Why is it that in a society where we’re the most connected we’ve ever been, people are lonelier than ever?1
Now, most people have a hard time making friends, let alone close friends because they don’t know how to get past an initial interaction. So people are reaching out to social media to fill the comfort gaps. Unfortunately, those bonds rarely build beyond digital connections.
Do you need a ton of friends to be happy?
But if you’re seeking any friends at all and feel like you can’t make them, it’s easy to feel alone.
In this post, we’ll talk about the reasons why you’re having a hard time attracting good friends and how to change it.
Why can’t I make friends
Your mindset is poor
Your mindset around making friends plays a large part in how your relationships develop. For example, assuming no one will like you or believing you “simply don’t like people” sets you up for failure.
This mindset is a reflection of your fear of rejection, poor self-image, and/or pessimistic worldview.
Your mindset also affects your self-talk which can bolster or ruin your self-esteem and overall well being.
Self-talk is influenced by how your parents spoke to you growing up. Not everyone had the benefit of great parenting and most struggle as adults to overcome their childhoods.
For years I cycled through bad decisions, alcoholism, and blaming everyone else for my problems. And for a long time, I was angry and resentful that my mother didn’t try harder to improve our station in life. At some point, I learned to forgive her and realized she is human just like me and made sacrifices my childhood brain couldn’t understand (read more about how I forgave). I had to learn to take responsibility for my own life, feelings, and thoughts.
Why? Because the only things in life you can reliably control are your thoughts and emotions.
Saying things like “I can’t make friends” undermines your relationships and leads you to put in a poor effort to make real friends.
Strengthen your mindset to develop confidence by:
- Keeping a daily journal where you reflect on the day and your thoughts and come up with solutions to your current issues
- Increasing your skills in an area of interest. This will boost your self-esteem as you accomplish things and learn to trust yourself more.
- Intentionally developing the type of close friendships you want
Coming from a rough area, I was afraid of everything and lacked any confidence in myself. Read my book The Four Confidences to discover how I overcame my lack of confidence and create a blueprint for your life.
You have a chronic lack of self-awareness
People who are not self-aware make work and social situations more stressful for others.2 The problem is, without feedback, you’ll have a hard time discovering this.
Some signs this is you:
- You find yourself ‘ghosted’ often
- You meet people but they never turn into real friends
- People seem to dislike you for no reason
- You struggle with critical feedback
- Other’s complain of hurtful things you do or say without realizing it
- You don’t take responsibility for your failures
Picking up on social cues requires that you are conscious of how the things you do and say affect others. Social media sets people up for this lack of consciousness with the ability to remain anonymous and live in a false reality.
Obviously, I’ve gained a not-so-modest following on Twitter so I don’t believe social media has to be a bad thing. But it removes the burden of ingrained human social interaction like proper body language, eye contact, and standing by what you say.
Lacking self-awareness isn’t exclusively reserved for introverts or extroverts. If you’re shy and generally nervous around people, however, you might struggle with how your actions are coming across. And overthinking the situation leads to an off-putting effect on others.
I go more in depth in my article on increasing your likability but here are some quick ways to become more aware of how you’re interacting:
- Ask someone you trust for feedback
- Monitor your body language
- Listen when people talk
- Try mimicking their behavior to be situation appropriate if you don’t know how to manage your energy
- Make eye contact
Your social anxiety is getting the best of you
Social anxiety may cause you to overthink social situations or behave in a way that isn’t appropriate. Behavior like talking too loud, standing too close, not making eye contact, or talking about a subject that others aren’t interested in, for example.
Both extroverts and introverts can have a hard time in social situations. Because extroverts are energized by social interactions, they have more experience and thus become more comfortable making small talk. This can lead to lots of potential friends and an active social life but a lack of close friendships.
It’s possible for introverts to be great in social interactions but since they don’t have the natural urge, introverts are more likely to be uncomfortable. In social settings, an introvert is more likely to focus too intensely on one person and not put themselves in the right situations to make new friends.
If you believe you are constantly obsessing over everything that could go wrong in a social situation you may have a condition called social anxiety disorder.3 It affects teenagers and young adults most often and can be detrimental to your mental health. Social anxiety disorders make it hard to have a social life because you avoid social situations altogether.
I’ve written an entire post on how to be less socially awkward but if you think you have a social anxiety disorder, speaking to someone could be the best way to develop social skills.
A note on Asperger’s & bipolar disorder
Social disorders such as Asperger syndrome and bipolar disorder can make it hard to form meaningful connections. Asperger’s is a disorder on the autism spectrum and can make it hard to pick up on facial expressions, make eye contact, or read social cues.4
Bipolar disorder causes manic episodes that make it hard to socialize.5 You can lack awareness if you are being too intense for the current social situation.
In his rejection therapy practice, author Jia Jiang discovered simply mentioning something is awkward deflates the awkwardness for everyone involved. It allows all parties to have fun and your awkwardness becomes a benefit or enjoyable quirk.
So though a social disorder can make it hard to build a social circle, the things you feel are your weaknesses may actually be strengths.
You’re actively avoiding discomfort
Having a social life doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have deep relationships or close friendships. It simply increases the odds of meeting someone you’ll hit it off with.
Because I’m an extrovert by nature, I had to learn solitude was healthy and necessary on my journey to become successful in life. However, isolation easily turns into avoidance if you fear uncomfortable circumstances. For instance, losing your job or relationship can make you feel isolated, depressed, and not want to make meaningful connections because your self-confidence is low.
It’s perfectly normal to go through periods in life where you have friends and others where you don’t. In fact, 1 in 5 people don’t have someone they consider a close friend.6
If you’ve been actively avoiding social interactions, try going out little by little. This could be as small as saying hello to people in the grocery store that come within five feet of you. Also start saying yes to any invitations you have to go out.
If you live alone, getting a roommate could be a great option to avoid unintentionally isolating yourself in a new and unfamiliar environment.
You’re in a committed relationship
After about age 25,7 both men and women stop making new or closer friendships. Life settles down, and it requires more effort to find new people than when you were a kid.
Committed relationships can make it hard to make new friends because you don’t have the urge to socialize. I’m not saying it’s impossible to be in a relationship and have close friends but the natural drive to avoid loneliness isn’t there. Your significant other fulfills that role.
Women are more likely to make their partner’s social group their own social group. Then after a breakup, she is likely to be left feeling like she doesn’t have real friends.
But this is dangerous. Limiting meaningful social interactions to your significant other can cause conflict because you become overly dependent on them to fulfill all your needs.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying their company over anyone else but having your own group of friends helps you to be better for the relationship.
You don’t have the right hobbies
Finally, you don’t have any friends because you don’t have any social hobbies. Hobbies create a baseline for meeting people that share the same interests and make it easier to form new friendships. They also boost your self-confidence which improves your mental health.
I’ve written about selecting the right hobby to meet women and make friends before. Check out that post for a deeper dive into the topic. In general, the key to starting any new venture is to embrace the discomfort of leaving your comfort zone:
- Try joining activities at your school or organization
- Look for intramural sports for men
- Go to conferences in your career field
- Choose an activity on the Meet-up app
- Sign up for Bumble BFF
- Invite someone to a local event
One last thing to remember
If you have a hard time making new friends, all is not lost. The key to building lasting friendships as an adult is to approach building your social circle with intention. Knowing the type of friends you want and how you want to feel will benefit your well-being for the rest of your life.
Here’s a quick recap of how to make friends when you feel like you can’t:
- Build your self-talk
- Develop self-awareness
- Your quirks are your strengths
- Don’t avoid social interactions
- Find friends outside of your significant other
- Seek out social hobbies
Get Your Life Together With The Essays of Power
I don’t know you, but I know you.
I know that you’re tired of feeling weak, being a victim, and having no control over the direction of your life.
I know you because I was once you.
I used to be stuck on the hedonistic treadmill of mediocrity. Always drunk, always broke, and always looking for the next piece of cheap entertainment and distraction.
Then one day, I changed my entire life around.
I took responsibility for my personal development and started living the best life I possibly could. I learned how to:
- Live with purpose
- Think with clarity
- Face the my demons
- Fix my finances
Unlike a lot of other motivational gurus, I’ve been to the bottom and I clawed my way back out. It wasn’t easy and I wasn’t sure if I’d just become another statistic along the way, but I think I have made tremendous progress.
I learned the hard way, but I can break it down so you can learn it the easy way…Get The Mind And Fist Essays Of Power
Melore, Chris Study Finds: Lonely nation: 2 in 3 Americans feel more alone than ever before, many admit to crying for first time years April 29, 2021 (accessed Nov 2021) ↩
Eurich,Tasha. Harvard Business Review: Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware October 19, 2018 (accessed Nov 2021) ↩
Mayer, Beth Ann. Medically reviewed by Karin Gepp, Psy. D. _Healthline: How to Tell the Difference Between Social Anxiety and Autism _Nov. 3, 2021 (accessed Nov 2021) ↩
Ballard, Jamie. YouGov America: Millennials are the loneliest generation July 30, 2019 (accessed Nov 2021) ↩
Bhattacharya, K., Ghosh, A., Monsivais, D., Dunbar, R. I., & Kaski, K. Royal Society open science, 3(4), 160097. 2016. Sex differences in social focus across the life cycle in humans. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160097 (accessed Nov 2021) ↩