How do I temporarily go through life without friends?
July 29, 2012 3:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I cope with daily life without any friends? I feel like my latest attempts at making friends is going nowhere..

Almost all of my closest friends have moved away. I'm 26 and I still live in my hometown, planning to move away pretty soon. Lately though, it's been getting harder and harder to go through life without the support of friends. I'm a bit socially awkward but once I feel confident in knowing the other person has a genuine interest in being friends, I open up. I've been trying really hard to not be negative about the situation. I've been trying to open up more and socialize with people at work. I've also started playing music with a few people that I met through craigslist.

The problem is, I feel like I'm going nowhere. Sometimes I engage in small talk with people but that's all it ever feels like. I feel like I'm just meeting a bunch of acquaintances. I don't know what it is I'm doing that's making me feel like this. I do have one or two friends I occasionally see but I feel lately I've been developing a lot of interests that I don't have anyone to share with. Sometimes I feel I'm just way too different or weird.

I completely understand that it takes time to form a meaningful friendship but to be always trying and trying is getting to me. Sorry if I rambled but I'm just asking if there's anything hopeful out there I could read or stories from people who were in a similar situation. I think it would help me not feel so alienated and depressed. Thanks
posted by morning_television to Human Relations (10 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I understand first hand, what you're going through. I have totally been there. Making friends sounds simple, but sometimes it can be incredibly exhausting and difficult.

However, difficult does NOT mean impossible.

Here is one thing that worked for me. I hope it helps you.

I went on and found a group that does an activity that I really enjoy. The key for me was that the activity, let's say it's table top gaming, is something I'm genuinely really into. And then I just starting going to every meeting of that group.

After several months, some of the people in the group became friends and we started to do social things outside the meetups.

It was a process that took time and effort. I had to make the time to go to these things, and going to any social event solo is slightly humiliating, but what made it work out OK eventually was that we all shared a genuine love of "table top gaming," so eventually we bonded.

If music is like that for you, I think you're on the right track there. The only problem is that with a band it's a set group of 3-5 people. If a circle develops around the band, that's great. But if you don't see it heading that way, you might want to look for an activity with more people involved. But just make sure it's a think you really enjoy. That's the key, because that's what makes the bonding happen, I think.
posted by trevor_case at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

"...a THING you really enjoy."

Man I wish they let you edit posts.
posted by trevor_case at 3:18 PM on July 29, 2012

Well, friends is a word with a lot of gradations. Obviously you miss the friends you had who had known you for years, but it does seem like you have activities, and that's the first step. These people you play music with or see occasionally are not going to be direct replacements for those kinds of friendships. The thing is, that transition happens to a lot of people. We all know the power of the reunion as a metaphor in our culture for reconnecting and sometimes restarting love affairs or old rivalries. At your age, you're finding you may have depended a little longer than many on these friendships of your youth, so the transition is something you're less prepared for -- it didn't accompany going to college or moving away from your home town.

I would also ask yourself whether you simply don't have a comfort zone being alone. This can be an aspect of insecurity or other issues you have with yourself. There are plenty of people who are able to enjoy solitary activities such as hiking or reading or *gasp* using the internet. If you enjoy the activity, the feelings of loneliness have less room to emerge. If you think that you can't go to a restaurant or a movie alone, you're wrong; plenty of people do that. If your issues are more about loneliness it's possible you need to consider finding a therapy situation. By another measure, you may want to ask whether what you're going through is a type of social anxiety that's preventing you from trying new things and experiencing new situations.
posted by dhartung at 3:21 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think loneliness might be an issue. I do try to experience new things and new situations but I always end up expecting too much and end up feeling disappointed. There are points where I would feel confident and would go out alone but I just miss hanging out with someone who shares an interest with me. Companionship and conversation. Maybe I should work on how to strike up conversations with strangers and be able to express myself without feeling any anxiety.
posted by morning_television at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2012

Your friends don't stop being your friends just because they moved away. Email / Skype / FB etc all help you stay connected to friends. It's not the same as in-person, but it's also not the same as "going through life without friends."
posted by COD at 3:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a lot of strong friendships now, although when I was younger I used to be shy and socially awkward. One piece of advice I can give you is that you need to have a distinct personality. A common mistake that shy people make is to try to be as diplomatic as possible to avoid offending people. That does work; the trouble is that usually "being inoffensive" results in bland small talk that makes them seem uninteresting. If you cultivate a more aggressive persona - telling people how you feel about things and why, or boldly asserting your beliefs without waiting for their approval - then you will engender stronger feelings, both good and bad. Instead of most people being ambivalent, you will find that some will be very drawn to you and others will actively dislike you. Then the key is to just keep in touch with the ones who are drawn to you and sever ties with the rest.

Of course, this is assuming that shyness is indeed your problem, and that your conversation is getting bogged down in small talk. You sort of vaguely hint at that in your question, but not enough to make me fully confident in my prescriptive diagnosis. If you have no trouble having deep conversations but simply aren't feeling a connection for some other reason, then you should ignore this advice.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

You have to be patient and be willing to give more than you need/get back.
posted by discopolo at 6:22 PM on July 29, 2012 is a great resource, since it allows you to find groups of people with similar interests, which helps to eliminate a lot of the awkward small talk (since you can talk about an activity or hobby that everyone has interest in).
posted by markblasco at 7:20 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try not to focus on things you cannot control such as who else is there with you and work on appreciating each situation as it is.

Don't start with "this would be better if _____ was here" but rather "this would be different if ______ was here" and look at those differences and focus on the positive ones.

No one is up for a long drive? Well at least I can listen to whatever I want without interuptions. I can also stop (or not stop) at will. No one wants to go with me to the movies? At least I am seeing what I want, when I want and can choose where to sit. None of my friends want to go to this concert? Well at least I can arrive whenever I want and don't have to worry if they like it or not, which means I can stay as long as I want, too.

This helped me feel a lot better about myself and feel better when I was out around people and eventually led to building close friendships with people I came across that had a passion for some of the same things I did.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:36 AM on July 30, 2012

I too found that many of my friends moved away after university. We try to keep in touch via facebook and email, and I satisfy my need for 'facetime spent with other people' by signing up for classes. There is a low-cost community centre near me (city-run, so you don't need to sign a contract) which I have had some success with, and I also take a class or two a year at Alliance Francaise.
posted by JoannaC at 11:16 AM on July 30, 2012

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