• Few or No Friends
Welcome Box
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:

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (4,239)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Nigelle Tran says:

    Hi I have a question.. If my old friends betrayed me how do I make new friends without looking like a loner? My current friends don’t like me around that much.

  2. Teresa says:

    I too have always wondered what was wrong with me I see people at work who have constant flow of people stopping by their office to talk but very few stop by and talk to me It makes me sad sometimes . I tried to reconnect with old high school friends at a local alum group it soon became very cliquey and guess what I didn’t fit in with the clique That really upset me I wish I knew what was wrong with me I feel so alone sometimes

    • Ben says:

      I graduated High School in 1977. I went to a couple of reunions and had a pretty good time. Then I went to my 20th. Life had changed drastically for me financially and socially. I felt out of place. I reflected back on school days and came to the grand conclusion that I was never truly close friends with anyone in my class growing up. So what would make me believe I would be friends with them now? I too feel very alone quite a bit of the time. In spite of working on me both physically and emotionally I have not been able to attract very many close friends. The major difference is I am aware of what really “is” for me. I am less likely to over-extend myself to set myself up for disappointment. That’s not to say I don’t get disappointed. The little strides I make prove to me that some of this deals in self-confidence. I know a former friend of mine who is very self confident when talking with women. He has no problem striking up a conversation when I would be tongue tied. So for me I am going to continue working on self confidence.

  3. Sarah says:

    I feel for you. Ive had very few friends in my life, i was married briefly, but at this point I am divorced and just have a few acquaintances. I would love to have the security and intimacy of friendship. I have many experiences of being used or being left after a few meetings with no explanation as to why. My parents both had trouble making friends too. I can only guess that I am not “ENOUGH” for most people.. i have led a socially sheltered life cuz of few intimate relationships. In the city i live it seems you have to be very productive and impressive to be worthy. One therapist told me that in conversing with me, i just didn’t give off that spark or instant gratification feeling that people usually get when conversing. I wish there was a place to learn how to do this. I’m so tired of being lonely and unwanted.

    Last name deleted by moderator. Please don’t use last names on this blog. Thanks Irene

    • Rachel says:

      I wish there was too. I’ve never been able to develop relationships with people. I’ve always felt something is wrong with me, so I have gone through life feeling alone.

  4. Teresa says:

    Hi I know how you feel about wondering if someone is a TRUE friend I have found out the hard way recently 😕 I had parents who also were not real sociable especially my dad he was a loner by choice . My Mother was always involved in groups that kept her busy . She was originally from London and came to America and married a small town boy it was a big shock for her. I wish I was more like my mom instead of my father . I don’t want to be a loner but I feel am awkward around people sometimes and I always feel they don’t like me . It’s very hard to make small talk etc. I wish I could make friends easier

    • C.j.M says:

      I know exactly how you feel. I feel like I’m diseased or something and people keep at a safe distance from me.

      I was leaving the gym the other day, and the guy on the desk who’s usually friendly, I was going to say goodbye to him, but I noticed the whole time he didnt look at me, pretended not to see me, and then he turns to the other guy, they both start whispering to each other and giggling like little girls. Every now and then they would glance over at me and smile to each other.

      Today I noticed a woman that usually walks past my house and says hello. I was outside, I was going to say hello to her, and as she walks down the street, she holds her head facing away from me in the opposite direction so she wouldnt have to notice me.

      This is exactly the type of treatment I’ve suffered for most of my life. Why some people have to be so two faced and rude, I’ll never understand. I spend a lot of my time alone these days.

  5. Kate says:

    Hi everyone,
    I find that I’ve gone through this ‘no friends’ phenomenon for most of my life. In childhood, I lived in a fairly isolated rural area and attended a small school (only had 25 classmates up through 12th grade). My parents were ‘outsiders’ too–not really friends with my classmates’ parents; we attended church in town instead of in the neighborhood, etc. My parents were also introverts. I had one younger sister who always had an easier time with making friends.

    I had fleeting friendships and even had who I thought was a best friend in junior high that lasted about 2 weeks–she dumped me with the explanation of ‘I just wanted to see what it was like to be friends with you’, like I was an alien life form or something. Um…thanks?!

    As a result, I spent a lot of time to myself. I had a passion for books, music and deep conversation. No one I knew at my school shared these interests. Since I was introverted anyway, I became used to being on my own.

    It’s hard when you miss out on social developmental milestones, though. I didn’t have my first kiss until age 18, when I went to prom with a guy who was a family friend and to whom I wasn’t at all attracted. Then, I didn’t have another one until 10 years later, with my first boyfriend, a fellow loner who would become my husband.

    This lack of social skills (seemingly) followed me from high school to college. Despite a larger group of people in college, and despite me putting myself ‘out there’ to ask my dorm mates if I could join them for lunch, walking past their rooms to talk to them, my interest in them was never reciprocated. I never had someone stop by my open dorm room door to ask after me, or anyone call my room (this was before cell phones).

    I’ve been married 10 years now (no kids) and live in an even smaller town about 20 miles away from my hometown. My husband and I are each other’s best friends, but there are times I really would like at least one female friend who might share some of my interests.

    I had one female friend in this town for a few years who turned out to be a narcissist. After I spent her birthday with her, she called me the next day and accused me of bringing ‘negative energy’ to her job as a retail sales person, because she wasn’t doing so well and figured someone was bringing her negative vibes. (She was s devout believer in the book ‘The Secret and the law of attraction, to the point she’d sit me down to watch the DVD with her whenever I’d visit). So, that friendship ended rather unexpectedly and then she moved away.

    I met another potential friend for coffee one time, but after promising to friend me on Facebook and get in touch, I never heard from her again. The same thing happened with a third potential friend.

    Meanwhile, for the past five years, I had a best friend who I first ‘met’ online. We met in person twice in the past year; the first time went well, but after the second meeting (which I thought went well) she seemed angry with me, and sent me a couple of long e-mails pointing out all the reasons she had problems with me and said some extremely hurtful things, including that she had only missed me in our month of silence when she wanted to share a juicy celebrity fantasy of hers and had no one to tell it to.

    She said quitting me was like quitting an addictive high, like smoking. She accused me of being romantically interested in her (I’m bisexual and had a small crush on her a the beginning of our friendship, which she pointed out and was fine with a the time and it eventually dissipated and turned into a strong emotional connection, for me, at least).

    So, she asked some online friends of hers to weigh in on how they saw our friendship, based on minimal information (she says) she told them and they all accused me of being romantically interested in her (still). She thought I had intentions of seducing her if we kept meeting in person (despite the fact that we stayed very much apart from each other physically when we had met in real life and I never gave any indication, nor did I have a plan to do such a thing, since we’re both married).

    She said our friendship was not normal, way too intense, and exhausting for her (I just wish she would have told me she was feeling like this earlier). She accused me of being co-dependent and emotionally immature, and also mean to my husband for positioning myself as ‘superior’ to him in wanting to do more spontaneous things and him being more of a homebody. She told me that if he and I were in some sort of rut, it was half my fault and that he and I were more alike than different in this way. She accused me of misrepresenting myself to her online. (Incidentally, she also is an introvert and has a difficult time making friends She was the first to call me her best friend five years ago). So, coming as it did after all of these years, this attack on my character really hurt, so I basically said, ‘I hope you find a friend who meets all of your needs, and I wish you well.’

    We’re still Facebook friends, but have gone from talking multiple times every day for the past five years to absolutely no interaction. As mad as I am, and as sad as I am, it’s difficult to just wipe someone out of your life like that –especially when you didn’t instigate any of the argument leading up to it.

    So, I’m sitting here feeling blindsided. I guess I have a few acquaintances, both in real life and online, but no one who seems to want to extend a hand in potential friendship. I’m not religious so don’t go to church, but I work two public jobs where I interact with people quite a bit. I’m also not a parent so I don’t have mom friends, and I’m not into the bar scene.

    I don’t want to overwhelm people with my emotional intensity and turn them off right away to being my friend. I’ve talked to some people (a therapist, and co-workers older than me) about wanting a social life, and they say they don’t know why I struggle so much in this department; they think I’m friendly, warm and caring. I like to do little things to help people. I like to remember birthdays and send cards. I find myself craving an emotional connection with my friends, not just small talk and doing activities together now and then.

    So, I’m going to keep trying, but I’m more wary now than I used to be. Something about me seems to eventually sour people to me, even though people have told me I’m soft-hearted, kind, thoughtful and a good listener.

    Maybe some people are just meant to be mostly loners. I’m used to it, and can do it, but sometimes, it gets lonely inside my own head. While my husband offers some respite, even he’s not as into the same subjects and issues as me. Plus, having a female friend is a different energy, and a welcome outlet. But maybe it’s just not something I’m meant to experience in a healthy context.

    • Ben says:

      Enjoyed reading your post. I think there is pain in almost everyone’s life. After taking steps to look at my own ineffective ways of determining who’s a real friend and who is just a friend I get filled with sadness whenever someone I thought was a friend shows themselves to not really be a friend…

    • Teresa says:

      Hi I know exactly the way you feel! I wish I had the emotional kindship that you have with a good girlfriend which I haven’t had in many years. I recently had a falling out with two of my best friends one female and one male one femaleShe us a narcissist and he is bipolar . They are both very charismatic everyone loves them and she brags all the time she can get any man she wants and she did she got mine:( He started to treat me so bad one day nice next day like the devil) (very verbally abusive then the next day apologize ) But anyway I got sick of his mistreatment of me so I cursed him out and now he Hates me ! I’ve never experienced such awful treatment and now I’m dealing with this and my social anxiety I’m thinking about seeing a therapist. Did that help you? I’m having trouble sleeping and going to work because of his treatment of me and now I have no one to talk to at work it makes it very difficult for me Inhope you are doing well I hope I can get over this soon I’m scared I’m going to have a nervous breakdown

Leave a Reply

Visit GirlfriendSocial.com

css.php