• Keeping Friends

My Friends Don’t Initiate Contact: Why Are They Like That?

Published: April 30, 2024 | Last Updated: April 30, 2024 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
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A woman laments having lazy friends who don’t initiate contact. She’s always the one to extend invitations and plan get-togethers.

QUESTION

Dear Friendship Doctor,

Hi, I’m in my early 50s and still struggling to make friends. One problem is that hardly anyone I know initiates plans with me.

If I didn’t text and invite other people out, the chances are that I’d probably never hear from them again, aside from getting sent lame jokes.

It’s so frustrating! I have asked a few of my closest friends to initiate contact more often. They do it one or two times and then revert to being lazy.

Why are some people like that? I feel hurt and like I don’t matter to anyone.

Is there anything that I can do to change this? I know many people travel and hang out with other people and their families often, but I sometimes feel like giving up on these lazy friends. They frustrate and annoy me by expecting me to initiate everything most of the time. 

I would give up on them if I could easily make better friends.

Signed, Frustrated Friend

ANSWER

Your complaint is a common one, and your frustration is understandable. Many people get upset when their friends don’t initiate contact.

It’s always more satisfying when friendships are balanced, and both people make an effort to plan get-togethers. But this isn’t always the case.

Some friends may be lazy, but there are other possibilities to consider that might explain why friends don’t initiate contact:

  • Some people are more eager to spend time with friends than others; they may be more outgoing and social, while others are more comfortable spending time alone.
  • Some people may have more discretionary time for friendships, while others have greater work, school, and/or family responsibilities.
  • Some people may have a larger number of friends than others, so they initiate contact with each friend less frequently.
  • Some people tend to be planners, while others tend to be more passive. They leave initiating to others, and when this occurs often, it can be self-perpetuating.

I’m not sure what’s going on in your case. If your friends respond positively to your invites and you have a good time together, you may have no choice but to initiate if you want to keep up the friendship.

If one or more friends consistently turn you down, it might suggest they aren’t as invested in the friendship as you are. You might also want to pull back a bit and look for more reciprocal friendships in those cases.

It’s never too late to make new friends although it takes an investment of time. Hopefully, widening your circle of friends will allow you to find more balanced relationships.

I hope this helps.

Best, Irene


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Comments (2)

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  2. Sandra Anne says:

    Great post! I’ve noticed a change in how often friends initiate in-person plans ever since social media took over everything. (The pandemic didn’t help, either.) People who use Facebook and other social media outlets to “socialize” are sometimes operating under the delusion that they’ve really spent time with people — but they haven’t. It’s definitely lazy, and it’s also not the best thing for mental health. Time spent in person with someone is so much healthier than relying on a social media platform for friendship.

    I continue to reach out and invite friends to lunch, to dinner, to movies, and out for walks. You might try starting a regular dinner club or a book or movie club that meets consistently once a week or once a month. That way you know you’re going to see these friends in person on a regular basis, and they might start suggesting additional activities you can do together.

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