I Have No Friends: Here's What to Do

Lonely girl sitting on stairs at college.

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You might have noticed that, as a kid, you found it easy to make friends. But, as you've reached adulthood, your friends list may have dwindled a bit (or a lot). So, not only might you have fewer friends, but maybe you even have difficulty making new friends at this stage in your life. You might even find yourself feeling like you have no friends at all.

This is a familiar feeling among adults. What happened? Why can't adults seem to find people with whom they connect?

People want to be liked, and people want (and need) friends. Plus, it feels good to like other people. But sometimes, life gets in the way, and many find themselves unable to make any new friends or keep the friendships that are already there.

So, if you feel like you have no friends, what can you do? This article describes why you might not have many friends right now, the benefits of having a social life, ways to make new friends, and how to keep them once you've established a friendship.

Reasons Why You Might Not Have Friends

There are myriad reasons why you might not have many (or any) friends. Of course, these reasons are unique to each individual.

Is it normal to have no friends?

Reports suggest that many adults report having few friends or none at all. Among millennial-aged adults, 27% report that they have no close friends. Societal trends appear to be playing a part, but there are individual factors that may also contribute to the lack of friendships.

If you're wondering why you have no close friends (or no friends at all), there are a number of explanations that might apply to your situation. Let's take a look at some of the common reasons why you might not have any friends:

  • You're shy. For some, it isn't easy to start conversations with people they don't know. So you avoid social situations and stay in rather than go out to meet new people.
  • You have social anxiety. Social anxiety is the feeling of intense fear in social situations. It can be paralyzing and prevent you from doing things that might make you happy, like making friends or meeting new people.
  • You move around a lot. It can be challenging to make and keep friends if you move a lot. When you start to feel comfortable with a new friend group, you might find yourself needing to start all over again.
  • You're a loner. Maybe you just prefer being alone. Some people (especially introverts) feel they should have more friends but, in reality, feel comfortable spending time alone.
  • Your interests don't match up with your coworkers or neighbors. Maybe you prefer tea and visiting coffee shops over beer and watching football games.
  • You don't know where to look. You might not have many opportunities to meet people in person because of your job or lifestyle and don't know where else to look.
  • You're trying too hard. You may be putting too much pressure on yourself to make friends, and it backfires because people see you as needy or feel that you share personal information about yourself too soon.
  • You're not prioritizing friendships. You might have some friends or acquaintances, but you don't really keep in touch, and they eventually stop contacting you as well.
  • Your friendships are only surface-level. You know a lot of people, but you don't let anyone get close to you.
  • Your life is already 'full' enough. Maybe you're busy with a demanding job, family commitments, school, or other responsibilities.

People who don't have friends might be referred to as shy, reticent, unsociable, or loners. In reality, there might be many reasons why people lack friends. Some may want more friends, while others are satisfied with few social connections.

The Benefits of Having a Good Social Life

Friends can be a source of emotional support when needed. A good friend is there for the good times, but they're with you through difficult situations or challenging life events. Below are some other benefits of having friends.

  • Increased happiness. Studies have shown that being extroverted, and consequently having more friendships and social support, can lead to increased happiness.Happiness comes from having a healthy social life. This means having enough friends that provide you with quality interactions.
  • Personal development. Friendships help you develop as a person. People who have more close or intimate friendships tend to be better adjusted socially than those without any friends at all. Friendship provides the chance to develop social skills.
  • Reduced distress. Social isolation can increase feelings of psychological distress, particularly among older adults. In contrast, having friends can help reduce psychological distress. This might be particularly important when going through stressful phases of life.
  • Reduced risk for illness. Having friendships is associated with better health outcomes.

What to Do If You Have No Friends

There are many you can seek out and cultivate new friendships. Below is a list of tips you can use to help make friends.

  • Don't be afraid to meet new people. Make an effort to introduce yourself in situations where you have the opportunity for interaction with others, such as at the grocery store, at the library, or even online. A simple way to meet new people is by joining a club that interests you, such as board games, sewing, cooking, etc.
  • Don't be afraid of rejection. You may not connect with every person you talk to. That's OK! Some friendships are meant to last and develop into lifelong companions, while others are temporary.
  • Find people who have similar interests. Think about what you like to do and who you want to do it with. For example, do you enjoy reading books? Find a friend that loves to read as well.
  • Turn acquaintances into friends. You can turn acquaintances into friends by simply talking to them from time to time, finding out more about their interests, and sharing your thoughts with them.
  • Volunteer your time. Volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people that are passionate about the same things you are! You'll find out what they're interested in, ask them questions, and learn more about their lifestyle.
  • Work on your shyness or social anxiety. If you live with shyness or social anxiety, there are ways to overcome these issues. You'll find out new things about yourself and even meet people who have the same struggles as you.
  • Be open-minded. Some people you meet might be different from you, but that doesn't mean they're not exciting people. Learn more about what makes them who they are rather than judging them.
  • Be open with people about who you are. If someone asks you a question about yourself, answer truthfully. If you don't want to talk about something, say so. Don't act like someone else to impress people. You'll end up with people who like you for the wrong reasons.
  • Be friendly. Smiling and saying "hello" when you see a new person is a good way of making friends. If you are in college and your school has an orientation, go to it! That's where people will be more open about meeting others.
  • Give compliments. This can be something as simple as commenting on a new outfit or complimenting someone's new hairstyle.
  • Ask for their contact information. This can be done after a class, at the end of an online chat session, etc. Sometimes it may feel too soon, but don't wait forever to ask, or it may never happen.
  • Don't come on too strong if you want to make new friends. You might find yourself smothering someone, getting too attached, or even pushing them away with your overbearing neediness.
  • Be open and honest. If you think someone is cool, tell them! Show an interest in who they are and what they like. People love talking about themselves.
  • Try your luck with the "silent" or introverted types. Although introverts might not be social butterflies, that doesn't mean they don't want to make friends. Likewise, just because someone is quiet and keeps to themselves doesn't necessarily mean they are unfriendly. So, strike up a conversation anyway.

Of course, you don't need to use all of these suggestions, so try using the tips that feel most authentic to you and see where it takes you!

Where to Meet New People

If you are unsure where to meet new people, then here are some ideas:

  • Attend a club or organization meeting. Sometimes they will have an open house for potential members. Try attending the meetings and see if there is anything that interests you.
  • Take a class. This is another good way to meet new people. You can ask someone for help or just strike up a conversation with them.
  • Meet people at work. Some of your coworkers might also be seeking friendships, and you already have some common ground. See if any would be willing to meet up outside of work.
  • Join a social media group. If you're not the type of person who likes joining clubs or meeting people in person, there are always Facebook groups. Social media is a good way to get in touch with new people and make lasting connections. If you are too shy to talk to people in person, then finding them online first is an excellent way to start.
  • Get out more. While social media is a good way to connect with new people, getting outside and exploring new places (maybe going to a museum, restaurant, or local park) will automatically introduce you to a vast pool of people.

How to Keep the Friendships You Make

After you've made new friends, you're most likely wondering how you can keep these friendships. Here are some ways to keep your friendships strong:

  • Schedule time for your friends. Meeting up with people every once in a while is helpful, but keeping the friendship alive will require you to meet more consistently. This doesn't mean that you have to spend 24 hours of every day together; simply plan meetings throughout the month and stick to them.
  • Be a better friend. If you want to make friends, you must be a good friend to them too. That means not canceling plans, showing up on time, listening when they talk, and so forth.
  • Stay in touch. Living somewhere else doesn't have to mean never seeing your old friends again. You could try messaging them on social media to see how they're doing.

A Word From Verywell

You don't need to be a social butterfly; sometimes, you may just need one or two good friends. One of the most important things we can do for our mental health is accepting ourselves and finding ways to feel more connected with others. Whatever route feels right for you, make sure you're prioritizing some form of connection with other people.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Glick GC, Rose AJ. Prospective associations between friendship adjustment and social strategies: friendship as a context for building social skillsDev Psychol. 2011;47(4):1117-1132. doi:10.1037/a0023277

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By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.