10 Reasons You Don’t Have Any Friends
The first point to be made here is that the value of friendship relies much more on quality than on quantity. In other words, having a lot of friends isn’t necessarily going to do much for you, especially if they are more like casual acquaintances than intimate confidantes. On the other hand, having a small number of extremely close, reliable friends is widely considered among psychologists and other mental health professionals to be a leading contributor to a person’s overall level of happiness. If your question is why don’t I have more friends, then maybe what you should really be asking yourself is why the friends you do have aren’t enough.
If, however, you genuinely feel that you don’t have any “true” friends, then you’ve come to the right place, as in this list we’ll be breaking down ten of the top reasons a person is most likely to find themselves friendless. A word of caution: prepare to take a deep, honest look at yourself, because in all likelihood, having no friends is something you’ve brought on yourself, rather than the result of other people’s flawed personalities. And before we get started, one other note: if you’re in your teens, or even younger, consider the possibility that you simply haven’t had a chance to meet your true friends yet; often, they end up being people that we get to know in college, at work, or just generally later in life. It’s true that some people make lifelong friends in childhood, but not everyone has that opportunity, so it’s important to give yourself a little leeway.
10You Don’t Clean Up
Some people like their rooms, houses, and cars meticulously cleaned and organized, while other people are happy to live and let their junk live, too. To an extent, good friends should be expected to be okay with one another’s different styles of maintaining their personal space. Then again, when you can’t open a friend’s car door without several liters of trash falling out, you not wanting to ride with them anymore would be pretty understandable.
The same point can be made for all aspects of personal hygiene. When your living space is dirty and full of junk, it’s going to be hard to attract and keep guests. If your car is so filled with clothes, trash, sports equipment, and old CDs that there’s no room for passengers, well then, don’t be surprised if you don’t have any passengers. And if your body itself doesn’t get a regular, thorough cleanup, well…let’s just say friendly conversation expects a comfortable environment.
9You Gossip Too Much
Once again, we’re in something of a grey area here. Gossip is just a natural pastime among friends, and for the most part there’s nothing wrong with that. But the wrong kind of gossip – or gossiping to the wrong person – is likely to put a damper on good friendships. So what exactly is the wrong kind of gossip? Well, there are probably multiple ways that gossiping can get you into trouble, but here we are specifically talking about gossiping not just to your friends, but about your friends.
Passing on the news and keeping each other up to date is one thing, but it’s an entirely different thing when you’re talking negatively about one friend to another friend without the target being there to defend himself. Without necessarily meaning to, you’re then undermining both friendships, because the person you’re gossiping to is suddenly aware that you quite likely gossip about them behind their back as well.
Gossip is going to happen – it’s just a part of the way we socialize with each other. But you don’t have to let it become a bad habit. Even when the gossip is about people who aren’t your friends, too much of it can lead to a perception of you as a negative person. This is just another example of how a little self-awareness can go a long way.
8You Lack Patience
We already mentioned the possibility of being too young to have developed close friendships. The reality is that no matter how old you are, patience is definitely a factor in close friendships. We’re not talking about the kind of patience you need when your friends are late to a party or taking too long in the bathroom, although a little patience in those scenarios can also be helpful. Here, we’re talking about patience to let the friendship develop into one that you understand and care for deeply.
Maybe there’s no one in your life right now who you think of as a close or best friend, but maybe there is someone in your life right now who will be a close friend a little later. Sure, sometimes friendships crop up quickly and unexpectedly, but there’s also something to be said for friendships that take time to grow into themselves. Research (and common sense) indicates that the longer a friendship lasts, the stronger it grows, and that it isn’t until you’ve been friends with someone for quite a while (some studies say seven or more years😉 that the friendship gets to a point where it’s actually very hard to break up. If a lack of patience is even partly responsible for the perception that you don’t have any friends, maybe the question you should be asking yourself is, “How much time have I put into this friendship so far?” If it’s a friendship with the potential to mean a lot to you, isn’t it worth it to keep putting in the time?
7You Lack Listening Skills
If you’ve ever been told that you’re not a good listener, don’t worry – you’re not alone. It’s something that many people struggle with. You could think of it like swimming; some people may be better at it naturally, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a skill, one that can be developed and honed. Rarely does it become necessary for survival, but learning to do it well sure has a lot of other benefits.
“Being a good listener” may sound vague, but take consolation in the fact that experts agree: speaking is easy, listening is hard. Studies show that the average person remembers only a tiny amount of the things that are said to them over a period of time, whether a day, a year, or a lifetime. We all know that feeling of pretending to listen when we’re actually just waiting for our turn to speak.
When it comes to friendship, however, there is a lot of incentive to practice becoming a better listener. Sales people tend to be good listeners, because that attribute allows them to decipher important cues and messages about the transaction they are involved in. Friendships are also made up of transactions – it’s a give and take of time, trust, advice, and support. If you don’t take the time to be present and really listen to (i.e., understand) your friends’ feelings, it’s likely that they will turn elsewhere to find the support they need.
6You Put Other Relationships First
Most of us have had an experience involving a friend who got into a romantic relationship and suddenly stopped being available. If you’re that person, then it really should come as no surprise when the people you would have called your friends finally give up trying to get together with you, or at least stop trying so hard. You might feel like you’re still capable of making time for them, but if you’re turning down the majority of their offers to catch up, hang out, or otherwise actively participate in the friendship, then sooner or later they are going to get tired of being the one always reaching out.
Now, it’s true that new romances often begin in full gear, taking up a lot of time and energy, and that’s not a bad thing. Usually, given a little time, things balance out. It’s also worth noting that any good friends you do have will be pulling for you to have a healthy dating life in addition to your friendships, so it’s not like they really mind taking a back seat for a while as you figure out how to fit the romance into your lifestyle. But as your good friends, they also expect to be kept up to date, well within your inner circle, and appreciated for their sacrifices, however big or small.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that while a new romantic engagement may seem like the most important thing happening in your life, your friends will be the ones helping you to pick up the pieces if it all falls apart, so you don’t want to alienate them. All this is just to say that if you’re the type of person who pushes would-be friends away every time you get involved romantically, you should expect them to eventually move on with their lives without you.
5You Give Unnecessary Criticism/Advice
Let’s get something straight: friends should criticize. Friends (well, good friends, anyway) aren’t just meant to be passive witnesses to your life – they’re active participants. It means they laugh when you trip and fall, give you a hand back up, and then point out where you stumbled so you don’t make the same mistake again. When giving advice crosses a line, it’s the type and the amount of criticism that often need to be called into question.
What we’re talking about here is that age-old idea of “constructive criticism,” which is a far cry from pointing out someone’s flaws just so you can feel better about your own. Telling someone they made a stupid mistake or really messed something up isn’t going to go over so well unless you follow it up with some helpful insight about what went wrong, and how it could have gone better. Likewise, it’s not constructive unless the person receiving the criticism is open to it, so if you’ve already worn them down with constant comments about how they could be, do, or get better at something, you’re probably just wasting your time and putting your friendship on thin ice.
Do friends owe each other criticism from time to time? Definitely. But nobody wants to hear over and over and over again about what they’ve done wrong, what they’re not good at, or what they should do differently. If this sounds familiar, it might help to work on remembering that good friendship is all about compromise and flexibility. Give criticisms only when your friends need it the most. On all other occasions, trust them to ask for your advice when they want it.
4You Brag Too Much
It’s always nice to have friends who are capable, knowledgeable, and self-confident, but it’s a whole different story when they are constantly reminding us of those qualities. Of course, if there’s one group of people around which it’s okay to occasionally sing your own praises, surely it’s your closest friends. Boasting once in a while might not have any real benefits to speak of, but it’s not likely to ruin any close friendships, either. Constant bragging, however, won’t impress your friends – it will have the exact opposite effect, painting you as arrogant, condescending, or narcissistic.
This one might be tricky to root out, as many people who brag a lot don’t realize that it’s happening. Or, if they do, they don’t realize what it’s doing to their friendships. Studies show that people often overestimate the benefits of bragging (thinking it makes them look better than it actually does) while underestimating how much it annoys the people around them.
People are particularly capable of fooling themselves when it comes to so-called “humble bragging,” which is what it’s called when you purposefully attempt to draw attention to your positive qualities, but dress it up in false modesty. A good example of a humble brag could be saying, “People are always complimenting my intelligence, but I’ve met a lot of people who are smarter than myself.” Depending on who you ask, humble bragging might even be worse. Long story short, don’t toot your own horn – at least not very often. When you do, you’re actively driving people away from you.
3You Don’t Challenge Yourself
Good friends accept you for you. At the same time, they wouldn’t be good friends if they didn’t also want the best for you, and if you didn’t want the best for them. Some friendships may be able to survive – or even thrive – in stagnant conditions, if there is a mutual lack of ambition. Often, though, this isn’t the case. If your friends are making forward progress in their lives (whether it’s in regard to education, a career, or even a hobby), they’re likely to have a negative reaction to someone in their inner circle who is “falling behind” in one way or another.
Challenging yourself to “keep up” and be a constantly improving version of yourself isn’t about proving anything to your friends; it’s more about staying relevant to their lives. If your friends are learning new things, having new experiences, and developing themselves, it’s probably important to them to have someone close to them who can relate and share.
That doesn’t mean you always need to do what your friends do. Basketball players can be friends with rock climbers. Lawyers can be friends with nurses. But it’s unlikely that you’ll run into a highly motivated person who is close friends with a totally unmotivated one, and if you do, chances are that they won’t be close friends for much longer unless the situation takes a turn.
2You Don’t Value Friendship
Of course, you give friendship some value, or you wouldn’t be here reading this list. But maybe you have neglected to treat it as a priority. Every now and then, friendships do have to go on the back burner as something else in our life demands extra time, energy, or focus. Maybe it’s our love life, our children, our career, going to school, a mixture of those, or something else entirely. The thing is, all of those do require – and deserve – our attention, and where friendship fits onto your list of priorities is really up to you. However, there’s a strong case for keeping it near the top.
We already mentioned that psychologists consider the presence or absence of close friends to be an important factor in a person’s happiness. Well, it also so happens that “not keeping up with friends” is reported as being among the top three regrets of dying people, and that’s a pretty sobering thought. Friendship is a living, growing thing, and caring for one is not unlike caring for a garden. The first step in cultivating one is realizing how valuable it could be to you. Then comes the planting, the maintaining, and finally, the yield.
1You Don’t Tell The Truth
Honesty is the best policy, so they say. Of course, almost everyone has told a white lie here and there, and a good many of us are familiar with the unfortunate consequences of those little half-truths quickly devolving into a giant, sticky web of lies. But if there’s one group of people you just shouldn’t lie to, ever, it’s your closest friends. After all, friends are supposed to be the ones who accept us, in all our vast imperfection, no matter what. So if down the road, a friend finds out you’ve skirted the truth with them (or worse, outright lied) they might suddenly begin to feel very insecure about the entire relationship – understandably so.
Even so, an established friendship can be quite capable of withstanding the occasional slip of dishonesty, as long as it is owned up to and forgiveness is asked – and given. If it’s a regular thing, though, it’s just not reasonable to expect your friends to put up with it. Even when it’s about something that may seem insignificant to you – say, the reason you didn’t return their calls, or why you really didn’t go out with them the other night – your friends just want to know the truth. Being honest with them won’t put a strain on the friendship, even if it’s in the face of a disagreement or conflicting plans or goals. Being dishonest, on the other hand, is likely to cause a rift which, with time and repetition, will simply grow wider and wider. If you can’t be honest about little things, how can your friends trust you with the big stuff? Simply put: they can’t.
If any of the above applies to you, don’t take it personally. Well, do take it personally, but try not to let it get you down. Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to solving it. If you’re not convinced that anything on this list is your problem, is it possible that it’s a mixture of some of these things? Maybe you brag a little more than your friends appreciate, you spend just a bit too much time gossiping (or worse, have been gossiping about them), and in the meantime failed to notice how little time you actually spend listening to what your friends have to say.
Or, maybe your focus on school, family, or career has booted friendships to the back of the line, and now you’re ready to make a change in that regard. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that for most people, friends are a vital part of a happy, healthy life. If you don’t have any close friends, it’s worth it to dissect the situation, figure out why, and do whatever’s necessary to change it. If you have friends but have lost touch, maybe it’s time to reignite those flames. The wonderful thing about it all is that it’s never too late – there are always other people out there who are waiting with open arms to take on new friendships.