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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 (2,376)

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  1. Pablo says:

    I do observe of the many posts here that people don’t seem to understand why they don’t have friends, I’m not saying there aren’t times when I question this myself but If I think about it and I’m honest with myself I can probably list a number of reasons why. I’m about middle aged and at this point in my life I really don’t want to change myself to accommodate or please other people just so they’ll like me, I think most of us did that when we were younger to fit in, we didn’t want to be left out, the loner or the one bullied – Yes, conform or be cast out!

    It’s a catch 22 – I sometimes attempt to be funny or amusing, yet I know people just see that as trying too hard to be liked, and on top of that as I age it seems my filter is being bypassed more often, yes I speak my mind and can be brutally honest (just like everyone else) but do appreciate it is a turn off(well unless someone is in total agreement with you and also doesnt fear what other think).

    Oddly I still find myself in a dilemma – I can just shut up, not try so hard to be liked and put a muzzle on my big mouth inner critic and maybe people will like me. Yet I also see this anti-social behavior (if thats what it is) as a form of friend filter – in that if someone accepts me as I am then thats a potential friend and if they dont then how much of a friend would they have been. Theres just one flaw in this filter thoery and that is it doesnt seem to be filtering out to many friends… Ok well absolutely none!

    Yup, lifes a bitch then you die!

  2. ana says:

    Sorry, I mean : ”I am NOT going to talk about that psychological ‘’self-analysis’’*

  3. Ana says:

    Dear Amanda,
    I have read your question and I must say you have a good point there. The question is: WHY is it so difficult nowadays to have true friends? I am sorry for all the experiences you have and I am going to talk about that psychological ‘’self-analysis’’ as there is no point in that because I do not believe there is something wrong with you or you did something wrong. I think the biggest problem is that unfortunately in our modern world where everyone is so busy with themselves and so self-centered very little is left for a true friendship. People simply became so materialistic. Good people and friends are hard to find. Moreover, Facebook and all those other social chat programs are ruining a true definition of the word ”friend” as it is so easy to sign in anywhere and get hundreds of online ”friends” you do not even know or who never actually care for you because online friendship is never taken seriously. Therefore, the word ”friend” has lost its true meaning and its purpose as we are losing our true standards and values. True friendship is two way street and both friends need to work on it by being there for each other but sadly nobody likes to make that effort anymore. No offence and no harm intended but all people need to do is to sign in to Facebook or any other online social chat program and they can easily just talk to online ‘’friends’’ without doing much- making any effort until they get bored by that. That becomes a big problem and nobody talks about it. I do wish you to find those who will take friendship seriously and hope my opinion will help you some. Please take care.
    Best wishes,
    Ana

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