Having a best friend is something many people take for granted. However, some people struggle to make and keep close friendships. There are various reasons why someone may not have a best friend.
You Have High Standards
If you have very high standards for friendship, you may struggle to find someone who meets all your expectations for a best friend. For example, you may want someone who has all the same interests as you, is available to spend time together very frequently, and shares your same moral values and worldview. If you are unwilling to compromise on any of your ideal friendship criteria, you narrow the pool of potential best friend candidates significantly.
While having standards is not necessarily a bad thing, you may need to re-evaluate whether your standards are realistic. The perfect best friend does not exist – all friendships require some compromise. If you are holding out for a best friend who seems too good to be true, you may remain perpetually dissatisfied with your relationships.
You Have Trouble Opening Up
Best friends typically share an emotional intimacy and vulnerability with each other. However, some people struggle to open up and make themselves emotionally available, even to people they are close with. If you have trouble expressing your feelings, talking about your problems, or revealing your innermost thoughts, it can be difficult to form a deeper best friend bond.
Trust issues, childhood trauma, social anxiety, or other mental health issues can cause difficulties with emotional availability. If this describes you, it may help to speak with a counselor or therapist to work through whatever is preventing you from opening up. As you become more comfortable with vulnerability, you may find it easier to connect on a best friend level.
You Have an Avoidant Attachment Style
Attachment theory describes how people form bonds with others based on their early childhood relationships. Those with an avoidant attachment style often have a distrust of intimacy and an excessive need for independence. This can stem from having caregivers who were emotionally unavailable or rejecting.
As an adult, someone with an avoidant attachment style may subconsciously push people away or sabotage relationships out of fear of disappointment. They crave intimacy deep down but their instinct is to withdraw. This results in superficial relationships that never quite achieve best friend status.
If you identify with the avoidant style, therapy can help you overcome your fear of intimacy. As you learn to take emotional risks, you may finally let someone become your best friend.
You Have Very Low Self-Esteem
To have any type of healthy relationship, you need to believe you are worthy of love. Struggling with very low self-esteem can become a barrier to best friendship if you feel you are undeserving of that kind of bond.
You may engaging in negative self-talk, telling yourself you have nothing to offer. Or you might feel like a best friend would be “too good” for someone like you. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as you avoid pursuing friendships out of the belief you don’t deserve them.
Working on your self-esteem and sense of self-worth is crucial. Speak with a mental health professional and begin practicing self-compassion. As you learn to appreciate yourself, you will feel more deserving of all relationships, including a best friend.
You Have Difficulty With Empathy
The ability to empathize with others’ perspectives and emotions is key for developing closeness in relationships. If you struggle to relate to people and put yourself in their shoes, it inhibits intimacy from forming.
Certain conditions like autism or schizoid personality disorder can make empathy more difficult. Trauma and abuse can also dull someone’s empathetic abilities. If a lack of empathy is impacting your friendships, therapy and practicing social skills can help strengthen this muscle over time.
You Have Depression
The isolating nature of depression makes it very difficult to initiate and maintain best friendships. When you are depressed, you withdraw from social interactions and push people away. Your friendships end up neglected.
Depression convinces you that you are unlovable and destined to be alone. It saps your motivation to put effort into relationships. Simply getting through each day becomes your priority, leaving little energy left over to be a good friend.
Seeking treatment for your depression is critical. As your mood lifts, you can begin nurturing old friendships and making new social connections. With consistent effort, you can find someone who understands your journey with depression and becomes a supportive best friend.
You Have Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder involves an intense fear of social situations. Something as simple as a phone call or one-on-one coffee meetup causes debilitating anxiety when you have social phobia.
The disorder makes it extremely challenging to form and maintain the types of social connections that lead to best friendships. You may isolate yourself to avoid feared social interactions or have difficulty opening up around others. Social anxiety convinces you that others will judge you negatively.
Cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication can help enormously in overcoming social anxiety disorder. As you learn to manage your anxiety symptoms and develop your social confidence, you can gradually build the close relationships you crave.
You Have Trust Issues From Past Betrayals
Having close friendships requires being able to trust others with your secrets, vulnerabilities, and innermost self. If you have been betrayed, abused, or mistreated in the past, especially by those closest to you, it can damage your ability to trust.
You may struggle to open yourself up fully out of fear of being hurt again. Or you might constantly expect friends to betray you at some point. This prevents you from taking the emotional risks needed to elevate a friendship into best friend territory.
Processing past betrayals with a trauma-informed therapist can help repair broken trust. As you heal these old wounds, you can learn to trust again and allow someone to become your best friend.
You Move Around Too Frequently
Best friends require time to develop. Moving around a lot disrupts your ability to establish long-term social connections. You may have started promising friendships that failed to solidify into best friend status because one of you had to move.
Military families, children of divorced parents, missionary kids, and those with jobs that require frequent relocation struggle with this. Long distance best friendships are possible thanks to technology but require effort to maintain.
As you put down roots in one location long-term, prioritize establishing social ties. Seek out friendship opportunities through community, religious or hobby groups. Nurture these relationships patiently and consistently, until the foundations for best friendship have formed.
You Have a Busy, Hectic Schedule
Developing a truly close best friendship requires dedicated time and attention. But some people have schedules so packed with work, school, family obligations and other priorities that friendship gets neglected.
You may also be too drained after fulfilling your other responsibilities to put effort into bonding with friends. Business owners, parents, grad students and high-powered careers like doctors easily get caught in this trap.
As best you can, try to carve out a small amount of time consistently to devote to nurturing friendships. Even a few hours of dedicated one-on-one time per week can strengthen bonds. Quality best friend interactions matter more than quantity.
You Have Narrowed Your Focus Excessively
Some people become so driven and obsessed with one particular goal, interest or pursuit that they neglect other areas of life, including friendships. For example, an aspiring actor might spend every waking moment on auditions, rehearsals and acting classes.
Narrowing your energies towards a passion is not necessarily bad. But beware of hyper-focusing on one aspect of life at the expense of health, balance and relationships. Make a conscious effort to diversify your interests and make time to nurture friendships.
You Struggle Reading Social Cues
Some people have difficulty intuitively picking up on subtle social cues like body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. This can stem from conditions like autism, ADHD or traumatic brain injury. But even neurotypical people vary in social awareness.
You may have trouble realizing when someone is annoyed, wants to change topics, feels uncomfortable, or is trying to end a conversation. Missing or misreading cues can hinder your ability to develop social chemistry.
If this resonates, don’t get discouraged! Explicit and direct communication is key. Tell potential friends you sometimes miss cues and encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings clearly to avoid misinterpretations.
You Don’t Put Yourself Out There
Lastly, the simple reason you may not have a best friend is if you are not proactively putting yourself out there. Friendships don’t usually fall into your lap – you have to get out and meet people.
Make an effort to say yes to social invitations, join groups related to your interests, strike up conversations in social settings, and reach out to acquaintances to develop connections. Nurture those relationships by consistently staying in touch and making plans.
Prioritize cultivating the kinds of friendships that have the potential to one day become best friend material. With consistent effort, you will find your people.
There are many reasons why someone may struggle to establish a best friendship, from personal mental health challenges to practical life circumstances. The first step is increased self-awareness regarding what might be getting in your way. Then, appropriate solutions become clearer – whether that is therapy for past trauma, treatment for social anxiety, or simply carving out more time for socializing.
Most obstacles that prevent best friendship are not insurmountable. With insight, determination and effort, you can work to overcome them. Deep friendship is worth striving for, as it can provide invaluable meaning, connection and well-being in your life. Have faith that if you take steps to improve the areas holding you back, you can eventually find a kindred spirit best friend.