Why can I never seem to keep friends?

Making and keeping friends can be challenging for many people. In today’s busy world, relationships often fall to the wayside amidst the chaos of work, family, and other obligations. However, friendship is an essential component of the human experience. Social connections provide us with a sense of belonging, emotional support, and opportunities for fun and adventure. If you struggle to form lasting friendships, don’t lose hope. By examining the potential causes, you can gain insight into overcoming this common struggle.

Why is it hard for some people to make friends?

There are many reasons why certain individuals find it difficult to form and maintain friendships:

Lack of social skills

Some people simply lack the social skills that allow them to connect easily with others. They may feel shy, awkward, or anxious when interacting with new people. Without a comfort level in social situations, initiating conversations and building rapport can feel daunting.

Trust issues

If someone has been hurt or betrayed by friends in the past, they may have trouble opening up and trusting new people. Bad experiences can create fear about vulnerability and skepticism that new friends will also eventually let them down.

Low self-esteem

Those with low self-esteem often feel they aren’t worthy of other people’s friendship. They may also worry about rejection or judgement if they put themselves out there. This can lead to avoidance of social situations where connections could be made.

Communication difficulties

Some individuals struggle to pick up on social cues or have different communication styles that make connecting tricky. For example, those on the autism spectrum may have difficulty reading body language, understanding sarcasm, or engaging in small talk. These challenges can impede the free-flowing conversations that build friendship.


People who live in remote locations with few neighbors, attend small schools, or work remotely may simply lack opportunities to interact with peers and form friendships. Their physical isolation inhibits making the types of casual connections that can blossom into deeper bonds.

Differing interests

When someone has niche interests that few share, or doesn’t enjoy typical social activities like parties, bars, concerts, etc., it can be hard to find like-minded people. Without shared interests and values as a starting point, a basis for friendship may not exist.

Work and family commitments

For those with demanding jobs or family obligations, free time for nurturing friendships may be scarce. Busy schedules packed with work, kids’ activities, maintaining a household, and other responsibilities often force social connections to take a backseat.

Reluctance to put in effort

Forming meaningful friendships requires active effort and care from both parties. Some people expect friends to do all the work or hope connections will happen spontaneously. But without a willingness to initiate contact, make plans, and devote time to new people, bonds are unlikely to develop.

Lifestyle differences

Large variances in lifestyle, like a mismatch in marital/family status, income, hometown, values, or interests can make it hard to find common ground. These differences may prevent a comfortable ability to relate to and understand each other.


When people move to a new city or country, leave school, change jobs, or otherwise transition into a new stage of life, previously established friendships can fall away. Starting from scratch in a new place where social circles must be built anew can feel intimidating and isolating.

How can I improve my ability to make and keep friends?

If you want to enhance your friendship-building skills, here are some tips:

Work on your self-confidence

Focus on your positive qualities and adopting an attitude of self-acceptance. Feeling good about yourself will make it easier to open up around new people without fear of rejection. Therapy can help overcome past hurts and limiting beliefs.

Develop your social skills

Practice mingling at social events, initiating conversations about neutral topics, making eye contact, and listening attentively. Mastering social skills will help put you at ease in new situations. Consider taking a class and start conversations with strangers to build confidence.

Try new activities

Pick up hobbies like sports teams, cooking classes, book clubs, volunteering, gaming groups, or other pastimes that will expose you to fresh social circles. Bonding over shared interests lays the groundwork for friendship.

Learn to communicate effectively

Pay attention to conversational cues and body language. Ask questions to show interest in others, share about yourself while avoiding excessive negativity or self-focus, and don’t monopolize discussions. Good communication demonstrates social awareness.

Join community groups

Places of worship, professional associations, meet-ups, alumni groups, and activity clubs help form connections around common bonds. Becoming a regular part of a community makes it natural to build relationships.

Make an effort to stay connected

Don’t expect friendships to maintain themselves. Initiate get-togethers, remember important dates, send messages just to chat, and reciprocate invitations. Consistent effort over time transforms acquaintances into close confidants.

Deal with past hurts

To move beyond old betrayals or patterns of bad dynamics, address lingering pain through self-care practices like journaling. Processing the past makes room for healthier relationships in the present. Consider counseling to overcome trauma.

Practice self-disclosure

Open up a little at a time about your thoughts, feelings, dreams, and experiences. Mutual vulnerability builds trust and deepens bonds. Start slowly on lighter topics before progressing to more sensitive ones.

Show care and interest

Demonstrate in subtle ways that you value others. Remember details they share, ask follow up questions, send encouraging texts, share laughs, and offer help if they need it. Thoughtfulness fosters friendship.

Focus outward

Rather than expecting others to entertain you, approach social settings with the goal of being present, learning about people, and adding value to their experience. Genuine interest in those around you is magnetic.

Appreciate differences

Don’t limit yourself only to those just like you. Embrace opportunities to connect with all types of people, appreciating diversity. Maintain an open, non-judgmental attitude.

Say yes to invites

Accept invitations to parties, events, and outings even if they feel outside your comfort zone. Each social experience builds confidence and brings you one step closer to kindred spirits.

Manage your expectations

Understand that not every new connection will transform into a best friendship. Enjoy getting to know different people through a patient, low-pressure mindset focused on fun rather than unrealistic expectations.

What if I still struggle with making friends as an adult?

Here are some additional tips if you continue having difficulty establishing strong friendships:

Seek professional help

If social anxiety, depression, trauma, neurodiversity, or other mental health factors are roadblocks, speak to a therapist. Counseling and treatment can improve self-esteem and equip you with healthy coping mechanisms.

Practice self-care

Ensure you aren’t so absorbed with work and other obligations that you neglect personal needs. Make time for hobbies, exercise, relaxing, and reflection. When you replenish your inner reserves, you’ll have more energy to devote to relationships.

Be patient with yourself

Don’t become discouraged or frustrated. Building great friendships often takes time. Persist through occasional loneliness or awkwardness knowing more connections await.

Focus on quality over quantity

Rather than accumulating lots of superficial friendships, seek a few meaningful bonds with people who uplift you. Depth is more important than number of friends.

Look for friends in unexpected places

Don’t limit yourself to conventional settings. Some of the best friends are co-workers, neighbors, fellow volunteers, or parents of your kids’ classmates. Be open.

Consider changing locations

If your current home lacks a community where you feel you belong, don’t be afraid to relocate. Seek out areas aligned with your lifestyle, values and interests to expand your friend pool.

Acquaint yourself with other “solo” people

Pay attention to other folks who also attend events alone or appear socially isolated. Reach out to gently get to know them. Fellow “solo” people may particularly appreciate connection.

Embrace the internet

Online forums, social media groups, multiplayer games, and messaging apps can help you forge friendships if in-person interactions feel daunting. Virtual connection is valid too!


Give your time to causes aligned with your morals. When volunteering alongside like-hearted people, bonds naturally develop. Shared meaning provides a foundation.

Adopt a “growth mindset”

Rather than labeling yourself as someone who can’t make friends, believe you can learn skills to improve. Social abilities take practice like any other.

In Conclusion…

Forming and keeping meaningful friendships is a challenge many people face, especially in adulthood. But with consistent effort over time – whether through self-improvement strategies, opening yourself up to new social settings, getting involved locally, or seeking professional counseling for underlying issues – it is possible to create the nurturing social connections humans inherently crave.

If past hurts, communication difficulties, or lingering self-doubts obstruct your ability to forge bonds, don’t become discouraged. Improving social skills, focusing outward, embracing a growth mindset, and believing you are worthy of love can set you on the path to deeply fulfilling friendships. Don’t let temporary loneliness or awkwardness deter you. With patience, vulnerability and care, you can build lifelong relationships that provide comfort, laughter, inspiration and support through all of life’s ups and downs. The effort is well worth the lasting gains.

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