• Few or No Friends

My teenage daughter has no friends and feels like an outcast

Published: February 7, 2013 | Last Updated: April 23, 2016 By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
This teenage girl has no friends and feels like an outcast. (This popular post from 2010 is reposted from The Friendship Blog archives.) 


Dear Irene,

My daughter is 14-years-old. She is very bright and is in the top 1/3 in all her classes. She is also involved in a music group, does drama, teaches music to younger children, sports, dancing and ballet—a general all-rounder. However I worry as she has no close friends and she feels very much an outcast at school.

I have discussed this with her to get a picture of how she gets on with others. She is very friendly and is well thought of by adults so I can’t figure out what the problem is with peers. She has friends that she hangs out with occasionally but she always has to go to them or make the suggestion to meet up. No one ever comes looking for her. She is very conscious of everyone having a clique or a close friend and does not want to impose herself on others.

Last weekend she suggested a sleepover to two girls who are involved in her drama and music group and are also in her class but they said they weren’t free. The following day, one of them asked the other to have a sleepover at her house that weekend in front of my daughter. It is breaking my heart to see her so sad.

I really hoped that when she went to high school friendships would not be a problem. She was bullied for four years in her primary school and though there were only 6 girls in her class back then, she did not have any close friendships there either, even though they all (including the girl who bullied her) came to her birthday parties and sleepovers.

I am at a loss as to how to help her through this, as I feel by bringing up the subject I am reminding her of her lack of friends. I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.



Dear Tricia,

You mentioned that your daughter was bullied for four years in primary school. One possibility is that the abuse she experienced has left a lingering emotional scar. It’s common for kids who are bullied to become fearful and anxious. It may have lowered your daughter’s self-esteem and made her hesitant in her relationships with other teens.

While your daughter seems to be otherwise well-adjusted, you are reporting a history of difficult relationships with friends that has been persistent and ongoing for many years. On that basis, my sense is that she might benefit from some focused short-term counseling to better evaluate and define the specific problems she is having and give her the tools she needs to foster healthy friendships. This can help her get over her hurt and move forward. In addition, it will help allay your anxiety because you’ll have someone else providing support for you.

I understand how badly you feel. Adolescent girls can be very brutal and they may be playing on your daughter’s anxieties. At a relaxed time, not during a crisis, sit down with her and ask her what she thinks is going on. Listen and be supportive. I suspect she is aware of her problems and will be open to the idea of speaking with a trained professional.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Comments (14)

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  1. Maggie says:

    I’ve read the comments and it is so sad. My daughter is 14. She’s very loving & caring and tries to please people all the time, which is not so good too. She had a best friend in primary who moved away, but are still in contact, otherwise that could be a disaster. She made two close friends when she started Secondary school, but since year 10 the two girls just moved on with other girls and basically dumped her. At times I see her so sad and rejected. I’ve spoken to the school & they’re trying their best to see & pair her with some girlfriends, but there is not much they can do. She misses me all the time & is so clingy. We have mother daughter’s time going out for coffee dates or lunch, so that she doesn’t miss out. We have a lot of family outings also but I don’t think that’s what she really wants. She knows that her old friends go out with their gangs, shopping and having fun. I wish secondary school will be over soon so that she can make new friends elsewhere. At the moment she still thinks they are her friends, when they don’t even give a damn about her. It’s like she’s still holding on to them and can’t move on. On the plus point, she’s turning out to play golf brilliantly with her dad, as well as in matches, so that could give her some self esteem, hopefully. Just feeling so sorry for my poor baby. Life can be cruel.

  2. michelle says:

    i have a beautiful 14 year old daughter,who is a little heavy and very bustie, she always has trouble with other girls, always trying to fit in,, my daughter was supposed to go to homecoming with some girls from school, they all were going to the mall for dresses, my daughter ask the girl whose mom was driving them to the mall, if she could get a ride home with them, cause she was just gonna meet them at the mall,, well this girl told her that she was making things complicated and she would be board watching them try on dresses , cause my daughter cant shop in the same stores they shop at..my daughter was crushed, so my daughter ask the other girls if they wanted to come to the mall with her, seeing that it was pretty obvious that girl didn’t want her there,,, they all told her no and that she was acted like a 7 year old.. i feel so bad , i don’t know what to do, all these girls are totally ignoring her now. she dosent want me to talk to the school or this girls mom, and she isnt going to homecoming. any advice

    • Amy F says:

      Ouch. That incident had to be very painful for your daughter, and for you to hear about. You’re daughter is right about you not contacting the school or the girl’s mother. She’s at the age where that type of intervention would have made the situation worse and she needs to act independently, with your support, to solve relationship conflicts.
      The girl responded bluntly and her words weren’t friendly. Your daughter also responded inappropriately by placing the other girls in the middle of the conflict. Try roleplaying other ways she might have handled the situation and how she’ll respond in the future if something similar occurs. One assertive response might be, “Actually, I’d love to watch you guys try on dresses and get some ideas.” Or “I’d love to come, are you saying you don’t want me there?”
      The only person your daughter can change is herself, so if she focuses on how she wants to respond in tough situations, she’ll be prepared in the future.

  3. Kimberly says:

    My daughter will be 14 and has never had a friend. Girls use her or are just cruel. She struggle with social skills and has a difficult time with no friends. She is depressed which is making her social skills worse. I wish there was a camp for girls that are struggling with belonging

    • Amy F says:

      A camp would be a great idea. You might be able to find a therapy group for kids with similar issues. Her guidance counselor might have some community resources. If she isn’t already in therapy for depression, the guidance counselor and her pediatrician will have referrals. At home, you can try to identify which social skills need improvement and work with her role playing different ways to communicate. Teachers are great resources, because they observe her with her peers. If she’s being bullied, get her guidance counselor or homeroom teacher involved. In short, you need outside resources to help your daughter.

  4. Bishop says:

    OMG! I am going through the same thing. My daughter had a “best” friend since the first grade and 2 years ago she was dumped when this “friend” found someone better. I don’t think my daughter ever got over that. It breaks my heart when she is home on the weekends by herself. If she is not attached to me she is in her room by herself. I don’t know what to do. She goes to an all girl school which is good and bad because girls are VERY mean to each other. I’m trying to get her involved in other activities but I think her heart has been beaten up to the point where she does not want to try anymore. It kills me inside because all she wants is a friend she can hang out with.

    • LateKate says:

      Hi Bishop
      Did you come up with any solution to your problem? My daughter is in a similar position. On school days she comes home and tells me of funny episodes, who she had lunch with etc. I ask every day and she seems to have a normal day, normal interactions, despite being aware of cliques. Yet no friends at weekends and holidays. She won’t join groups, sport, dance anything like that. She’s in her room, it’s maddening because she is smart and intelligent and even with all the free time she isn’t studying and her maths and science are really showing this.
      She made friends with a girl who came to the school for a few months before Christmas. I feel she’s in escapism skyping, pm-ing this girl outside of Ireland while hiding in her room and not forging friendships with girls HERE!! I even brought her abroad to see this great “friend”, which I thought might have put it into perspective and we could move on. But no, she now is back to life on hold and this one and only great friend is taking up her time again. She doesn’t want to go on a family holiday, but wants to fly by herself to see this friend!! So now there’s a huge rift with me because I won’t allow this. If I go upstairs for anything, she shouts Don’t Come In. I often turn off the internet to limit online escapism. She won’t do chores, go for a walk and girls she’s in school with here aren’t inviting her to things. She doesn’t invite them because she says they don’t want her, despite all the fun in class and she walks out to the car with one particular girl chatting away almost every day.
      Its exhausting, I feel if she would just go outside, even to the shopping centre a few times a week, she’d be meeting people. Definitely she needs to throw herself into an activity but that’s like asking her to go to the moon. I’m very fit and athletic, can’t understand or resolve this. She has been bullied in primary school.

      • Kerry says:

        If she has found a friend I would support that. Mine has tended to often focus on one friend and some people are like that. It can be difficult if that friend decides to move on but them it becomes a lesson in realising not to put all your eggs in one basket. This happened to my dd and she is still very sad 6 months later. However she often says maybe that girl was holding me back. Mine has made friends online, one from another state and we have met up with them including their parents. I’ve tried to support her in nurturing every friendship no matter the distance. She now has a lovely friend who is in another country. For some kids it’s so incredibly difficult to find a like mind or someone with similar interests and being able to text someone every day is better than feeling totally alone and having nobody. I’ve already started to encourage a trip to see the new friend but it would have to be with me. I’m also encouraging a trip to another country with a group of sensible girls, some who are young adults. You don’t say your girl’s age but in any event it’s not a good idea to travel to meet anyone by yourself whom you haven’t met. Can you compromise and say you can travel to meet the friend but you must go too?

  5. Valerie says:

    I really appreciated reading these posts. I am having the same problem with my 14 year old daughter. She is sweet, a little naive, friendly and kind. Her biggest issue seems to be that she is too nice! She has a lot of different friend groups, but no real friends. She had a best friend for years but the first week of high school her best friend basically dumped her via text. She rarely gets invited to activities and if she does it seems to be an afterthought. She doesn’t seem too affected by this yet, but I worry it will catch up to her. I wanted to see how all of your daughters are doing now and if you guys could suggest anything. Thanks so much!!

  6. Christy says:

    My daughter is 13 and has the exact same problems – feels invisible, ignored, outcast. Hasn’t experienced bullying but just not making “friends” (really “buddies”) very easily. She went to a middle school where she didn’t know anyone, and although smart, pretty, and athletic, has a really low opinion of herself for some reason. She really focuses on negatives and dismisses positives. I wish there were some concrete advice here (short of “go see a counselor”) because I could use some! I did talk to the school counselor about it, who tried to arrange a “club” for girls with this problem (of course she wasn’t the only one.) It helped a little, not much. You can’t force it. For us so far, here’s what I have gleaned that helps somewhat:

    1. Get her involved in team sport or social club outside of school. Allows meeting people who aren’t classmates and have common interests. My daughter does soccer and that group has been good and an outlet/alternative. School isn’t the ONLY part of her world. Plus the exercise helps her mood a lot.

    2. Sympathize with her feelings and at the same time pound the nail that she is NOT a victim, she can choose to pursue other friendships or that being by herself sometimes is ok, doesn’t make her a loser. She has power and can make changes to her actions/behavior that encourage other people to be more friendly to her. If it doesn’t work right away, adjust and keep trying. See what other people she admires do and emulate them. It may be tough but don’t give up. Approach it scientifically. There are strategies to get people to “like” you and talk to you. E.g., ask them questions and listen, as people like to talk about themselves. Share or give them something (something small like stickers or candy). That helps bonding and creates a desire for reciprocity.

    3. Get enough sleep and good nutrition. Teenage girls get so moody if they don’t. It really does make a big difference.

    4. Give lots of hugs, love, and encouragement. Try to be patient. Buttering her up, new clothes, positive strokes can help self esteem. You can’t “fix it” for her, but try to support her and give her tools to help herself, or at least weather when other people act crappy. You can’t control the jerks unfortunately.

    I wish I

  7. Karen says:

    My daughter is 14 and also has the same situation. There are no “real” friends. Just friends when they need her. Her heart is broken. I don’t know what else to do. She is involved in activities, but is always alone on the weekends. Girls are so mean. I want her to have one real friend. I told her the other day I was her best friend. I would do anything for her to have a best friend who is her age.

  8. Terri says:

    My 14 year old daughter has been going through the same ordeal. She is funny, smart and caring but has no friends. She makes friends but the friendship never last. My daughter does well with just one or two people and when more people join the group she turns into a wallflower. I also have seen the nasty and cruel text she receives from these so called friends when they don’t want/need her friendship anymore. I don’t understand why there are so vicious in ending the friendship. I am at my wits end on how to help my daughter. I wish there was a social site for teens looking for ‘real friends’.

  9. jennifer says:

    I want to be her friend 😀

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