• Few or No Friends

Can’t find friends at work or church

Published: May 12, 2015 | By | 30 Replies Continue Reading
If you can’t find friends at work or church, you may need to make the time to look elsewhere.


Dear Friendship Doctor,

I’m a 54-year-old female with no friends or family. When I try to make friends I’m shunned.

I work 12-hour nights in a factory including Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t drink or smoke. Most everyone I work with does. I’m college educated with three degrees but only earning $12 an hour.

I have a good heart—some say I am too soft. Yet I can’t find a single friend–not in church, not at work. I know I come across as being needy where friendship is concerned. How do you not come across as being needy when you have no one?

Signed, Carmen


Hi Carmen,

You’ve asked a complicated question with no simple answer. I’m not sure why you have no friends but I do know that having a friend or two certainly becomes more important when someone has no family to rely upon.

Working irregular shifts (outside normal working hours) must make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for someone to socialize with people outside of work: You are likely to be sleeping while most of the world is awake. In addition, Friday and Saturday nights (when you are also working) are times when many people find time to get together with friends.

  • Is there some way you could alter your work schedule so you have more opportunities to develop a life outside of work?
  • Given that you have three college degrees and work at a relatively low wage, is there any possibility of you finding a better paying job that would allow you to work fewer hours?
  • Do you have any outside interests—hobbies and skills—that you could cultivate? Is there a class you might like to take? Would you have any interest in joining a gym?
  • You say you have a good heart: Another way to meet new people is to spend a few hours each week volunteering and helping someone else.

Any of the activities I mentioned above would put you in contact with a greater number of people with whom you might have more in common you than do with your co-workers or fellow worshippers at church.

Think of a making a change or two as a way of making an investment in yourself. You’ll feel less needy, too, if you try something different.

If you are really feeling in a rut, is there an Employee Assistance Program at work—so you could talk to someone about your career and personal goals in confidence?

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Comments (30)

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  1. N.f says:

    Hi Carmen,

    I can definitely relate to your situation. Especially the part about feeling needy.

    I would like to share with you, that despite trying some of the advice offered by people like Irene, things are not any much different. The point is, other than the need to put in consistent effort into improving our communication skills (inclusive of body language)and trying out interest groups, there is one important thing that we tend to easily choose not to honestly acknowledge is: we’re just not with the right kind of people.

    This can hardly be considered as self-conceited or arrogant unless you think everyone is responsible for how you think or feel in any given social interaction. It’s usually partial responsibility because communication and bonding is ALWAYS a two-way process.

    What we can do is merely to help ourselves to be more pro-active in introducing ourselves and joining, and helping out with group activities. The rest is really not beyond our control.

    Be open to self-reflection but never for a moment allow your current situation to let you sink into self-blame and lose confidence in your gut feel about yourself and others in any situation.

    I would like to share this with you. Cherish the good heart that you have and the good person that you are even if all you have is just God and you.
    Only God is capable of unconditional love and acceptance. Don’t give up.

    Wishing you all the best.

  2. Ben says:

    As it relates to finding friends at work or church I find it revealing about church that it is hard to find friends there. I was a church attender for years and years and desired friendship/union with my fellow believers and yet not many did I ever develop close and long lasting friendships with. How is that when the self-proclaimed purpose of religion is a “relationship with God?” How can it be that everyone espouses this fantastic “relationship” with an “all loving” “all knowing” supreme being and yet be so distant with each other. I am reading a great book right now entitled (“Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus” – Meyer) and it reinforces many ideas that I have long suspected. I offer it as a salve to explain why it is frustrating to be part of a worship body and yet so separate from everyone else… Understanding has always soothed emotional pain when it comes to issues that initially I didn’t understand….

  3. lauren says:

    i am in my late fifties. Since i have retired have found it difficult to keep busy. It is hard to make new friends at this stage of life. Usually some people are only your friend for so long. Theyget busy with their own life and don’t call. I try not to be needy. Some people only want you to call them and not return the call. A friendshipis a two way street.

    • Chris says:

      Hi, Lauren: It is difficult to make long term friendships at any age especially when so many of us have moved far from our roots. I have no family except for my son. I did find meetups.com and found lots of groups to connect with. Last Friday I went with 4 women (I entered an over 50’s women’s group) and we met in Melbourne, Fl to see the play Picnic. I had a wonderful time and intend to join a book group and a writing group and a hiking group and maybe more. There are monthly meetings of the women’s group where we just meet for lunch and talk. When you go to the site, put in your area code and it will give you the groups in your area that you can join. Its all handled through the site so you have safety. You can exchange information with only those you want when you get together with the group. You might make some close friends. If not, just go with the group. Get out there and do it!

  4. Mary says:

    Yes she did give good advise – good on you Ben. Its true people with family have no time much for friends– especially single ones.

  5. Chris says:

    When I worked, I had work friends. But not much time outside of work to get together especially since I was an older single mother. I had my son at 39. Now I have moved to Florida. I am thinking of checking libraries for book clubs. But I have always found it very difficult to find friends. Most people have their family. I have no family but my son who is good but certainly lives in his own world and time. I miss chatting with people my age. I am 64 and retired. I find it exhausting to try and think of things to do all day. I get mighty tired of cleaning and grocery shopping by myself. But when I think of going to the library or walking down to see if the one neighbor wants to chat a bit, I just can’t make myself do it. I get so anxious, I just can’t do it. Weird, huh?

    • Cher says:

      I can relate to you so well. I am 66 yrs. old and moved to Cinti Ohio 11 yrs ago. I knew no one but my daughter. She is a lovely lady but has her own family. I am so tired of living alone, eating alone and talking to myself. I have one friend from work but we get together only once a year. She is married and close to her family. I go to church but meet no one. I have always been a strong person but I feel like I have wasted my best years alone and bored. Life should not end this way isolated and alone.

      • Ben says:

        I feel your pain Cher and I am only 55. Started out life as a people pleaser filled with unmet expectations. Now feel good about me and less likely to people please and that hasn’t yielded baleful results either…

        • Cher says:

          Ben, don’t wait like I have until your 10 yrs. older. Make a good friend and keep them close. It’s impossible when you are older.

    • Nancy says:

      I am 60years old and work partime. I find it difficult to meet new friends . I never liked joining any groups or associations. I always had 2 or 3 friends and basically was satisfied with knowing them for many years.they moved away recently and now have no one to hang out with. I live in Fort Lauderdale where sometimes you don’t know your neighbors.. On my days off I clean the house and shop alone. I miss talking to a friends about things that girls talk about.i look foward to going to work for socialization, but I miss the “best friends”
      Does this website I am writing allow us to meet people this way?

      • Irene says:

        Hi Nancy,

        People are not allowed to provide names, email addresses, or other identifying information here but I have set up a Facebook group for that purpose.


        Best, Irene

        • anne says:

          I do you make friends on the facebook page, looks like just a bunch of articles to comment on. Has there been alot of success with people meeting each other. There seems to be alot of people on this site that want to meet friends,

          • LauraSL says:

            My observation, based on the membership count on the page, is that there’s either a lot of lurking or people join and then don’t get around to participating. It’s a great vehicle that Irene has set up. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try! Maybe if you do, and get the ball rolling, other will give it a try too!

  6. Denise says:

    Hi Carmen,

    I can relate to several points here: I’m 52, have a college degree, have never earned more than $10.50, haven’t found friends at church or work and don’t drink or smoke. Whenever I meet someone I might like to be friends with, I begin looking for common interests. What usually happens is there isn’t enough commonality or there’s a personality conflict. I also try to pay attention to people’s body language and other cues so as not to appear needy. Try not to be too anxious to be friendly. It can be difficult to find the balance between friendly, open and letting people initiate things towards you. I find if people don’t initiate or reciprocate, it’s probably a personality miss-match.

    Since you don’t have family, would you consider relocating to find a better-paying, daytime job with no weekends? I’d love to be able to do that. If you land in a larger city with a job paying what you deserve, you’ll have more choices for recreation and interests which could lead to friends with common interests. At least you’d have a decent job and ultimately following your interests and hobbies is your greatest chance at finding friends. Try different churches within your faith and keep checking new groups for meetups. (….although meetups in my area don’t match my needs)

    Hope this helps!

  7. Pat K says:

    I think that with three degrees you should at least be able to get a day time position even if it is earning just the $12.00 an hour for starters. I only have one degree and work a day job. I know that it is difficult to make friends here in the US.

    I know that a lot of people whom I talk to about this find it strange when they meet me they think “You are so friendly surely it is not difficult.” What I do know is that inside of me I have learned along the years not to be trusting especially of women as I have encountered a lot of betrayal. However, at my 58th year I do realize that all I need is one good friend and meet up with others occasionally at family or church events.

    Sometimes and I have to apologize if I say anything untoward, we have to ask ourselves or someone in our family to help us take a look at ourselves. That is what I did and learned a lot about myself. How truly introverted I am; I’d rather be reading a book, playing a video game or gardening than socializing. I have canceled out on quite a few get-togethers and offended others so they don’t invite me anymore. I laugh now but it was not funny at that time.

    Look up groups on meetup.com or join a community volunteer group. I am sure that the people at your church will welcome you. Sometimes we think others don’t want to be friends but we maybe so guarded that we come across as not really wanting to.

    I know you want to but maybe deep down inside you have been hurt or feeling shy/uneasy with strangers. I get that feeling a lot and used to try too hard then get disappointed when others don’t want to hook up with me for lunch etc. Now I have come to terms with a lot of stuff and learned a lot about myself. It is a most wonderful and freeing feeling.

    • Laura says:

      Repeatedly cancelling is not a good thing is you’re trying to make friends. I personally have no tolerance for undependable people. It’s better to just not make the plans to begin with if you rather be by yourself.

      • Pat K says:

        Laura: I don’t do it anymore as I have learned a lot about myself so I restrict my social events to ones I really will enjoy.

  8. Pam says:

    Carmen, I relate all too well. It’s so sad and disappointing when we keep on trying time and again to ‘make it’ socially. A 57 I doubt it’s ever going to happen to me. Ben’s right. So,let’s all just try to somehow keep our spirits up.

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Carmen,

    totally understand, in the same boat. I have a chronic vestibular illness which causes me to be homebound all the time…My kids do not care about me and I have no family….I live in New Jersey. I would agree that maybe if you change your work schedule that would help and volunteer. I wish I could even volunteer but being dizzy all the time I cannot do much of anything. I feel for you. If you would like me email to talk sometime let me know.

    Take Care of yourself!

    • Shan says:

      Gosh, I was astounded at your being housebound by a physical ailment – have you looked into holistic help and or healing methods/
      there is so much out there! I was healed from some pretty major things with an open mind and reaching out to what I knew or felt could help me. For your condition, I could suggest acupuncture, with someone who uses very fine, disposable needles. Just some ideas, hope you are feeling better before too much more time gets away on you – life is very short.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Shan,

        Thank you for your kind words. I am looking into changing my eating habits, juicing more..etc… My illness is from several things so I am dizzy every with Chronic disequilibrium and have vertigo attacks often..Not having any friends or family I can really go to for help, support, etc. is even harder. It is very hard to get around with tis condition so trying to get out and meet people is difficult, I have tried in the past ad I do think that for some my condition scares them off. My body sways back and fourth like I am on a boat at times and it is hard to concentrate when the inside of my head is constantly whirling…I am trying to research some more articles in regards to the inner ear issues and I just started vision therapy again, so hopefully this will help. Please pray for me and others with this horrible condition, it is indeed a invisible chronic illness:( Take Care…

        • Irene says:


          Invisible illnesses are always very tough. Perhaps, your doctor can recommend a support group at a nearby university.

          My best, Irene

        • Rosemarie says:

          Karen, Sorry to hear about your illness. When I sometimes feel dizzy I take Magnesium. I checked into this on the internet (Dr Internet) and found that there is no blood test to check levels of Magnesium so it is difficult to assess whether there is a deficiency. Low Magnesium is difficult to detect and many folks have low levels of this essential mineral. Key symptoms include dizziness and sore muscles. Epsom salts baths help to absorb Magnesium. Pill form it good to take at night, helps relax muscles and could improve sleep. However, Magnesium could loosen the bowels so be sure to be close to the bathroom. Hope that helps.

  10. Laura says:

    I would look for a day job. Even if it’s not related to your degrees, having a degree will get you considered for jobs that you otherwise would not. A day job would normalize your life and put you on a schedule that lends itself better to meeting people.

    Sitting at a busy Starbucks can be a way to connect. I have gone to Starbucks myself, at times, wanting some alone time, only to have people ask to share my table and strike up a conversation. This makes me thing this would be a way to meet potential friends.

  11. Amy F says:

    You ask a good question about how not to come across as needy, because neediness can be a real turn off. Something that helped me was staying in the moment, rather than anticipating what the relationship might need in the future. Using mindfulness, I’d stay present and focus on the experience of being with the person/potential friend which helped me avoid putting the pressure of expectations and hopes onto the person. I believe that in order to have successful, healthy, long term friendships, people first have to have a healthy relationship with themselves. Therapy is a great avenue to become the type of person you want to be and to learn to communicate in the most affective manner to sustain relationships.
    One of the positives of working nights is that you have some daytime hours where you can volunteer for a cause you care about, maybe even one using one of your degrees, which could ultimately lead to a better job as well as be an avenue for meeting like minded folks. Libraries, schools, hospitals, social service agencies are always looking for good people.

  12. Ben says:

    I know why I have fewer friends these days. a couple of years ago a good friend of mine decided to not be friends anymore and I know in my heart of hearts that I did anything to cause it. it is been very painful but a learning experience… I’ve come to realize that I was giving far more than getting and then becoming upset when I didn’t get after giving.. this has been a lifelong pattern for me.. I remember the days of no social media and no computers and making friends the old fashion way.. The advice the author of this whole site gives I think is really good. I am attempting to apply that advice to my life everyday..

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