Have you ever noticed how some people seem to make friends like it is the easiest thing in the world? People seem to naturally like them and be drawn to them? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try, no matter how ‘nice’ you are, no matter how far out of your way you go to accommodate people, you always feel like you’re stuck on the outside of other people’s ‘friendship bubbles’ peering in?
By far the most common issue with our member is feeling like nobody cares – that there is nobody to talk to and that nobody likes them. The struggle to make friends, whether you are still in school or whether you are an adult, is a very real one for many many people. You are far from alone if you feel isolated and lonely.
It is a well documented fact that loneliness is a deadly condition. It contributes to poor health, lower life expectancy and, of course, a massively increased risk of suicide. It is easy to conclude that there is something ‘wrong’ with us, especially when we compare ourselves with people we think are socially superior or quite simply more ‘likable’ than we are. Sometimes it’s easier to tell ourselves we are defective than it is to take a good hard look at our lives, figure out what the ‘real’ problem is, and take steps to fix it.
I Need to Talk To Someone.
If you need someone to talk to – if you need some immediate social interaction and to not have to face the pain and despair alone, join our forums – we have hundreds of active members every day who understand exactly what it is like to feel like there is nobody to talk to, all helping and supporting each other.
Often online interaction is far easier for people who have spent a long time isolated and alone. Having time to think through what it is you want to say, being able to delete and reword things until you are happy with them, and even not having to be self conscious about body language and ‘looking awkward’ makes online friendships easier and less stressful for many people. But the truth is that online friendships, wonderful as they often are, do not make up for a lack of rel life human interaction. The first step to fixing any problem is to really understand what is causing it, so its time to ask yourself:
Why DO I Have No Friends?
People end up feeling friendless for a number of reasons, and none of them are that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. if you are isolated and lack social interaction, there is most likely a reason for it. I don’t know you – I don’t know anything about your life. But after years and years of talking to hundreds of our members who struggle with friendship and socializing, there are a few common reasons.
Social isolation is often caused by one or more of the “D’s” – Distance, Difference, Depression. For many people on SF, it is all of these things; they may have physically moved away from friends (or friends have moved away from them) or may simply be in a place where any social groups or activities are some distance away from them. Equally, they are often very different from their old friends, or from people who they meet in their day to day lives, making it difficult to strike up conversation of find common ground. The most common issue, however, is that their depression lies to them, causes them to isolate themselves from people either because they believe they are hurting them, or because they believe they are disliked and unwanted by everyone.
Distance is one of the hardest issues to overcome. Continuing friendships over a long distance takes a lot of commitment and energy and very often, much like Long Distance Relationships, friendships that involve a several hour journey to hang out do not stand the test of time. Even if they do, it is impossible to see that person on a week to week basis so it does not help with normal social interaction when our friends are so far away. If distance is a problem for you – if there simply are no people in your vicinity with whom to strike up conversations or find activities that you enjoy, you may need to take a serious look at moving. It is never as easy done as said, and takes planning and investment (both in terms of energy and often money) but sometimes it is necessary to treat finding a fulfilling social life the same way as you would treat finding a job. if there are no opportunities where you are, it is better to look at moving than it is to remain unemployed (or in this case, friendless). Distance is nothing you ‘did wrong’ but it is a changeable circumstance. Maybe not this week or even this month – but of all of the ‘reasons’ that people are isolated and friendless, it is often the easiest to fix.
Friendship is built, fundamentally, on having something in common with someone. If you do not have anything to talk about that both parties find interesting and engaging, you are going to struggle to have a genuine relationship. Similarly, if you do not like doing the same things, you are going to find it difficult to spend time together. You need to figure out what it is that you like to do, then work out where the people who also like those things are. Look for clubs, groups, activities. Go online and dedicate some time to research. Then go to those places. And, if what you come up with as a list of the things you like to do is along the lines of ‘play video games and get drunk/high’ then accept that in order to find meaningful friendships you are going to have to make meaningful changes in your life. Ask yourself if you need to expand your horizons and find new interests and hobbies in order to make friends.
There is a long propagated myth that to be ‘liked’ and have friends, all you have to do is “be yourself”. Unfortunately this ignores the fact that social and cultural conventions evolve because there is an acceptable way to behave. People like people that they can relate to and understand. If you go out of your way to be different and to not ‘fit in’ then it stands to reason that you are, in fact, not going to fit in. It may be (however much you do not want to) that you need to take a look at yourself and the choices you are making and figure out if you are limiting your potential friendship pool by making a conscious choice not to be approachable or relatable.
Depression and anxiety lie to us. They tell us that people don’t like us, don’t want us around and that we are better off alone. This is by far the hardest issue to content with because it is not just a situation or a choice you are fighting – it is a mental illness. I have personally stayed home or avoided a social gathering more times than I can possibly count because I feel worried, out of place and convinced that people don’t want to talk to me anyway. From years talking to other people with similar mental health problems to me, it is obvious that I am far from alone.
People often become ‘friendless’ because they repeatedly turn down invitations or blow off events and people simply stop inviting them. It is understandable for people to feel that YOU are rejecting THEM when you stand them up or cancel them at the last minute, or simply refuse to make plans at all. By isolating ourselves, we push ourselves deeper and deeper into a situation we cannot climb out from and we erode our social skills by locking ourselves away.
If this is you – and there is no shame in it, if it is – the number one most important thing you can do for your feelings of isolation and loneliness is see a doctor – get help. If possible, get some skills focused therapy to help you rebuild your self confidence and your social skills. And, as often as you can, “do it anyway”. Go to the social event anyway – even if you know it will be horrible and stressful – even if you know you will not enjoy it. Depression and anxiety make these things hard but the longer you do not do them for, the harder they become. It is important to remember that however hard it is, it is not impossible, even if it feels that way.
For support, friendship and advice – join our community and visit our forums and chat rooms. We have thousands of members who understand what it is to feel unwanted, friendless and alone. We want to help you.