“I Don’t Want Friends” – 8 Reasons Why + 10 Things To Think About

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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you explore your desire to be friendless and decide whether it’s really right for you. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.

Friendships can be immensely rewarding relationships to have. Unlike biological family (or relatives via early adoption), friends are people whom you choose to have in your life.

They tend to be those of like mind; people who share your values and interests, and with whom you sincerely enjoy spending your time.

Of course, some friendships can also be awkward or uncomfortable. These tend to happen when your so-called “friends” are merely acquaintances you develop via circumstance. For example, when you’re friends with next-door neighbors, people who go to your school, work colleagues, and the like.

Like all relationships, friendships ebb and flow and can have their own share of conflicts. Some more than others. You may have one friendship that never has any kind of tension, while another causes constant stress and drama.

If you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t want friends and would rather have a solitary lifestyle, that’s an absolutely valid choice. While having friends is beneficial in many ways, it’s not absolutely necessary for survival.

In fact, depending on your social circumstances, you may feel significantly better just having rudimentary contact with other humans rather than deeper, more intricate “friendships.”

Why don’t you want friends?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the precipitating factors that made you feel like you don’t want as much human contact.

If you’re feeling like you don’t want any close-knit friends, it’s likely that you’ve had to deal with some crappy previous experience with them.

As we’ve mentioned before, many of the friendships people develop over time are those formed by proximity. In other cases, people make friends in cultural circles they take part in.

Difficulties arise when these friendships become unbalanced; when one is perpetually taking and not giving anything in turn, or one causes no end of drama that then affects the other one’s life.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why you may decide that you don’t want friends:

1. You’ve been betrayed or hurt too many times.

When your so-called friends betray your trust, spill secrets they’ve promised to keep, lie to you, steal from you, or sleep with your partners, it’s hard to develop trust in anyone again.

Some people who’ve been through this muck too many times have learned the lesson that the only way to avoid being betrayed is to not let anyone get too close.

2. You’re burned out from having to pander to other people’s needs.

If you’ve ever had a friend who calls or texts you day or night because they need constant help or reassurance, you’ll know how exhausting that can be. Sometimes, one gets to the point where they just burn out.

This can be due to compassion fatigue, or simply because their own well has run dry. Either way, they would rather not talk to anyone at all than keep being drained for the sake of someone else wanting their needs met above all else.

3. You don’t know how to navigate social situations.

Many people – especially those on the autism spectrum – can struggle to connect with others. In fact, they’ve likely experienced rejection and humiliation on numerous occasions simply because they didn’t understand subtle social cues or body language.

If they don’t have any friends, they won’t have to deal with being called weird, or told all the different ways they don’t fit in. They don’t have a constant, ever-present worry about saying or doing the wrong thing, nor do they have to spend every moment focusing on masking and mirroring those around them to appear “normal” (e.g. neurotypical).

There’s immense freedom to be found in solitude, or in online interactions where they have all the time in the world to think out their responses clearly, and can stim and self-soothe as needed without being judged or mocked.

4. You don’t have the will or energy to deal with other people’s drama.

This goes along with the neediness mentioned above. Being constantly awoken by a needy friend’s texts at 2 am is trying enough, but being roped into other people’s dramas is another beast altogether.

Some people live to muckrake, and thrive in the dramatic rollercoaster that ensues. Before you know it, you’re acting as mediator between people who are shrieking at one another and refusing to apologize. Who has the time or energy for that?

5. You find yourself perpetually disappointed in others.

You ask a friend to help you move and they bail on you the day of. Or you loan someone money and they always find a way to avoid paying you back. Maybe you’ve gone out of your way to help a friend get a job but they show up for work drunk, thus reflecting poorly on you.

Etc. ad nauseum.

People can only disappoint us so many times before we simply don’t want anything to do with them anymore.

6. You want to spend time on your own pursuits but friends keep demanding time and attention.

We only have so much time to achieve all we need to take care of in a day. Furthermore, our precious free time dwindles significantly as life demands more from us. Work, commuting, family responsibilities, home maintenance, and other adult commitments.

It’s frustrating when you make plans to do something you really like with a bit of the spare time you actually have, only to have those plans sidelined by a so-called friend.

They might show up at your door with a crisis when you’re trying to read or do yoga. Or they’ll offer to go on a long-awaited nature hike with you only to spend every moment babbling about their personal problems, thus frightening away local wildlife.

7. You don’t want to compromise… ever.

This often happens when people were micromanaged when they were younger and had little to no say over their own lives. Sometimes we just want to do what we want to do without having to compromise with someone else’s desires.

Whether getting together with people on a Saturday night or planning an outing, there will always be those for and against different options. You might want Thai food but your friends want Mexican instead. You want to go to a museum but you’re outvoted in favor of a sports event.

So forget it, you’ll just order in solo and attend these things on your own. No fuss, no drama, no petulant whining because someone else didn’t get their way.

8. You are simply happier in your own company and want to spend time by yourself.

Quite simply, some people just prefer their own company, or the company of animal companions, instead of other people. That’s completely valid, and an incredibly peaceful choice in a world full of chaos.

While some extraverts need a lot of human connection, others (mostly introverts) are perfectly content just being by themselves. You might be an avid reader, gamer, or artist, or pursue any other number of hobbies that require silence and focus. And that suits you just fine.

10 things to consider when you’re determined to not have friends:

While we’ve gone over some of the many benefits that can occur when one doesn’t have friends, it’s important to also notice that there are downsides to this choice.

Before we get into these downsides, it’s important to note that there’s a potential for a strong pendulum swing if you make it known that you’re choosing a solitary life. If you announce loudly that you don’t want friends, people will inevitably try to weasel their way into your life.

This is often either done to soothe their own wounded egos, or because they are trying to do things “for your own good” (basically well-meaning but unwanted concern).

Now that we’ve touched upon that, let’s take a look at some factors to consider if you’re not interested in having friends anymore.

1. There won’t be a support structure or net in case you need help with anything.

One benefit to having good friends is that you have a support network to lean on when you need to.

Just about all of us will experience some type of issue in our lives that will require us to enlist the help of others. Here’s hoping you never break some bones or get diagnosed with a serious illness that can leave you unable to fend for yourself for a while.

These situations require both physical and emotional supports, such as people to help with basic needs like grocery shopping or rides to the hospital, as well as cheerleading pep talks when depression or despair hit.

Of course, those who are wealthy enough can simply hire nurses, drivers, and domestic help to sort out all of their needs. But if you aren’t rich and you don’t have family members available to help you through dark times, who are you going to lean on when and if things get dire?

2. You won’t have anyone to share great experiences with.

In addition to not having anyone around to lean on during the dark times, not having friends means that you won’t have anyone to share good times with either.

Spending birthdays and holidays alone can be depressing at times, especially if they’re milestones. Similarly, experiences worthy of celebration (like achievements, work promotions, etc.) won’t be shared by anyone you care about.

Sure, you could announce it aloud at your local pub and get a halfhearted “huzzah!” from the surrounding inebriates, but it won’t be quite the same.

That also applies to travel adventures and the like. Road tripping solo can be great, but road tripping with a good friend can be a hell of a lot of fun. Especially if it means that you’re not the only driver for the entire journey. Similarly, are you interested in exploring a place that doesn’t recommend solitary travel? Having a trustworthy companion with you would be worth its weight in gold.

3. Friends often help to keep us accountable.

Have you decided to do an online University course but sometimes lack the will or motivation to keep at it? Or maybe you’re overhauling your diet and exercise regime but are self-sabotaging?

This is where friends can be immensely helpful. Those whom we trust and care about (and who care about us in turn) can be wonderful cheerleaders when it comes to helping us achieve our goals. Whether it’s as “simple” as learning to cook a new meal, or as intense as training for a 10k triathlon, our friends can be our biggest supporters.

Who’s going to be there to taste that new dish with you? And who’s going to be waiting for you at the finish line, cheering your name and waving a horribly embarrassing sign?

The effort required to cultivate a friendship that can enrich your life wonderfully is often absolutely worthwhile when it makes you smile that fiercely.

4. They often bring important things to light that we would have otherwise missed.

A friend who knows you well can also tell when things aren’t quite right with you. Furthermore, they’ll often risk potentially upsetting or offending you if it means that they might be able to help, on some level.

Friends don’t just see our blind spots – they also have different perspectives from our own. We might think that we’re doing just fine, muddling along as we’ve been doing, when a friend who hasn’t seen us for a while lets us know that we look like complete crap and need a rest.

They might also be able to see physiological changes that concern them, but we might have been oblivious to, like “hey, that mole on your neck looks bigger from the last time I saw you, so you might want to get that checked out” or “you’ve lost a ton of weight in the last month – is everything okay?”

5. Friends can offer social support during difficult times.

This is different from needing someone to pick up groceries for you when you’re bedbound. Rather, it’s about being able to talk to someone who knows you and cares about you if and when you go through a rough time.

Sure, having a therapist or spiritual advisor whom you can reach out to in a crisis is great, especially since they won’t have any demands on your time outside of that interaction. But neither is likely going to be available to you spontaneously. You’d need to book time with the former or go visit your place of worship for the latter, while a friend is usually just a phone call or text away.

We all go through emotional difficulty at times. Stress and upset are rather inevitable, and sometimes we just need a friendly voice to either reassure us, or tell us to pull our heads out of our backsides because we’re being ridiculous. A good friend can snap someone out of a panic attack or reassure them during heartbreak.

They can also offer different perspectives when we’re trapped in our own heads and can’t see past our own emotions.

The key here is to not abuse friends by treating them like therapists. Reach out and talk to them when you need them, sure, but don’t use them as emotional dumping grounds. Similarly, it’ll be important to reciprocate, and be there for them when they need support in turn.

6. Other people can often help us discover new things to fall in love with.

How often do you listen to music you really love and then remember that it was a friend of yours who introduced you to that band? What about the hobbies you adore? Did you try them out totally at random? Or did you develop your interests after spending time with people who were into those things?

I’m not sure about you, but some of the films, bands, cuisines, books, and pastimes that I adore the most are those I got into thanks to my friends. Furthermore, taking part in these pastimes (or even reveling in really glorious food) brings back really wonderful memories of time spent with great people.

I can’t knit anything or enjoy my favorite soup without thinking of my friend Vanessa, for example, and the evenings I spent hanging out with her at her place. She introduced me to both that recipe, and the joy of transforming yarn into clothing with some pointy sticks.

Similarly, someone I know switched careers and became a full-time calligrapher and letterer after seeing a friend of his create an illuminated manuscript for a reenactment group.

Friendships can open doors for us that we would have never otherwise discovered at all, let alone walked through. 

7. There’s a potential loss of interpersonal skills without regular human interaction.

Have you ever spent time with someone who’s worked from home or otherwise spent a lot of time alone, without interpersonal connections? Quite often, they’ve lost certain social or communication skills via lack of practice.

This of course depends on the individual, but skills we stop using on a regular basis tend to lose their sharpness over time. For example, if and when people communicate solely by text, they might find themselves lost for words or stammering when trying to talk to others face to face.

Similarly, if they’ve been eating alone on the couch with their cat for a couple of years, they may have gotten out of the habit of using proper dining etiquette.

If you’re determined to not have any friends, then be sure to keep flexing your social skill muscles on a regular basis.

Read books aloud so you don’t forget how to speak articulately. Hell, if the only speaking you do on a daily basis revolves around you baby-talking your cat, you may have gotten out of practice with talking much at all. As a result, if you have an online interview or meeting – either with your current employer or a potential one – you may find yourself babbling and stammering instead of holding a fluid conversation.

8. The middle road is often a great choice.

Finding a balance in life is something most of us are perpetually striving towards, and friendships are no different. Furthermore, just because you feel a particular way today doesn’t mean that you’ll feel that way tomorrow. And that’s okay too.

Let’s say you’ve had to deal with a ton of crap from so-called friends and decided that you just want to be left alone. Maybe you’ve moved to another town (or state, or country) and started again with a completely clean slate. Perhaps you’ve even gone a couple of years with little human contact other than a few colleagues via Zoom calls.

All of a sudden, you wake up one day and decide that you wouldn’t be opposed to a bit more human contact than you’ve had recently.

Sometimes, people who are determined that they don’t want friends may find that they’d be okay with just one. They might click with a new person they’ve met and feel like they’ve known them forever. Or perhaps they’ve been talking to someone online for years and have developed more trust and faith in this person than anyone they’ve ever known face to face.

9. Consider your overall health and well-being.

People who are deprived of authentic interpersonal connections don’t live as long as those who have at least one good friend. In fact, research [1] suggests that those with healthy social lives can live up to 50% longer than loners. Furthermore, additional research also shows that loneliness and isolation can increase our risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). [2]

You might be hesitant to cultivate friendships because you don’t want to engage in small talk, or you don’t have the energy to deal with daily texts, calls, or drama.

The key here is to cultivate the types of friendships that you feel comfortable in having. Rather like dating to find a compatible partner, you can try out different friendship connections until you find one (or two) that are right for you.

There are plenty of people out there who also despise small talk, love the same things you do, and are magnificently low-maintenance. They won’t hound you on a regular basis, nor will they pressure you to go out and do stuff you’re not interested in. But they might share great music or hilarious memes with you, and offer some resources that can help you out if you find yourself in a difficult spot.

10. Be willing to compromise if and when you decide to reach out again.

If you do decide that you want to ease back into cultivating friendships, please remember that people aren’t meals or equipment that you can order to your specifications. There will always be aspects of other people that irritate us, but part of human connection is tolerating others’ quirks and foibles (just as they tolerate ours).

For instance, you may discover an incredible connection with a wonderful person but dislike a certain mannerism of theirs or the way they pronounce “salmon.” That’s part of who they are, and it would be unfair to ask them to change just to suit your personal preference. Ask yourself whether the minor irritation you feel is worth discarding a sincere connection with a wonderful person.

Compromise, patience, compassion, and tolerance are necessary in healthy human interactions. Imagine how society would be if we were all expected to behave or look a certain way because someone else demanded that we do so!

*

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to have friends is entirely up to the individual. Weigh the pros and cons associated with friendship versus solitude. Then take into consideration your own needs as far as interpersonal connections go.

Remember that you can always change your mind in either direction. If you try solitude and find that you need more companionship, then reach out to establish it. Alternatively, if you narrow your circle of friends and still find that they’re too much, take a big step back and focus on yourself instead. Animals and books also make excellent friends, after all.

Furthermore, being alone doesn’t mean that one is “lonely.” In fact, you may find significantly more peace and joy in solitude than you would with throngs of acquaintances.

You are entirely within your rights to choose the type of life that you want to live. And if that’s one in which you’re autonomous and free, with only occasional interpersonal connections that don’t drain you or stress you out, then follow your bliss.

Not sure whether you do or don’t want friends? Speak to a therapist today who can listen to you, help you consider your reasons for not wanting friends, and guide you to whatever choice is best for you. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.

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References:

  1. Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLOS Medicine 7(7): e1000316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316
  2. Holt-Lunstad J. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors: The power of social connection in prevention. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2021; doi: 10.1177/15598276211009454.

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About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.