I have no real friends, and yet I'm perfectly happy, am I weird??
May 4, 2008 4:07 AM   Subscribe

I have no real friends, and yet I'm perfectly happy, am I weird??

Maybe it's media influence making me thing this is somehow wrong or weird, but I've always been a very self-sufficient "loner" type of person and yet I'm perfectly happy with my life. I'm happily married, I adore my two cats and spend a lot of time with them, I always have a list of projects as long as my arm to get through, and various introverted hobbies like writing music, reading, and watching movies (I'm also an only-child if that helps).

My full-time job is quite social (very chatty boss, lots of meetings), but apart from work and dinner with my husband at night, as well as catching up with the two casual friends I have once every few months, I really just keep to myself and am perfectly happy doing so. I feel absolutely no need to fill my life with more people (and my family is over 1000 km's away so I don't even see them more than once a year!).

My husband has his own friends that he goes out and does stuff with, but I myself have no friends like that - someone I could ring up and invite to go see a movie, or a girlfriend to go shopping with, etc. We're both home-bodies so we rarely go out anywhere, and even if we do it's usually just the two of us going out for dinner, not a social event. We also don't really have any joint friends.

Somehow I've got this idea in my head that it's un-natural to be this way? That we human's are social creatures and by being a "lone wolf" I'm not following the natural order of things? It's definately not a result of misanthropy as I like humanity on the whole and always try to see the best in people, it's also not a case of being shy or socially inept, I just seem to like doing my own thing in my own time and have no desire to actively seek out new friends.

I'd love your thoughts on all this... are you like this yourself or know anyone who is?? Am I just a very self-sufficient type of introvert, or do even introverts have at least one close friend (for the sake of this argument we'll say a partner doesn't count)?
posted by katala to Human Relations (31 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Nope, as long as you're happy that's all the matters. If you are, by nature, an introvert forced socializing is just going to make you miserable. If you see no reason to go out and make friends just keep on doing your thing.
posted by gadha at 4:14 AM on May 4, 2008

You sound completely happy and fulfilled. If you're not, and if you find yourself feeling emotions of envy towards people who 'have loads of friends' and are 'out having fun', then you need to do something about it. Otherwise, be you. There's nothing fundamentally wrong or even uncommon about the way you're living your life.

There have been times when I've been in a similar state of affairs, and been perfectly happy with it. There have also been times when I've been in a similar state of affairs, and hated it. It really comes down to how happy you are, not the details of how you're living your life.
posted by chrismear at 4:18 AM on May 4, 2008

posted by loiseau at 4:44 AM on May 4, 2008

You're definitely not alone. I'm an introvert and a home-body with a lot of introvert-type hobbies also. I'm perfectly happy.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:45 AM on May 4, 2008

Depends on who you ask. The extroverts out there might not understand how you can be happy without a large collection of friends, but the introverts will understand you perfectly.

So, no. You're not weird. If you're happy, then you're happy.

Besides, everyone is different. Everyone is kinda weird to somebody else. Wouldn't worry about it too much.
posted by JDHarper at 4:56 AM on May 4, 2008

Related: three Atlantic Monthly articles by Jonathan Rauch.

Caring for your introvert.
Introverts of the world, unite! (Interviews inspired by previous article)
The Introversy Continues.

In short: no, you're not weird. You're lucky.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:06 AM on May 4, 2008 [7 favorites]

Not weird. Fine.

for the sake of this argument we'll say a partner doesn't count

I don't see why we need to do that for the sake of this inquiry (I don't think we're having an argument, are we?). It might be interesting for you to reflect on the friendship patterns you found yourself in before your current partner arrived in your life.

I mean, I can enjoy self-sufficiency as much as the next introvert, but having a loving partner really is the elephant in the living room, friendship-wise.
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 AM on May 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yes, you're weird. So is everyone else. Enjoy your special weirdness.
posted by pompomtom at 5:25 AM on May 4, 2008

You're waaaaay more social than me, and I'm perfectly happy too. I work from home, as does my boyfriend (but we spend most of the time in separate rooms). I only leave the house about once a week to walk to the supermarket. I see my family 4 times a year (birthdays, easter and christmas). I have people who I would consider to be my friends but I never see them. My parents are exactly the same.

You're happy, whats the problem? Introverts are very common (but not that interesting to watch on TV ;) )
posted by missmagenta at 5:31 AM on May 4, 2008

My wife is a lot like you. Although I wouldn't say she's "perfectly happy" (that's a pretty advanced state of consciousness, is it not?), any lack of happiness is not caused by absence of people. She works part time as a nurse and seems to get all the social interaction she needs from that. Although I also think a partner is pretty central - when I'm not around she gets very lonely.
Your question reminds me of couples who fret about whether they're having a "normal" amount of sex. As long as everyone involved is satisfied, who cares if it's normal? In your case, it sounds like everyone's happy. Enjoy your life! I agree with WalterMitty - you're lucky!
posted by crazylegs at 5:44 AM on May 4, 2008

You aren't so perfectly happy that you aren't worried about whether other people think you're weird or not. How "lone wolf" is that, really?
posted by Wolfdog at 5:49 AM on May 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Similar story here, except my partner and I live in separate residences on opposite sides of town, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've never been much into the socializing-with-girlfriends thing; I spend enough time around a wide variety of people during the work week that when the weekend rolls around, solitude is my first priority.

Do I think I'm weird? No. Does the rest of the world? Probably, but I can't bring myself to care.
posted by chez shoes at 5:50 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think the part about you being an only child is also an important factor. I myself am an only child too, and I definitely understand what you mean.

Whilst I had friends, I never really had a "best" best friend, although I am a chap so
we don't tend to anyway. It was only when I reached university that I made - dare I say it - more important and much closer friends. However, university was just the catalyst; I'm pretty sure most social situations would work.

This leads me on to another point. If we're as similar as I suspect we are, then there has probably been a time when you've rarely gone out, even with your spouse, and possibly actively rejected invitations. Let me tell you this now, because it helped me so much. Once in a while, when you get an invitation to attend a social event, just say YES. Although it is hard, try not to think about your decision because it's possible you might worry yourself out of going.

It's funny to look back and realise that the smallest decisions I made were the ones that have led to me and my future friends meeting.

If you'd have met me a few years ago, you would have thought I was a different person. If I'm being totally honest, I do still prefer my own company. However, there are other times when I feel a strong urge to be around my friends. I'm sure, in time, this will happen to you too!
posted by jhighmore at 5:52 AM on May 4, 2008

I have some of those tendencies. The only thing that bugs me about it is that whole "when I'm old, will I be happy about the life I led" thing. I worry that I'm being selfish (to myself) by living too much in the present and not cultivating for the future.

You say you are happy now. But are you proud of the life you are leading? Will you be proud of the life you led? If you are, then you are doing better than the majority of everyone else and there isn't a darn thing wrong with you.
posted by gjc at 6:07 AM on May 4, 2008

Is there even a slight chance you're trying to convince yourself you're happy this way? That by asking you're attempting to plug reassurance into an empty space you're feeling in your life? I think the fact that you're asking us for opinions matters in some way, so think about that.

Not to mention that the responsibility of being someone's sole friend is a heavy one. It's not fair to expect this of your partner. I've never seen a healthy relationship where the halves don't have other friends to turn to. Inevitably when these relationships end the parties realize that by not nurturing ties to other people, they have no one.


Spoken as a true introvert:

Other people are part of the fullness and complexity of life. They can show you the sweetest sweetnesses and the deepest sorrows. Knowing, understanding and caring for other people is part of growing and expanding yourself. There are so many things in life that you can't imagine within yourself, that you can only experience through your connections with other people. I believe a life that has no room for relationships is only half a life. Its happiness, its depth has limitations.

Humans are by nature social animals. This is scientific fact. Yes, of course it is more than alright to desire a lot of privacy and personal time. It is important to cultivate your relationship with yourself and to pursue your own passions and to know yourself. But I don't believe it's balanced or necessarily healthy not to need or want or be needed or wanted by others. I think if you shut yourself off to people in this way you're depriving yourself and others of the things that being alive in this world (rather than just a brain in a vat or a chip on a motherboard) so complex, so beautiful, so moving, so strange and funny and ... so human.
posted by loiseau at 6:29 AM on May 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Your husband is a friend, right?
posted by fructose at 7:18 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm very much like you in this, and also an only child...coincidence? My only caveat is that I learned that my husband can't, and shouldn't be, my only friend, because it puts a certain amount of pressure on him to be all things to me, if you see what I mean. So I've tried to make an effort to keep in touch with friends who like to, say, go shopping or to the garden store, because he won't always feel like going. I do value my free time immensely, though, and like to spend a lot of it on my own. But the older I get the more I've come to value friends outside our marriage, or other couples that we both spend time with. You are normal, don't worry; if you feel like having more friends later in life, do that. If not, that's cool as long as you're happy.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 7:39 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pragmatic viewpoint for maintaining more friendships -- if you are prone to (mental) illness groups of friends provide a safety net.
posted by bleary at 7:56 AM on May 4, 2008

"I always have a list of projects as long as my arm to get through"

Often introverts are just people who have other stuff to get done. Artists, poets, inventors, writers and what have you - I don't know what; people who are passionate about getting something donemay not have any time or energy left to have rewarding happy go lucky friendships with a wide social circle.

However, could you possibly form freindships with people who share your interests? Often artists share studio space, writers go to book clubs or workshops.
posted by munchbunch at 8:08 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm the same as you, and often wondered how some people so easily and casually make connections. I'm fine talking with others, exchanging ideas, etc., but I'd feel awkward calling someone up out of the blue, for example, and asking them to go shopping with me or to the gym or whatever. I have a great family and I am very close to them, but I don't really have that BFF thing going on, except with my spouse.
posted by misha at 8:14 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

No, you're not weird. I too am an introvert, and while I'm interested in people, I don't want them round me very much. I meet my daily "meeting people quotient" by working retail, and even that's too much.

No partner, no friends, avoid my parents where possible. I feel fantastic some days, and fine the rest of the time.

You are not alone, if you'll pardon the pun. :)
posted by Solomon at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2008

My husband is a lot like this -- like you, he's also an only child who is miles away from family. I imagine things would be a little different if we lived closer to them, but not very much. He seems pretty content to me. Also: He's actually MUCH less socially awkward than I am.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:51 AM on May 4, 2008

I wish I didn't have to deal with people as much as I do. Most of them annoy me to no end.

If having no friends is what makes you happy, you got it right!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:54 AM on May 4, 2008

I think it's easy to be happy without friends when things in your life are going well. The lonesomeness and regret will arise when you need help. Illness, divorce, etc. You might wish you had a better support system; some people to talk to. A spouse is great, but there are things you can't speak with a spouse about. To whom would you turn if you were to have marital troubles?
posted by HotPatatta at 8:58 AM on May 4, 2008

Yep, you pretty much just described my husband. He is NOT an only child, though. He's pretty close to his family, but they're living across an ocean at the moment. He keeps in touch with them via phone and online once a week or so. Other than that, he doesn't have too many people he interacts with socially. He works with computers, spends a lot of time programming, and seems perfectly happy to interact with me and with me only. He does work with people a lot at work. Perhaps, for him, that's enough social interaction to fill up his "social" bar. FWIW, I'm reasonably happy being on my own but nowhere near his level. I work on my own projects and choose my husband as my primary social interaction, but I talk on the phone with my mother almost daily, call and email friends often, and make sure that I maintain a light schedule of social visits with friends. I'd be unhappy if I didn't. I think your happiness is the key. If you were feeling tortured and desperately lonely yet couldnt find a way to connect with people....then you would need some help. But if you're satisfied, you're satisfied and who is to tell you that your needs are wrong?
posted by theantikitty at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not an only child -- and I do keep in pretty close contact with my family, although except for one sibling who lives nearby, most of my family is far away -- and I do know and interact with many people regularly, although very few with whom I'm especially close. But, aside from my wife, with whom I spend most of my time, I'm most comfortable on my own. I mean, we definitely interact with other people, and I enjoy socializing, but it takes a huge amount of energy for me, so socializing has to be a once-in-a-while kind of thing. All of this is, I'm told, very normal for people who are, like me, naturally introverted.

The best part of my day is the 2-3 hours I spend on my bike, no interaction with anybody, no distractions, just me and the bike and the road. People ask me to join them for riding all the time, but this alone time is just too important to me. Same deal with evenings at home; I love spending quiet time at home with my wife. People invite us to parties and dinners all the time, but we only go occasionally -- going out all the time is just too exhausting for me.

People who are extroverts probably can't imagine how this kind of life would be satisfying, just like people who are introverts can't imagine how draining it would be to constantly have to be around people. There's nothing wrong with either lifestyle, it's just that some people are one way and others are another way.

There are people who choose to spend entire lives in a cabin in the woods all alone who are otherwise well-adjusted and just enjoy solitude.

Would it be good to have one or two people in your life who you could lean on in a crisis? Yes, definitely. Do you need to surround yourself with tons of people all the time? No. Is there anything unusual about being an introvert? No. You like your time alone. That's who you are. So just embrace the life you have (and enjoy) and don't sweat it. If you're really feeling lonely, that's probably a sign you need to make an investment in making some connections. If you just spend time alone and are content, then you're just an introvert.
posted by dseaton at 9:20 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm EXACTLY like you, other than the part about being an only child (I have a younger brother). I used to think the same "maybe I'm abnormal??" seeing people always in a group of two or more out at the mall, or the gym, hanging out, etc. But doing things my self at my own speed I discovered is much more enjoyable than having to do it with someone else not on the same page.

In high school I used to have close friends and we'd do the shopping at the mall thing, going to the gym thing, hanging out at a coffee shop thing. It was great, but at the same time... I much preferred being by myself.

I went away for college and ended up discovering I much prefer doing such activities myself. I prefer shopping by myself (don't have to worry about searching for someone at the end before moving to another store, or fingering through the same stack of shirts nearby while my friend was spending 30 minutes choosing between the heather gray or dark gray sweater) . I prefer going to the gym by myself (no waiting for friend to arrive before heading in and changing/exercising on machines nearby to "bond").

I'm now in the working world, but my introverted-ness hasn't particularly disable me. I interact with everyone at work of different departments- I'm sincerely interested in talking about hey what did you do this weekend, oh that's really neat, blah blah- but at the end of the day I'm happy to go back home and just do my own thing. People at work are surprised that I'm not the go to the bar/club type of person.

On the other end, there are things like traveling or taking day trips in which I would never be able to do myself. For that I have my boyfriend of 5 years. Like me, we don't have a big circle of friends nor a go to person we can call just to hang out, but we're prefectly happy going to the movies, restaurants, shopping, trips, etc ourselves and wouldn't have it any other way.
posted by Jimmie at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's nothing wrong with you, you're just an introvert. I'm one too.

The reason you feel like it's unnatural is because the majority of society is extroverted, and they set the pace for what's considered normal and healthy. When an extrovert is ignorant, or just a douchebag that doesn't understand that people are actually different from him, he will observe introverted behavior and say, "My god, what is wrong with these people?" If an extrovert started behaving like an introvert, it might be because of some misanthropy or social awkwardness, so they project that onto introverts. The problem is, introverts are not extroverts behaving like introverts, they're completely different to begin with.

Some extroverts also can't fathom that someone would have anything to do if they weren't constantly with other people; wouldn't they get bored? (Of course, no, we don't get bored.) So if someone is alone, it must mean they're doing something nefarious and secretive. It's pretty stupid.

So ignore those people, or, if they seem receptive, try to inform them. Other introverts understand, and plenty of extroverts understand, too. Don't judge yourself based on the judgments of people who don't understand you.

Regarding the Party of One book above: I think you will like reading it, but take it with a grain of salt. The author is fairly hostile and demeaning towards extroverts, which I think is unreasonable; they can no more help how they are than we can help how we are. She also plays up introverts as being awesome people who have all these inherently good qualities, and are better people for having chosen to be introverts... which again, just isn't true. While introverts have all those good qualities often enough, lots of introverts have crappy qualities, just like anyone else. She also omits any modern psychological data that show it's not really a choice, so it's not like anyone is some noble person for having "chosen the path of the introvert."

Basically, the author of the book comes across as very defensive and bitter about extroverts judging her, so her solution is to say, "I'm better than you!" Seeing as how the book is supposed to explain how introverts are misunderstood, you'd think she'd try harder not to unnecessarily alienate extroverts. I think if I were an extrovert and I read the book, I'd think, "Wow, introverts are elitist assholes who hate me." It would give some credence to the idea that introverts are misanthropic, basically.

It's still worth reading, though, if you can overlook that. You certainly won't feel as alone; it's a good source of, "Phew, other people do this too."
posted by Nattie at 12:56 PM on May 4, 2008

Yes, you are weird, in the sense of "not average". It's kind of weird to be happy and content with your life in the way that you are. So what, are you going to do something else that will make you less happy so you can be more average? Stick with being happy and weird. I think most of the "average" people probably aren't very happy.

Good god, how in the world can you take your partner out of the equation in counting how many close friends you have? Of course you aren't worried about finding other friends when you've got him. The difference between "my partner is my best friend" and "I don't have any close friends" is all the difference in the world. Don't discount him as your friend, count him in and appreciate him. Someday one of you will die, and one of you will be much more lonely and much less happy than you are now.
posted by yohko at 6:45 PM on May 4, 2008

Thanks heaps for the replies, I'm glad to know I'm not the only person out there like this :)

A number of people mentioned not counting my partner as a best friend, and how taking him out of the equation dramatically change things, and in retrospect I agree that's a very valid point as my husband is indeed my best friend and, as flabdablet said, "having a loving partner really is the elephant in the living room, friendship-wise."

I certainly don't discount him (and in fact love and appreciate him to bits!) but my view has always been that "society" doesn't count your partner in your circle of friends, plus I couldn't count on everyone replying to this post to be in the exact position I'm in. However you're right - I'm quite sure that if I didn't have him in my life I'd be making an effort to make some friends.

We also don't have a problem with him being my "go-to" person on everything as I prefer to go out and do things on my own anyway, and I sort most questions I have by myself, but if I need to ask him advice about something he is always very happy to help as he loves to help people, so I guess it's a very good combination :)

"You aren't so perfectly happy that you aren't worried about whether other people think you're weird or not. How "lone wolf" is that, really?"

It's not other people's opinions I care about, they can think I'm weird all they like and probably do :) It's like Jimmie posted, I'm always seeing people out and about in groups of two or more so of course you get to thinking it might be a little strange doing those things all by yourself. I think it's just human nature to question what you're doing when it doesn't appear to be in line with the status quo. Also as Nattie said - "The reason you feel like it's unnatural is because the majority of society is extroverted, and they set the pace for what's considered normal and healthy."

Thank you again very much for the very helpful replies :)!
posted by katala at 9:50 PM on May 4, 2008

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