• Few or No Friends

Raised by wolves: Is having no friends her mother’s fault?

Published: December 27, 2009 | Last Updated: January 28, 2024 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
When someone has no friends, is it due to parenting?

QUESTION

Irene,

I wonder if you would ever post anything about the effect that socially withdrawn mothers have on their daughters’ later friendship lives. My mother didn’t have any close friends at all (just a cousin she hung around with and still does) and, in fact, disdains friendship even though she is into her 60s.

I never had any close friends either. I can’t seem to connect with anyone, preferring to spend time alone, but I would like to be better balanced and, of course, have some decent relationships.

I can’t help feeling like my mother set a poor example and that I was “raised by wolves” because my father also only has a couple close friends (he’s down to one close friend, and this point).

Life without friends is HARD and yet I have spent so much time alone pursuing my own thing, by necessity. I feel like I have little in common with most women I meet; I spent my whole life reading books and doing creative things. The more time I spend alone, enriching myself, the harder it is to relate to others in a way that fosters friendship.

I also feel like no women would want to be friends with me because I don’t have a circle of friends that they can network with. I sense that it’s all about this big square dance of friendship networks and that if I don’t “bring anything to the table” socially, other women won’t want to have much to do with me when they find out who I really am – a solitary woman who doesn’t want to be a full-time loner.

I don’t want to live my mother’s life yet I don’t have any female role models who are into friendship (even my only aunt, my mother’s sister, is a spinster loner, and my only sibling, a sister, also prefers to keep to herself). How does one break out of a family pattern of isolation?

Signed,
Lucia

ANSWER

Dear Lucia,

People differ along a variety of dimensions, including their interest in and ability to make friends. For some, connecting with others feels absolutely natural and comes easily; others find it difficult, if not painful. Some people are content to be left alone; others crave constant contact. Most people would agree that these differences among people, sometimes even between twins, are due to some combination of nature (genetic traits) and nurture (upbringing).

It sounds like you are shy and introverted, yet you are interested in making some friends. Your biggest roadblock may be your lack of self-confidence. The fact that you “spent your whole life” reading books and doing creative things doesn’t diminish your desirability as a friend; rather, it should enhance it making you a more interesting person.

Maybe you could find a book, arts, or crafts group in your community that you could use as a training ground to practice your social skills. Participating in a small group, as opposed to one-on-one, will give you the opportunity to meet people in a safe setting to see if you “click” with anyone in the group.

In my book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, I describe some of the basic techniques for making new friends. As hokey as it sounds, a smile and sincere expression of interest in another person are the first small steps towards making a new friend.

Meetup groups are good places to find other people who are interested in the same things as you and who want to affiliate with other people. You could also try signing up for an adult continuing education class at your local high school of community college.

You may feel like you were “raised by wolves” but it doesn’t matter now. You’re an intelligent adult who is responsible for your own happiness. You need to step up to the plate and begin making friends regardless of your family history.

I hope this is helpful.

Best, Irene

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS, Social skills and friendship

Comments (5)

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  1. Daria says:

    My mum was very similar when I was growing up, hated all the other mums at school and never came to sports day. Zero ability with small talk, anorexia and depression which meant she spent most of the time in bed and I had to be her counsellor re: my parents’ marital problems, which is something I would rather forget.
    I am now almost 40 and occasionally try to do activities with other women, but they either cancel or we end up doing nothing as they don’t want to make the effort. Instead they look at me as if to say “I suppose we arranged to do something, but I don’t really want to see you” …FINE!! Don’t waste my time then, I have plenty to do and I ain’t about to waste my precious hours on you sweetheart!!
    Men friends are better to do projects with, but even then most of them just want a leg-over, which if you don’t – makes things a bit awkward. So I am taking a break from “friendship” at mo and focusing on work. Get an awful lot done 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m 34 and have no close friends, either. Followed all the advice, and nothing.

    If you don’t have a social network already, it’s impossible to join one.

    And people really don’t want to know much about you, they’re much too eager to talk about themselves.

    I generally avoid most women. I don’t get the drama, and don’t have the patience.

    Having any needs at all nowadays will fast track you to needy status. And yet we need people in our lives, right?

    I’m very lonely.

    • Jennylynn says:

      I agree with the sentiment that if you don’t already have a social network by the time you are an adult that you are just out of luck. I am also lonely and very frustrated at my inability to connect with other women, particularly other women with young children. I see them out there, in their little groups, but they walk right by me without even making eye contact. I have to admit I am moving beyond sad to just plain angry, which I know will not draw people to me. Am I really so horrible that no one wants to be friends with me? And yet the expectation is that I have friends! And then my kids struggle with social expectations at school and the teachers tell me about it. I want to say, “yes, I know, I have no friends, so I have no way to model social interaction. Do you have any suggestions, or are you just here to admonish me?” Arrgghhhhhh

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have lived in my current community for almost twelve years, and I only have a couple of real friends. And even then, they are not really close. I call them “real” friends because they would (or have) come and helped in an emergency, but we don’t really get together often. They don’t call just to chat. One if very career-oriented, just to get her boys through school; so I know that she has a full plate. My other friend is a stay-at-home and we go to lunch once in a blue moon. She is fun at lunch, but rather business-like the rest of the time. Even though I could count on either of these women to help in a crisis, still, they are not the type of people who really know me well. They don’t know things like my favorite color, or what my goals and dreams are. I always wound up with one good friend while growing up who did know a lot about me and was loyal. But I don’t find that now. I know I do all the “right” things and am sincere, but people do not “stick,” I feel like Teflon. But I can strike up a conversation with a guy very easily and, if it weren’t that I am married, I am sure I could go out on a date with this person. Would he be interested in a “deep” friendship anymore than the women? I don’t know. But the women just don’t seem approachable at all, and I don’t know what it is. I only feel a little better knowing that others have the same experience. And, I tell myself that if these people really don’t want to know me, then maybe there is something in them that is not good for me to be around. You know, eventually, you sometimes find out there was a whole lot going on that you didn’t know about, and now you’re glad you’re not caught up in it. (But EVERYONE?– Hard to believe.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I lived the same thing, but my mom actively discouraged friendships. She would not let me go to overnights or birthday parties when invited–and then she would tell me it was my fault that I had no friends! Now I really don’t and I wish I did. Wishing doesn’t get it. I have done all the recommended things, I took classes, joined groups, smile, ask about their families, etc. Nothing works, no connection. Ever. I really, truly, cannot make any friends.

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