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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 (2,416)

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  1. Sonya says:

    Well said Ana! Amanda – you are very normal and ‘yes’ lonely. I’m in the same boat. (Having thought – all the questions…self analysis, just like you) People are really – really caught up their own lives…and I’m sure you’re a wonderful friend, given the chance and it being a two way street. Hang on to your hope of establishing a few great connections to people who really interests you and you can get something going with. It may be that you have to take just bits and pieces of everything relationship opportunity around you – to create some resemblance of an active stimulating, rewarding social life. May I repeat – I too am lonely and having to gulp down my own words, saying them to you. But, have faith, keep trying…I just have to believe, you WILL find your people. I went to a Meetup group last year and found one ‘gem’ of girlfriend and that’s going great. I’m still inviting people over for dinner or games, dessert, what ever…it takes a lot of ‘spaghetti’ to through against the wall – one of those noodles WILL eventually stick. Keep trying to connect – you are hard wired to be a social creature, accept that need and look for how you might fulfill your sense of ‘true fun in life’ and maybe it there, in those activities and environments you will find your next best friend. Much love and support to stay hopeful and open. Sunny-Sonya!

  2. mel says:

    I am in the same boat as the asker, and I’m out of high school. Lost a lot of “friends” in high school, still say hi to a lot of people, but even the one I consider my closest friend when we’re together is still vague with me when it comes to getting together or planning a day. Or even just giving me a ride for petes sake!

    I’m energetic and outgoing and cracking jokes all the time, but I like to be mindful and serious side to things and try to stand up for what I believe in.

    Why don’t people like me? Or make an effort to hang with me????

    • daniel says:

      Changing who you are to satisfy others.– No matter how loud their opinions are, others cannot choose who you are. The question should not be, “Why don’t they like me when I’m being me?” It should be, “Why am I wasting my time worrying what they think of me?” If you are not hurting anyone with your actions, keep moving forward with your life. Be happy. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.
      Putting up with negative people and negative thinking.– It’s time to walk away from all the dramaand the people who create it. Surroundyourself with those who make you smile. Love the people who treat you right, and pray for the ones who don’t. Forget the negative and focus on the positive. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Making mistakes and falling down is a part of life, but getting back up and moving on is what LIVING is all about.
      Focusing all of your attention on another time and place.– This day will never happen again. Enjoy it. Cherisssss

    • Jen says:

      I don’t know, Mel. I wish I had the answers, but I find the same to be true for me. I guess we give off a bad vibe or something. Also it might not be us-like Daniel said. Maybe the other people are the problem. It’s hard to find someone that you really click with. It doesn’t happen that often. Some people make it look so easy though.

  3. jayjay says:

    There are a lot of miserable people who are miserable only because they are trying fit into a mold that society has defined as ‘normal.’

    I was a happy introvert until society told me I must be depressed, anti-social and unhappy people because I preferred being alone to being with people. So I proceeded to drink myself into stupors so I could be ‘normal’ and socialize. After almost killing myself in the process, I realized there was a better option – the option to live life as me and not who society wants me to be.

    So what if a person has no friends. In my view, that just means they are so secure with who they are that they don’t need reinforcement from anyone else. It’s not the introverts and the people with no friends who have problems, it’s the people who judge them as lacking.

    • Jess says:

      Hi JayJay,

      I believe people shouldn’t try to make friends because that is what society thinks of as the norm.

      Instead people should make friends so they have someone to share their thoughts, loyalty and experiences with.

      No-one needs friends, but having someone you can spend quality, emphasis on QUALITY not quantity, time with can be enjoyable.

      Jess

  4. Jen says:

    P.J. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I was waiting to hear from you! What’s new? How are you doing? I start a new part time job next week, but at least I know someone I’m working with, so I might even make a friend! I’m really excited. It seems like things are finally changing for the better. I’m really happy right now. I’m glad you value my friendship enough to reach out to me.

  5. cat says:

    I can identify with what everyone is saying on this site. I am 37 and have no friends, I am in the process of pushing a “friend” away as she only invites me places when its going to cost me money, the friendship is a bad one which is why I am driffting away from her.

    • Jen says:

      Cat, I often get accused of pushing people away too. I think that’s only natural if someone isn’t treating you right, but from the outside it looks like we’re the ones being antisocial.

    • Jen says:

      Cat, I often get accused of pushing people away too. I think that’s only natural if someone isn’t treating you right, but from the outside it looks like we’re the ones being antisocial. I wouldn’t give up a friendship just because of the money though. That can probably be resolved. Ask the friend to do something cheaper or free and see what happens.

      • Pj. says:

        Jen,

        That’s interesting, I mean I asked if you wanted to be friends, you accepted and said in a previous post to me…

        Jen says:
        September 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

        “Yes I’d like to be friends. It seems like we would get along fine. Aw you are sweet. I feel the love, thank you.”

        After that post I never heard back from you? In my next post I asked you if I pushed the boundaries, or maybe you were busy doing other things? Again you never replied, but after reading many of your past posts I didn’t take it personally and now think I understand why.

        Not to throw it in your face here, but I ponder why you would say that others accuse you of pushing away, when I never pushed you away or accused you of anything?

        I can only think that your not being honest with me, other people or yourself, which is fine – just saying…

        • Jen says:

          P.J. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I was waiting to hear from you! What’s new? How are you doing? I start a new part time job next week, but at least I know someone I’m working with, so I might even make a friend! I’m really excited. It seems like things are finally changing for the better. I’m really happy right now. I’m glad you value my friendship enough to reach out to me.

          • Pj. says:

            Oh please…

            You didn’t “mean” to ignore me, you were waiting to hear from me. How? what more could I have done? I’ve seen you respond to a number of other posts, not mine though?

            Your glad I value your friendship enough to reach out to you? My intentions were clear, yours I still can’t figure out…?

            I find it so interesting that the very unfairness or games others claim to exist outside this forum, are in fact alive and well right here.

            But that’s on me, I chalk it up to expectations and naivety.

            Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed ~ sage advice indeed!

            All the best Jen.

            • Jen says:

              Wow I see why you have no friends. You need to learn to forgive and forget. I was trying to apologize. Sorry I couldn’t make that clear to you. If I did though, and this isn’t some huge misunderstanding, then I suggest you do learn to forgive and forget. People aren’t perfect, flawless creatures.

              • Pj. says:

                Wow, ouch… are you sure that’s not your subconscious talking?

                It goes without saying, it’s understood no one is perfect pretty much pointless even making that statement.

                I imagine you always come out on shining, always taking the high road.

                That’s ok, go ahead make me the bad guy always easier to blame others than being responsible for our own actions.

                • Jen says:

                  I did apologize. You don’t want to accept my apology. If you call that the high road, I’ll take it. If it means not having a friend, so be it.

    • cyan says:

      I like your perspectives JayJay and Cat. I’m 42, have been recovering from some serious betrayals over the past 7 years, so I understand I still have some ‘trust’ issues..but I think there’s something to be said about realizing when the people we consider ‘friends’ really aren’t the kind of friends we want in our lives any more..or maybe even ever. I think this society has really bred people to becoming narcissistic and opportunistic, and I’m thinking my ‘trust issues’ are actually helping me to protect myself better now (I trusted people way too much and too fast before). I’m also realizing I have changed and I don’t want to be that unconditional support/enabler for people any more. It was such a one way street, and when I needed help, no one came around. I might sound a little bitter, but it was a hard lesson to learn about the real ‘character’ of some friends. I do get counselling on a regular basis, but rather than diagnosing ‘friendless’ people as ‘anti-social’ or ‘introverted’, maybe we could consider how maybe we’ve just adapted to a world where we’re surrounded with a growing number of selfish manipulative people? And i would rather be friendless than have another ‘fair weather friend’, that’s for sure.

      • TooSmart says:

        I recognize myself in what you write, cyan. I also used to be very trusting, too trusting. I was verbally, physically and emotionally abused by my mother and so desperate for attention and affection that I grabbed every crumb that was thrown at me. At almost 50 I have come to the conclusion that there are not too many people out there who can be trusted and have real empathy.

        I just had a negative experience with a “friend” which will probably mean the end of the friendship. She lives abroad but is in my country for work from time to time. Last year she proposed to go for lunch only to cancel one hour before our meeting with a headache. I did not like that at all and had the feeling the excuse was not genuine. A couple of months later she proposes to have breakfast together. This was before work so we had like 45 minutes together. I thought that was very meager to replace a lunch she had cancelled. We are almost a year further and she mails me to ask me to go for dinner. Wow an upgrade. Well guess what: she cancelled the dinner one hour before it would take place because of a… headache. This was Friday and I am still fuming. I send her an angry text and an email. No answer of course.

        I suppose I have done or said something she does not like and instead of being clear about it, she resorts to some stupid passive-aggressive behaviour. I mean, she is the one proposing to do something yet she cancels afterwards. I get the impression she is simply doing this to make me look forward to a meeting only to have her disappoint me.

        So this is probably the exit of yet another “friend” but honestly I really don’t think I am losing a lot with her.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Cyan, I just stumbled upon this website. Your comments strike a note with me as you seem to have had similar experiences to those I have had. I am 44 years old and have felt as though I am way behind in terms of recent realizations where my so-called ‘friends’, were concerned. I’ve been feeling as though generally people go through stuff like this in their twenties or thirties. Admittedly, it made me feel as though I’ve been in La-la land for way too long. Now I am trying not to go from one extreme (very friendly, somewhat naive, trusting, and well ‘nice’) to being very wary, cynical, guarded and introverted. Thing is I think that a long time ago in my mid-teens to early twenties I was this way for a while and I actually feel that based on my experiences on a whole to date, I was right the first time! Seems to me that we live in a world where ‘normal’ people expect to be able to do as they very well please, and ‘nice’ people are expected to always put up with whatever and at the end of the day roll over and be the ‘forgiving’, understanding ones. Quite frankly, put in a nutshell, I’ve just about had it with the so-touted ‘normal’ people and their BS. Yet when you get to this point you’re the one who is termed selfish because you choose to stay away from the ‘what’s in it for me’ users of this world.

  6. April says:

    Ana, I agree with you 100%, but I guess that’s why we’re on the Friendship blog. I have never had a Facebook page and I never intend to trade in meaningful friendship and connection for acquiring friend numbers. I am alone a lot, though. My experience has been that I cannot relate to other mothers and other mothers cannot relate to me. I try to befriend other moms when my kids are friends with their kids, but I seem to only find women who are completely wrapped up in the lives of their kids. Sometimes it seems that they judge me for not being this way, and sometimes I find the conversation so incredibly dull. A most recent example is when I was in a conversation with two moms on the playground and I thought it was going well and then they started talking about Thermoses and which ones leak and which cartoon characters their kids like, etc. Now, I can hang in there for a little while and smile and even add my own anecdotes about my lunch packing mishaps, but when I thought the topic should die a natural death, the moms broke off into their own little conversation pack and were talking for at least twenty minutes about this topic and in a very excited, connected way. Once again, I felt like I was not one of them and clearly, I am not. Do I want to be? Yes and no. At another gathering, the topic was how kids’ tennis shoes match their outfits. It’s either that or talking about teachers or school or diets. Oh where are the women who read literature, see plays, live music, create art, want to talk-talk, the nitty gritty life stuff not centered around their fabulous kids? (By the way, everyone’s kid around here is “amazing.” No one has just a normal kid.

    • May says:

      ~ To be or not to be, that is the question…

      “Conform or be cast out”

    • L.M. says:

      Hi April,

      Isn’t it sad what passes for conversation sometimes? I’m no chit-chat snob, but I don’t want to gossip about all of the other moms, I don’t want to point out who’s not wearing “cool” clothes, and I don’t want to compare the size of our houses. I’d just love honest, intelligent, meaningful conversation. Sometimes it also seems if you have an opinion that differs from someone else’s, they no longer care to speak with you. I often say nothing (which may come off as unfriendly) because I am an introvert. I’ve tried putting myself in social situations ( PTA board, school volunteer for 12 years ) but just can’t click with most moms. I started going to a church-volunteered countless hours-only to have a church officer say unkind things about my daughter and gossip about her. I relate to so many of the stories and people on this site–I think we would all know how to treat each other’s hearts with kindness and understanding. Anyone out there near North Idaho? :-)

      • Linda says:

        I can really relate to so many of the comments written hear. It makes me feel more comfortable about the friendships that have come and gone.

        You make a good point. People will fritter your life away with dull, boring small talk.

        A woman walked into the bar this evening and proceeded to tell the waitress about an emergency room experience. I use wrap around headphones to avoid being subjected to those type of conversations. I could see she wanted to engage me with her tales of woe as she played the game beside me. I thought no, why do I need to be dragged down by a complete stranger or anyone else for that matter.

        After reading these posts I am more positive about my friendless state. It’s the path I’ve chosen. If I want small talk there are always Meet Ups to meet people, so the option is always there. It’s just conversations are not always fun and sometimes can drag you into dark places that I am happier to stay out of. So there lol All is good!

    • Suzie says:

      Hi April and L.M.,

      I could be way off base, but I’m guessing that your kids are on the young side, like under the aqe of 10. Just my humble opinion, but in my experience, most moms with kids in that age range are the worst, collectively speaking. Irritating, competitive over superficial things and basically, just out of touch with the real world. I’ve always been a working mom and while it’s been challenging at times, it has saved me from those “playground conversations about nothing” because, well, since I’m at work I’m not there to hear them (lol)! ; )

      I only have one child and she’s 13 now. A lot of her classmates’ moms have calmed down by this point- it’s almost like they’re saying “the jig is up- my kids aren’t amazing, but ordinary like everyone else’s!”. I do hope things look up for both of you. I can honestly say that my best friends’ lives do not parallel mine. Two friends are childless and one has a son who is only in kindergarten, so naturally, he and my daughter don’t play together. Also, I’m becoming friendly with the mom of a “new girl” my daughter just met at the end of the summer. She’s actually the girl’s adoptive mother so she’s older, with (biological) adult children and even two grandchildren. I may not be 25 anymore, but I’m definitely no grandma, LOL! Good luck to both of you. :)

      Suzie in Buffalo, NY

    • Meg says:

      I am not a mom but I sub in public schools while I search for full time teaching. I hate the schools where all the teachers are moms. Some ignore me once they find out I have no kid and I don’t want to talk about doing laundry, I hate laundry. I never knew laundry conversations could last a whole lunch break. I just eat alone and go my merry way, read the news, check out some blogs, or read a book. But it can be hard finding friends as a substitute teacher. I assumed all moms were friends. Talking endlessly about their kids. I have a dog. Let me compare your child to my dog – not a good idea. I hope that if I decide to be a mom, I have friends like you. We could have conversations about our own interests and not domestic duties or what your kid is wearing.

  7. Lynn says:

    I consider myself lucky to have had a few very good friends in my lifetime. I am on the backside of middle-aged (lol). I felt bad reading some of these postings because I, too, have had a difficult time at times making friends and I can understand how one may feel. I also got a little aggravated reading what “flaws” a person who cannot seem to make friends might have. People who don’t accept people because they perceive that someone has a disability are the ones who are flawed. And, then, there are those occasions when (sorry to say, but it is true) where people are thinking they are superior and they are super catty … who can be friends with that or wants to be friends with that!!! Yes, sometimes, I have been guilty of being too introverted. And, (lol) since most people don’t read minds, I suspect they may have mistaken me my introverted state for me being unfriendly. Yes, I needed to extend an effort and failed in some cases. However, there have been cases where some people were not open to including anybody else in their inner circle. Then there have been cases where people wanted to be “friends” because they wanted to exploit talents of the “mark” (yes, I said “mark”). Personally, I don’t need those type of “friends.” A friendship should not be about how one can use another. A friendship should be based on the enjoyment of being around each other and often stem from having mutual interests. The point is that sometimes it may be our fault and sometimes it is NOT our fault when it comes to attempts at cultivating friendship. My best girlfriend passed away a year ago and there is no replacing that friendship. We met in junior high and were friends for over forty years. When we met in choir, it like we had known each other forever. Then there’s my husband … we were friends before we even thought about dating. He is my best friend. Lastly, I agree with what Ana said in her post. I think that all this social media has taken hold and even though there are all these “communication” devices, communication has gone out the window, so to speak. A lot of people are too busy texting, playing games on their “smart” phones and posting on facebook. And, facebook friends are NOT really friends. When I feel lonely, I play catch with my two dogs and take them for walks. They are very sweet and loyal. I also do charcoal drawings if the mood strikes me. Treat yourself as your own best friend. Lol … I always say that people don’t know what they are missing if they don’t want to be my friend … or at least have a friendly conversation with me. :) Listen to ANA. Her post pretty much seems to sum it up. Amanda, you are not alone. God Bless and wishing good things for you.

  8. Jess says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I know exactly how you feel.

    I have found it difficult to make friends my whole life.
    And when I do make a friend they have the tendency to move away, as in to another country.

    Until today I didn’t even realise that I am an introvert.

    Today I’m avoiding a party at my uncle’s house.

    I usually avoid family get-togethers unless I really need to attend, and if I do attend I NEED to drink alcohol to socialise with them properly. And I’m normally the last to arrive and the first to leave.

    I’m 29 now.
    I have 2 jobs and study (online) at Uni part-time.

    Initially I thought I was keeping myself busy because I want to buy a house on my own, especially since I’m single and no man on this world understands what reliable is, and I enjoy my studies.
    But now I’m beginning to wonder if I’m keeping myself busy as an excuse to not socialise….

    Oh, and I suffer from anxiety and depression, but am taking cymbalta which helps alot, so I don’t think my social behaviour is a result of my mental health.

    I just really don’t know what to do or who to go to when I find myself lonely.
    Hence, a quick internet search brought me here.

    Jess

    • Jen says:

      Hi Jess, I’m sorry you feel lonely. I know it hurts sometimes, but many of us here actually prefer being alone. We’re introverts. It’s also great to hear you’re ambitious enough to want to but a house. You’re also working hard to get it, so I really hope you do! I want to get my own place, but I have bad anxiety and depression that are obstacles for me too. I tend to avoid all situations that trigger those feelings. I might have to try some kind of medication. I tried SSRIs and anti anxiety medication, but they just made me dizzy and changed my personality. I wonder if a SNRI like Cymbalta would be better.

      • Jess says:

        Hi Jen,

        I have been on anti-depressants for about 10 years and have tried several, the worst was Lexapro, anyway the side effects you felt (dizziness, nausea) only last a couple of weeks.
        You will need to trial a few types of meds until you find the one that suits.

        If it weren’t for Cymbalta I wouldn’t be here today.

        Jess :)

        • Jen says:

          I’m glad you found the right drug, Jess. It’s not easy to find the right one or the correct dosage. I tried 2 different pills when they first came on the market. I never tried Prozac, but I was on Paxil and Zoloft. I took Paxil for a few months, and I was still dizzy. I also saw myself behaving quite differently than usual. It was a little disturbing to see myself act so different than the person I know. I was a lot more outgoing. I was also extremely flirtatious; it was like I had a few too many drinks! I felt no emotion either. I wasn’t sad, happy, or anything. I just felt numb the whole time. I’m reluctant to try them again, although I might need to eventually since depression seems to last a lifetime.

          • Jess says:

            Hi Jen,

            Have you thought about therapy?

            My doctor always recommends it, but I find it very difficult to tell them anything important.

            Jess

            • Jen says:

              I’ve thought about it, but I’ve already been to therapy. It never really helped either. If anything, it’s humiliating to have to discuss all the awful things that have happened to me. Plus bringinging it up again does more harm than good. I find self help books more practical.

  9. Gary says:

    I disagree with ignoring the ‘self analysis’ perspective – for the reason being we are all conditioned unconsciously with a set of beliefs and those beliefs will create the life we live – all your issues are not ‘out there’ they are all your issues – example you might say “people can’t be trusted” that sort of statement will in itself attract people that can’t be trusted – we must look at what ideas and concepts we entertain with belief and that will show us why we have lonely experiences in our worlds – the inner world creates the outer world so self analysis will uncover why things happen the way they do – it would be foolish to walk about thinking everyone is great and a nice person as this is also misleading but surely thinking good people are out there and they want to be our friends is a much better way to think than people can’t be trusted etc!

    • GraceW says:

      In my experience, I feel like the more self-aware I become, the better I am at finding compatible friends. I agree that we all carry certain beliefs, many of which are unspoken, because the belief is so ingrained that we don’t even know it’s there. We can see unspoken beliefs (and expectations) on display when people say things like “If you’re my friend, you’ll know what I want” or “Everyone knows you should visit a friend when she’s in the hospital.” (Guess what, I have a friend who doesn’t want visitors when she’s in the hospital.) When self-awareness is absent, we assume friends would want what we want, because we can’t imagine any other way.

      The one major unspoken belief that I had to overcome was the belief that to be a good friend, if I *could* jump to someone’s rescue, then I *must* jump to her rescue. People didn’t even have to ask for help, because I’d volunteer myself first. Paint your living room? Sure! Help move a sofa up three flights of stairs? I’m there! I tied my worth as a friend to how much I could help. So I ended up staying in a few friendships where the person would only call when she needed something. And yeah, in the end, I’d resent it.

      So I had to become aware of that belief, question it, test it. The friendships I’ve made since then have been a lot more balanced.

      • cyan says:

        That is truly beautiful, GraceW. I have been through similar, and hope my future friendships can also be characterized with such balance. It’s kind of liberating to realize I *don’t* have to ‘fix’ things for people all the time..and to become more aware of what _I_ actually want (not just my bare needs) in a friendship. My newest friendship is with a colleague at work whom I met during a PD training course. I find doing things that really interest you is the best way to meet and make new friends since you already have something in common:) I found this site because I guess I was feeling sad, maybe even guilty, for having ended or grown distant from some older friendships…Anyhow, thank you for sharing your positive growth :)

  10. nojo says:

    “Why would someone have no friends?”

    http://www.tljones.co.uk/apd/relates.htm

    ‘Individuals with [Avoidant Personality Disorder] are “lonely loners.” They would like to be involved in relationships but cannot tolerate the feelings they get around other people. They feel unacceptable, incapable of being loved, and unable to change. Because they retreat from others in anticipation of rejection, they lead socially impoverished lives.’

    • Pablo says:

      Interesting post…

      I’m aware of an almost endless list of labels on personality disorders, and question the degree of subjectivity Vs. accurate diagnosis of these disorders. I mean on one hand I most certainly identified with many of the traits of this disorder, but always the skeptic question most things in life as I believe very little of what anyone claims as many facets of the human condition fall into opinions, combined with the suggestibility of the human species. Always wise to get a second and third opinion – they do consider it a practice…

      I came across this excerpt from a website “Out of the fog”. People who suffer from AvPD are all unique and so each person will display a different subset of traits. Also, note that everyone displays “Avoidant” behaviors from time to time. Therefore, if a person exhibits one or some of these traits, that does not necessarily qualify them for a diagnosis of AVPD.

      • Mia says:

        Wow, it’s like I wrote that myself. I just put it down to getting older & turning into my mother!

        • Pablo says:

          Mia,

          You took the words right out of my mouth… however the medical field hasn’t coined a medical term for that, yet…

          But rest assured as soon as they do you will be able to pick up a prescription at your local pharmacy. I’m guessing it will be marketed under names such as “Anti Mom” or maybe “INMM” which is an acronym for “I’m Not My Mother” ;)

  11. 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!

    • cyan says:

      You’re funny Pablo! :) I remember that ‘filter’ was how I recognized a good friend in high school, and we are still friends today, though we live in different cities/provinces. It does work! Thanks for the reminder, and for highlighting how age/maturity changes what we want in our friendships. All best to you and everyone here!

  12. ana says:

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

  13. 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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