Don't Have Any Close Friends? You’re Not Alone!
What you need to know about friendlessness.
“I don’t really have any close friends,” she lamented — a common refrain among women I began to hear in earnest when I started freelance writing and connecting with readers on social media platforms. This time, though, I heard it from an acquaintance I encountered in person.
Her honest disclosure both surprised me and it didn’t. She knows me by reputation well enough to know I appreciate real talk, not small, and that I’ve struggled with finding and retaining friends, too. She knows I like to talk about the hard stuff because I think that’s what helps us all the most. Thus, she had nothing to lose by laying her heart bare — only relief to gain by venting the pressure valves a bit.
What I want her — and every other woman in her shoes — to know is friendlessness isn’t forever. It’s just for now. Not only that, the struggle to find quality female friendships that stand up to rigors of life isn’t rare, like winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning are. The circumstance of feeling friendless is common, and it isn’t a reflection of a person’s worthiness — for each of us was born worthy of love and companionship, a nonrescindable birthright.
It’s granite hard to find your soul mate in another woman, and finding groups of women you fit into seamlessly can be among the trickiest of feats. So don’t buy into what those highlight reels — featuring bliss-filled girls’ nights out or ride-or-die bonds that seem to grow on trees for everyone else — are trying to sell you.
I grew up an only child, a latchkey kid of divorced parents. After my father left when I was 2, a family member sexually abused me for years. So to say I had trust issues and trouble forming healthy attachments to people would be an understatement.
My mom had to relocate us frequently in order to find work and affordable housing; as a result I went to nine different schools by the time I graduated from high school. Constantly starting at new schools molded me into a shy loner, never feeling like I belonged anywhere.
For the sake of brevity let me just tell you I had trouble making and keeping friends from the get-go, and throughout my formative years and into college I mowed through roommates like a well-tuned John Deere. I wasn’t good at making friends until I became a mom in my late 20s, when my inner workings were seemingly rewired and I experienced a kind of rebirth of my own.
Maybe it was that I’d matured and was learning to nurture others in a way I’d always longed to be cared for. Maybe it was that I finally had stability in my life and got to stay in one city, on one street, in one house for several years — long enough to put down roots for the first time. Maybe it was a lot of things, but one thing I’m certain of is I didn’t see it coming: me finally making solid, loving friendships that lasted.
My kids are grown and flown now, and with their flight I lost the ability to make friends via the friends they make. There’s no more pushing the jogger stroller in the ’hood and happening upon other moms doing the same. No more chatting up other moms in the stands at baseball games. And though I have amazing friends in my life now, I’ve also lost some and had to let go of others over the years.
As I write this, I’m currently being ghosted by a friend who was among my best — but then suddenly cut me out of her life like mold on a block of cheese. One day I was part of her life and the next I wasn’t, and she won’t tell me why. In what wasn’t then but now seems like the next breath, my life crumbled when my husband had a workplace affair and was forced to leave his career as a result.
I eventually found healing in writing about my marriage story, and the next thing I knew I was responding to a heartfelt email from a fellow new writer I met in an online community. Today, three years later and after getting to meet each other in person and then traveling together some, she’s the whipped cream on top of my milkshake.
She and I make life better for each other, and what I want you to focus on like a beacon of light at the end of a dark tunnel is that I never saw her coming. Her appearance in my late 40s and offer of friendship at the bleakest time in my life doesn’t make sense on the surface, just deep in the folds of the mysterious, unexplained universe.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with you if friendships seem illusive or hard to maintain. Humans can be wily and hard on each other. Just because you’ve had it rough in the realm of finding others to do life with doesn’t mean you always will.
Your next close friendship could literally be right around the corner or a few clicks of the keyboard away — no matter your age or current life circumstances. Since you’re not a crystal ball you won’t get to see her coming. Instead, I’m asking you to have faith that she will.