Why do I find it so hard to make friends?

Making friends. It was so easy when I was little. Shall we dress up as Disney Princesses and play Barbie’s? Yes? We’re friends.

And everywhere I go, it still seems like it’s that easy for everyone else – people are collecting new pals left, right and centre, from the school run to the gym. Yet here I am, feeling like I couldn’t make a friend whilst wearing an ‘I need a friend’ badge at a friend convention.

When I meet new people, I feel like a mess. It’s like I’m incapable of having a comfortable, normal conversation without spewing utter tosh – either completely oversharing (who wants to swap birth stories?!) or stumbling over words like I just learned English.

To be fair, plenty of people have said it’s not something they’ve noticed (I touched very briefly on this in one of my very first blog posts) – I guess I’m a pro when it comes to wearing my confidence mask. But inside my mind is racing, questioning everything – everything I said and did, everything the other person said and did…maybe even a quick cross reference to an awkward conversation I had when I was 14.

It leaves me feeling paranoid and different – I know very well that the brains of people with good mental health don’t work this way – and it sets up hurdles and gnawing anxieties for the next time. So sometimes I find myself faking jaunty social encounters just to be normal, the irony being that they leave me feeling the exact opposite. 

It’s created a situation where it feels impossible to make real connections with people. I crave human interaction but am too terrified to establish it. It’s exhausting.

I’m smart, caring and if I do say so myself, pretty fun – I’m a good person and a good friend. So what the hell’s my problem?

Maybe I don’t make friends easily because I’m scared of upsetting my best friend – WINE

I don’t feel like I reject people but maybe, at least subconsciously, I do. Maybe years of a heady mix of fear of rejection, feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence have just made it impossible for me to connect. Maybe the safety and comfort of my longstanding friendships play into those anxieties and make new relationships too risky? Maybe I’m just not confident enough to put my true self out there, or maybe I’m asking too much from others, too quickly. Maybe I can’t cope with being flexible enough to meet people, get on, not get on, whatever.

Or maybe, this entire situation is a negative thought spiral that got out of control and has continued to perpetuate itself, even though I’m actually in a much healthier place now.

There’s no doubt that mental ill health affects friendships. People have started talking more about how you can support a struggling friend, but no one talks about how hard it can be to establish those relationships in the first place. And how overthinking and obsessional thoughts are the death of the spontaneity and natural flow of human connections.

I’d set up a friendship dating site for us all, if I thought any of us would have the confidence to sign up.

35 thoughts on “Why do I find it so hard to make friends?

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  1. Great blog post. I’ve left the school life where it was easier to make friends due to having one thing in common, which was school, and now that I’m out of that environment it has been much harder to form genuine friendships as an adult.

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    1. I feel like it’s much harder to make adult friends. I have a lot of fb friends, but they are not actual relationships. I think social media has put a damper on real social interaction. There are some books about making friends as adults.

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  2. Love this post! I identify with a lot of it, also, I’ll be your friend, I love fellow anxious people and I can’t be friends with someone if I can’t have a proper conversation with them, I can’t be doing with small talk x

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    1. I think you would make a great friend! Love the friend saying site idea, too! Thank you for being vulnerable. Your words were everything I have felt but never said out loud.

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  3. Yes yes yes yes! How did you get inside my head to write this? I feel like you’ve stuck your hand in my head, pulled out my feelings and fears and then rearranged it with some words into a perfectly articulated post!
    It is SO hard to make friends when you have any kind of mental illness. Those intrusive thoughts questioning and second guessing every aspect of your conversation and friendship is beyond annoying. It’s also exhausting having to pretend you’re ok in the early stages of a new friendship because you don’t want your opening line to be I have a mental illness and scare them away. You need to know someone before you can entrust them with it.
    I’m more of a fan of Care Bears & my little ponies than dressing up, but if you ever want to come over for a play date, you’re more than welcome! Bring milk, I have cookies 🙂

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  4. We all feel like this sometimes. I remember this feeling being pretty devestating for me when I was in my early 20’s. Since then I am able to control it more when I start going down this path.
    I tell my brain to have some forgiveness. I remind myself that the people that matter the most to me know that I have a good heart, even if I screw up sometimes.
    It doesn’t solve the awkward new friendship conversations but puts things in perspective and it helps reduce pressure.
    If people aren’t patient enough with you to get to know you, they don’t deserve your beautiful friendship.

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  5. I think a friendship dating site is a great idea. I mean we live in a world where we can hire professional cuddles, so why not? Your feelings are valid, so don’t question that. Instead, find small steps you can make to take you from where you currently are and where you want to be. All the best!

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  6. I think about this all the time. Childhood gives you the time, the resources, and the innocence to make friends. Everyone has the same goal: to play. Adults have various lives, interests, and insecurities. So, it’s hard to find people who share your common interests, schedule, and personality. I think it’s another reason why people are so obsessed with social media. We get interaction from people who share our common interests that are hard to find in the real world, and we’re not afraid to speak up or share on there like we are in person.

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  7. Thanks for sharing. Making friends as an adult is a challenge for me as well. It’s something I didn’t realize until I observed my sister’s interactions. What worries me is the fact that I’m terrible at keeping the ones I have so I’m trying my best to work on that.

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  8. I love this post so much and could relate to it on so many levels. As we get older, making friends definitely gets more difficult.

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  9. My humble opinion: I think it’s rooted in your confidence and not any lack as a friend. The next time you find yourself ina social setting, practice replacing each negative thought with a positive one. Hope that helps!

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  10. Making friends can definitely be a a challenge, however, when you find those incredible people that are meant to be in your life, it won’t matter if you stumble over your words of if you’re a little awkward. They don’t love you in spite of these quirks, they love quirks and all

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  11. I can relate to this post. As kids, we don’t overthink things and just enjoy a new friend’s company. I had a conversation with my neighbor this morning and I couldn’t help but replay what I said or should have said as I walked away. Mind you, this was a simple, casual talk. No important exchange of details or urgent information. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone 🙂

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  12. Yes! This is something that drained the life out me as a fresh Stay at home mom. You no longer have the everyday adult human interactions so you find yourself lonely. I too let anxiety get the best of me when it came to socializing. But just like dating for romance, I find that the best friendships come along when you aren’t looking. As long as you are getting out and attending things you enjoy, you’ll eventually find those organic friendships ❤

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  13. You clearly are a wonderfully kind person. I would be your friend! You seem like you would be easy to talk to, open, and very caring. I love your genuineness in this article.

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  14. I resonate so much with this , and even right now whilst I’m typing this I see women around me who could be thinking the same thing, in a similar position…. a friendship club/group sounds nice x

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  15. I’d be your friend! Making friends is really hard! I think right now the only real friend i have is my husband. There is no one that I can phone or meet when upset. I feel maybe I just wear people down. The problems of life and being a stressed out mum. I suffer complete lack of confidence as well, forever questioning everything and anxious.
    Yes as an adult, making friends is not at all easy!

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  16. I always feel that when I meet people, they already have friends, so I’m not really a priority. I’ve struggled most of my 30’s to make new friends. I find myself shying away from conversations. It was so much easier being a child.
    Saying that, I do find myself more confident talking to random people in queues or at the park. I never would have dreamed of doing that years ago.

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  17. The way I see it, in this technology age people are so busy staring that down at their phone that humans do not communicate as much. And the fact that I’m an introvert and get really uncomfortable in large social situations and I can definitely empathize with your situation. However, if you ever want to talk I am always a good listener.

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  18. I absolutely get this, With my second son, we didn’t do NCT classes so I downloaded the Mush App to meet some other Mums in our area. I was never brave enough to reach out to anyone though so it was a total fail!

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  19. I’m sorry to hear you have these feelings and I’m guessing you don’t appear nervous when you meet people. I appreciate your honesty and after reading several of your blogs I feel you are already a friend to me. PS Wine is my friend too 🙂

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  20. So relatable. You’re definitely not the only one. The problem with anxiety is you’re too inside your own head and you psych yourself out. You convince yourself no one would want to be your friend when that in fact isn’t true. Go easy on yourself. And let’s be cyber friends, haha!
    – Morgan

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  21. I love this post! I’ve never understood how people just seem to naturally make friends, but then again I’m not convinced they understand either – I think they just do it on instinct, but we don’t have that instinct. 🤷

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  22. This is something I’m struggling with as well. My two best friends left the country and we started growing apart even though I tried hard to make it work between us. It’s life and I accepted it. But I’ve been trying to make new friends and feel like I’m desperate! Maybe feeling like that pushes people away, I don’t know.

    Thank you for writing this. I feel a little better now 🙂

    And you should totally set up that website! 😉

    – amilief

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  23. I agree with you, it becomes harder to make friends as we grow lol. I never reject anyone before unless there some issues that I don’t really like, I would talk but not start a friendship.

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  24. Making friends as a kid was the easiest thing in the world, but I think I’m the same with the subconsciously rejecting people thing. I’ve had so many people drift or walk away that sometimes I’m like “why let someone else in?”. At least internet friends count
    Ash

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  25. Socially, it’s a challenge. It’s awkward and that fake feeling permeates my mind or the oversharing starts. Worse, silence or nods from me means it’s all just overwhelming. I’m super funny and just plain fun to be with BUT with new people it’s a mess for awhile. It’s getting better by taking friendships in baby steps. Taking it a bit slow allows for great folks to be used to me and the reverse. Bottomeline, just really loved your blog post, thank you!

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  26. I feel this so much! I’ve never had a massive friendship group but after moving away from home I feel like I don’t really have any friends here… I’d love to have someone that I could just pop over and have a cuppa and a chat with! Or someone who’ll go bargain shop hunting with me. Not asking for much 🙈😂

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  27. I totally understand what you mean. Especially now that I’m in a different country and can’t always handle accents, I find myself keeping to myself more than ever. I worry about saying the wrong things, not hearing things people say, or mispronouncing things all the time. It certainly doesn’t help that I’m awkward to be around because I can’t do small talk.
    It makes me wonder though, what if a lot of us feel this way? What if we’re worrying when perhaps half of us feel the same way?
    Thanks for making me feel less alone! 🙂

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