• Making Friends

Middle-Aged Woman Who Has Never Had Friends

Published: May 30, 2015 | Last Updated: January 6, 2022 By | 35 Replies Continue Reading

A woman has never had friends and is at a loss to understand why this has happened to her.



I’m a 50-year-old who has never had friends. Up until several years ago, I’ve always easily filled my time and for some reason never thought of the fact that other people socialized. For some reason, my awareness gradually changed and I began purposefully being more open and friendlier, creating opportunities for friendships to develop.

Of the people I’d like to actually have a friendship with, they seem to like me and be comfortable with me, but all I get is a conversation. I’ve offered and invited, and nothing gets reciprocated. I don’t chase, allow time and space between connections. I listen to them, show interest, look for common interests, etc. I’ve read articles about what pushes people away and what is inviting and attractive.

I have to conclude I’m doing something unconsciously that others see that I don’t. Some days I feel hopeful it will change; some days the craving to find a friend is painful.

What else can I do?

Signed, Greta


Hi Greta,

It’s great that you are aware you have had no friends, want to be a more social person, and have identified ways to reach out to other people. From the short note you wrote, I’m not sure why you are unable to turn acquaintances into friends. It sounds like you are doing all the right things.

Since you have a sense that you are doing something wrong, something you are unaware of, this may very well be the case. In situations like this, I usually advise an individual to get an objective opinion from someone else who may see them differently than they see themselves.

Is there anyone you know with whom you could discuss this problem—perhaps a close relative? If not, it may be worthwhile to speak to a counselor or mental health professional who can help you figure out whether anything you are doing or saying is off-putting to others. Perhaps, there are some social skills that have grown rusty without use.

I’m very optimistic about you finding friends given your attitude and openness to self-examination.

My best, Irene

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Comments (35)

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  1. littleOwl says:

    Im lonely too. I don’t want to do superficial things though like get nails done I want intelligent conversation and meaningful company. Everyone I see is very shallow and just wants to go out and get drunk or go shopping. Im not materialistic, and not into pubs. I feel like Im going to be alone forever. I have ocd too, and people don’t want to take that on.

  2. donna says:

    Hi !!! looking for some girlfriends to shop , get nails done go to lunch , I just need some friends I am 56 , and so lonely if anyone out there feels the same e-mail me Thanks a bunch

  3. Deborah says:

    Another thought on this: We tend to put down roots and establish core relationships early, which is why we make our closest friends in early childhood. As people marry, develop careers and have children, they have less time in their lives. While they may like someone and want to spend time with them, there simply is no more time in their lives for staying in touch with more friends.

    Some of us have other constraints. My husband doesn’t work, doesn’t do much of anything really, besides wait for me to come home from work. While I see my best friend every few months, email another friend from out of state, and attend a monthly reading group, I really cannot find more time away from home to develop more friendships. I do run into people I would like to meet for lunch, coffee, or conversation. Knowing my husband is lonely and counting the minutes for me to get home takes a lot of pleasure out of these events, so I tend to just not bother.

    So, when people do not take you up on friendships, it isn’t always you.

    • Hi im kuku alon says:

      Im m alon and so boring im looking a friend

    • Elsa says:

      I don’t want to overstep any boundaries, but since you mentioned your situation, I will give you my thoughts for what they’re worth. Unless your husband is disabled, he shouldn’t be holding you back from having a satisfying life. You seem like a kind, productive and intelligent lady. I wish you all the best, you deserve it!

  4. Kimmie says:

    Hi, I found your post because I was googling Midlife friendship crisis so I totally get where you are coming from. I believe that intimate friendships are out there somewhere for all of us but finding and connecting when you want and need to is often not possible. When I was out in the dating world people would say the perfect partner will show up when you aren’t looking. I never believed this and continued to search in vain. Then one day..when I was totally annoyed with Dating and pretty much resigned to being solo forever; the perfect person for me came along. I believe friendships that are real and life long happen much the same way. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t dig deep within your soul looking for reasons why you would be rejected. Folks are fickle as hell and often don’t know how to be a good friend. Good luck and I will take my own advice and stop googling to figure it all out.

  5. Brea says:

    Hi Denise,

    From this post I can see that many of us are familiar with your efforts and self-evaluation. Like you, I have analyzed myself to see why I don’t make the right friends easily. Making friends have been a struggle for me since my childhood. Most of the friends I have had, off and on, have been people who have befriended me. A small few have worked out good. I never seem to have a problem with people who want to be friends with me. The problems is that I don’t have much of an interest in being friends with them. Not that I am a snob- far from it. It’s just that most of the people who befriend me tend to want something from me that they are not willing to give back. To explain, I tend to draw people who see me as a rescuer. Someone they can pour all their problems on and our “friendship” is mostly about them and their needs. They tend to want to drain the life out of me rather than have a mutual sharing friendship. Trust me, I am not exaggerating this. I have given in to so many of these types of people hoping, at the beginning, that I could be wrong- but most of the time I am not.

    So, with all that being said, even though I attract friends, I yet find myself feeling just as isolated as those who can’t seem to attract friends.
    Denise, you sound like a wonderful person, but unfortunate for me, I seldom find thoughtful people like you for mutual friendship.
    Keep pursuing!

  6. jennifer says:

    I am 40. My youngest child (19) moved out last year. I had my first at 15. I was never really able to invest time into socializing due to my focus on raising my children and building my career. I not only have had to deal with the empty nest syndrome, i have also come to realize that with much additional free time, i am very much alone. I am not sure how to make friends that are more than an acquaintance. I have been told many times from people i work with and family that i am one of the most genuine and nicest people they have met however, just when i think i might have met someone to be friends with, they do not follow through with plans set or text/call back, etc. I take offense to the rudeness of it and do not call/text them going forward. I do know how important it is to have friendships in life and will continue to work toward that goal. I really didn’t think it would be this difficult though.

    • Jeni says:

      I am also am finding the same issue like you – a grown up teen mom, I am finding I have no friends of my own age at my life stage, I think that a lot of this is because we missed out on the late teen early 20’s socialising, we were doing something far more important- raising our kids and trying to build a future, despite the social put downs linked to being a teen mom. Now I am finding it odd/weird when emerging people I knew or even my sister who have young families when I am at the other end with a grown up child. Theoretically I should be able now to go out and socialize etc but I don’t know how, or find I am friends with older people rather than my own age with similar back stories.

  7. Jay says:

    Hi Greta
    I wonder what happened to change your attitude from not needing friends to needing them? There seem like some unanswered questions in your letter that you need to ask yourself.
    Humans are very complex in what they require from others and it can be really difficult to gauge that (for most of us) In my last response to someone else I talked about cats and dogs (just as an analogy, no insults intended)Dog people are sociable but can also get nasty in groups. Cat people find it harder to ‘fit in’ and are probably the ones getting excluded and ganged up on. I hope eventually you find a calm, kind, self-contained cat person like yourself to relate to, meet up for that weekly coffee and so on.
    Nice to have met you on this blog Greta.

  8. Friend says:

    It might just be that most people don’t have as many friends, especially close friends, as you think they do. The people who enjoy your company but never reciprocate, for example, might not really get together all that much with their other friends either. I have found this to be true with some of the people I know.

  9. Deborah Rockwell says:

    Sometimes it helps to see this from the other person’s viewpoint. I have a coworker in her 60’s who has no friends and is on non-speaking terms with both sisters. I interact with her as a coworker but would never want to socialize with her as a friend. She can be friendly but she also has an attitude that people are picking on her. Every conversation has to be about her concerns; if I try to talk about something in my life, she cuts off the conversation. And she makes social mistakes, like talking about the town I live in as a being “a dinky small town” even when I say “you do realize this is where I have lived and enjoyed living for over 30 years now”. I have to say, whenever I hear that someone has no friends, I hear alarm bells and don’t want to get involved with them.

  10. Bizzy says:

    I am a social person and do have lots of friends. But I have gone through periods of my life when I felt lonely and didn’t have as many friends, so I can relate to that sense of wanting to make friends and finding it difficult to do so. What I have found is that it takes a long time (at least for me) to get from acquaintance to real friend. I think it can take a while–maybe years–to get to deep friendship. So, what I would recommend is to keep the acquaintances you have made recently and keep them in the loop Keep talking to them and keep trying to make plans, all the while adding more acquaintances to your network. As time goes by, some of these connections may develop into deeper friendships. But not all may do that. In the meantime, have fun with your acquaintances where and when you see them. Before you know it, you may have several good friends!

  11. Miel says:

    True friendship vs. having some acquaintances to socialize with are two different things. If you join groups or clubs, you will meet other women to socialize with. However, you may find you don’t have anything of substance in common with them beyond superficial interests. Having fun playing cards with people for example is very enjoyable. Having a friend who listens when you talk about your life, and engages in a real dialogue, is quite difficult to find with other women. There is probably nothing wrong with you.
    If I were you I would not spend too much time on wondering what is wrong with you. Your letter was articulate and you have insight. Most women you meet might be looking for something different from what you are seeking. Most people don’t state their needs directly. So you can keep trying, and see how it goes. You may find good people to have fun with.

  12. Carol says:

    I wanted to add to my last post made today. The value of having put down in writing of my “life story,” brought me awareness I didn’t hve previously. When I became curious about what was happening in life beginning in 1939, the year of my birth, I finally got the education I was suppose to receive when I went through the first 12 years of being educated. So the major events between 1939 and 1957, when I graduated high school were unknown to me. Like kids today, all I was interested in was centered around myself and my friends. It was a true history lesson for me; try it, you’ll be surprised to meet your true self.


  13. Carol says:

    I am not sure if there is one “secret” to maintaining friendships as we age. I am 76.5 and I often don’t speak about the physical changes we may go through as we age. I have was diag. with cancer in 2003. I was one of those whose response was “What? Not me!” It was bladder cancer and I found a great doctor who knew what to do. When I thought that was it, my turn with cancer. However, it came back in 2005 and I had to have my bladder removed and a piece of my intestine used to replace it. That took another 5 or 6 years to recover from and still today I am left with IBS each morning to remind me how vulnerable we really are. I am or was a counselor and worked with many, many people who died of AIDS; all of my family members are gone as well. So I know lots about the end of life and pretty much know how I want to handle that piece of my life. I am retired from education where like many people, gradually move away from friends I made while working. I often have to remind myself how brave I am and how hard I have worked to hold on to my health as best I can. I do have a best friend, thank goodness, because its just not anyone who is willing to have a friend and support them during hard times with their health. It is however, a great time to get to know exactly who I am. I am in the midst of doing my “life story,” which will be published and kept at Smith College. Doing it made me realize what a warrior I am and how many difficult times I have survived during these many years I’ve been alive. I am not here any longer to “please,” “be liked,” or to dismiss myself because I am aging and am of less value to others. My greatest value will be the wisdom I’ve learned along the way….so I can keep living and learning until I am done! If I meet human beings who are willing to be open and honest and they want to be friends, they are welcome on my journey.


  14. Joy says:

    Hi Denise, my reply may or may not apply to your situation. I am a bit older than you and spent my 40’s and 50’s with a demanding career and did not develop friendships outside of work or even keep up with those I had. Most were long distance. I am basically a loner but I do miss having a lunch or walk with a friend.

    Our situations are different and unique to us so not trying to paint with one brush. But I think I give off independent or self sufficient type vibes. Like I am ok with just a quick chat or that I really don’t need any more than that. I am sure some of it are my defenses or building walls (developed during my years in senior management)and just in case nothing else develops but certainly not all. I, like you, watch my body language and engagement with the other person(s) but I think I, as another poster pointed out, have a lot of catching up to do in the social and friendship skills department.

    I understand the deeper connection that other posters have mentioned in our friendships, especially as we age, it becomes more valuable. But one has to get there first. And those years of being self sufficient show up even when I am not aware. I am sure others pick up on it just in conversing as most of my activities and interests are of a loner with years of practice.

    Hope this might provide another perspective.

  15. Denise says:

    I’m the original poster. My name was misprinted; it is Denise, not Greta. I’m 52 and about a year or two ago, I realized I wanted the social connections I was seeing happening around me. I’d hear people making plans or talking about the fun they’d had doing so-and-so and realized I didn’t want to be always alone keeping busy.

    I’ve never had siblings and only dated one guy for several years. It started well enough, but he became a bad influence and we both lost interest, but mostly me. Other men showing interest have been the “Oh, no, he likes me” type.

    And, yes, living in this smallish town has squashed the interests I had when I lived elsewhere, and, sadly, cannot relocate, which is a source of depression and frustration for me.

    I have been in counseling over a year in part talking about this. The most recent experience I’ve had is with 3 new people I’ve met over the last few weeks and months. Again, initial conversations went well, we found a few common interests, and then talking tapers/tapered off and finding common time to visit becomes difficult or impossible. Part of me wants to believe that we are not connecting because of reasons unrelated to me. But, because this is a lifelong pattern for me, I easily believe it IS something about me.

    When I speak with 2 of these people (the 3rd I may not see for several weeks), I watch body language and tone of voice. I don’t doubt whatsoever they are actually enjoying talking with me. They are relaxed, smiling, laughing, listening, etc. BUT–I cannot make plans with them. I would love to believe they truly are busy and would like to have time, but then the doubts come. My counselor agrees I’m doing everything right, including giving them space and giving them time to call me or initiate contact.

    I think of a line from “9-5” when Dolly Parton says, “I’m as friendly as I know how to be.”

    I don’t know how painful the truth would be if I knew what was happening, what people really thought of me. I do know that each time I have new hope with someone and it fails again, I feel less hopeful and optimistic about the future.

    I look forward to more feedback; thank you all.

    • Caroline says:

      Hi Greta
      On reading your post, I recognised a lot of what you said resonated with me. Like you, I’ve never had friends and I’m similar in age. Well, I’ve had what I thought were 3 friendships, and then realised they were pretty superficial and not based on any great connection or mutual interests. I found I was the one making contact, and asking to meet up, just so I would feel like I had 3 friends! It was through work that I’d met them, and once I had left, the contact has gradually become less and less. I see one of them once or twice a year, and she lives in the same town and walks past my house to go to work. I’ve recently decided not to contact another ex-

    • Miel says:

      You’re not going to be able to turn an acquaintance into a friend if they don’t want that too. If someone wants me as an acquaintance, and not a friend, is it right for me to push for a friendship with them?

      • Denise says:


        OP here. Thank you for your comments. When you say “If someone wants me as an acquaintance, and not a friend, is it right for me to push for a friendship with them?” my experience has always been meeting people who ONLY want to be an acquaintance. And I don’t push. What makes me crazy is that this has been a lifelong pattern for me. That’s why I feel I’m unconsciously doing “something wrong”. And I hate that this town doesn’t have activities I used to like when I lived in another state which makes possibilities more narrow! 🙁

    • Fran says:

      Hi Greta.
      Isn’t it hard trying to work out why all the time? I’ve been alone forever and yet I’m friendly, understanding, helpful but not overbearing. Why can’t we make mistakes when meeting new people? I feel that if someone says or does something that the other person doesn’t agree with, they should accept that we’re not all the same and not be put off so easily. I’ll never work out why I’m not accepted, but I have my pride. If thats how it is, then I have to accept that.
      I just wish people could be honest.

    • Ellen says:

      Hello, Denise:
      I don’t think I can offer suggestions in that I could have written your post. My situation is almost exactly the same. Spent most of my life with few or no close friends and recently making more an effort (I was able to relocate to a larger city where there is a larger pool of people I have more in common with). I’m having very similar experiences. In my case, two new friends (one of whom I worked with for a year) made plans with me and then cancelled at the last minute, one without even an explanation. I don’t know whether to keep trying to reach out to these women or not. I also don’t know what I am doing wrong. People tell me I’m kind, funny, considerate. I try to listen and share but not burden people with my problems. I see people who are self-centered and inconsiderate who have tons of friends.

      I know deep friendships take time — I would be happy to just have people to go to movies, concerts, or out to dinner with.

      As I said, I don’t have much to offer in the way of suggestions. But I can sure relate to what you’re saying.

      • Maggie P says:

        Hello Ellen, Having read this thread with interest, I would say that you have done nothing wrong, it is just that some people we meet have another agenda. I have had quite a few friendships over the years (I am now 60) that haven’t lasted – mainly due to me being let down time and time again, and that can fill you with self-doubt, but I have come to realise it is their problem. I am now more discerning and treasure the quality of a few friendships in my life. There are a group in the UK (where I am) and also I see they have them in the USA called MeetUp, (there are a lot out there, all covering different subjects, I have joined a 50 plus group last year). It was a little daunting at the first meeting, but now I know quite a few of the ladies, it is great. It is early days but from small friendships great friendships grow! Hope you can find a group out there for you.

        • Ellen says:

          Thank you for your response, Maggie. Yes, I have tried Meetups, which can be great. Reaching a hand out to you across the pond!

  16. Elle says:

    I find that as you get older, people are less inclined to develop strong friendships.and at least with many of the women I have met – in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s, their main interest is in meeting a man, if they are single…once they meet a guy – they disappear, never to be heard from them again. Until then, they are game to go out-but only with that motive in mind. So, it feels as though they are using you as a means to meet “the one”. Hard to find people who genuinely want to be “your friend”. And then there are some women who don’t want to go out AT ALL. Which is quite boring, hard to build a friendship based on no memories, or good times.
    Oh well. If you are married, and have a great connection with your partner, that’s your saving grace..be thankful for that.

    • Amy F says:

      You’re write that building a friendship can be difficult as we get older. I think we have to be more creative in the ways we meet people. I have had the opposite experience in finding friends as I’ve gotten older. I’m single and I have both single and married friends. True, single friends have less time if they are dating, but i haven’t had one go missing yet. 🙂 In my 50s, my relationships are stronger now than ever, in part because I’ve developed better communication and friendship skills over the years. I made better choices and I no longer befriend others out of loneliness. I take my time to get to know people before feeling like they are friends, rather than rush into things with someone who seems compatible. When conflict arises, we talk directly to resolve things. That’s just been my experience about again and friendships.

      • Vee says:

        I do agree that it can be harder to make friends as we age. However, I also agree with Amy that friendships can be deeper as we age as well. I was shy and had social anxiety growing up. As a result, I lagged behind in social skills and my relationships with others was poor, as I didn’t trust others enough to be open and vulnerable. It wasn’t until my late 20’s after some therapy that I had gained the social skills and the trust needed to cultivate close friendships. School provides a natural and organic place to build plenty of friendships, but that’s not an option for many people when they are 30, 40 or 50, so older people need to find other avenues to meet others. You can find friends at work, at church (only if you are religious though), Meetup.com (that’s how I met many of mine) or through volunteer work.

        Also, I was in an intimate relationship for nearly two years. While a couple of acquaintances (I can’t really call them friends in hindsight) did drift away, I did maintain most of my friends as I made it a point to keep in contact with them. In fact, the main reason I ended the relationship was because the ex was clingy and possessive. He had no friends and expected me to spend all my free time with him, which drained me. Our society glorifies romantic relationships to the exclusion of any other relationship and this does a disservice to everyone. If you value your friendships, you will make time for them.

    • Shana says:


      That is so true!! When I was young, these “so-called” friends were around, as soon as they got a boyfriend, their gone. Then when the boyfriend dumps them, guess what, their back!! I’m so sick of that, I don’t take them back!! I know this girl, she only calls me when she needs her computer fixed or her husband isn’t around and wants to use my pool. When summer’s over, guess what, she’s gone!! [EDITED FOR PROFANITY – Please see the terms of service] – users. What are they going to do when their husband is gone? Don’t come crying to me!! Sick and tire of it.

  17. Jannifer says:

    A factor might be your geographical location. In the town where I live, people are extremely distant and aloof. It’s virtually impossible to make friends here. Most everyone who moves to my town experiences the same thing.

    Don’t think anything is wrong with you. A lot of us are going through the exact same thing. You are not flawed or doing something wrong. If something is not working, try something different. Try to get around a different group of people – hopefully people who value connection and friendship.

    I’m in the same boat with you.

  18. Carol says:

    Hi Greta, I am curious as to why you are concerned about this seemingly missing link in your life. Why now at 56 are you wanting to pursue friends? Has something happened that has left you feeling alone and without connection and support in your life? Often if we can figure out what our motivation for change is, we can then zero in on how to reach out goal of getting whatever it is we want in life. Thanks, Carol

  19. Amy F says:

    Hi Greta. Like Irene said, professional counseling might be a great way to help you discover why you never realized other people socialized, and how to get yourself up to speed on your social skills. This doesn’t mean I think you’re doing anything wrong, just that many of your potential friends have had half a century of practicing social snd friendship skills like understanding body language and facial expression and communication,, so you’ve got done catching up to do . Good luck.

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