Friendship is a really important part of life, and it's why having trouble making friends can seriously affect our happiness and quality of life. Especially if we move to a new city or job where we can't necessarily rely on old friendship dynamics to get us through the day.
A piece on friendship on HealthGuide.org, a foundation dedicated to mental, emotional, and social health, noted that friendships have the power to improve our moods and can even help reduce stress and depression.
Not only that, but a study featured in the New York Times even found that study participants were more likely to live longer when they had a strong circle of friends, and noted that research out of Harvard found that strong social ties may promote brain health as we age.
Basically, friends help us thrive, so if we have trouble making or sustaining friendships it could be hurting us in the long run. And HealthGuide.org even noted that studies show that friendships fostered online still can't replace a good old fashioned buddy who you can call up on the phone or meet for coffee.
If you feel like you are having trouble in the friendship department, here are 11 reasons why it could be happening, and, more importantly, what you can do about it.
1. You Moved A Lot As A Kid
According to The Friendship Blog, a blog run by relationship author and trained psychologist Irene Levine, Ph.D., moving around a lot in our developmental years can have major impacts on the longterm friendships we formed, as well as affect us as adults when attempting to forge new friendships. If you think this may be your problem, you may just need to make a concerted effort of keeping your friendship goals in mind when meeting new people: get people's numbers, and be proactive about making meet up plans.
2. You're Introverted
Dr. Levine also noted that being introverted in general can affect how easy it is for you to spark up new friendships. It might take you quite a while to open up and be your true self, which can be challenging in situations where you only meet someone for a limited amount of time, like a party or a networking event. As an introvert myself, I've always found the best way to cope with this is by signing up for activities or classes in which I see the same people every single week, like a sports league, or a crafting class. It really can give you the opportunity to warm up.
3. You Claim You "Don't Have The Time"
On her website, leadership coach Felicia Spahr noted that one of the biggest mistakes she sees her clients make when it comes to forging friendships is claiming they "just don't have the time" to spend with friends. She said that if you ever start thinking that way, remind yourself that hanging out with friends makes us feel more invigorated and creative, and so we should never think of it as a time-wasting endeavor. And if you're insanely busy, just try to make it a goal to see a friend or group of friends once a week.
4. People Often "Drop You"
Dr. Levine also hosts an advice column on friendship for The Huffington Post, and in one column in particular she discusses the phenomenon of "friend dropping." This is when a friend or group of friends phases you out, seemingly out of the blue (it's like ghosting, but with friends). If this has been a recurring pattern in your life, she noted that it may be time for some serious self-assessment and thinking about how you treat other people. If it happens to you repeatedly, there could be something that you're doing to drive others away.
5. You're The One Always Making The Plans
In the same column, Dr. Levine noted that this can be a sign you don't have the most solid group of friends. If you feel like you're the one always trying to get the group together, or feel as though others in your group often make plans without you, it could again point back to something you're doing to push people away. Think long and hard about how you make others feel as a friend.
6. You Expect Your Friendships To Stay The Same
A compilation piece for All Women's Health reminded us of the fact that friendships, especially long term friendships, will likely change and evolve — especially as each friend enters new phases of life. A lot of times we might perceive this change as a bad thing, but we often just need to reframe our perspective on it as normal and inevitable. Especially if we want to continue having that person in our lives.
7. You Never Initiate Plans
OK, I know a few points back I mentioned that it was a red flag if you always initiate plans, but never initiating could also be a reason why you don't maintain close friendships. When one friend feels like the other friend never initiates a hang out, the friendship can begin to feel seriously one-sided, and the under appreciated party very well might pull away. So if you're wondering why you don't have any super close friends, it might be time to consider how much effort you're putting in.
8. You Expect Too Much From People
In her advice column for The Guardian, clinical psychologist Linda Blair warned us against expecting too much from other people. Do you expect to become instantly intimate with a person you've only hung out with a few times? Do you think a friend should always drop everything when you call with a problem? Blair noted that this could be the root of a lot of your friendship troubles, and she highly recommended taking a step back and simply expecting less from others.
9. You're Easily Jealous
Blair also warned against jealousy and possessiveness in friendships. Odds are, you're friends are going to have other friends, and that's both normal and healthy. If you have trouble accepting this, it may be time to let go of your narrow definition of friendship (AKA a singular person you're absolutely the closest to at all times) and acknowledge that friendships change and evolve, but that doesn't make them any less real or important.
10. You're Looking For The Wrong Things
The piece on friendship for HelpGuide.org noted that part of the problem could be that you're looking for the wrong things in your friends. When at a party, are you drawn to the loudest person there who commands the most attention? If so, it might be time you take a step back and really think about if that person is the best candidate for a lasting, meaningful friendship. It might actually be the quiet person in the corner who will really have your back.
11. You Focus On The Superficial
And finally, that same HealthGuide.org piece warned against focussing on the superficial or outward when it comes to friends. Do you want to be friends with the "coolest" girl at the office who doesn't seem to find the time to say good morning to you, or the person who seems genuinely interested in what you feel and think? Sometimes it's about letting go of who we think we're "supposed" to be friends with, and forging connections with the people who actually make us feel good about ourselves.
Making and keeping friends — especially in adulthood when our circumstances are often constantly changing — can sometimes feel really hard. However, it definitely isn't impossible, and if you've been feeling like friendship just isn't your forte, it may be time to consider the above possible causes, and more importantly, the solutions.
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