• Few or No Friends

When making new friends is a struggle

Published: March 23, 2014 | Last Updated: June 29, 2023 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
For people who are shy and not very outgoing, making new friends can be a struggle


Dear Irene,

I have struggled to make friends since leaving high school. I’m almost 30 and have moved to new places a few times since then and each move I have never made a new bunch of friends or kept in contact. I often feel like when I am with new people I am very awkward and uncomfortable and just want to leave social situations.

I’m tired of doing nothing on the weekends and feel so ashamed that I lie to my work colleagues about what I have done. I pretend I have friends and have done things with them on the weekend when I have really done nothing just so I don’t sound like a loser when they ask what I got up to.

My boyfriend tries to get me to make friends and I have gone to events from online groups like meetup.com but again it feels awkward. He also tries to set me up with people he knows but I hate him doing this as it makes me feel pathetic that he has to try make friends for me. I just don’t know what to do. I do want to meet people and not be so isolated but when I am in social situations I hate it. HELP!

Signed, Betty


Hi Betty,

I’m shy myself and sometimes feel awkward in social situations, especially among people I don’t know well, so I feel for you. I’m sure that moving several times hasn’t make things any easier.

It’s great that you have a boyfriend who understands your difficulties and tries to be supportive. Many times before, I’ve written that it’s easier to make friends in natural settings, when you’re among people who share common interests.

  • Is there anyone at work with whom you might want to spend time on the weekend or after work?
  • Do you have any interests or hobbies that would lead you to take a class or join a club where you could mingle among kindred spirits?
  • When someone is shy, one-on-one relationships are usually easier than groups. Could you take a chance and figure out a way to get together with one person you meet apart from the group? 
  • How shy are you? Do you have any of the symptoms of social anxiety? If so, you might benefit from speaking to a mental health professional. 

Lastly, don’t feel embarrassed about being shy. Many more people than you could imagine feel the same way you do. I hope you’ll click on the links below. They are just a sample of many posts on this blog that talk about social anxiety and may offer you some additional hints.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog that discuss shyness, social anxiety and friendship:

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Comments (6)

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  1. Ang says:

    I am shy and introverted, and I can relate. I’m married with a baby now, but I feel as if I don’t have friends. Well real friends anyway. It does get lonely and having anxiety makes it worse. I hope things get better for you!

  2. Durangokid says:

    My social life is weird. I’ve always been a bit introverted. Liked my time alone but never had too much trouble interacting with people at work ect. But after a divorce, where its natural to lose friends that were couples ect, and being somewhat of a workaholic. I find myself virtually friendless. I actually dont think I know how to relax and bond with people anymore

  3. Chris - the Social Maze says:

    The first thing I would is at least you have a boyfriend. There are many shy or asperger’s types out there with no friends, who would only dream of having some sort of relationship.

    My suggestion if you’re a couple, is are there any other couples you could get to know together. It seems like in your case your boyfriend is the more outgoing of the two of you. Maybe if he has friends with other guy’s with girlfriends/wives, that could help.

    p.s. some married men would be totally without friends if it wasn’t for their wife. They’re whole social life is orientated around what the wife organises.

  4. Just sum chick says:

    Thank you very much for the advice and links to other information. I think I have social anxiety but I’m hesitant to talk to a professional just the thought of talking about myself to someone I don’t know is really daunting.

    • Irene says:

      Don’t let your fears hold you back. There are about 15 million people in the U.S. with social anxiety and you won’t be the first one that feels slightly awkward talking to a stranger. Hopefully, the person is trained to be understanding and will help put you at ease.

      I know this is a difficult first step but it will be well worth the effort. If it is too stressful, perhaps your boyfriend could accompany you on the first visit.

      Warm regards, Irene

  5. Amy F says:

    Making new friends is hard when you’re anxious and self conscious. This sentence jumped off the screen at me: I often feel like I am very awkward… (Can’t cut and paste from my iPhone). Just because you feel awkward, doesn’t mean people are experiencing you that way. Because you’re anxious, you’re ultra focused on yourself, probably much more so than anyone is focused on you.
    Rather than worrying about not having a “bunch of friends”, concentrate in befriending one person at a time. You’ll probably feel more comfortable getting to know one person, rather than being the new person in an established group, Irene has great suggestions and the links she provided can give you other suggestions.
    My last piece if advice is to be honest with your coworkers. If you lie about phony activities with friends, you could be cutting off potential new friends and invitations. When your coworkers talk about their activities, you can say, “I’d love to be included next time.”
    Good luck.

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