15 Common Reasons Adults Have No Friends or Few Friends
When you have no friends, it can feel like you are the only one. But that isn’t the case. Having no friends, or very few friends, is far more common than you think.
Research consistently shows lots of people are feeling lonely and wish they had more friends. A YouGov Friendship Study published in December 2021 found that 7% of Britons say they don’t have any close friends, increasing to 9% for people over 40. This increases again to 10% of people who describe themselves as introverts. Figures in the US are similar, with some surveys finding up to 22% of people having no friends.
The good news is, there are lots of people out there ready and keen to become one of your friends. How do you connect with them?
This very much depends on why you currently have no friends. This blog will help you reflect on this so you find it easier to decide the best ways for you to make good friends.
As you read through this list of common reasons adults have no friends, consider which are most relevant for you. Then read my next Blog: How to Make Friends in Your Midlife Years and Beyond <HERE>.
1. Not prioritising friends in your life
People who have lots of friends prioritise friends in their lives in terms of both spending time with existing friends and taking the initiative to go out and meet and nurture new friendships. While time can be a challenge there are plenty of busy people who have plenty of friends. It all depends on your mindset, how you cope with life, and how you choose to prioritise friends versus other demands. Imagine how many friends you’d have if you prioritised friendships more.
Do you prioritise time for friends every week?
2. Not meeting enough like-minded people
I used to think there was something wrong with me as I often felt I didn’t fit in at school and or the corporate world. Then I realised I was simply in the wrong environments and not spending enough time with like-minded people.
I’m always heartened when I hear of young people having the courage to change friendship groups because they realise their friends aren’t good for them. It wasn’t until my twenties that I had the confidence to be more selective about making new friends.
When I didn’t find the type of friends I was looking for, I set up and ran groups such as a travel club and business networking groups. Doing this made it easy for me to attract and meet lots of lovely people who have become good friends. You don’t need to set up your new group. Joining clubs and classes where you’ll meet like-minded people is a great step in the right direction. Being surrounded by the right people will boost your mental health and social life.
Are you meeting enough like-minded people who could be good potential friends?
3. Waiting for people to invite you out
One of the most common reasons people don’t have many friends is that they let potential good friends slip through their fingers. If you meet lots of people yet don’t have many friends, start taking the initiative and invite people out for a chat or cuppa more. Likewise, consider doing the same with old friends you loved but have lost touch with. Yes, people may say no, but the more people you ask out, the more likely you are to find people who will say yes and could become good friends.
Do you wait for people to invite you out or are you an initiator?
4. Friends moving on
As we go through life it’s natural to lose friends as they move away, change jobs, transition to another stage of life, or sadly die. Examples include when your friends get married, have children when you can’t or don’t want them, become carers, or travel a lot for their work. Of course, it could be you who moves on while people who were previously friends don’t. This is all natural. Most people we meet and have as friends are only in our lives for a limited time. Life-long friends are the minority. This is one of the reasons it’s important to continue to meet new people and nurture existing relationships.
To what extent have friends moving on contributed to you not having friends?
5. Being a parent or caregiver
Becoming a parent or carer can have both a positive and negative impact on friendships. You are likely to have less time for yourself and friends from the past unless they are in a similar position to you. This can feel lonely and isolating. Especially if providing care is all-consuming as can be the case when you’re caring for someone at home or are a sandwich generation carer-giver (caring for parents, children, and/or grandchildren).
However, it’s also possible to make new friends, get support, and build friendships with new people in a similar situation. You may have fewer friends or meet-ups while you are a carer. A starting point is to seek help so you can spend some time with those you love and cherish the most and make new friends.
How could you create time to spend with others?
6. Divorce or relationship breakdown
It’s common for mutual friends to have a closer relationship with one person in a couple and it’s natural to lose some friends in this scenario. I remember personally, the one thing I worried about most was losing friends because of my divorce. My ex-husband and I had lots of mutual friends, many of whom I didn’t want to lose. Neither did he. It took a lot of effort to continue to nurture friendships with friends I was closest to and wanted to stay in touch with. Almost twenty years later, it’s wonderful that some of my closest friends are still those I met through my first marriage, and to still be on good terms with my ex-husband.
Are there friends from previous relationships you’d like to keep in touch with?
7. Changing jobs or retiring
Changing jobs and retiring can often lead to the loss of friends and leave you feeling isolated if you have relied upon people at work for company and social contact. However, changing jobs and retiring can also be an opportunity to connect with people who are more aligned with who you are and open up new opportunities.
How could you meet more new people?
8. Moving somewhere new
Moving house is one of the most obvious reasons for not having many local friends. Sometimes it can feel like everyone is too busy or already in established friendship groups that are hard to break into. Joining organised clubs and groups, or making friends with other people new to the area is a great way to both get to know people and explore your new home ground.
What type of group could you join to meet new people?
Life-threatening and long-term chronic illness can hugely limit our ability to meet people and maintain friendships. I feel so grateful to have had lots of good friends before I got ill with chronic fatigue, as for the last few years I’ve had very little energy to meet up with even my closest family and friends, let alone make new friends.
Thankfully, there are so many ways to participate in online activities, connect with people, and socialise from home, on days we feel OK. Even before I became ill with chronic fatigue, I built many of my friendships online with people who lived overseas.
How could you make and nourish friends online?
10. Lack of interests or hobbies
Hobbies and shared interests are one of the best ways to meet people who enjoy the same activities as you. There are groups for almost every hobby and interest you can think of. Consider what hobbies you’d like to try to find out if there are any local or online groups for that. If there isn’t one local to you, you could set one up which is something I’ve often done in the past to find like-minded people.
What groups, workshops, classes, or activities could you join to meet people with similar interests?
11. Negative behaviours
We all have behaviours people will love or hate. The same behaviours will be fine with some people yet annoy or trigger others. Where most of our behaviours ‘fit’ with the environments we operate in, people will often tolerate the occasional non-desirable behaviour.
However, if you have extreme behaviours that conflict with others you meet e.g. if you’re often critical of them, negative, bitchy, argumentative, unreliable, aggressive, judgemental, abusive, or a bully, you’re likely to repel people, and find it harder to make, and keep friends. Check out my blog Toxic Friends: 15 Signs of Toxic Friendships
If you have healthy boundaries in place yet sometimes feel hurt, upset, rejected, jealous, not good enough, or disappointed, this could indicate you’ve been judgemental, needy, or expected too much of your friends. Find out more in my blog: Do You Expect Too Much From Your Friends?
I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt this way at some point. By contrast, when we accept people for who they are, and that we all make mistakes, friendships may become easier and more plentiful.
What negative behaviours do you have that could be the reason you don’t enjoy lasting friendships?
12. A Lack of skills
Making and building friends requires a range of skills. These skills include the confidence to go out and meet people (or make friends online), be in social situations, listening, assertiveness, time management, and organisational skills. Plus knowing how to meet people, make friends, nurture nourishing relationships, demonstrate you care, and say no to someone nicely.
What skills could it be in your interest to learn?
13. A lack of confidence or social anxiety
This can affect so many aspects of making and keeping friends, e.g. to try something new or speak to people. You weren’t born with a lack of confidence. It’s something you’ve learned and thankfully, there are many ways to learn how to be more confident again. If a lack of confidence is holding you back, check out books or courses on how to feel more confident. They could transform your friendships and life in so many ways. I used to be so shy I wouldn’t say anything to anyone unless they spoke to me first. It’s only through certain life experiences, books, and workshops that I’ve learned to be the confident person I am in most situations.
How could you learn to be more confident?
14. Not having much money
I’ve included this in this list as it’s a reason people have often given at my events as to why they don’t have many friends, yet to a certain extent it is a smokescreen. There is no doubt it is harder to join in with all you’d like to do with others when you are in financial hardship or don’t have the same disposable income as the people around you. But there are plenty of financially poor, yet happy people who have a great circle of friends. Likewise, lots of rich people are lonely too.
If money is tight, there are plenty of free or low-cost activities you could participate in to make new friends. Many of my fondest memories with friends were doing things that don’t cost much e.g. having a bonfire on the beach, going for walks, having a picnic, sitting outside with a cuppa from a flask, or having friends round for dinner where everyone brings a dish.
What could you do within your budget to make friends?
15. People change
This could be you or people who you’ve previously thought of as friends. With all the lifestyle choices we have today, it’s not surprising that most people we meet are never destined to be lifetime friends. We all change throughout life. Our priorities, interests, and how we want to spend our time. That’s why it’s so important to keep nurturing friendships and meeting new people all through life. Failing to do so could result in you having fewer friends as you age.
If you have no friends, you are not alone. This is a common social challenge that’s sadly contributing to an epidemic of loneliness.
Thankfully, it’s easy to make friends once you identify the main reasons you don’t have friends.
The above are reasons why you may not have friends. For some people, they give clarity and help inform them of the best way forward to make friends. Others turn these reasons into excuses for not having friends by doing nothing differently. What you do is your choice.
Making friends involves finding the courage to be vulnerable and be an initiator e.g. to go somewhere new, explore what’s on the other side of your comfort zone, and ask people out rather than waiting to be asked. But it’s worth it!
If you want more friends, ask yourself, which of the above reasons resonates most with me?
It can be hard to admit, but we always have a part to play in the situations we find ourselves in. Hopefully, the questions I’ve shared through this blog will help you with this.
Want to receive regular friendship tips? Sign up for my Nourishing Friends Blog.
Not sure how to move forward? Check out my Nourishing Friends Course. This practical course shows you how to make new friends and consciously nurture nourishing relationships that will bring you joy for years to come. Find out more <HERE>.
Remember, you matter, your happiness matters, and what you do next matters.
With love and gratitude,
Life Coach, Business Mentor, and Author for Midlife Women
Empowering you to enjoy a life of purpose, adventure, and fun in your midlife years and beyond.
P.S. Have you checked out my books <HERE> yet?
Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to make it easier for women in their midlife years and retirement to live their truth, do something that matters, and make the most of life.
Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success and Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes have favourably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. Personally, Alisoun loves spending time with friends, exploring the world, and living by the beach in Scotland.
Alisoun has written the following free resources:</strong>
- 101+ Ways to Create a Joyful Life of Meaning, Vitality, & Impact (download this HERE).
- Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (download this here)
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