Making friends as an adult is hard. If you recently graduated from college or moved away from home, you might be thinking, “I have no friends.” Being lonely is a feeling that a lot of young adults can relate to.
Having no or very few friends is becoming increasingly common in America, especially thanks to the pandemic. According to The New York Times, while only 3 percent of Americans reported having “no close friends” in 1990, an online poll conducted by the Survey Center on American Life in 2021 puts that number at 12 percent.
All this is to say that if you feel like you have no friend group, you’re not the only one.
Why Don’t I Have Friends?
We’re sure you’re an awesome person with much to offer as a pal. Still, it’s possible that you’ve been faltering at friend-making for any of the reasons we listed here.
1. You don’t put yourself in social situations.
Let’s start with the most obvious. If you work from home and stay glued to the couch once the clock hits five every night, you’re going to have a tough time meeting any new people. Duh, right?
We get it: putting yourself out there is scary. But if you don’t attend social events, chat with your neighbors, join a gym, or basically just leave your house at any point during the week, you’re not going to make friends with anyone but your cat. Mittens, we love you.
2. You’re shy or introverted.
Maybe the reason you stick to your couch is the fact that you prefer it that way. Any introverts in the chat?
For shy individuals, the idea of chatting up a random stranger while on your daily walk sounds worse than cutting off your own arm, though James Franco might disagree.
But guess what? Other shy people would love to meet you! Try downloading an app to make friends, like Bumble BFF. They’re designed for people just like you.
3. You’re dealing with a mental health issue.
Social anxiety and depression have a not-so-funny way of holding people back from being their optimal social selves. If you’re dealing with either of these, we recommend seeking help from a professional, like a therapist or doctor.
The most important thing to remember is that these challenges don’t define you, and help is available.
4. You live in a small town.
We’re not saying you should move, per-say, but just recognize that if the pond is smaller, there won’t be quite as many fish. If you live in a small town, you might have a harder time finding a community of people to hang out with.
You could try joining online communities to foster virtual friendships, or join a social club a few towns over. Maybe your town is lacking a dog park, but a neighboring town has a thriving one where you could meet fellow animal lovers. Check out the surrounding area for social opportunities.
5. You just moved to a new town.
If you’re saying “I have no friends,” but you just moved into town, might we recommend a little thing called patience? It takes time to build roots in a new place.
Lucky for you, we wrote a whole article on how to make friends in a new city chock-full of practical tips for you to follow. You’re welcome.
6. You have different interests than the people around you.
The most common way for adults to make new friends is through work, but perhaps everyone in your office bonds over beer at the local sports bar, and you couldn’t care less.
If you’ve exhausted everyone in your immediate social network, apps like Meetup are great for connecting you with other locals who actually value the same things as you. No more lukewarm beers with Mark from accounting.
7. You’re a bad friend.
If you used to have friends, but they’ve all fallen by the wayside, it might be time to do some serious self-reflection. What caused those relationships to end? Did you prioritize them in your life? Were you a one-sided or toxic friend?
Being a great friend is a good way to bring great friends into your life. If you’ve been toxic in the past, forgive yourself, and put your best foot forward from now on.
8. You’re stand-offish.
It’s not them, it’s you. Just kidding. Kind of.
If you are super unapproachable and hard to get to know, you can’t blame others if they quit trying.
We’re not saying you need to change your entire personality to make friends – that probably wouldn’t work anyway. But being friendly and open when new people talk to you is a great way to start those early conversations that lead to lasting friendship.
9. You don’t have time.
Between school, work, family, hobbies, and other obligations, maybe your life feels too full to add another meaningful connection. And if that’s the case – that’s okay! Don’t feel obligated to maintain a ton of friendships just because that’s the “norm.”
However, if you do want to make more friends, you’ll have to make time for them instead of excuses. It’s hard to foster a new connection if you only see the person every three months.
10. You’re in the wrong crowd.
One reason you might not have friends? You’ve been trying to get in with the wrong people. And we aren’t talking “wrong” by your mom’s definition (aka anyone with more than two piercings). We just mean the wrong fit for you.
Let go of the people you don’t feel like you can be yourself around. That way, you can make more room for new folks who truly like you for you.
What to Do If You Have No Friends
Until friends start growing on trees, it will take a real effort on your part to bring new ones into your life – and to keep them there. Here are some great ways to start:
- Download apps like Bumble BFF and Meetup.
- Join a gym, class, or other organized event where you’ll be around like-minded individuals.
- Piggy-back on other friends’ plans to make new mutual friends.
- Make time in your calendar to catch up with friends you’ve fallen out of touch with.
- Volunteer for a 5K or food drive.
- Go to the dog park and meet other pet owners.
- Befriend your colleagues.
- If you have kids, try scheduling a double play-date with their parents.
- Be open-minded and willing to engage with new people.