It can happen at any time. Maybe after months of confusing feelings and denial, or maybe after a heavy fight or incident with someone you are close to. Just something inside of you finally snaps and you say to yourself, “I have no friends.”
It’s a tough realization to have. Is it you? Is it them? Is it your situation? Is it the universe conspiring against you? What does it mean to have no friends, and why has it happened to you?
In this article, we discuss why and how you might have no friends, ways to remedy this situation, and why it might not be as bad as it seems. You might have no friends today, but it isn’t the end of the world.
Do You Really Have No Friends? Asking the Important Questions
Getting to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have no friends”, is never an easy journey.
It’s one that demands brutal honesty from an individual, involving the evaluation of a life they might not want to truly see.
But the first question you have to ask yourself is – is it real? Do you truly have no friends, or does it just seem that way, right here and right now? Before reading on, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you recently gone through a highly emotional event?
- Are there people in your life who are trying to reach out to you, but you are ignoring?
- If you disappeared today, is there anyone who would care?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then your situation might not be as dire as it currently feels.
Remember: while every emotion you feel is real and important, that doesn’t make every emotion true.
There are times when we become overly weighed down by whatever is happening right now, and our reality can seem very different from how it truly is.
Don’t let a single fight alienate you from your friends. There are many cases where the first time you look at yourself and say, “I have no friends”, is the moment where people actually make the decision to have no friends.
Grudges and squabbles aren’t worth losing people over.
If there is anyone texting or calling or reaching out in any way, answer them. Hear what they have to say. You might have many more friends than you actually think.
Having No Friends, and Is It Actually a Problem?
For some of us, the realization that we have no friends doesn’t come after a single, pivotal event, like a fight or a heavy break up. It comes after months or years of feelings of loneliness and neglect.
It comes from countless weekends of enthusiasm to do something fun, but not knowing whom to call or invite; endless nights of staring at the screen trying to start a conversation with an old friend, only to be “seened” after a few lines.
It comes in the form of a deep, long sigh, followed by the lonely, empty thought: “I have no friends”.
There are many reasons why one might have no friends. Think about the following, and ask yourself if any of these have affected your old or potential friendships:
- Temperament: You are naturally uncomfortable or shy around new people, making them uncomfortable
- Insecurity: You don’t feel like you offer enough to be a good friend to others
- Preference: You are an introvert, and you simply prefer being alone most of the time
- No Experience: You have never had to exercise your social skills much, so you don’t know how to act around people
- Disabilities: Whether physical, mental, or psychological issues, you have something holding you back from participating in the world like most people
- Communication Problems: Your intentions do not match how other people perceive them. You do not know how to communicate properly, making people wary or unsure about you
- Time: You don’t have the time to build relationships that others value
Whatever the reason might be for not having friends, it isn’t necessarily as big a problem as the world might make you think.
For some people, the lack of friends is simply a preference, and the ache to have people around us isn’t as noticeable.
Some people actually enjoy the independence of not having friends, the peace of not having a constant web of social connections tugging at us here and there, and the serenity of knowing that your life is yours and yours alone to determine.
It is a kind of freedom that some people learn to embrace, and in many ways, it can be liberating.
So ask yourself: now that you’ve realized that you have no friends, what do you want to do about it?
Do you want to pity yourself and wonder how you could’ve let this happen, do you want to try to change your life and behaviors to make new friends, or do you want to accept yourself for who you are and embrace the life you’ve made?
Your happiness is yours to determine, and the answer isn’t always other people. Rather, the answer is finding your own peace.
Why Having No Friends Is a Valuable Learning Experience
There are times in all our lives where it will seem – whether true or not – that we don’t have friends around us.
While this can be an easy opportunity to fold over and feel sorry for yourself, it is important that you take a deep breath and realize: this is something that will ultimately help me grow as a person.
Here are ways having no friends can make you a better person over time:
1) It increases your personal accountability: With no close friends to rely on, you learn to rely on yourself. You become a fuller person simply because you learn to stand on your own two feet.
2) It forces you to grow: When you have no friends, you can find your life sitting at a standstill, with nothing new coming your way.
If you are a strong individual, this will force you to spend your time pursuing personal growth, expanding your skills and knowledge, and working on your personal projects.
3) It creates courage: You learn to live alone when you have no friends, and this can be a scary thing.
But you soon realize that you can’t spend your entire life being afraid. So you learn to embrace the unknown, and jump into things with your whole heart instead of needing a hand to hold all the time.
4) It develops your ability to notice beauty: While friends are great to have, they can also limit the way you live your life.
You end up living a routine of doing the same activities with the same people, chasing the same highs.
But when you’re on your own, you learn to find those highs in other ways. You see pockets of beauty in life that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and you learn to appreciate the world so much more.
5) It makes you the perfect friend: You don’t know how much you love something until you no longer have it. When you live for a while without friends, it teaches you to be a much better friend.
You learn to value the kindness, love, and support that friendship offers, and you become the type of friend who offers those wholeheartedly.
What Friendship Means, and Why You Shouldn’t Blame Yourself
Even the most introverted and independent of us can still feel the deep pangs brought upon by not having a close friend to call or ask to lunch or watch a movie with.
It doesn’t matter how strong-willed you might be, we all desire that form of social connection known as friendship.
And it’s not weakness or fear that makes you need friendship. It’s something built into the way we work as humans.
Human beings built the world on the foundations of being a social species that relies on cooperation with those around us.
This cooperation motivates us, develops us, and allows us to thrive in society, and when we find ourselves without these connections, it can make us feel lost and directionless.
You might feel disappointed in yourself. Knowing that you’ve gone this long and you haven’t made and retained a single friend in your life.
It’s important that you don’t linger on this disappointment, and you don’t blame yourself for your circumstance. There are many normal and reasonable reasons why you might not have friends.
- You just moved town or your friends all moved to other areas
- People you were once close friends with had to change their lives – they got married, moved away, found other responsibilities, and could no longer sustain the relationship
- You naturally drifted away from your old friends, simply due to changing interests, values, or circumstances
- You spent much of your time over the last few years in a long-term relationship, and your focus on your partner made you neglect other parts of your social life, until you realized that you lost all your friends
- You have never been a naturally social person, with only ever a handful of selected close friends on your list
If you are ready to start changing your circumstances and develop the tools needed to create meaningful relationships, one first step you need to make is understanding what friendship actually means.
There are four ways that people define and understand their various friendships. These are:
1) Friendship for pleasure: Friendships that exist to bring pleasure to both parties. These friendships tend to end when faced with conflict or obligation, and the pleasure derived from the friendship becomes harder to experience
2) Friendship for reciprocity: Friendships that rely on reciprocity, or quid pro quo. These are friends that you keep because you believe they might offer you value in ways other than their companionship
3) Friendship for time: Friendships that develop naturally over time. Two people might not share many interests or like many things about each other, but they value each other simply because of time, and see themselves and their histories in each other
4) Friendship for respect: Friendships born out of a shared mutual respect between two persons. These are often the deepest friendships, and also the most difficult to create
Why Making Friends Becomes More Difficult as You Grow Older
One thing that people don’t really tell you when you’re still in school is that you should be trying to make friends as much as possible, because it only gets more difficult as you grow older and leave school.
The main reason for this is the lack of a supportive friend-making environment once you leave the world of classrooms and teachers.
Schools make the perfect environment for making friends – you are surrounded by same-age peers who are just as anxious and nervous as you might be.
You all might live in the same area, and over time, your enforced shared history and experiences create lifelong memories that produce bonds that last a lifetime.
As an adult, this environment goes away. While you might experience some similar environment in your workplace, it’s never truly the same – your peers might not be the same age, or they might not stay with your workplace for too long, or they might have other priorities on their mind, such as building a family or focusing on their career.
This means that the difference between making friends as an adult and making friends as a kid or a young adult is the difference between actively pursuing friendships and passively falling into them.
Adulthood won’t present you with the same natural opportunities to create bonds with your peers. The responsibility to put yourself in situations where you might develop friendships relies on you, and this is a skill that many of us never had to train.
How Your Actions and Mindset Are Making Friendship Harder
In fact, there are many ways that you are naturally making it more difficult for yourself to create friendships.
Here are some common actions and mindsets that stops adults from making friends naturally:
1) You Aren’t Motivated Because You Think Everyone Else Already Has Friends
What to Think Instead: We are all looking for new possibilities and opportunities.
Being an adult trying to make friends can feel embarrassing or even weird. The interactions might feel childish – why should a grown man or woman be concerned about trying to make new friends?
And you end up feeling like you’ve missed the boat. Every time you try to introduce yourself to someone, they already have an entire posse or squad of friends who all know each other and have various histories with each other. It might feel intimidating to even try to join the group; in some cases, it can feel impossible.
You end up not trying to build the friendship as much as you should, which ultimately leads to it falling apart before it even started.
Mistakes you might be making…
- You don’t return calls or invites because you’re not sure if they really want to see you
- You get intimidated when a new friend you met tries to introduce you to their group
- You think inside jokes that you don’t “get” are insulting and feel left out
2) You Don’t Like Trying Because You Don’t See Results Immediately
What to Think Instead: Nothing worth having comes easy.
As we said above, the social skills needed to make friends isn’t something that we are ever really taught. Friends happen naturally as we grow up, and we never have to think about how those friendships happened.
In most cases, our earliest friendships are friendships by circumstance and by proximity. When we lose those circumstances and proximities, we lose the ability to make friends naturally.
And that’s a major hold up for adults who are seeking new friendships. When they engage with new people and don’t experience a certain feeling they might be expecting, they give up on the relationship too soon.
They don’t realize that relationships require time to develop, and it is up to them to build those memories to create those bonds.
Mistakes you might be making…
- A person doesn’t share all your exact interests, so you don’t think they can be your friend
- A potential friend has a few flaws that you don’t like, so you just give up on the relationship
- You end up cancelling scheduled meet-ups because you don’t feel like you can be bothered
3) You Have Been Burned Before, So Now You Don’t Like Opening Yourself to New People
What to Think Instead: Pain comes and goes, and so do opportunities. Learn to roll with the punches, and experience life as it is.
You have a history of bad relationships. While some people never had friendships to begin with, there are those of us who have had plenty of friends in the past.
But for one reason or another, those relationships fell apart, and with every broken friendship came its own little heartbreak that you had to deal with.
And those bad experiences have now made you reluctant to be the person you used to be – open, fun, and trusting.
You’ve become more withdrawn and reserved, because your experiences taught you that giving too much of yourself to other people will just end up with you getting hurt and betrayed.
People can sense this withdrawn nature, but they might not always understand your reasons. You might end up coming off as cold, bitter, and even mean.
While it’s important to be careful and take care of your heart, it’s also important to learn to take that chance again – the chance of trusting other people, and hoping that perhaps this time it will be better.
Mistakes you might be making…
- You don’t tell other people your true feelings
- You don’t feel like you can be yourself around other people, and end up pretending to be something else
- You cut people off when you start feeling that they might be getting too close
4) You Can’t Accept That Having Friends Around You Is Something You Need
What to Think Instead: Relationships are a part of life, and add value to your overall life experience.
We don’t all ache for friendship the same way. There are some who pride themselves on their independence and solitude, and only truly yearn for friends when they find themselves sad and lonely in the middle of the night.
If you are one of these people, then your major problem might be acceptance. Acceptance that you yearn for friends just like everyone else, that you have the need to be social despite all the years you tried to convince yourself otherwise.
Needing other people doesn’t make you weak or vulnerable. It makes you human, and accepting your primal, human needs helps you become closer with your genuine self.
Mistakes you might be making…
- You don’t return calls and texts from new people who are asking you out
- You don’t join events and activities that you are interested in
- You don’t try to learn or experience new things because you are content with everything you have and know
10 Habits You Can Adopt to Make Friends Easily
Making friends involves more than just not making mistakes, but doing things that positively influence your chances at making friends.
Here are 10 habits you can keep in mind – change the way you live, and the way your life unfolds will change.
1) Stay in the moment: Stop thinking. Just do. Do what feels right, do what makes you happy, and learn to squeeze out happiness from the present.
2) Be curious: Be curious and interested in what other people can offer you. Don’t be so sure that you know the best way to live life. Be open.
3) Smile first, and smile often: Nothing invites other people more than a smile. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be ashamed. You can’t change how other people feel, but you can change how you do.
4) Want to make friends: Don’t just wait for friends to fall into your lap. Go out into the world wanting to make friends. Act the way a friend might act to new people around you.
5) Care for yourself: People like surrounding themselves with people who have value, and there is no better way to increase your value than knowing and appreciating your value. Take care of yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
6) Try new things: Don’t have friends to try a new activity with? Then go do it yourself. You’ll find those friends there, waiting for you without realizing it.
7) Talk like a friend: Just because a person is new in your life doesn’t mean you have to be formal and tight. Loosen up – be the friendly “you” you know you can be.
8) Stay positive: It can be easy to let that sad inner voice get you down. It’s your job to ignore that voice and stay positive. Think about how big this world is and how many people are on it: surely there are countless happy chances waiting for you to take them.
9) Take a class: If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, then now is always the best time to learn it. Sign yourself up for a class and see what and who you find waiting for you.
10) Be confident: Be confident in yourself. Your value doesn’t come from your friendships. People adore confidence – don’t obsess over your own need for them to like you. You are still great whether you make friends or not. People love that kind of self-assurance.
A World of Opportunities, and a World of Possible Friendships
Accepting that you don’t have friends can be difficult, but it isn’t something you have to live with.
No matter how old you are, no matter your circumstance, there are always new people out there waiting to meet you (even if they don’t know it).
Your past is your past, and no matter how difficult the endings of those past friendships may have been, they don’t have to live with you forever.
Learn to open yourself again, and learn to be the kind of person that people will want to be friends with. And over time, those people will come.
Introducing my new book
When I first started learning about Buddhism and searching for practical techniques to help my own life, I had to wade through some really convoluted writing.
There wasn’t a book that distilled all this valuable wisdom in a clear, easy-to-follow way, with practical techniques and strategies.
So I decided to write this book myself to help people going through a similar experience to what I went through.
Within my book you’ll discover the core components of achieving happiness, anywhere at any time through:
– Creating a state of mindfulness throughout the day
– Learning how to meditate
– Fostering healthier relationships
– Unburdening yourself from intrusive negative thoughts.
– Letting go and practising non-attachment.
While I primarily focus on Buddhist teachings throughout the book – particularly as they relate to mindfulness and meditation – I also provide key insights and ideas from Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism.
Think of it this way:
I’ve taken 5 of the world’s most powerful philosophies for achieving happiness, and captured their most relevant and effective teachings—while filtering out the confusing jargon.
I then shaped them into a highly-practical, easy-to-follow guide for improving your life.
The book took me about 3 months to write and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I hope you enjoy it too.
You may also like reading:
- What J.K Rowling can teach us about mental toughness
- I was deeply unhappy…then I discovered this one Buddhist teaching
- Why I quit my job and went to a meditation retreat (but you don’t have to)
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