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If you have no one you can call a true friend, the loneliness can be hard to bear, but there are things you can do to remedy the situation.
Whether you feel like you have no friends at all, or just no friends at school, in college, or at work, you should not let yourself believe that you are unlikable.
You just have to examine the possible reasons why you haven’t yet befriended anyone, and seek to address them.
Here are 21 highly effective tips to getting more friends in your life.
Note: if you’re actually an outgoing and social person, but your personal situation has changed and you miss having friends around you – maybe you’ve relocated, left work to have a baby, recently retired, or something else – the advice in this article is still relevant to you and worth taking on board.
1. Check you are not blocking new friendships.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you are lacking in friends and quite often feel lonely. So it might seem strange to ask whether you are actually preventing new friendships from forming.
You might rightly ask: “I have no friends, so why the hell would I be getting in my own way?”
Well, the answer is that you might not even realize that you are doing it.
The mind is a complex beast and many of the things we do come from a place far below that of consciousness. We do them automatically, without thinking, and without considering how they might be affecting our lives.
These behaviors, which are hidden from you, normally form because of some unresolved personal issues.
You don’t need to have experienced major emotional or physical trauma or abuse to hold some deep hurt within your unconscious mind.
Seemingly unimportant events from your past can affect your present mindset and cause you to put up barriers to friendship.
Perhaps you were raised in an environment that encouraged independence and self-preservation which now means you don’t feel able to rely on other people for anything – including friendship or fun.
Maybe you have been let down by people in the past and you are trying desperately to prevent that same feeling of hurt from happening again. You fear betrayal and disappointment, so you keep people at arm’s length in order to avoid such real risks.
Do you simply feel unworthy of the friendship of others because you suffered from bullying and harassment during your early years?
These are just three examples of how you might be putting up mental obstacles to forming meaningful friendships and why you might have no friends anymore.
The beliefs you hold and the thoughts they give rise to can make it difficult for other people to make friends with you. Ask yourself if this might be the case in your life.
2. Don’t give people the wrong message.
People are usually quite open to making new friends, but they have to feel that the other person wants to be their friend too.
They assess the situation by reading the signs before choosing whether or not to try and forge a connection with that person.
So, you need to ask yourself whether you are giving off the wrong signals to those around you who might be potential friends.
You may say “I have no friends,” but do you shun invitations to social events? Have you done so in the past? If so, you have to realize that people will soon stop asking if you keep rejecting them.
They will just assume that you are either not interested or that you have better things to do.
Then there’s your body language and the influence it can have on other people.
If you appear closed off with arms crossed and head down, it doesn’t fill people with confidence about coming and talking to you.
If you look like you don’t want to engage, they will steer clear to avoid a socially awkward interaction or potential rejection; after all, they are human beings too.
When someone does speak to you, how do you respond? People like conversations that flow naturally and that don’t feel forced.
If you give blunt replies and neglect to make any attempt at prolonging the discussion, the silences will soon have them saying their goodbyes.
3. Learn social skills and practice them often.
Once you have figured out how you might be standing in the way of new friendships, you have to address the issues you have uncovered.
As with any skill, you have to take steps to learn the basics of socializing and then practice every day to become better at it.
You can start as small as you like, even as little as saying hello to a familiar face once a day, but the more often you try, the faster you’ll see results.
You should choose activities that address the particular areas you highlighted in step one.
So if your independence is the reason why you have no friends, you should try asking for help as often as possible; start off with tiny things and build up from there.
If you normally decline the offer of a quick after-work drink, why not ask if you can tag along next time your colleagues head off to the bar.
You only have to stay for one drink before leaving, but you’ll get to know them so much better in a social situation that you ever will in the work environment.
If conversations don’t come easily to you, perhaps memorize a short list of cues that you can use if the dialogue dries up.
Make them generic topics like what someone did at the weekend or what their plans are for the next holiday in the calendar.
Simple things like this can prolong a chat and build the first threads of a bond between you and another.
4. Learn to accept discomfort and rejection.
Chances are socializing does not come easily to you. It probably feels a bit awkward and uncomfortable most of the time.
Whilst that may be the case, you can’t allow that discomfort to put you off trying in the first place. If you want what you currently don’t have, you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone to get it.
The fact is, not every social interaction you have will be a positive experience. And that’s okay. You might not get along with someone. A conversation might never really get going or fizzle out after a short while. They may make an excuse to leave. These things happen, but they are only significant if you believe them to be.
The thing about discomfort is that the more you face it and embrace it, the less intense it will feel the next time. Eventually, that discomfort will be just a tiny feeling deep down that doesn’t bother you. It may even begin to feel like excitement.
And whilst rejection can sometimes sting – especially constant rejection – if you remain unattached to specific outcomes when you socialize, you won’t place quite so much importance on being accepted. You’ll be able to cope with rejection in a matter-of-fact way where you just see it as something that happened, and not some judgment on you as a person.
5. Put the effort in to maintaining a connection.
Once even the slightest bond is formed between you and someone else, you can start to put more effort into that friendship. You can’t expect the other person to do all the work to connect with you just because you’re shy or introverted.
You have to be the initiator of communication and of in-person meetings if you want to develop that connection into something meaningful. The other person may have other friends or social activities that they do, and whilst they might welcome a friendship with you, there may be less impetus on them to form one because of their existing connections.
Assuming you have bonded over a particular hobby or interest, the very least you should be doing is messaging them once in a while to discuss that thing. Ask how they are doing to be polite, but then try to engage them in a little back and forth about whatever mutual interest you have.
Do you support the same sports team? Talk about the game or transfer gossip.
Are comics your thing? Ask for recommendations of new ones to read.
Do you share a love of baking? Send them a snap of your latest batch of white chocolate caramel brownies and ask if they’d like the recipe (or to come round and try one!)
But you can’t just maintain that digital channel of communication. If you want the friendship to go anywhere, you have to initiate physical meet-ups. Again, you can make suggestions that involve the thing you bonded over, whether that’s going to the game together, heading to a comic book convention, or meeting at a fancy cake cafe for a slice and a cuppa.
Be proactive. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Don’t think for one moment that they’d contact you if they really wanted to. The onus is not on them alone; it’s on you too. You can be the one to push things forward at first. Eventually, yes, you’ll want a mutual friendship where both parties are equally invested, but you can be the source of that initial spark of effort.
At the same time, don’t force something that isn’t working. If you put in lots of effort on multiple occasions and they don’t seem to be reciprocating that effort, you should know when to accept that the friendship wasn’t meant to be and transfer your effort to something and someone else.
6. Turn your passions into sources of new friends.
Shared interests are often good building blocks for a budding companionship, so why not take the activities you enjoy doing and turn them into a way to make new friends?
Use services like meetup.com to find like-minded people/groups in your area and then join them to indulge in the things you all find fun.
The beauty of basing friendships on passions is that it’s an easy thing to talk about for even the most socially awkward person. You will know the subject matter inside out and will likely have lots of opinions on things. You won’t be left grasping for things to say; conversations will flow naturally.
This tip is so simple that even if you have no friends today, you’ll have a social life in no time.
7. Join friendship apps.
To get a friend, be a friend to someone else who may be lonely, isolated, or simply looking for a companion.
There are loads of apps out there to help people make friends (check this great list). You create a profile and match with other people who may have similar interests.
There are general friendship apps, apps for people who are into sport and fitness, apps for new moms, apps for dog owners/walkers, apps to connect with your neighbors, and apps for those who just want to grab a coffee with someone new.
This is a great approach for those with social anxiety. You don’t have to try to meet new people in person and figure out who might be looking for a new friend too. The people on these apps are on them because they want to find new friends. It takes away some of the awkwardness around initial conversations and the “let’s be friends” moment.
8. Be genuine.
People connect with other people who show openness and vulnerability. That doesn’t mean you have to spill your heart out to anyone – it means you have to be yourself, show yourself, and don’t be ashamed of your quirks.
People like quirks. When someone is willing to show their quirks, it makes those around them relax a little more. After all, we all have something that we think makes us ‘weird,’ and we often try not to show it. But if someone else is already showing theirs, we feel more comfortable showing our weirdness – celebrating it, even.
Being genuinely yourself is also a lot easier. You don’t have to think about how you should behave or what the right thing to say is – you just do and say what comes naturally to you.
People can tell when someone is being authentic. Likewise, they can tell when someone is being inauthentic. If they had to choose, they will choose the authentic person every time. It will just feel more real.
9. Be a good friend.
The people you meet and the friends you make will not hang around for long if you are a bad friend to them.
Make sure you give as much as you take. Be kind, be generous, be reliable, and be flexible. Be honest, be trustworthy, be respectful, and be positive.
Be a good listener and allow others to express themselves and their feelings without judgment, without being critical of their choices, and without trying to control them.
Take responsibility when you do something that upsets them. Say sorry and mean it. And be forgiving, understanding, and compassionate when they show their human side and upset you.
Lift others up, don’t bring them down. Celebrate with them when something good happens in their life; don’t begrudge them their success or try to one-up them.
Be excited to see them, but be genuine. Don’t be a source of drama in their lives, but instead be someone who contributes in a positive way. Support them when they need help or a shoulder to cry on.
Be the type of friend that you’d like them to be to you.
10. Start small and take baby steps.
If your shyness or social anxiety is a big hurdle to get over, don’t try to jump it all at once. You can start small with people you already know in some context.
Practice your listening and conversational skills with them. Get used to how the back and forth goes. You don’t have to speak with them for a long time, but do try to engage with them regularly and watch as your conversations naturally grow longer and more open.
Next, try to say something to a stranger (or relative stranger such as a neighbor). Start with a passing comment about the weather where it’s a quick back and forth that doesn’t go any further. Notice how simple that interaction was and how it went just fine (because it surely will).
Then build up to a slightly longer interaction – perhaps compliment someone on a piece of clothing or jewelry they are wearing, and ask where they go it from.
Each time, take a conscious note of the result. Assuming it was positive, use that as a reminder for next time to help overcome any anxiety you may be feeling. You’ll be able to counter thoughts about how it might all go wrong with memories about how it has all gone right in the past.
If you have a negative experience, ask what might have happened or how you could do things differently in future. Was the person in a hurry to get somewhere? Did you catch them unawares and make them jump?
Perform an internal high five with yourself when you have a good interaction. Notice how good it makes you feel. Perhaps even reward yourself after interactions with five different people in a day.
The more baby steps you take, the easier things will become. Your anxieties may never completely go, and you may remain somewhat shy, but the more you practice, the more you’ll be prepared to act in spite of your worries.
Lack of friends bringing you down? Want to talk to someone about it? Speak to a therapist today who can help you feel better and make new connections. Simply click here to connect with one.
11. Remember that you’re dealing with another human being.
When you want to make friends or grow a friendship, always keep at the forefront of your mind the fact that you are dealing with another human being. This has a number of implications.
Firstly, when you interact with them, they might feel a little nervous too. This may not apply to very outgoing people, but many people experience some nerves when around others they don’t know that well. Although your nerves may be on a different level, you are not alone in feeling them.
Secondly, this other person is going to make mistakes. They might forget to reply to your message, they might have to cancel plans, and they might upset you in any number of ways. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to be your friend. It just means they aren’t always perfect. Of course, if this is a regular occurrence, you might want to consider whether this person is going to be a worthwhile friend.
Thirdly, this person has other things going on in their life. You might really enjoy their company and want to spend all your time with them, but you’ll need to respect their other commitments. They might sometimes not be available for a little while because they are busy with other things. So make friends with this person, but don’t make them the center of your world.
12. Don’t be desperate.
You might well feel desperate to make a few friends, but there’s a difference between feeling desperate and being desperate.
Being desperate means trying too hard. It means displaying needy behaviors rather than natural behaviors. And people tend to pull away from neediness and clinginess.
Don’t be a suck up. Don’t be over the top with your compliments. Don’t try to please others all the time by making unhealthy sacrifices. It comes back to being genuine. People don’t mind a little pushback once in a while because they know that even the best of friends will disagree on things.
It’s okay to state your preferences or give your ideas or share your opinion on something, even if other people might not always agree.
In fact, being a people pleaser can attract the wrong sort of people into your life – people who would take advantage of your agreeable ways to manipulate you or use you.
Maintain your self-respect and ensure that other people treat you with respect too. If your ideas or suggestions are always ignored or voted down, you have to have an honest look at whether this person is the right kind of friend for you.
13. Make friends online, but don’t let them be your only friends.
The thought “I have no friends” is often accompanied by another thought of “and I don’t know where to find them.”
But there are plenty of opportunities out there. These next three points will give you the most common ways people meet and make new friends.
With millions of varied forums, Facebook groups, chat rooms, websites, and other places for online engagement, it is often easier to find like-minded people through this digital medium.
This is not a bad thing by any means, and it can help you to practice your social skills in a safe environment, but don’t rely too heavily on friendships of this type.
14. Be interested in the other person.
A great tip for being someone other people want to spend time with is to show a genuine interest in those people and their lives.
People like to feel interesting, and there’s no better way than to have someone listen to what you have to say. You could be that someone. You could be the great listener that people want to talk to.
Ask questions based on what the other person has already said, allowing them to expand upon those points. Remember things they have said in previous conversations and follow up on them – this will show that you truly listened and cared about what they were saying.
Most people will naturally want to engage you in the conversation, too, by asking about your life. As long as this happens and the conversation – and friendship – goes both ways, you’re onto a winner.
15. Contribute and find your role.
When you find a group of people and start to build friendships with them, you can create a role for yourself within that group. This involves bringing your unique skills or talents or personality traits to the table.
Maybe you have a knack for organization. Be the person that the group turns to for planning events or making reservations.
Perhaps you are particularly intelligent. You can be the brains of the group – the one others look to for facts or information or quiz answers!
Are you calm and peaceful? You can be the person who mediates disputes among group members or who brings debates that are in danger of turning into conflict back to more neutral ground.
When you bring a particular thing of value to a group, you become indispensable.
16. Build a social circle by cross-introducing friends.
Once you have made one or two friends, you could help strengthen the bonds you have with them by introducing them to each other.
If they enjoy your company, there is a reasonable chance that they will enjoy each other’s too. This is especially true if you all share interests or have similar temperaments.
Do this successfully and you will have created a circle of friends which is more resilient and likely to last.
17. Aim for friendships that have a deeper connection.
There are different types of friendship and one key way in which they vary is in the level of intimacy present.
Superficial friends are far easier to come by than those where you feel comfortable opening up and sharing your darkest thoughts.
If you currently have no friends, it can be tempting to opt for a more surface-level connection, one which carries fewer risks and is easier/quicker to form.
The friendships that matter most, however, are those handful that stand the test of time and enhance your life in a major way.
So try to turn one or two of the friends you make into close friends.
18. Don’t go chasing friends.
Even though you have no friends and you might feel lonely, it’s important that you don’t try too hard to make someone your friend if there is no real connection there.
Chasing people and trying to force friendship upon them is never going to work.
So while you should always give people a good amount of time to see if there is the potential for the deeper connection we just spoke about, know when to call it quits.
It’s a bit like dating; if it doesn’t feel like a serious relationship (in this case a friendship) is on the cards after a short while, you don’t have to feel guilty when parting ways.
19. Numbers don’t matter.
When you literally have no friends, the number that you are able to make doesn’t really matter. A single friend is better than none.
So don’t worry about trying to form a connection with lots of different people at once; focus your efforts on a small number – perhaps just one or two – and then slowly work your way up from there.
If you find that you can’t keep friends after making them, ask whether you are spreading yourself too thin in terms of the time and attention you are giving people.
This is especially important when you first make friends with someone. Regular contact and connection is what forges strong bonds.
20. Look beyond the barriers of age, race, class, and gender.
As an adult with no friends, it can be easy to think that you are most likely to make friends with those who are of a similar age, social background, or gender, but the truth is that these things matter less than you think.
What matters is shared interests, shared values, and compatible personalities.
So don’t limit yourself when seeking new friends; go beyond the barriers that keep people apart and discover a whole world of potential companions.
21. Get help for depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
Is your mental health making it more difficult to be social? Depression, anxiety (especially social anxiety), stress, abandonment issues, and lots of other things can make friendship and socializing seem like too much to handle.
If you suffer from any of them – or think you do – make sure you are getting help to cope with their effects. Left untreated, or where the treatments you’ve tried aren’t helping, they will form barriers to you making friends and maintaining those friendships.
That’s not to say that you need to ‘cure’ yourself of your mental health issues before you’ll be able to have an active social life. It comes down to having the right coping mechanisms in place to deal with any situations that may trigger certain feelings.
Once you get them under some sort of control, you will be more confident in yourself and more assured when you see and speak to other people.
Right now, as you’re reading this, it may seem to you as though you have no real friends and no one likes you. Just remember that it doesn’t have to be this way.
You have the power within you to forge new friendships and create a social network of people you hold dear.
It takes time and determination to build those bonds of companionship, but once you have, the rewards are great.
Do you want help dealing with your loneliness, social anxiety, and struggles making friends? Talk to a therapist today who can help you work on those things and more. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
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