• Few or No Friends

My family is without real friends

Published: February 27, 2016 | By | 31 Replies Continue Reading
Even with many acquaintances, a woman worries about her family being without real friends.



Thanks for reading this! I’m a married 45-year-old mom of two boys (ages 8 and 6) and I’ve come to the sad realization that our whole family is friendless, at least in our immediate area.

We’ve lived here for 14 years and I’ve always had trouble connecting with people here. My first six years here, my only social life was work and my husband. So up until my first son was born, I drove one and a half hours to visit my best girlfriends from high school as often as I could, before one moved and the drive became too much.

Luckily, having babies led to playgroups and lots of socialization. Now that the kids are older, though, the kids have different interests and personalities and the moms are moving on. My one “best” friend from a playgroup had a second baby and doesn’t have the time or energy to get together. Our neighbors wave and smile, but that’s about it. I’ve tried to engage but they’re not interested in making a connection with me.

My poor husband works a lot and doesn’t have much time for a social life. He doesn’t even have one male friend that he could have a beer with. All of his old friends from high school are far away and they rarely speak.

Neither of my boys has identified a “best friend” in any of their classes and now my 8-year-old is feeling the pinch of having no friends. From what I can gather, everyone thinks the same thing of all of us: We’re “fine,” friendly people. But I see neighbors getting together and going out in groups and we’re never asked. We’ve tried to get involved in kids’ sports and I go to group exercise classes. Everyone is “nice,” but that’s as far as it goes.

So many acquaintances but no real friends—It’s becoming such a problem that I’d really like to move and start over, but I have no idea where to even look. Or if it’s going to be the same for all of us no matter where we go.

Signed, Ceil


Hi Ceil,

It sounds like you have a busy family life with two children who are still quite young. Although it’s clear that you are yearning to have some close girlfriends, I’m wondering whether your husband or both kids are feeling the same about their own lack of friends. Given the close age of your two sons, I presume that they are close with each other. Your husband may not have great needs for socialization if he works long hours.

You haven’t said too much about your 8-year-old except that he is “feeling the pinch” of not having friends. If that is the case, you may want to speak to him to see how he feels about the kids at school and to his teacher at school to help figure out what’s getting in his way if he would like connect with other kids. Some children are less social than others.

In terms of yourself, my suggestion would be to set aside a regular time each week to do something that interests you apart from your family responsibilities, perhaps to join a book club, or take a course, or join a gym. As you have mentioned, mom-friendships can easily fracture, as their kids grow apart. But given that you were able to make friends in the past and know how to sustain long-term friendships, I’m optimistic that you can make new friends. Being with a regular group will enable you to slowly find people that may be as interested in making new friends as you are.

Since certain types of shyness can be genetic, it may be that your and your family have a harder time than many connecting with other people. While I wouldn’t pressure your kids about this, I would help guide them and provide them with opportunities to socialize with other kids outside of school. In terms of you, you may need to go beyond your own comfort zone by acting more outgoing and solicitous of new friendships.

In conclusion, I think taking one or two small steps on behalf of yourself and/or your 8-year-old will make this whole scenario seem less overwhelming. While some neighborhoods may be friendlier than others, you could well decide to move and face the same problems elsewhere.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (31)

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  1. Yessika says:

    It is funny in a way to read all of your comments. I thought that making friends in the USA was difficult for me because I am originally from another country. But I guess I was wrong…

    I am also 45 with two little girls (9 and 6) No matter what I do people (moms) are not willing to make the effort to have a friendship. I cannot complain regarding my house I have an impeccable home with a pool in sunny South Florida, but that was not good enough when I text one of my daughters friends mom for the girls to have a playdate letting her know that we would love to have them for a playdate and if the weather permits they could use the pool (it was before summer was over) She replied that she thought it was ok but she was going to let me know. Well she never did and she was not courteous enough to provide an excuse either. I really do not know what went wrong!!
    Our girls went to the same day care and after school program and we previously invited them to my daughter’s birthday.

    I tried this situation not to bother me but makes me wonder. What is wrong with people…
    I could share other stories as sucky as this one …

    After so many disappointments, my family and I have decided to embrace this saying “4 and no more” If people do not wants us, we are going to be happy the 4 of us no matter what and we are going to have fun. When everything is set and done family is all that matters. We do not want to waste our lives trying to figurate out what does it go in peoples minds. They could very well be mental cases and we do not want those friendships anyway.

    • Nancy says:

      Yessika, it’s not you! I have one good friend from grade school 6 hours away! Even though i’ve lived in New England for the past 23 years. I have three grown children. My social life consisted of “play dates” which gave me access to their parents’ company and that dried up. Many are now divorced, interests are not the same. I had three women i got together with and they all live 20 minutes away and were friends a long time. i guess it got too complicated to get together with me since it wasn’t spontaneous so those invitations dried up. I volunteer and that doesn’t give you a “pool” of people to choose from. I am constantly inviting people i like to dinner and no invites back…even though i’m told i’m a great hostess. i think our culture has lost the art of entertaining and also people are waaaaaaay too involved with their children’s social life to work on their own. I would definitely hang out with you;-)

      • Yessika says:

        Thank you Nancy!! That was very nice of you!
        I wish you the best in this season of your life and I hope somehow we find what we are looking for, company and trustworthy friendships.
        God Bless you!!

    • decemberbelle says:

      I am 45 years old also and have literally no confidantes or close friends who live less than 2900 miles away. I always thought the friends I hung out with in college would always be my close friends: we had similar interests, career goals, and at the very least, memories of rooming together, etc. But after the mid 30s, people fell away. What was most hurtful was someone I thought was my close friend just shut off communication entirely right before she sent out her wedding invitations, which of course, did not include me. I got married the same year, invited her to mine, but got no response. I have tried very hard to let go of all these formerly close and disappearing friendships, by gradually throwing away the annual Christmas and birthday cards and letters from many years ago.

      I actually find it really hard to believe that someone with a memory of a close friendship could just shed friends so easily. Years pass, yes, but my memory of times together is still vivid and I have always kept friendships alive at least in my head. Perhaps that is the problem. People have different perspectives of each other that don’t always see the light of day. I can only surmise that I had a more positive view of my friendships and always expected them to last forever.

      I think when I was younger I made friends based more on, how shall I put it, admiration/respect of career/ intelligence, and less on character… In the past few years, I’ve made a conscious decision to look deeper at character and integrity. I have one friend in the world who tells me directly how much she appreciates my friendship. I have a few friends, not locally, who will return my email notes and phone calls now and then. All I can do now is devote quality time to those friends who have remained loyal and to try to let go of the ones who for some reason, didn’t.

  2. Kathy says:

    I relate to your post as I am a mom of two young kids and find we don’t have any true friends either. My kids are quite social so I worry they feel left out in some ways. I’ve always been ok with my friendships but never had long lasting, bff-type friends. I thought things would be better as a mom because I’d meet other moms and have common threads of parenting and our kids. Instead, even when I try to connect with others it’s so hard to make or keep plans. I don’t have that true connection with anyone and feel lonely a lot. My kids ask for play dates but I can’t seem to make many happen. Getting in with new people, getting numbers, texting or calling, etc. It’s all so much work and I feel like I’m always working hard on it…almost desperate. It seems so easy for everyone else! The comments here about inviting ppl over are good suggestions. I don’t really do that and want to soon.

  3. Karl says:

    Friendship when healthy is a medicine that can cure many diseases of today since doctors tell us our mental or physiological well being matters in treatments of diseases of any kind. I’ll also say that we all need that occasional smile from someone who is not family. In our warm moments, we usually would like to express a bit of our abundant emotions or generosity to others just to say ” Hello, how are you? Just checking up on you” this sentence goes a long way in healing wounds and you never might know the mood and moment it is most needed….Lets explore more, life is good and worth being taken serious but not so serious because none of us is coming out of life alive…

  4. Maddie says:

    Pick a cause you are interested in and volunteer.

  5. Denise says:


    I can relate to the part about no friends whatever I try; I have no kids.
    Neighbors usually only smile and wave for the most part even when new ones move in. Generally wherever I meet people, it’s a struggle to find common interests. Because this is a boring, small town none of my interests or hobbies fit here so, in my case, moving back to my home state would definitely help. I still haven’t found the means to return. If you get the chance to relocate to a city where your hobbies and interests exist, I recommend it!

    • Ceil says:

      Oh, boy, I’m so sorry you’re going through that. Our city is growing, though it seems very insulated – meaning the downtownies don’t venture much past downtown, the Eastsiders stick over on the Eastside, the Sweetwater neighborhood kids all walk to school together, etc. I did not grow up here so it’s odd to me. I walked all over town to get to my friends’ homes and vice versa!

      I’m an aspiring writer, so now that the boys are getting older, I’m hoping to get more involved in publishing my work and joining writing groups, if any exist. We’re definitely open to moving should my husband’s career take us in a new direction, so there is that freedom of not being tied down here.

      All these comments have definitely shown me that cultivating new friendships is much like making a garden grow – I can’t toss out some seeds and hope for the best. I have to be willing and able to go out and make relationships happen. I don’t know how ready I am for that yet, but I’m glad to at least have an idea toward a plan!

      • Sandra says:

        You mentioned finding a writing group. You might try your local public library and ask if they either have such a group already, or if you can start one and hold your meetings at the library. We have several of these groups at our public library, including events for budding writers. My motto: If someone hasn’t already started the group I want, I will start one myself! 🙂

  6. Tanja says:


    I believe that certain shyness can be genetic. As I was growing up. My parents were quite socially awkward in many ways. Yet, they had a lot more friends than I ever did. The friends were often a lot older than my parents, so my sister and I did not have play mates through our parents, although the house was always full of people. All of their friends equally socially awkward.

    With my family, I find we do not have that many friends. I am quite shy and so is my husband. My son is 7 and he complains that he feels no one likes him at school. He often spends recess alone. I have now started to give him books to take to school so he can read during the break and not worry about other people. Yet, my son is a social kid and so I know it bothers him. Yet, I also see where he struggles with friendship. He has to learn to listen more and not dominate play and he talks about things that other kids have no clue what he is talking about. So, I have tried to introduce him to things his own age like captain underpants, pokemon etc.

    I also think that sometimes without having all those people around, you make the family unit stronger. I look back to my childhood and feel that once the friends were gone, my parents never spoke. Now the minute my sister and I moved out of the house, they separated. It was like they needed those friends in order to get along all those years. My mom was always inviting people over and playing hostess with the mostess. For me, I hate doing that stuff. I hate preparing dinners, cleaning the house and making conversation with people and then I do feel like I often do not get that in return. Then I realized that we did not go over to many people’s houses, they always came to ours, who bought the food, we did! Well, in my family now, I invite people over for kids parties and all that but just to socialize, I do not. I want to focus on making my family unit stronger, the bond will be greater, I am hoping for.

    But, I think it would be good to join groups, socialize, invite people over, go online and ask if anyone has kids around your sons age and you could get together. Perhaps ask teachers and try to talk to moms that go to your sons school….

    My son is actually switching schools in September, I am hoping he will have better luck there in terms of friendships….Sometimes it is a waiting game……like the dr suess book “come to the waiting place, where everyone is just waiting.”

    Best of Luck to you and your son.

    • Ceil says:

      Hi and thanks so much for writing! So much of what you said sounds exactly like what my husband says! He says that the people in this area (he went to school down here) love to get together and party, but the close and lasting friendships that I’m craving will not be found in these social groups. Now I realize that’s quite cynical, and we will never find anyone we could possible be close to if we don’t put ourselves out there. But he hates having people over – doing dinner parties and cleaning up for company, etc. I don’t hate it, but I don’t do it, either, because our house needs some major overhauls before I would be comfortable welcoming new people, so I never take the opportunity.

      I never considered myself shy and I don’t think my sons or my husband are, either, but we definitely screen people in initial conversations in ways that might be putting others off. My hubby has very high standards with his friends and is quite content that he can talk to his few “best” friends once a year and see them maybe every 10. I’m wired differently, but your comments have made me wonder if I, too, have made my “best” friends that I still talk to and write to and try to see once a year, and that I have an invisible “No Vacancy” sign on my forehead for any other potential friends. What I would love is one of these girls to move closer and I know that’s so unrealistic. So I definitely have to adjust my expectations.

      It sounds like your son needs to find his “tribe,” too. That’s so hard. My elementary school years were tough because no one “got me.” So when I found people who did, I held on tight. I’ve known my dearest long-distance friends for 30 years!

  7. Salstarat says:

    You sound like you are starting to do some good things, eg exercise classes and getting out and about to meet people. However, you may need to become a bit more proactive with your acquaintances. Why not use Easter, Christmas or some other “special occasion” to host a dinner party at your home. My advice is not to get too chummy with close neighbours as that can end in disaster … it is good to be friendly but not “friends” with neighbours. If you are not working, perhaps you could use some time to do voluntary work at your sons’ school, eg Canteen or “Tuck Shop” duty or “assisted reading” – this will enable you to get to know some of the children in your sons’ classes. You could then encourage friendships by getting your son to invite a few of their classmates to your home for a party or a “sleep over” or offer to take two or three classmates to McDonalds or a day out somewhere. There is no point waiting around for invitations from other children’s parents that may not come .. start the ball rolling. Get your sons involved in a wide range of sporting activities, eg soccer/football, scouts, judo classes etc. Once you establish your sons in these activities, this is a sure way of meeting lots of parents who have similar interests as yourselves with whom you could foster and encourage friendships by hosting family oriented BBQs at your home. Good luck!

    • Ceil says:

      Thank you so much for your comments and your good, solid advice. As I’m reading these responses, I realize that there are a lot more things I could be doing – many that I’m not willing to do. This unwillingness could very well be what is keeping me separate, maybe even aloof.

      The boys are in one sport and I can’t really negotiate on that. We barely have time for homework as it is. I volunteer at the classrooms whenever I can and always request to be in the chaperone pool, but it seems that a lot of the girls’ moms are volunteering, rather than the boys’! Our neighborhood has many children from my sons’ school, just not boys of their ages. I volunteer at our church’s CCD class, but either the boys are not my sons’ ages or they do not live close by.

      As far as hosting parties in my home, that seems to be the one “missing piece” that I think could solidify some friendships. I have not asked over one person in my neighborhood to come into my house, simply because it’s always a disaster. I’m embarrassed about the old and stained carpets, the paint that’s chipping off the walls, our old and dated bathrooms. And the boys make a terrific mess that I can’t keep up with. I could clean every day for a week and it still wouldn’t be “good enough” for guests. We have spent the last 8 years socking money away into retirement, but we’ve done nothing with the house since we first moved in – and it shows. Some rooms don’t even have photos or artwork on the walls. So this is going to take some money and some planning. My mom used to say, “Friends don’t come to look, they come to be friends,” but these are people I don’t even know yet and I really want to make a good impression.

      I’m realizing that adult friendship does not come easy and very much has to come from me initiating contact. I’m not saying that I’ll never do that, but I see that I’m very selective. Maybe too much so. And until I feel comfortable in my space, I can’t make anyone else feel that way, either.

      • Jessica says:

        I feel the same way about my home. I can’t have people over it isn’t suitable for guest to look at and I’m not comfortable showing to new friends or old ones really. Right now I have 3 kids who want friends and all I have to do is call and offer a play date but, I can’t, I won’t, it is too embarrassing to have people here. I could clean for days/weeks whatever but, that won’t change the old and busted furniture and the need for remodeling. Sigh, I’m thirty five and I have no friends where we live and neither does my family. I feel like it’s my fault and the lack of friends is hurting my family. You are not alone in this friendless world.

        • Linda R. says:

          When summer comes, you might consider gathering friends to meet for a picnic with kids at a nearby park. We did that often when my son was small. Everyone can bring something, and you roast hot dogs or bring sandwiches, etc. You might consider a restaurant meal for just grown-ups at a place that’s comfortable and affordable to the whole group. Our neighborhood started a “dinner out” club for the women, a girls’ night out event. Not everyone can show up all the time, but at least two or three women come each time — sometimes as many as 8 or 10.

        • pheenix says:

          What about inviting people out for a barbecue, go to a local park/reserve and throw on a few steaks. Provide the food, ask them to bring drinks and voila!

  8. Tanya says:

    I am a very lonely lady, but happily married.
    No children.
    We do have pets.
    I am 49 years old.
    I will be 50 years old in May.
    I am not well.
    I am 100% honest genuine lady.
    I can be sensitive.
    I enjoy making cards and doing cross Stitching etc.
    I am longing for friendship only.
    I enjoy emailing and texting.
    We could email & chat all day supporting each other.
    Best wishes,
    Tan (Tanya) x

    • Ceil says:

      Thank you again!

      • Laura says:

        Hi. I couldnt figure out where to post so I just hit “reply” in not exactly the right spot ..sorry but realky wanted to comment.
        I am in a somewhat similar situation.It kind of thriwsxme because I have always had lots of friends and people seaking me out.Finally, I think I have th answer..i really dont “fit” here no matter how much people tell me I am delightful,funny,etc
        People truly enjoy the book group I started and never miss and tell me it is the best group they have ever been in, same for classes I teach at church.BUT, somehow I am not real friend material, so to speak. I just ,somehow, dont belong here, in this “culture”..I am the teacher, the wise woman, the theologin,i coukd run for a,community office and win BUT this ,clearly, is not where my “tribe” is…surface wise I appear to fit so well BUT I think this might be the issue with your family as well.May I suggest considering if you might ve abke to move near one of those old friends and get in with the crowd there ? Gosh, I went back to my old turf and realized Kids I went to grammar school with 45 tears ago would gladly fold me back in ! it sounds as if there is an underlying culture that just isnt going to “embrace” you, same as my situation…Perhaps, take family vacation to places you
        csn feel out for a possible move..Location can really improve things..in fact you might find your “tribe” just 5 or 10 miles away ! And try to figure out – but dont go crazy – what bonds the people where you are as you dont want to move to the same situation.. be honest. Are you just more open then them and they cant do that ? Is your family super smart and a colkege town might work better ,etc. Etc. Laura

    • Kate says:

      I’d love a “pen-pal” or in this day and age, a email pal,

      I know just what you mean,


  9. Tanya says:

    All the very best Ceil.
    Look after yourself Flower ????.
    Take Care,
    Tan (Tanya) x

    • Ceil says:

      Aww, thank you, Tan for your sweet note! I am very fortunate to have many long-distance friends that I communicate with often, so it is not only company I am searching for, but local friends for both myself and my family to socialize with. This is the only thing missing in an otherwise lovely area. I appreciate your good thoughts and wish you well, also!

  10. Linda says:

    If you’re willing to make the first move, why not approach some of your neighbors and invite them over for coffee or a potluck, and/or ask if there’s any interest in starting a book club or a movie group. In my neighborhood, I recently started a weekly lunch group in which we meet every Thursday at a local diner. Sometimes 8 women show up; sometimes only 2 or 3. But everyone welcomed the idea and enjoys it.

    I realize you’ve got young children, so maybe this type of get-together won’t work for you. But the point is, sometimes you have to initiate and reach out to people. A lot of people wait to be contacted, and then feel rejected because nobody is reaching out to them. Try to make the first move, at your kid’s school and in your neighborhood, if you haven’t already. It’s not easy, but you might be surprised at how many people welcome the chance to be neighborly.

    Other people have mentioned it here, and I agree — it helps to have a hobby or a sport, or something you are interested in doing, that will bring you in contact with people who want to socialize. Good luck to you!

    • Ceil says:

      Hi Linda, thanks so much for your comments. I’ve come to realize that I need a definite warming up period around people to decide whether we are compatible or not. Gone are the college days when we were all thrown together in such close quarters and friendships grew more easily.

      I guess part of the problem is not finding people that I WOULD feel comfortable with asking to coffee or for the kids to get together for pizza. I don’t think I have super high standards, but I think I mentally reject people based on what I perceive they think of me, whether I’m too old or too “something” for them or for more practical reasons, like our children not being the same age.

      I have joined a book club in a local neighborhood thanks to one of the ladies from my group exercise classes that I’ve recently become closer friends with. I am the “kid” at 45 compared to them, though! Very nice ladies, all in different phases of life than I am, and I think that’s part of the problem. I’m very old to have such young kids, so no one really knows what to do with me. I also joined a bible study with some moms I met from school. We are the same age, but our children are not and our religions are very different, but our discussions are excellent because we are so different.

      So while my local social life is improving, I’m still looking for the elusive engineer husband and 8 & 6 year old boys in our perfect family of friends out there! I’ll keep looking, though.

      • Linda R. says:

        It sounds like you are heading in the right direction and meeting people. Personally, I love having friends from different age groups. When I was younger and my son was school age, it was always helpful to have older women as friends. They’d gone through all the stages of motherhood, and had great advice — and always seemed at peace. They also helped me understand the crazy time of menopause.

        Today, I enjoy the younger women in my social groups — they open my mind to new things. I do have a few friends my own age, but the older I get, the less age matters to me. And I learned, through all this, that there is no “perfect” friend out there. I enjoy knowing lots of different people, with different interests … they all enrich my life in some way and help me grow.

  11. Amy F says:

    I would talk to your sons’ teachers to find out how their perceive your boys socially vs their peers and whether the teachers have any suggestions about how they can improve their friendship skills. There’s a difference between your boys not having any friends and not having a best friend, and since your older son is already experiencing upset over his friendships, now is the perfect time to help them gain the skills they need. Teachers are experts in kids of a certain age and they will be able to give you valuable information. You can also enroll them in team sports or even individual sports like karate to give them additional social opportunities. Then be their social leader. Ask if others want to go out for pizza after a game or practice. Be fun.

    I don’t think moving would be a good solution, because you might still have the underlying problem, which you perceive as being “fine”. You’ll bring the same set of social skills wherever you go.

    Have you thought of volunteering in your kids classroom or being a chaperone on their field trips to meet other parents which could also help your children?

    Have you ever told your neighbors you’d like to be included in their activities or outings?

    Rather than sitting around waiting for things to get better, you have to be assertive and take charge, even if this goes against your general personality.

    Good luck.

    • Ceil says:

      Thanks for your advice! Because the boys are so young, the teachers do not determine either of their lack of a “best” friend a problem or a concern and they report both of them as being within the range for usual social behavior at their ages. My older son is more reserved, my younger one more outgoing, and it seems to many that they are really each others’ best friend at this point, for which I’m thankful.

      I’m trying to be very careful in my neighborhood with how much I push myself and my family onto others. On one hand, I would like to get to know these people. On the other, maybe I am thinking that “the grass is greener” and once I did get to know them, I would find that we had little in common.

      I was very lucky at other points in my life, in that people came to me and naturally included me. I’m a bit of a fish out of water in this area so maybe I’m biased, but I think you’re right that others ARE waiting for me to make the first move. Since I’ve never really had to do it, I’m not comfortable with it and since these relationships have been going on without me for so long, I have a definite fear of being rejected.
      I will definitely have to do some thinking about how much I’m willing to put myself out there.

  12. Ben says:

    I read your question with great interest because I was one to always be outgoing as a child and adult in fostering friendships and at this stage in my life I am realizing I don’t have hardly any people in my life who I would consider friends in the way I would have hoped. The family I grew up in was one of both parents being very happily secure in who they were and I, as an adopted child, was very insecure from a very young age (five.) I also find it interesting that this lack of friendship extends to your whole family. I don’t have any great insight into your situation but find it similar to mine in one respect. I am wondering if most people go through life or a certain stage of life longing for what they don’t have? Why is it that regardless of what we do have, we see life as lacking something or missing something we don’t? I hope for your situation someone posts something that helps you get the relationships you desire. Just know that your are not alone in these quandaries..

    • Ceil says:

      Ben, thank you for sharing your story. I consider myself quite outgoing and at different points in my life, have either been surrounded by many good friends or at the other end of the spectrum, have only my oldest friends to write to or call on the phone for a social life. I don’t know if this is based on geographical differences or if I’m giving off different “vibes” based on where I live. It’s curious. It’s a good feeling to know I’m not alone in having these questions, though.

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