The Real Reasons You Have No Friends — And What To Do About It

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friendless sad woman

"I have no friends," you say. Well, if you don't have any friends, you're not alone.

Most people want intimacy. They need to feel safe to be vulnerable, so they invest a lot of time and effort in their friendships. When they experience the end of a friendship, they retreat and protect themselves by shutting down and shutting people out.

But for those who are without friends, it can feel lonely and daunting. And there are a few reasons why.

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Why do I have no friends?

There are many reasons people are friendless or steer clear of having a social life.

It could be that you are a quiet and shy person, preferring to remain introverted and away from social situations. You may have just moved to a new home, started a new job or school, and left behind all the friendships you already have.

Perhaps you've been disappointed or betrayed in the past by friends, and now you have trust issues and a fear of rejection. Most commonly, however, people suffer from social anxiety and/or depression, or other mental health issues, that prevent them from forming lasting bonds with others.

Additionally, you could lack the certain social skills needed for maintaining friendships, hold unrealistic expectations for the friends you've had in the past which inevitably pushed them away, or consider yourself a loner who prefers being alone.

What To Do If You Have No Friends

What can you do if you're constantly saying you have no friends, and find yourself feeling lonely and in need of human connection?

First things first, remember your childhood best friend. You probably have fond memories of playing, telling secrets, and sleepovers. If you're asked about your childhood best friend today, you will likely tell a story about how you used to have a lot of friends, but life circumstances are just too crazy and busy now.

Now, you have no actual friends, only mere acquaintances. So, why do you feel like you have no friends?

Life changes as we get older. The carefree college or first job days may be past you. Happy hours, spontaneous road trips, and co-ed softball leagues are behind you, and now you're spending time working, cooking, cleaning and raising kids. Who has time for friends?

But studies have shown that in order to maintain friendships, you need to talk to each other, and often. When you're feeling lonely, practicing presence, even with someone with who you typically just chat with for a minute, is critical.

When under stress, we tend to let our minds wander or listen just long enough to talk again. Giving your time and listening to someone else is just as good for your mental health as it is for theirs. This will allow you to get to know them a little better, and give you the space to connect.

Once you have a few good interactions with someone, you may feel comfortable taking your casual conversations to the next level.

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How can a friendless person make new connections?

Most of us want depth and intimacy in our life. We would be happy to have it with even one person. We want someone to cry with, celebrate with, and share a bottle of wine with.

But here’s the key: It takes time and effort. Sometimes, it's more time and effort than we think we have, so we convince ourselves that when "X" happens, we will find time for friends again.

Rather than believing you won't have time for a real friend for a while, allow yourself to seek out new connections and meet new people. Here's how.

1. Pay attention to your presence.

Make sure you're looking up, smiling at people, and willing to engage in small talk.

Staring down at your phone while waiting in line or pushing your kid on the swing is not the body language that will attract potential friends.

2. Take your friendship offline.

If you tend to text and just comment on someone’s social media, make the effort to say that you want to get together in person.

This can be for what I like to call "walk and talks," coffee or lunch — something that's about an hour investment and signals to you both whether or not the next time you would want to create even more of a connection.

3. Find mutual interests.

This might be through a sport, a school committee, or a shared interest in gardening.

Whatever it is, discovering a shared or similar interests and talking about them makes for a great conversation starter.

4. Pick up the phone and call an old friend.

This might be someone you had a falling out with or someone you only just recently met. But no matter the case, just do it and see what happens.

Everyone deserves someone to lean on and spend time with. But potential friends are all around you.

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

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler is the author of "Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process." Listen to her podcast and sign up for her newsletter.