show LOVE or SELFLESS SERVICE (Doing things for others without expecting anything in return).

    Now, think about this, really, think hard.

    1) If you want a flower to grow, what do you do? WATER IT.

    2) You can’t love anyone else, until you love yourself first

    So, these #1 and #2 above, what do they have to do with anything? Well, most relationships fail due to LACK OF COMMUNICATION…..just as flowers die without adequate water.

    If folks don’t communicate properly, timely, and effectively, then the person receiving or not receiving the message feels hurt, not loved, or the biggest, like they are not a priority to the other person.

    Whether its our mom, brother, husband or wife, kids, etc… when our friends or loved ones don’t take an interest in us or talk to us right, they we automatically feel left out and like they don’t care.

    But, as aforementioned, in this crazy social tech world that runs fast, we forget that ones family, spouse, kids, or work usually are the priority, not our friends and vice verse.

    So, HOW DO WE COPE? We use what is called the DIRECT APPROACH. It worked when analazying bad guys in the military or trying to get info., so just be straight forward and if the person REALLY CARES, they will 1) Listen, 2) Show empathy and compassion, and 3) They will try to make the relationship work and fix what might be broken.

    If they don’t, then you keep it moving, find new friends, leave that family member alone and if it’s your wife or husband, you talk it out and MAKE IT WORK.

    Everyone else, you don’t chase after, you don’t do all the work, make them work too and care and if they are too freakin’ lazy or constantly makes excuses as being busy, LET THEM GO…..

    The 2nd point above, we have to make time for ourselves, first and foremost. Whether it’s prayer time, meditation time, exercise time, reading time, etc…. if we put our God and ourself first, then our spouse, then family, then friends, it will workout.

    Lastly, learn to keep some things private and don’t put yourself out there or make yourself available all the time. Stop calling for say a month or so and write down who reaches out. Let others invite you to things and if they don’t, don’t hang out with them anymore, focus on yourself and family and be happy with that.

    If friends are true friends, they will MAKE TIME FOR YOU….if not, they were never really a friend.

    • Suzie says:

      EXCELLENT post, Tom- one of the best I’ve ever read on this site! And of course I agree with everything you said, 100%. :)

    • Peggy says:

      What great advise, thank you!

    • Anya says:

      I am so glad I read this post.I fully understand everything you’re saying, it makes sense. Totally agree with you’re quote “If friends are true friends”, they will make time for you, if not, they were never really a friend.” I am going through the relationship where if I don’t pursue things or initiate conversation I am excluded from my group of friends. I have to be the one to organise things or else I am left out. Personally I’, in my late 30′s and too old to put up with this nonsense. I am now focusing on those who I love and love me back, my family, my children, my husband. All else can be lost I don’t care anymore.Effort was put in to my friendships and if they don’t accept me then they are not worth it and not important in my life.I am really caring and not a in your face type person and yet this is what friends do to you!!!

      • Sandra says:

        This is exactly what I am going through. I am a generous and giving person to a fault and if I ask for a little ‘help’ I’m ignored. I have never treated people the way some people have treated me. I’m now putting my efforts solely into my family and two good friends who are equally giving!

    • Laura says:

      This is so true, because I’m having a really complicated mess with my past “friends”, they didn’t bother clearing up with me what exactly happen even after I told them. They didn’t bother asking, talking or showing any concern what so ever to how I was doing. Sadly this sounds a little egoistical, but well that’s what it is, a showing of reciprocation between two of you, a give and take. Well, I tried salvaging, but to no avail, nothing. So I’m moving on, and seeing if I could make close friends again, that are really true friends.

    • Julie says:

      So true Tom. Believe and follow the Lord, and he will make sure our family and friends are true, REAL friends and nourishing to our souls. :) There is no mistake about that.

  4. Becky Jones says:

    I am Becky Jones by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address dr.okorospelltemple01@ gmail. com, have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband. Thanks for Dr. Okoro. His email: dr.okorospelltemple01@ gmail. com

    Dr. OKORO NUMBER: +2348110496023

    • Suzie says:

      This is beyond ridiculous- is there any way that posts like these can go right to spam so they aren’t even displayed?

  5. Ron says:

    Wow I feel the very same way, having no friends, and I am a 59 year old man. I just don’t understand why I have no friends, I try to be friendly and acceptable but I think there is just something about my personality that drives them away. I am not necessarily the smartest cookie in the jar but neither am I dumb or stupid. I have tried to diagnose and pay attention to others reactions but not really sure just what is causing this state of loneliness. I was married for almost 25 years but that was 9 years ago and I have a terrible time meeting women because I don’t want to deal with rejection and all the pain that goes with a breakup or just not being accepted. I just recently lost a lady friend because of jealousy and anger and very negative responses to her and another person. I don’t like being by myself all the time but have just come to accept it as the way I will live my life out till the day I die physically. I say it that way because I feel like I die everyday because of just being alone and having no close relationships. Is there any help for some one like me as old as I am I would truly love to have a another woman in my life, I just don’t know how to go about doing it.
    Thank you for reading this.
    Ron

  6. steven sanchez says:

    That is so true

  7. Shane says:

    Hello Amanda,

    Don’t be so hard on yourself thinking there’s something wrong with you.
    Some people are complete assholes and still they got friends who accept them for who and what they truly are.
    If people don’t like you, they never will no matter what you do… even if you change yourself to please them.

    Move on and find people who will appreciate you.

    And don’t forget to appreciate your own value. :)

    God bless…

    • Amit Kumar Sahoo says:

      Hi,

      Don’t worry friends if you don’t have friends! You have come alone and go alone. Nobody will accompany you when you die. Being alone kind of instills courage and confidence in you to do everything yourselves and to face the world. So just conquer over every place you are at, by the power of being alone.

      Amit Kumar Sahoo

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