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Advice Friendship

News Flash: It’s Okay if You Don’t Have a Huge Friend Group

Sadly, real life isn’t like Friends.

Many of us believed that in our first years after college, we would have a group of friends like we see in Friends. Ya know, six young adults who do absolutely everything together, ranging from coffee shop hangouts to classy parties with a whole lot of strangers. It seemed inevitable that this would one day be our reality too… so how did so many of us end up with no friend group?

It’s not that we don’t have friends. Many of us have lots of friends, but somehow they’re spread out all across the world and they just don’t happen to also be friends with each other. Like, seriously, y’all couldn’t have just morphed into a magical friend group?
Group of Friends - girls taking selfie

Why don’t I have a friend group?

The problem with not having a group of friends is not necessarily with feeling like we have a lack of friends. The problem lies with the social capital we feel devoid of by not having a friend group. No go-to gals to text for a SATC-esque brunch, no group text buzzing with Saturday night plans. Heck, it can be a challenge just to fill up the six-person requirement for that posh rooftop igloo we’ve been dying to go to.

For those of us lacking in the cohesive friend group arena, holidays like Super Bowl Sunday and St. Patrick’s Day feel more like a chore than a celebration. Do we choose to go to a friend’s house, knowing full well that we’ll kinda be the odd one out? Or do we try to mesh together all of our stray friends into the semblance of a group, wondering if they’ll all get along? Oof, anxiety.
Group of Friends - people drinking wine

Going out is exhausting for people like us. Even once we round up a few friends who kind of know each other, we then come toe-to-toe with the absolute unit of a friend group that takes over half the bar. It feels a bit reminiscent of blob tag, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, that was our favorite game. Let us join your blob!

It’s moments like this when we start asking our two friends, “How do they all know each other?” “Do you think they’re all friends from high school?” “How did they find so many people to go out on a Wednesday? Their Ubers must have been so cheap!”
Group of Friends - friend group on stairs

The Emotional Aftermath of Having No Group of Friends

Friend groups are a security blanket. They’re always there to occupy our free time, invite us out to bars, and post us on Instagram so the world knows we have friends. #repost

It feels so good to be engulfed in the muscular arms of a friend group. But unfortunately, that’s simply not the reality for most of us after college. We move to new cities or back to our hometowns,  and oftentimes, our friends don’t come with us. So it’s back to the Glansberg life.
Group of Friends - ladies at brunch

Some of us might even feel embarrassed about our nonexistent friend group, as if heaps of friends who hang out with each other – regardless of whether they’re toxic or not – equates to an elevated social status. It’s kind of like the cheerleader effect, but for coolness.

Likely this can be attributed, at least partly, to the media. Shows like Friends, Sex and the City, New Girl and How I Met Your Mother make it seem like an adult friend group is a guarantee. These portrayals also make it seem like our groups of friends will lead to us inevitably getting cuffed, but that’s a topic for another day.

The urban tribe has long been glamorized. It’s not our fault that we feel crappy about our no-friend-group-itis. The world is just sick with it.
Group of Friends - lonely woman on phone

It’s okay if you don’t have a group of friends

Having a friend group doesn’t automatically make us Blair Waldorf. And not having a friend group doesn’t make us Daniel Humphrey (err should we say, Gossip Girl?). Our personhood is not connected to the amount of friends we invite to our birthday party or Friendsgiving, and that’s just that.

Besides, it’s normal that as we get older, our social circles become more tight-knit. Our jobs get busier, maybe we get married or end up with dependents – both furry and human. There’s just not enough time to keep up with the 20-person group chat. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we probably don’t even like enough people to fill up a 20-person group chat.
Group of Friends - girls laughing

Think about where our parents’ friends came from. Odds are, many of them were picked up later in life – probably through our friends’ parents. Or their coworkers. Or their neighbors. Or church. Literally, the new friends keep comin’ and they don’t stop comin’.

Point being, just because we don’t have enough friends to fill a school bus in post-grad doesn’t mean we never will. We could literally meet one person who unlocks a gold mine of friends at any point in our lives. That’s just the beauty of growing up!

It’s only natural that our social life ebbs and flows… just like our careers, romantic relationships, self-esteem, bank accounts and hair lines (ok, that just ebbs). People will move, we will move, and we will all grow up and change.
Group of Friends - friends laughing

How to Cope with Having No Friend Group

1. Never go on Instagram.

We’re kidding, but truly, if it weren’t for social media, most of us wouldn’t care about our lack of a friend group. Because we see photos of our college roommate’s squad trip to Nashville, we start counting the number of friends in disbelief… five, six, seven, eight, NINE… how did she get nine people to go to Nashville?!

If we find ourselves feeling particularly fragile, it’s time to take a social media break. Or ‘hide’ the people who make us feel like losers. Keep in mind, those people on social media with massive friend groups are the outliers. Most of us are facing dismantled friend groups after college and well into our adult years.
Group of Friends - selfie camera

2. Focus on what we do have.

Quantity over quality is a cliche for a reason. That’s why it’s better to have some really good friends than a giant group of people who don’t care about us. Of course, having a group of friends doesn’t equate to empty relationships, but it also doesn’t guarantee unbreakable bonds.

Next time we’re feeling down about our current social situation, let’s vow to remind ourselves: it doesn’t f*cking matter. Let’s embrace the wonderful friends we have and stop chasing a friend group for fake social capital. After all: two’s a party and three’s a crowd.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is a Cambridge-based, Syracuse-born twenty-something who loves coffee, dogs and stalking Zillow for her future home. Her favorite ways to kill time include strolling through Boston’s cobblestone streets, socializing over a glass of wine, and reading finance books (if only 22-year-old Jess were like this).

She has spent the past 4+ years working in Consumer Insights, and when she’s not working on her 9-5, you can find her pursuing her most recent side hustle as a dog sitter. Jess is co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website with the mission of helping post-grads navigate adulthood.

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