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“I have a few friends and acquaintances, but I’ve never been good at forming deep friendships. Is it normal to not have a best friend?”
If you don’t have a best friend, you might be wondering whether you’re doing something wrong. But in reality, many people don’t have intimate friends, and it’s normal to not have a best friend.
1 in 5 of the US population say they have no close friends at all, so if you don’t have a best friend, you aren’t the only one. Over half (61%) of adults say they feel lonely and would like to build meaningful relationships.
If you are happy with the friends you currently have, there’s no need to try making a best friend for the sake of it. You might have friends but no best friend; that’s perfectly OK. It’s not necessary to have a BFF.
You might not have a best friend for one or more of the following reasons:
- Few or no opportunities to meet friends: You might live in a rural area, for example, or have a very demanding job that leaves you with little free time.
- Trust issues: Good friendships require mutual vulnerability. Friends open up and share things about one another. If you have problems trusting people, you might find it hard to bond with a potential friend.
- Lack of social skills: This might be because you haven’t had many opportunities to practice your social skills or because your parents did not teach you how to make friends. Other causes of poor social skills include mental illnesses, such as depression, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
- Shyness and/or social anxiety: If you are shy or anxious around other people, you might find it hard to start talking to people and making friends.
- Extreme introversion: Introverts can and do make friends, but they often find it harder to make small talk, which is the first step to forming meaningful friendships.
- Unrealistic expectations: For example, if you believe that best friends never disagree or have arguments, your friendships will not last very long because they won’t meet your expectations.
- Past experience of bullying or rejection: For example, if you were bullied as a child or in high school, you might have come to believe that you will always be an outsider. This can make you reluctant to get close to people, even if you want a best friend.
- Investing time into unhealthy friendships: If you tend to hold on to friendships that are one-sided or toxic, you may not have time to look for better friends.
Some people say they bonded with their best friends almost instantly, but this is unusual. In general, it takes roughly 200 hours of social interaction to go from strangers to close friends.
Here are some tips to help you get a best friend:
- Start by looking for a place where you can meet like-minded people. It’s often easier to make friends with someone when you have something in common, such as a shared interest or a similar outlook on life. Try regular classes and meetups that give you the chance to get to know someone over time. If you’re in college or high school, look for clubs where you can meet students with similar hobbies. You could also try apps or websites for making friends.
- If you have a fun time talking to someone, ask for their contact details. For example, you could say, “This has been a lot of fun. Let’s swap numbers so we can stay in touch.”
- When you’ve got someone’s details, use your shared interest as a reason to keep in touch. For example, you could send them an article or a link to a video they might like.
- Invite your new friend to hang out. See our guide on how to ask someone to hang out without being awkward.
- Spend time with the other person on a regular basis to build a bond.
- Be prepared to open up. Let your new friend get to know you on a personal level. This means sharing your opinions and feelings. If you struggle to trust other people, our guides on how to build trust in friendships and how to get closer to your friends may help.
- Keep in touch and reach out regularly. As a general rule, reach out once per week to maintain a close friendship.
- Know when to let go of one-sided friendships. If you are the only one putting effort into building or maintaining a friendship, it’s usually best to move on. Learn the signs of a true friend.
- Tackle underlying problems in therapy. If you are depressed, anxious, or feel completely overwhelmed by the thought of socializing, therapy might be a good idea. A therapist can help you identify unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors that make it difficult for you to make friends. You can look for a licensed therapist on BetterHelp.
If you think the underlying problem is a lack of social skills, these articles might help:
- How to improve your social skills—the complete guide
- How to read and pick up on social cues as an adult
You might also find our list of the best social skills books for adults helpful.
It’s not always necessary to start from scratch; you might already know someone who could become your best friend. Don’t overlook your current acquaintances or casual friends. For example, if you like one of your coworkers or classmates, you could invite them to meet up outside of work and get to know them better.
You could also try to reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. You may be able to reignite the friendship and get to know each other better.