Having close friends, ones who you can talk to, be open with, and rely on generally creates a positive impact on your self-esteem, and although friendships can be a bit fluid, when you feel like you don’t have any, your self-confidence can take a major blow.
It can leave you feeling alone, isolated, unimportant, and your existence can feel similar to watching a movie without sound. This is how I felt when I moved to the US. I had left all of my friends behind. I didn’t speak the language. I looked different, and felt horrifically isolated from society. For the first time in my life, I felt utterly alone.
I wondered how I could have coped better if I would have known more. So, I did some research on the best ways to have confidence when you don’t have any friends, and this is what I found out.
So, how do you have confidence when you don’t have any friends? Shift your focus away from not having any friends and look at ways to do positive things that make you happy or provide some level of fulfillment. Stop being afraid of having no friends and see it as an opportunity to grow and ultimately become a person that attracts the kinds of friends you want.
Spend time connecting with the deeper parts of you that create a higher level of happiness. This will improve your confidence and make you more appealing for potential friends and relationships around you.
Before you start working on attracting new friends, you may want to consider what you are currently doing in relationships.Are you a good friend? – Here is a 10 Point Checklist to Assess Yourself
If you have that squared away, you can look at the top 20 ways to attract a new set of friends into your life.See the List – 20 Ways to Attract New Friends
- Depending on your age, whether you are a girl or a guy and what is going on in your life, there may be some special circumstances that make impossible healthy self-esteem and building the confidence you need, in order to grow your social network and feel better about yourself.
- Confidence and friendships tend to be a bit like the chicken and the egg. We don’t know which comes first.
- Does having confidence create friendships? Or, do having great friendships create confidence? If your confidence is tied to your friendships, then is it confidence at all? Maybe we are collapsing the validation that we get from our friends, that once it is gone, leaves us feeling worthless.
Do you want friends because you truly want friends or because you need their validation to feel good about yourself?
If you are just looking for validation, start looking at how you can feel good about yourself without their validation.
What would it take for you to feel good about yourself?
In order to answers these questions and others, we are going to need to look at what causes confidence and what creates a good basis for great friendships individually and then tie the pieces together.
Do you fall into any of the following life stage categories that has resulted in a loss of confidence?
- Are you in middle school and you have no friends?
- Are you in junior high or high school and you have no friends?
- Are you 18-25 years-old and have no friends?
- Are you 26-34 and have no friends?
- Are you 35-50 and have no friends?
- Are you above 50 and have no friends?
Middle school and you have no friends: If you are in middle school and have no friends, it can be really difficult. This is a tough time for kids. There is a lot of transition going on with puberty and setting up your own identity. If you are being bullied, it’s time to get adults involved. If you have been bullied in the past, this article might help.
The pressure to fit in can be enormous, it is best to be okay with not being accepted. Eventually, you will find someone that understands you. You may have to give it some time. For me, I didn’t speak the language and eventually I got along with the deaf community in my school better than anyone else. Be willing to go where life takes you.
Junior high or high school and you have no friends I was never part of the popular crowd. I found especially that I would lose relationships in high school if I had a friend who liked a guy that liked me.
It’s pretty tough to do at the time, but you have to take your relationships with a grain of salt in high school. This means that you have to remember that relationships will be in a state of flux. Many relationships will disappear after high school when people move, go to school, or start their careers. Expect this, and it may give you the freedom to concentrate on the friendships that will still be there.
18-25 College and Career with no friends This is a tricky time because you most likely are finding yourself trying to get on with college or start your career. The friends from high school are off doing their thing and you are suddenly the “new kid” again.
If you are anything like me, you may feel like everyone around you is more grown up and have their priorities straight, while you are still just trying to figure things out.
Self-acceptance goes a long way here. The success or failure you have during these years can cultivate or kill your confidence, and the friend equation is going to play a role.
Breathe deeply and have fun with it. Don’t take things too seriously. They matter, but a light hearted attitude can open the door to develop new friends.
When you dig deeper, you will find that many are experiencing the same things you are.
26-34 years-old and you have no friends This stage is difficult because you are moving from your enterprising years according to Thomas Armstrong to the contemplative years. You will have many years of adulthood under your belt along with child rearing.
The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life. Thomas Armstrong New York: Sterling, 2008.
If you have kids, your circle of friends may consist of other parents you have met through children’s’ extra curricular events. If you don’t have children, you may find yourself on the periphery of friendships since many other friends are in full swing soccer parent status.
If you feel like you can’t relate, you may need to look beyond your age group to develop healthy friendships.
35-50 years-old and you have no friends This time is tough because of the biological going on for men and women. There are some interesting articles on this season of life.
The conclusion I’ve drawn from the articles I have read is that other primates such as the great apes and orangutans go through similar biological changes and that if you hold on through these times, on the other side, you will find that overall enjoyment trends upwards again as time progresses starting from the early to mid-50s on. Most people report improvements in their lives including the enjoyment they get from their social circles.
It can also be tough when things like divorce or death have been introduced in your life. This season can feel quite lonely. In general, it is a good idea to remember that in life, nothing is permanent.
Friendships are available when you go to work on yourself, and you spend time learning to enjoy who you are.
My husband finds that most of his friendships come from hobby-related activities during these years, and finding new hobbies has helped him a lot.
50 years old and beyond with no friends While most people have made their close friends by this point, and it may feel difficult to break into new relationships, don’t give up. Hobby-related activities, community projects, neighbors and volunteering can be great opportunities to connect.
As we age, we will lose people we are close to. Losing people we care about is difficult and has a way of making us feel isolated.
It’s important to work through the feelings of grief and isolation. Go after things that make you happy. If you have lost interest in your hobbies, it’s time to explore new ones.
No matter what life stage you are in, you can develop lasting friendships. Are you focused on being a good friend and on what you can do for others, or are you looking for validation from others and what they can do for you?
Read through the following list and ask yourself these “tough” questions to adequately assess your ability to be a friend.
Most of us will find a couple of things we can improve on.
Being a good friend Checklist
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you are so driven that you don’t make friends a priority? Making time to cultivate relationships is critical.
- Are you addicted to ambition and winning? This may make others feel unsafe.
- Are you running away from old emotions or traumas of the past? You could be guarding yourself
- Are you self-sabotaging? Is there something that you do that occurs across many different relationships? Can you identify a pattern?
- What’s your body language like in public? Are you closed off? Arms crossed? Is your h
oodiepulled over your head? Do you avoid eye contact?
- Are you short with people? Do you come off angry?
- Do you let others talk or do you tend to dominate the conversation?
- Are you critical or condescending?
- What do you think it would be like to be in a relationship with you?
- Do you find that when people reach out to you, you turn them down? You don’t go to social interactions. We train people in our lives on how to relate to us. If we constantly turn them away, they will eventually stop asking.
Stop and take inventory on how you relate to others.
It feels risky to put yourself out there and face potential rejection.
Most want to feel completely safe when they take on trying to befriend someone.
Top 20 ways to attract new friends
- Be Positive A positive outlook can help generate situations where you can gain new friends. If you are feeling down on relationships, you may inadvertently bring negative feelings into potential relationships. Don’t let negative thought sour out potentially good relationships.
- Separate Fact from Feeling Feeling isn’t fact. It’s important to distinguish between the two. Even though you might feel alone, you may not really be completely alone.
- Be aware of Self-Generated Isolation Is there really absolutely no one you can call? If you pulled out your cellphone now and went down every name in your address book, is there no one who would answer? Maybe you find yourself not wanting to reach out to anyone in your address book. You might be struggling with other things that are preventing you from wanting to reach out.
- Be kind to yourself first If you aren’t kind to yourself and find yourself overly critical, this will absolutely permeate how you deal with others. Make sure to work on loving yourself and treating yourself with care.
- Let go of loneliness Work through your feelings of loneliness. There are many coping strategies to deal with loneliness. Watch videos or read articles on how to let go of lonely feelings.
- Get goals going Set some goals and get connected to them. Set goals that inspire you to grow. Make sure that the goals aren’t too reasonable. A good test is if you know how you will reach your goal then the goal is probably not the right one. It should be a challenge that can only be achieved by becoming someone you aren’t currently.
- Reconnect you to yourself It’s easy to forget that we have a purpose and that time on earth is limited. Think about what will make you happy now (right where you are). What is the one thing you could do right now that would add some sunshine? Be okay that things that used to make you happy may not anymore and explore new avenues.
- Identify what feeling you are after Is it freedom, peace of mind, or the sense of belonging, etc.? We often engage in activities to produce a feeling. Once, you identify what is important to you might discover that you don’t have to engage in the activity in order to enjoy the results you might get from it.
- Share yourself With the plethora of social media outlets, you can easily share yourself with the world. Although the idea of this terrifies many, when you share yourself on social media, you will often find that others are right where you are.
- Engage with education Take an online course or join an online educational community. You can get to know others in forums and while you take courses.
- Pamper yourself Self-care goes a long way to help you feel good. When you get pampered, you feel good. Others pick up on your vibe. Do yourself and others a favor by taking care of yourself.
- Deal with the enemy between your ears Gauge your self-talk and go to work on changing it if it is negative. Do you have a judgemental streak? It all starts with accepting others how they are and how they aren’t. But, you have got to accept yourself first.
- Gratitude journal Start the day off (or end the day) by only focusing on what is going right in your life and what you are thankful for. Shoot for 20 items that you feel good about. Start with simple things and explore. You can also rewrite situations that aren’t good and get thankful for how they could be.
- Get health conscious When you aren’t surrounded by lots of friends, it’s a good time to exercise and take care of yourself physically. Put a pair of sneakers by your bed and put them on and head out in the morning. Do it before you do anything else.
- See a counselor This is a good time to talk to a counselor. Let them help you identify things that are standing in the way of your developing lasting, deep friendships.
- Download a Meet-up app There are many apps you can download to connect with others who share common interests. I’m not talking about dating apps. I am talking about apps that can facilitate making connections with others who share your interests.
- Routine to relationships Put yourself in social situations. You can go to a local coffee shop, or anywhere where people tend to come together to study or socialize. I like to go to the same place every day for a month. You will notice that some of the same people frequent the place. Get to know them over time.
- Follow the FORM principle Get good at small talk. Be positive when interacting with others. Let others talk. Ask them open-ended questions that apply to anyone, like where are you from? It is generally acceptable to ask about Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Money (FORM).
- Get involved in a forum Get involved with like-minded people. Have a conversation and create new relationships. Forums can be a great place to meet people who share similar interests. While making sure that you are practicing safe online browsing practices, spend some time getting to know others. When I was growing up, it was common to have a pen pal to share experiences with and to get insight from.
- Community services and volunteer work When you get involved in a community united by a common goal or effort, you will find that over time the barriers and distance that separates us do fall away. There are always projects that are worthy of your time available, and
community basedneeds are here to stay. I recommend going online (often social media) and do a search for communities you are interested in helping.
In general, the takeaway is that if you aren’t happy with the results you are getting in a relationship, it is time to try out new things.
Edge out of your comfort zone, you may not want to be the person in front of a room engaged in public speaking so strike organizations like toast-masters off your list and practice drumming up conversations with people you don’t know in a coffee shop.
You may feel uncomfortable at first, but that will go away.
Beware of the validation trap
As you meet people, have conversations and put yourself out there, remember that it takes vulnerability. If someone doesn’t appreciate you the way you had hoped, brush it off. It doesn’t say anything about you (or your value). So, don’t go out there seeking validation.
Have a low expectancy in your conversations.
Consider that when you spend your time seeking the validation of others you are giving them the power to invalidate you as well.
It may be enticing to let yourself feel good about yourself when you have success getting to know others, but be aware that validation from others is a bit of a trap.
Don’t get me wrong, you can be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there, just don’t let it mean anything if you don’t get the response you had hoped to get.
Becoming the person others WANT to know
Being alone can actually be really good for you. It is a good time to become your “own best friend.” You will notice that when you are committed to enjoying yourself and you are simply “okay” with who you are, you will put off a vibe that attracts others.
When you are constantly focused on what isn’t going right, it puts you in a negative mindset. You may notice that people steer clear.
Personal growth is a great thing to focus on during a phase where friends are limited.
Remember, it is within your power to have relationships, and taking time to focus on yourself in a healthy way can yield dividends. When your emotional tank is full, you will have the energy to share with others.
When you are ready, you will invent new ways to meet and connect with people.
As you expand and become someone who is naturally likeable and people gravitate towards, the loneliness and time without friends will make you a better friend.
Not only will you appreciate your friends more, but you will have a greater understanding of yourself.
Key differences between Men and Women when it comes to developing friendships
According to the evolutionary anthropologist and author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need?, Robin Dunbar, Humans are primates. As primates, you will typically see a maximum social group of around 150. Beyond this, we may simply be incapable of maintaining close relationships.
But we also see further differences when we make distinctions between the sexes.
Men and friendships
Let’s dive into gender.
Men in general will have a harder time maintaining more friends, something that women will do more naturally. The reason is quite simple.
The man card is at play and most men enjoy reacting on a social level, but often don’t feel comfortable to take the relationship deeper. It seems to be a short step from hello friend to let’s hang out for a round of golf or billiards, but quite a leap to what demons do you deal with on the daily.
So men, often leave the friendships at surface level.
When it comes to women, it isn’t typically an issue of sharing rather, it’s an issue of periphery and acceptance.
Women and friendships
The only problem with women and relationships is that the relationships can look a bit like a bullseye. What do I mean?
Consider the rings on a bullseye. There are peripheral rings that descend into a single ring. Many women say they spend their lives in one of the peripheral rings from a group of girls. They are never the besties from others, rather they tend to join up when it’s convenient.
Whether you are a man or woman, in the early stages of life, or beyond, having close friends enriches our lives. The old cliche of go out be a friend rather seeking for someone to be your friend, has an acorn of wisdom, but I think a follow up sentence would clarify the concept.
Become someone others want to befriend, and you will find that your life takes on a new level of abundance.
Since this article is as much on managing, gaining, and recovering confidence in the face of failed or under-performing relationships, and a lack of friends, we are going to look at what type of confidence promotes or hinders friendships first.
What type of confidence attracts friends and what type of confidence kills friendships
It can be normal to have shifted who you spend your time
Usually friendships are driven by common interests. When your interests shift and those of others, it can naturally result in a loss of close friendship.
It can even result in your not having much of a relationship with anyone.
If you are going through a traumatic time, you may find yourself alone. You may be doing things that push people away.
I like to think of the type of confidence that helps you create friendships as: Either you are running to something or away from something.
If you have the type of confidence that exudes security in yourself, most likely, you will find that others are attracted to who you are as result of this type of confidence.
But if you are running, hiding, ducking and weaving in relationships as a result of an insecurity that you are hiding or for the ultra macho covering your insecurity with bravado that turns people off, you may find yourself losing your friends.
You will want to get introspective and ask yourself what you have been bringing to the table of your relationships.
People want to be in relationship with others who are relatable for them. In other words, they not only share common interests, they share common struggles, concerns and insecurities.
What makes you attractive in relationship is when others pick up on strength, self-love, and similarities to their own lives.