Why Don’t I Have Friends
Is the thought, “I have no friends” running through your mind? For people with social anxiety, making friends can feel hard.
First of all, you might feel so anxious around people that you can’t focus on what to say. This also might make you appear standoffish or even snobby.
Secondly, you probably feel bad about not having any friends, and so make the situation worse by coming down hard on yourself.
The truth is that 1 in 5 people does not have any close friends, and it can take up to 200 hours to make a close friend.
If you don’t spend time with very many people, and don’t see the same people over and over, the odds of making friends greatly diminishes.
So if it seems like everyone else is hanging out on Zoom having happy hour while you’ve got nobody making plans with you, don’t despair.
First, you aren’t alone and nothing is wrong with you.
And second, lots of life circumstances can leave people without friends. Having the skills to bounce back and make new friends will serve you well.
For that reason, I’m going to discuss a variety of ways to start to find and make friends based on specific issues you might be experiencing.
Meet the Right People
First of all, it’s important to note that finding friends isn’t just about meeting more and more people.
Some people even have a “group” of friends but still feel like an outsider or that they don’t belong.
So before you blame your lack of friends on your social anxiety, consider whether the people you’ve been hanging out are good potential friends for you.
Whatever makes you unique or different, or the reason you don’t feel you fit in, will probably endear you to the people who are a lot like you.
Your job is to find those people.
Meet More People
That being said, you certainly can’t find the right people if you aren’t even around people. Below are some ideas of things you can do to put you in more situations with people.
Because, it’s true that the more people you meet, the more chances you have to meet potential friends.
- join a class you find interesting
- spend time with people from work
- attend the same events over and over, like a weekly meeting or a club
- look for people in online groups who share your interests
- do volunteer work for a cause that holds meaning to you
- try a friends app (like a dating app, but for friends)
- follow a passion or start a new hobby that you can do with others
- join local community groups
Build Social Skills
If it were as easy as joining a group of people to make a new friend, everyone would have one, right?
The truth is that social skills make it easier to make friends, because they help you do the right things to move from being a stranger to being a friend.
The building blocks of most social skills is knowing how to start and maintain conversations.
And usually, this involves making small talk at first and gradually moving on to sharing more personal things about yourself.
It also means asking open-ended questions and generally being curious.
If you have social anxiety, the tendency is to stay quiet or overthink everything you say. Instead, it’s important to try and “make music” as you talk, to keep up the conversation.
If you struggle with your social skills, you may be interested in our Social Skills Workbook.
Practice Self Love
When you think about the fact that you don’t have friends, what feelings come up for you?
If you are telling yourself things like “I’m a loser” or you feel like others are judging you for not having any friends, then you are only making the situation worse.
Instead, try practicing some self-compassion. Treat yourself with respect and kindness. Because guess what: you have value as a person even if you don’t have a single friend in the world!
You don’t need friends to prove your worth. If that’s why you want friends, then you’re going down the wrong path.
If you want to start practicing self-love, try doing some journaling. This means just free writing in a journal anything that comes up for you.
When you notice negative thoughts, try rewriting those thoughts with better alternatives.
If you find that negative thinking is a problem for you, you might be interested in our CBT or Mindfulness Workbooks for social anxiety.
Take the Initiative
Are you wondering where all the friends are, but you never reach out to people?
It could be that you aren’t doing a good enough job of taking the initiative to make friends.
If you know people, reach out and ask them how they are doing. If you see people often, find other ways to connect and stay in touch.
Invite others to do things with you or ask for a way to get in touch with them.
Share Personal Things
If you find that you know a lot of people, or actually do have a circle of friends, but don’t feel close to anyone, it could be that you aren’t sharing enough about yourself.
Instead of just “hanging out” with friends, try opening up a bit. Be vulnerable and share something that makes you nervous.
Start small and gradually open up more about your thoughts and feelings. This could be as simple as sharing what you thought about a TV series.
Be sure to ask others about their thoughts and feelings too.
Accept Your Solitude
For some people, mostly those who truly enjoy spending most of their time alone, it might be time to accept your solitude.
If you really don’t have the energy to devote to a friendship, then why would you try to start one?
Introverts are known for needing to preserve their social energy.
If this is you, you might be better off with just one friend or a very small circle. Or, people that understand you won’t always be available.
If you are artistic or creative, being alone can give you more time to pursue these hobbies.
In fact, you might even start to resent your friends if they are taking time away from what you really want to be doing.
Not everyone needs a lot of social time, and if this is you, it might be better just to accept your solitude.
In addition, if your days are spent with many social demands, such as a job or class that requires you to spend time with people, it could be that you just don’t have any social energy left.
See a Therapist
Some people struggle with friendship because of their mental health issues.
If this is you and you have not sought professional help, I’d encourage you to do so.
And if you do already have a therapist, you could raise this issue in therapy.
In particular, social anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and trauma-related disorders can make it harder to develop friendships.
Harder, but not impossible.
Improve Your Attitude
You probably don’t think you have a bad attitude. But ask yourself this: how many of these things do you regularly do around other people?
- talk about negative things
- spread gossip
- used closed-off body language
- complain about things
Everyone does these things from time to time. But if this is your default way of being, or it is how you are most of the time, then it’s time to make a change.
Put In the Time
Like I mentioned before, it can take 200 hours to make a good friend. That means that if you only see someone for an hour a week, it will take four years for them to become a good friend.
No wonder you don’t have any friends!
This is also why it’s so much easier to become friends with people who you see a lot.
So what can you do about this?
Well first, acknowledge that making friends takes a long time. While you can make a casual friend in about 50 hours, a good friend takes much longer.
If you want to increase the speed with which you make friends, simply spend more time with the same people over and over again.
Show People You Like Them
Many people with social anxiety feel like they need to “get other people to like them.” You’re probably also focused a lot on keeping other people happy (people-pleasing).
In fact, the easiest way to get other people to like you is to show them that you like them. This is a phenomenon known as “reciprocal liking” in psychology.
Below are some simple ways you can show people you like them:
- make eye contact
- be encouraging
- give compliments
- ask questions
- wish others well
If you feel like you’ve totally botched this in the past, take heart. Each new person you meet is a fresh start!
And if trust issues from past trauma make it hard for you to do this, then return to the step about therapy and deal with those first.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Whatever you do, don’t give up too soon. This is true both when you meet someone new, and also just for making friends in general.
Yes, during small talk, you’ll probably quickly have an idea if you want to get to know someone better.
But on the other hand, how many people do you wish would give you a second chance?
Never write someone off as not having friend potential too early. And don’t give up if a friendship doesn’t take off right away. Remember, at one hour a week, it’s going to take four years.
That time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well be working on your friendships.
Finally, if you struggle with making friends or social anxiety in general, sign up for our free resource library!
Related Posts about Friendship
- 29 Questions to Make a New Friend
- Benefits of Having Social Media Friends
- 7 Types of Social Skills Training
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“I Have No Friends” (What to Do)
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