“I have no friends”: 6 steps to get the friends you want

Scientifically reviewed by Viktor Sander B.Sc., B.A.

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During my high school years, it was hard for me to connect with people. I felt depressed when no one liked me, and I hated having to spend weekends and evenings alone.

Say hi to old David

On top of that, I was an introvert who felt shy in large groups, so parties or mingles were not for me. I was certain there was something wrong with me. I wondered “Why don’t I have any friends?”

I started reading about social skills and how to get a social life up and running. I went from “I have no friends” to “I have no time for all my friends”. Let me tell you this: Making friends as an adult is harder than back in school where you naturally meet people all the time. So I’m very proud that I found a way that works for ANYONE, even if you’re an adult.

What I’m about to show you works both if you are a college student, in high school, working, or between jobs.

No longer an outsider

I post this picture here not to brag, but to show what my life looks like today (And maybe to brag a little bit, because I’m very proud of my transformation 😉 )

As it turns out, there was never something fundamentally wrong with me. It was just that I hadn’t learned the steps to turn strangers into acquaintances, and acquaintances into close friends. These are the very steps that helped me go from lonely to a life full of friends.

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Before we start – what if you feel low about yourself?

When I saw how everyone made friends but me, my self-esteem tanked. It’s not fun to socialize when you feel bad at it. That’s why advice like “Just go out there” or “Just be more social” SUCKS.

I’m living proof that even when you’re in this rut, it can change. It turns out that even I, a nerdy introvert, could transform my life from a loner to having a life full of wonderful close friends.

EVERYONE can be GREAT at making friends, even if they feel like they lack something fundamental.

These steps are made to work if you’re NOT naturally social or extroverted.

(If you want more tips on what to do when socializing feels boring, read more here.)

1. Finding friends as an introvert

Here are some misconceptions about finding friends. Understanding this makes socializing more fun.

FALSE: To make friends you need to be shallow, loud, and fake.
TRUE: Making friends is about being warm and authentic. (More on what I mean by that later.)

FALSE: To make friends, you need to go to parties, bars, and mingles.
TRUE: Those places suck to make friends! People mostly go there to have fun with their existing friends. (Here’s my guide on how to find like-minded if you’re not the party type.)

In other words, you DON’T need to be overly nice or extroverted. That just takes energy. Instead, you want to go to places where you’re the most likely to find people similar to YOU.

For example, I’m interested in entrepreneurship, so I went to a weekly business group for beginners. (I actually made most of my friends from this single group!) I’m also interested in philosophy. But there was no philosophy group in my small hometown, so I decided to start my own.

“But David, it’s not just that I have no friends, I have no interests!”

I’m not talking about your life passion – I talk about anything you might like doing.

I put together a step-by-step guide for finding interest groups that fit YOU or creating your own group here.

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Tip 1: DON’T go to “New in town”-groups or “Make new friends”-groups.

Why? Because anyone goes there. You want to go to the places where chances are that you can find your “tribe” ie – groups with your interests. When we meet people who we can relate to, we bond so much faster.

Tip 2: If you go to a meetup based on interests, you can skip the small talk

If you go to a place where people have specific interests, you can always talk about the interests and you don’t need to make awkward small talk.

Tip 3: Interest groups are often less intimidating

I loved going to groups where people were just as nerdy as I. I didn’t need to feel intimidated. On the other hand, going to places where extroverts went just made me nervous.

2. Talking to strangers when you’re anxious or shy

As I explained in the previous step, it’s less intimidating to go to interest-based meetups. But it can still be really scary!

I was afraid to talk to strangers. But eventually, I learned a trick that changed all that:

In one study, participants with social anxiety had to meet with a complete stranger 1 on 1. The scientists asked half of the participants to focus on themselves: How they might come off, etc. They asked the OTHER half to focus on getting to know the stranger: What they were up to, what they were doing, etc.

The results?

People who focused on the other person described themselves as considerably less nervous than those who had focused on themselves.[1]

What does this mean for you and me? Actively force your brain to focus on the other person. (Instead of worrying how you come off.)

Here’s an example of how you can focus on the other person or the conversation

Let’s look at this photo. Ask yourself the following:

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

  • What did she do before she got here?
  • What might she do after she’d been here?
  • What might she be going?
  • What’re her interests?
  • Passions?
  • Dreams?

What we’re doing here is cultivating an interest in people. It has two benefits:

  1. It makes us LESS self-conscious (because we focus on them instead of obsessing about ourselves.)
  2. It makes it EASIER to come up with conversation topics.

Next time you take a walk, ask yourself questions about the people you meet. See what that makes to your self-consciousness.

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I explain in detail how to cultivate an interest in people here.

3. Show that your friendly immediately (even if you’re not sure about the other person yet)

When I felt intimidated by people I met I had a safety behavior. I became a bit more reserved. I waited for others to be friendly first.

THIS BEHAVIOR KILLS OUR CHANCES TO BOND!

Others just see you as distant and unapproachable. The secret to connecting with people is to dare to put down our mask FIRST.

Why does everyone love dogs? Because dogs dare to show how much they love you. Well, it’s not about being needy as a dog. It’s about being warm and friendly. I explain it more in detail and show examples in this video:

I go more into detail about exactly how to put down the mask here.

4. Give people a chance to get to know you

Here’s a huge mistake I made:

I felt uncomfortable talking about myself, so I didn’t share anything about myself. As a result, people didn’t have a chance to get to know me.

How can others get to know you if they don’t know anything ABOUT you?

You want the conversation to go back and forth between you and the other person. I went to a photo group the other day. My conversation went something like this:

– Hi, what kind of photos do you take?

– Mainly landscape and portrait.

– Oh, cool, I do a lot of landscape as well, but I want to start doing more portraits. What kind of landscape photos do you do?

Here’s what we can learn from that conversation:

It’s not just asking questions nor talking about myself. Ask a simple question about someone, then share a little bit about yourself. Then, ask a question back. If you only talk about yourself, you come off as self-centered. If you only ask questions, you come off as an interrogator. But most important of all – you don’t give them a chance to GET TO KNOW YOU.

Article continues below.

A recommendation

If you want to improve your social skills, self-confidence, and ability to connect with someone, you can take our 1-minute quiz.

You’ll get a 100% free custom report with the areas you need to improve. 

Start the quiz

This is important to make friends – people need to get to know you before they dare to trust you and like you.

5. How to keep in touch with friends without coming off as awkward

For the longest time, I never understood this:

To make friends with someone, we need to spend a lot of TIME with that person.

In one study, it turned out that people spend hundreds of hours with someone before they see that person as a “good friend”, and many hours more to be considered a “best friend”.[2]

Here’s how many hours you need to spend together to become friends:[2]

  1. Casual friend: 50 hours of time spent together
  2. Friend: 90 hours of time spent together
  3. Good friend: 200 hours of time spent together

This means that you can’t just meet a person at a meetup once. You need to keep in touch and meet regularly.

I made really awkward attempts to keep in touch with people. When I asked, “Do you want to grab a coffee some day..?” I didn’t make it clear WHY I wanted to meet up. They were probably like – “Is he hitting on me, or trying to recruit me to Herbalife?”

The trick is to keep in touch about a COMMONALITY. In step 2, I explained how to ask slightly personal questions. When you do, you’ll sooner or later come across something you have in common. For example, I one time met up with a guy who had read several of the same business books that I had read.

That’s a commonality!

We exchanged Facebook, and then I texted him:

“It was really fun talking to you! Want to grab a coffee some day and talk more business stuff? :)”

Do you see what happened there? I used our commonality as a reason for meeting up. This was five years ago, but today, this guy is actually still a great friend of mine!

Read more about turning someone into a friend here.

6. How to make friends if you only spend time with a boyfriend or girlfriend

When we get a partner, we risk spending time with that person only. It’s natural because we get our social needs fulfilled by that person, and then it’s easy to forget about others. But after a while, we might realize that we need to get out of the house and meet new people. (And maybe get some healthy distance from our partner.)

It’s important to have our own social life, even if we love someone. If you can relate to this, here’s my advice for you:

Go find a meetup with something YOU are interested in. Not what you AND your partner like – but something that’s just for YOU.

To do that, go to step 1 of this guide and read it extra carefully. If you don’t understand why you don’t have any friends, I recommend you read these 27 reasons.

Best of luck with your soon to be friends!

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (8)

8 thoughts on ““I have no friends”: 6 steps to get the friends you want”

  1. I really enjoy your videos. I just joined a new church and trying to establish new friendships. I think this info you are sharing will help me to connect. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Hi. I’m known around the school for my face; most people find it attractive, but I’m not “popular.” I have no social skills since I’ve been homeschooled for most of my childhood. I feel lonely and empty without people but can’t socialize the way other people do. In 9th grade, I had a crush on this guy (I’ll call him Charlie) before he had a girlfriend (let’s call her Amy).
    Amy was known for having a bubbly, extroverted personality. I saw right through that facade, and she was excessively rude and cared more about herself than anyone else. I explained this to a friend who essentially agreed, but Amy heard our entire conversation and was infuriated. I don’t think she knew I liked Charlie, but she started dating him. One day, I wore this shirt that sort of revealed my bra (I didn’t realize this), and I think he thought I was hitting on him or something(?) I think he told Amy and she hates my guts. Amy and I have band together, and all of the girls are good friends with Amy and never liked me much because of my introverted personality. They started glaring at me and whispering to each other when I come into contact with them or even walk by. We were put into new band groups (since it’s the end of the year) and I’m in a group with Amy and all her friends, the rest of the people are too popular for me to even talk to. My sophomore year is going to be hell.
    Please help.

    Reply
  3. Landon Nady

    Hello! I have always had a hard time fittig in! I don’t relate to my fellow piers who all have a certain way of talking,acting and meems and generic taste in the exact same things. Also I can’t relate to having masculine hobbies like other men. I like watching movies,and doing things considered the less masculine things. I always feel so different, like an outsider. And it makes it easy for guys to verbally overpower me, for people to like me for a while because I’m friendly but they get scared off because I want a friendship, or i want to be validated and accepted. I really have a rejection issue. For years and years i have. I want to finally rise above. Even if I don’t meet certain social standards

    Reply
  4. Hello! I had previously been struggling with social anxiety and gaining acceptance and validation from people and have gotten about 40-50 % better. What I still have problems with are not thinking too much about what others think of me wayy to much and not totally changing my personality. I classify myself as someone who used to be a hypersensitive person who would get offended by the slightest remarks and not know what to do about those feelings. What I have noticed is that people my age (mid-teens) don’t like or gravitate towards this personality type at all, rather, they belittle it; that is why I feel I always have to mask my true identity and personality… Do you think it’s worth it to do this or should I just embrace who I am, as I have a really difficult time getting along with people because of this trait of mine; I never really grew my sense of humor and learned to talk things easily. Is being sensitive a trait of a weak mind? What about qualities like empathy and deep care for others that I almost never get back to the same degree. I can sense every little thing around me to another level and it’s really impacting my social development; I have never bonded with someone who has sensitivity to this degree. Another reason for my social isolation was because I never gave friendship much of an importance in middle school so I was always alone in the corner; when I tried changing myself I went overboard with talkativeness and being TOO outgoing (it was a very drastic personality change) and people ran away from me. They still kind of due because I can’t handle things easily; I take offense to every little thing? re laid-back people generally more likable? Please help me I have gone into depression due to social isolation and not having anyone to confide all of my thoughts with. Everytime I want to fit-in I do a drastic personality change and I don’t know if that’s entirely good. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Hi Lamia,

      You may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), like me. You might want to try a Google search and see if this sounds like you. For years I was convinced there was something wrong with me, and HSPs often feel alone, like they’re the only one! Psychologist Elaine Aron describes sensitivity as a “trait”, with 20% of the population qualifying as “highly sensitive”. And you’re completely right: most people don’t value sensitivity. You describe being sensitive to criticism and easily taking offense, but are there ways your sensitivity is a good thing? It sounds like your strong feelings make you a very caring person, even if it’s hard for you to connect.

      I know (from experience) that it can be difficult to reach out when you feel so alone. You talk about feeling like you need to change yourself to be liked. It’s a GREAT idea to work on your skills and to grow as a person, but you don’t need to act like someone else. There are other sensitive people out there who might appreciate who you really are, when not trying to act differently. Other sensitive people probably aren’t the ones who get a lot of attention; they might be “alone in a corner”, like you describe yourself in middle school. I’d encourage you to look for other people that might be feeling a little bit alone right now. Some people like being alone and won’t want to talk, but some people might appreciate having someone take an interest in getting to know them.

      Best of luck! I hope I could help a little bit.

      Reply

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