The Raw Truth About Why I Have Zero Close Friends

Men are in a friendship recession — and here's why.

woman holding flowers Deman/ Shutterstock

According to a recent New York Times article, men are in a friendship recession:

  • In a 2021 survey, 15% of men said they have no close friends at all.
  • From the same survey, but not in the article, 53% of Americans — men and women — say the first person they go to when they have a personal problem is their spouse or partner.

These two points perfectly describe me.

The article frames this as a problem, citing the statistic that less than half of men are satisfied with the number of friends they have.


Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.

I’ve gone through most of my life without close friends.

Since high school, I have not had a best friend — male or female. Up until now.

This month, my girlfriend and I will celebrate our two-year anniversary. There’s no doubt, she’s my best friend.

RELATED: What It Means When A Guy Has No Male Friends — And How It May Affect You

Isn’t that the goal?

To find the person you love unconditionally? The person you never tire of being around? The person you find sexy, hot, cute, and attractive all of the time  — even when they’re not feeling so good about themselves?


Your lifelong companion. The person you’ll grow old with. Or, more annoyingly, straight from every dating app profile — your ride or die. Your partner in crime.

When you find this person, how on Earth can they not be your best friend?

I wouldn’t have it any other way. When you find this type of love and friendship, you have zero desire and no reason to be in a bar at two in the morning — or even eight at night — without this person. If you do, check yourself. There might be a problem.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel enormously fortunate — if not lucky — for having found this person.

I’ve been in love before, but, until now, I’ve never had a best friend like this.


RELATED: The Sad, Eternal Struggle Of Loving A Man Who Hates Himself

In Los Angeles, at least, everyone’s searching for their someone.

And I think I understand why.

People are flaky. Or at least hesitant — for one reason or another — to follow through. Myself included.

While questioning my social life outside of my girlfriend and fleeting day-to-day encounters with strangers and acquaintances, I decided to attempt to rekindle friendships with people I’ve fallen out of touch with.

Two times I made plans that needed to be confirmed by the other person the night before. Both times, there was radio silence from them.

Rude, but I’m not mad.

I’ve done likewise more than once over the last five years, three of which predate my current partnership.


Why are we like this?

While I can’t speak for everybody, I can ponder my own reasons for my indifference toward creating new and maintaining current or past friendships.

RELATED: How To Make Friends As An Adult, According To 22 Experts

Here are 7 raw easons why I have zero close friends:

1. It can be a pain in the butt to make friends

A true time suck.

2. I fill my days with only a handful of "things"

Mostly my partner, yoga, walking, and work.

Amid all of this talk about simplifying life, I think I’ve actually done it, as much, if not more than the most annoying gurus who preach minimalism.

3. This soft and easy life gives me more than enough to talk about — with my partner, acquaintances, and friends — and write about

Adding too much to what I am already super grateful to have becomes noise. More than I care to handle.


It makes me feel overscheduled and obligated.

4. I can predict the contents of every catchup I might have with a friend

There’s never anything new, even if it’s objectively new. I’ve seen and heard this story before.

RELATED: 4 Big Mistakes I Made As A Husband (Psst! I'm The Ex-Husband Now)

5. There’s an element associated with 'hanging out with the guy's that I don't like

I’ve been lucky. The guy friends have had tend to not be typical guys. They’re sensitive and emotional. They’re not into smutty, macho guy talk that maligns and objectifies women.

However, there’s often this element associated with hanging out with the guys. Whenever I come upon a group of guys out at a bar — bros or otherwise — I’m turned off. It’s literally the last social situation I want to put myself in.


6. I prefer informal social interaction

I love cities. And one thing that makes cities incredible places to live are the fleeting interactions you have with others on the street, in public life, and out and about.

I get more out of a random conversation with the dude sitting next to me at the coffee shop than through getting lunch with a friend.

7. My partner and I plan to move to another country within the next few years

Spain. So it’s twofold.

One, what’s the point of building more attachments today, in Los Angeles?

And, two, I’d rather save my energy for meeting new people and building new connections in a place where I’ll be starting from scratch.


RELATED: The Fewer Friends You Have, The Smarter You Are, Says Science

Raw honesty here. But somebody has to say the things I have to think other people — like the ones who don’t follow through on plans — must be thinking and feeling as well.

So alongside all of this thinking about friends and friendships, I decided to stop following almost every individual — a solid 600 or so of them — I had been following on Instagram.

In terms of personal followers, I’m down to my daughter, my girlfriend, and friends/acquaintances who live abroad.

I still follow my daughter and girlfriend for obvious reasons.

The people who live abroad? Because they actually post interesting things on Instagram.


RELATED: What It's Really Like To Marry A Fatherless Son

Quick aside — during middle school, we put my now 19-year-old daughter into an online home-school program.

Turned out to be an amazing move, given the pandemic that happened. Aside from that, we were concerned she would suffer socially as a result.

Truth is, she maintained proximate friendships nicely but developed exponentially more online friendships over the seven or so years she did home school. This helped her with anxiety and self-identity.

These people — from all over the world — who she met online have become her best friends. Last year, when she moved to college, one became her roommate. Next year, another will move from across the country and become her new roommate.


The internet changed the world. Why shouldn’t we change the way we view and do friendship and friendships?

Anyhow, I also still follow one friend and one acquaintance who live in Florence, Italy, in addition to a handful of accounts focused on life in Italy and Spain.

Why? Because they post about stuff I can’t walk out of my front door and do right now. It doesn’t feel like bragging or posing, in part, because it helps inform our plans and subsequent fire to eventually move abroad.

The remainder of the accounts, by and large, focus on the things I write about. So my Instagram looks a lot more like my Twitter now.

As an infrequent poster, both social networks help generate writing ideas. Because they’re clean and focused without the clutter of people acting as if, portraying their best lives ad nauseam.


RELATED: Why It's Way More Expensive To Be Poor (From A Dad Who Struggles)

Everybody rails against this type of social media behavior. Yet they just can’t seem to get themselves to stop participating in it.

I reserve Facebook as a feed primarily composed of friends. People who, with few exceptions, I don’t have actual friendships with.


It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them. It just means it would be weird if I called most of them up out of the blue to do something with them. They’d wonder — and rightfully so — where the h*** that came from.

This move on Instagram saves me about 30 minutes a day and makes it easier to discover actually useful information, shortening my already super short workdays and workweeks.

All of this isn’t to say I’m not open to having deeper relationships with friends and acquaintances or starting new friendships. However, I’m not dependent on doing so.

I prefer friendships where it’s like I’m rolling through town, let’s get together. In the subsequent conversations, there’s usually something of substance to discuss.


I prefer bumping into people I know or popping by where they work, having a chat, and moving on until next time.

RELATED: People Who Can Find The 'T' In This Brain Puzzle Test Within 10 Seconds Are Gifted

They might not freely admit it — because we all lie about this type of sensitive s*** all of the time — but I bet they feel pretty much the same way. They don’t need to take on any more than they already have going on.

Maybe this attitude makes me an extroverted introvert. I’m good with that classification.

It’s one thing to have a support system. A network. A tribe. It’s entirely another to rely on it the second something goes even slightly wrong in your life.


If I see another Instagram post about how I could not have done this or that or gotten through one thing or another without my incredible support system, I might vomit.

If you can’t self-soothe in this life, you’re screwed.

Your best support system is you.

And that one person you connect with like you’ve never connected with anybody before.

There’s an obvious risk inherent in this approach. But I’d rather go all-in on something rare than juggle the superficial nature of friendships in the age of social media, where in-person social life becomes little more than fodder for the presentation of your online social life.

I’ll take the risk and live my simple life with my wonderful partner on our terms.


RELATED: The Real Reason It's So Hard For Adults To Make New Friends

Rocco Pendola writes about personal finance for people of all ages who know they'll never retire but want to live a soft, fun and easy semi-retired life.