• Few or No Friends

Am I doomed to have no friends?

Published: October 5, 2013 | By | 18 Replies Continue Reading
With a history of abandonment, a young man feels doomed to have no friends.



My name is Bill. I’m 23 years old, male, a two time brain tumor survivor, and a recent college graduate. And I’m oh so lonely. I can’t make friends. If I manage to somehow find someone who doesn’t hate me, normally something happens within a few weeks, and they then want nothing to do with me.

I consider myself a kind, sensitive, caring person, but everyone else seems to see an obnoxious, annoying individual they’d never want to spend time with. The only person I’ve ever gotten truly close to, Jenny, died from brain cancer at the age of 34. I had known her for less than a year, we met at a camp for brain tumor survivors, she happened to live extremely close, and in that short time developed a stronger bond than I have had with any other person I’ve ever met.

I went to therapy for years. Mainly for the issues with my family, my parents seem to have resigned from that role and taken a standoffish, sidelines approach to our relationship. We live in the same house, interact on occasion, but as far as sharing how we feel, having a conversation, doing things together, or enjoying each other’s company, it doesn’t happen.

Family therapy didn’t work, after endless time convincing them to come to family therapy, they’d concede and attend. But they’d feel attacked, blamed, and they would refuse to go back to continue sessions, or simply say that the therapist’s hours weren’t convenient for them. It would lead to tremendous anger and fights at home, so I stopped trying to get them to come in and settled for individual therapy.

All of my family issues, I would assume, have a profound impact on developing and keeping meaningful relationships. I spent countless hours in the therapist’s office, and it seemed to help, even just to talk to someone who listened and at least seemed/pretended to care. After three different therapist’s left: some moved, some we’re temporary, and one become a full time mom, I decided to go to another facility, and give therapy one last shot. I couldn’t handle repeatedly having to lose someone I had grown close to, trusted, confided in, and then starting over, reliving all the painful memories of my past to catch them up.  But because of the long-term side effects of my brain tumors, I’d frequently forget my appointments, mainly because my new therapist was unable to give me a regularly scheduled appointment, and I would be billed for an outrageous fee for missing the appointment. At some point the costs made it impossible to continue therapy, so I gave up, and decided to go without.

I consider myself to be fairly intelligent. I know what the issues are, I know why I can’t make friends, but what I can’t seem to do is find a way to solve it…I’m not even sure there is one. I’m very seriously considering giving up on ever having a meaningful relationship with anyone, and becoming a loner. The relationships I’ve had have made me incredibly defensive.

From years of verbal abuse from my peers when I was younger I constantly misinterpret people as attacking or defaming me. I’m over the top generous, practically giving things to random people on occasion in hopes someone will like me. I’ve been socially isolated for so long, and dealt primarily with medical issues for the majority of my life, and now I don’t know what normal conversation is supposed to sound like.

I’m opinionated and picky, which alone wouldn’t be a huge problem. But add the fact that my hypothalamus was damaged during the resection of my brain tumors leading to reduced ability to control my impulses, and it becomes an enormous problem. Is there ANY solution? Am I doomed to have no friends and have all my relationships follow the path of the rest?


Hi Bill,

Glad to hear you have survived your illness and congrats on your degree. I’m a cancer survivor, and also know the pain of losing friends to the disease.

I’m sorry you feel lonely. You are not doomed. While you may always have challenges that others who haven’t had your medical problems don’t, I’m confident you can improve your situation and learn some coping skills to help with your impulse control issues. I’m so impressed that you recognize and want to address these limitations. Your positive attitude will make dealing with these issues so much easier. A general rule of thumb that I use: In therapy, the more you don’t want to discuss an issue or try a skill, that probably means the more you need to. You’re embracing the need for change.

It’s unlikely you can change your parents so you need to focus on yourself. You’ve experienced different types of abandonment from several different angles starting at a very young age, and that has shaped your feelings in relationships, whether that be familial, professional, or friendships.

If you’re able to see a private therapist rather than one through an agency, you might have better luck finding someone who will be available to you long term, but there are no guarantees. You may want to consider some type of therapy besides insight-oriented therapy (for example, cognitive behavioral therapy). Regardless of the causes of your problems, focusing on how to change and adapt may be more beneficial that analyzing why or how things got that way.

I recommend telling your next therapist about your abandonment fears, so s/he will know from the onset this is an important issue for you. Also, look into group therapy (not self-help groups), because this form of treatment is particularly helpful for folks with relationship issues. In the safety of a group with other people who have the same difficulties, you will have the opportunity to discover parts of yourself that may be off putting to others, and practice new skills to change and grow. Your neurologist or oncologist might have referrals to individual or groups who work with problems such as yours.

I feel very positive that your life will improve and continue to get better as long as you keep pushing yourself, as you have your entire life.


*Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another. 

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS, Social skills and friendship

Comments (18)

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  1. Ash says:

    I think some individuals (like myself) are special- meaning we have certain characteristics which are unique and do not meet most people’s friendship criteria. Especially if you are a person that has an explosive personality, or is very fussy, hot & cold, very eccentric, weird, abnormal etc.. I have had hundreds of friendships which haven’t lasted, because the individuals are not on my wavelength and vice versa. You can’t help the situation. And why change yourself for others? You are who you are. People come and go. The right friend will come along eventually. It’s life. The last thing you would want to do is pretend to be something you’re not, which will only hurt and damage you in the long run. The best solution would be to find likeminded individuals on a place like this- I’m sure you will find something in common!! All the best! Feel free to contact me if you like! 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    Hi, i am 30 years old and cannot keep a friend. I think i must be toxic 🙁 every friend i ever had are gone they just disappear, i am the kind of person that when i have a friend i give them all of my attention but i always seem like the one that ends up hurt. I dont think i am capable of having friends: ( just very sad and a lone

  3. Kevin says:


    Bill if your “reduced ability to control your impulses” left you with a drinking or drug (or sex, food, gambling) problem you might consider joining a 12 Step program in your area. The people there are all familiar with having and dealing with impulse problems (in their associated areas). There is a lot of “fellowship” in these fellowships. You’ll meet people and your ability to make friends is pretty much limited to your ability to talk honestly about your feelings with others (sharing at meetings).

    AA is the oldest and most venerable (IMHO). But as I said, you have to qualify with a desire to stop drinking, (feel that you have a drinking problem).

    Good luck!

  4. Ryan says:

    It’s great reading everyone’s words and caring thoughts.

    I would like to share my experience with not having friends.

    I am a person who never complains about anything, I just put it down to life and get on with it. School was a place where I did not fit in cause kids were just mean or careless. I never had kids come home or ever socialised with them – long story.

    I guess what I learnt was to not experience any real feelings, my mum rarely shows any emotions, my dad was random. Not bad people but not great.

    Life continued along its merry way, while I never knew why people were so cold and callous. I remained just friendly enough to hold a job – money was scarce when I was growing up.

    Not having money and being in wrong circles meant I’ve always done things on my own and never really learnt to trust others.

    Life continued, got married, have kids, but still don’t consider my wife to be my closest friend, partly me and my beliefs and partly my wife’s, but I am doing a lot of learning to make sure I do not affect my kids natural ability to live, learn and be whole.

    See I am searching for a very deep and meaningfull relationship – whatever that means – I am searching for a world where there are more caring people – I feel only I am doing all the caring.

    My parents who were living overseas finally moved closer to me after about 15 years of being apart, boy did I learn how much I learnt from them when growing up.

    I want really deep and meaningfull relationships, which I am still working on, but in the meantime, I have also opted to accept superficial artificial ones, but developing the deepest relationship with myself.

    And may I add that it does help when your past 45 and do not have a nagging sex drive that keeps coming in the way.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and keep your genuine heart alive by connecting and helping others, your are valuable.

    • Mark says:

      I’m in rather the same situation as you are, being a bit older than 45, and looking for new and meaningful friendships.
      I have found, personally, that in the adult world, this is more difficult than in youth.
      Many people are also looking for meaningful friendships, but are
      often afraid to show their vulnerability.
      Most friendships are formed where one works, or if one belongs to a club or association, but it’s tough out there, and I’m not going to lie to you that it isn’t.
      You are so right when you refer to the relationship with oneself.
      That, really, is the key.
      If you are comfortable with yourself and don’t carry too much negative baggage around, if you radiate humor and approachability, it’s rather like a magnet.
      It will help draw people to you, and lessen the need to go “searching.”
      If you come across to others as emotionally needy, it’s an almost sure bet this may frighten them off,
      but if you give out positive, radiant energy, this will draw people to you.
      Easier said than done, yes, I admit.
      But I encourage you to remain hopeful,and to hang in there.
      Somewhere, you’ll meet up with someone whose chemistry will chime with yours.

  5. Stefani says:


    Just wrote a poem I’d like to share:


    is a good word to know
    when words aren’t enough to show
    we care
    and we suffer with you

    • Carole Heath says:

      Lovely poem Stefani empathy have you ever read any of Christina Rossetti’s poems she was a Victorian writer and poet. Her poems I think contain such empathy and pathos. Some of the comments on this blog are such sad stories but I personally think that sometimes friendship can be one sided which is not a real friendship. I have had friendships that have been very good but others have not so I moved on from them.

  6. Stefani says:

    Hello Bill and those visiting here!!

    Well we’re all in the same boat, those of us here who feel friendless, have suffered hell on earth with our health, and feel that life must have more to offer in future than we’ve known in our unhappy past.

    I say “we” because I have endured cancer (two types)and have wound up losing my friends, the few that I had that is; plus family as well…for various reasons: divorce, relocating, cancer, change of religion, a stay-at-home mum, and more.

    Not only that but when I was between chemo and radiation I remarried and since then my new husband, retired, asks me “so when are you dying?” Yes, it’s pretty depressing; he was expecting me to last no more than a short while and it’s been five years…he figured it was either that or I’d find a job and work to support him and myself in his retirement as he is very possessive of his pension.

    Not working, due to my limited energy resulting from a combo of ongoing health issues, I stay home (in spite of graduating from university after chemo)and manage the home 24/7 while he squires off to the gym or to clubs he belongs to…fine. I am happy to use my limited energy at home…but it’s a very lonely life and much of the time somewhat depressing.

    This forum has provided us all an opportunity to make new friends and though it’s not the same as having someone to get together with, it’s better than the alternative.

    We need to keep talking until there’s someone who’ll hear us!

    Remember the Island of Misfits on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? This is a good time to watch the kid’s show if you haven’t already 🙂

    Thanks everyone for writing and maybe we can comment and find a way to connect and maybe keep in regular touch!

    Bill, take care dear friend, thanks for your letter, will be thinking of you!! And thanks to all those visiting too!! You’ve all made me feel hopeful!!

    All the best!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Bill
    I’m a college graduate & tempermental without friends, too. My problem is ADHD and that leads directly to my idea for you.
    Have you ever heard of CHAAD? It stands for Children & Adults with Attention Defecit. People like me with ADHD usually have all kinds of impuse control and related issues. Why no look for a CHADD conference in your area & attend as an interested supporter. You certainly won’t be out of place and you might have a great opportunity to meet some similar people who won’t think you odd for a second! CHADD has groups & conferences nationwide and the people there are very friendly. That’s my suggestion.

  8. Ken says:

    Hey Bill!
    I just wanted to reiterate on what Gina said. While your medical situation may exasperate your relationship problems you are absolutely not alone in being alone.
    I do hope that things will look up for you!

  9. Paulina says:

    Hey Bill,
    I am healthy and also have no friends! 🙂 I immigrated to US 8 yrs ago and feel like people don’t understand where I’m coming from. I’m also opinionated and very liberal which makes it even harder to break the cultural differences. Anyway, I’m a psychology student and found this link on twitter. I just wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I like to think that it is better to be alone than have people around that don’t understand you. We’ll find our place in this world someday!

    • Gina says:

      I am sorry you also have no friends. Where are you from?
      Being a psychology student, I am surprised you have no friends. Although sometimes when you know alot about things of this nature it separates you from the rest of the world because denial is so strong. Those of us who have the courage to look within, and talk about what we feel, others may not want to hear. Sometimes it is easier for people to go on thinking everything is “OK” and do not want to face the truth about what is going on inside. Please do not isolate yourself it sounds like you have alot to give to people and the knowledge as well. Understanding yourself makes you understand everyone else for we all do the same things only for different reasons. Once you know yourself 100% inside and out, you can see thing so much clearer in life and not everyone wants to see clearly. For some it is easier to hide behind a wall.

    • Samantha says:

      Hi paulina 🙂 im planning to move to US and im afraid i wont be able to make friends because my english is bad 🙁 was the language a problem for you when you immigrate?

  10. Amy says:

    What a great, empathic response!

  11. Gina says:

    Dear Bill,
    I am really sorry to hear that you are having these problems. I am positive that Jenny most likely had the same issues and you two were able to relate with each other on a level like no other. I am sorry for her loss to you and for her family.
    You are not doomed. It sounds like you needs some really good friends who can related to you and what you are going through. You are very good at communicating and telling it like it is.

    It may be perhaps deep down inside your parents feel guilty for what happened to you. I cannot speak for them but try to understand both sides. I am disabled also but my mom felt terribly guilty for two of her daughters are disabled and she keeps wondering what she did to cause this and if it was due to a medication she had to take while being pregnant so she would not miscarry her babies.
    It had nothing to do with that but just what life threw our way. Yet she blames herself so we had to work with her to tell her it was not her fault and that we are ok . My mom had a really hard time looking at me when I was at my worst and sent me to eat in the family room because she could not tolerate seeing me in pain. Was that cruel to me yes but to her she was not emotionally strong enough to handle seeing me in so much pain.

    Perhaps your parents are also not emotionally strong and look at you and are so afraid you may die, that maybe it is just hard for them to see you ill, know you had cancer and wonder if they were the cause? Sometimes fear overrides love, and then it causes all kinds of problems. Being afraid of loosing a son, can sometimes override the love we feel because we put up a wall to avoid the pain we feel.

    On your end, like me being disabled with something called dystonia of the head, face, eyes , mouth, vocal cords and multiple spinal surgeries and a hypothalamus that had shut down to due hormonal problems I cannot understand what you are doing through but have a tiny bit of an idea.

    People who are abandoned by those who are supposed to love them, often pick people unconciously who will repeat that same pattern. And sometimes we are so used to being abandoned we can create a situation for people to push us away. ( remember it is not something we do on purpose)

    I had a therapist after my sister died suddenly, who understood I had abandonment issues as well. She said she never met someone who had tried so hard to push someone away and she promised she would never leave me. ( mine came from a father who passed when I was 16 very traumatically) She stuck with me for 5 yrs as we weaned down to a time when I said you know what I think I am done LOL and she said yes you were done along time ago but you needed to leave on your own. She promised she would never abandon me and she never did. When the time came for her to move away, she called me to tell me and to say good by and I had not been in therapy for a very long time. It was really nice to know that she kept her promise.
    Look for a therapist who understands your situation, understands your fear of abandonment and will help you work through all of this.
    Also look inside your heart and see if you are missing appts on purpose or if it is indeed your memory making you forget them, in case you your self are recreating the need to be abandoned…it is not your fault and you are not doing this on purpose..it is all done unconsiously because it is all we know.

    Do you have any support groups in your area for people with the same illness you have? Perhaps you can meet someone who might be similar to Jenny? Not the same but someone you can talk to like you did to her. I am sure Jenny’s passing even felt like being abandoned to you. It wasn’t it was her time to go from her disease.

    I hope you can continue to find places where you can meet new friends and find a therapist who will work with you through these issues…it is hard, no one said this will be easy but do not ever give up..life is so very precious.

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