In 2019, a YouGov poll revealed that 30 percent of Millennials felt lonely – the highest percentage of any group – and 22 percent of Millennials said they had no friends. Of course, loneliness and no friends doesn’t always go hand-in-hand but it’s apparent that my generation are struggling with companionship and have experienced having no friends in your 20s.
I was keen to write this post and delve into this topic because it’s something that’s fairly close to my heart and one that I have my own experience with. I turned 30 last year and if you’re familiar with my story, you’ll know I spent the vast majority of my 20s with a highly debilitating and life-changing anxiety disorder.
My mental illness gradually caused me to lose all my friends, in a variety of ways and by 24/25, I basically had no friends left.
I had loads of friends in school and throughout college. I was surrounded by people, all the time. In that regard, I was very fortunate. But it definitely made me realize just how much I took friendship for granted during that time – which I think a lot of us do.
Whatever the reason that you’re dealing with having no friends in your 20s, perhaps you find it hard to talk to people or like me, have suffered a life-event that changed the course of your life and therefore your friendships, we can all agree on one thing:
Having no friends in your 20s is hard.
It’s really hard going through life without any friends – especially in your 20s, which can be such a difficult period where so many people need support systems to help manage the changes and challenges that come with navigating your 20s.
And it is quite shocking how many people you’ll find are in a similar situation. Is the internet and social media to blame? Who knows. But it’s likely, considering Millennials are seemingly the ones suffering the most.
I have friends now. Albeit not many but a few really good ones and I’m working on letting go of those old friendships that have long since forgotten me. This is something I struggle with – seeing those I used to be friends with, still friends with each other.
If you’ve found yourself in the same boat, then here are some tips for navigating having no friends in your 20s (or even 30s!) and what you can do to make some new ones:
How to deal with having no friends in your 20s:
Limit and curate what/who you follow on social media
If seeing certain people – particularly old friends or perhaps groups of people you know – on social media makes you feel bad or upset, then I implore you to mute, block, delete or unfollow. Please.
Social media can have such a detrimental effect on our mental health if we’re not careful. We always need to remind ourselves that what people are posting is what they want everyone to see. That girl with the large group of friends might be suffering with depression or going through something in her personal life.
Change your perception of friendship
We often have quite a limited view on what constitutes a friendship. Typically, someone around our own age, perhaps someone we’ve known since college or University or a work colleague that we spend more time with that just work and after-work drinks. But really, friendship can come in all forms, shapes and sizes.
If you feel like you have no friends, look at the relationships in your life and consider them in another light. Do you have a next-door neighbor that you speak to often or perhaps go round for a cuppa with every now and again? They could be considered a friend.
Are you super close with your Mum and love doing stuff together with her? She’s also a friend. What about cousins, aunts or uncles? Broaden your idea of what makes a friendship. Don’t forget, labels can overlap.
Learn to love and enjoy your own time and company
This one has absolutely changed my life and I absolutely love my alone time. I love going for walks by myself, taking myself to Starbucks to just sit and read with a coffee for an hour or even a solo spa break (at the time of writing, I’m actually heading to one tomorrow and I’m very excited!)
If you’re under the impression that you need friends in order to do the things you want to do, you’re 10000% wrong. You can do anything you want to do by yourself and learning to love and enjoy your own company is one of the best things you can do in my opinion – whether you have friends or not!
Try to understand why you have no friends
By this I mean, is it something you can change? Is this something you WANT to change? Get clear on this beforehand then you can get a better understanding of why you have no friends, if it’s something you can actively seek out to change or whether it’s something you don’t actually need to change.
Some people are quite happy in their own company, only having a handful of acquaintances and family around them and if that’s you, then that’s great. This level of understanding we’re trying to decipher is more for those that crave those friendships but don’t have them.
Lean into your online friendships
Online friendships ARE real friendships – there’s absolutely no doubt about that. If you’re online in any capacity, perhaps a blogger or active on social media, then chances are you’ve established some online friendships along the way. These are great to lean into in your 20s as you can have some real honest conversations with your online pals.
If you’ve built up a really good relationship with someone online, then perhaps you can arrange to meet up. I’ve met a few of my online friends in real life and it’s always been such a lovely time!
Focus heavily on what makes you happy as an individual
Similarly, to the point about enjoying your own company, you need to really learn about what makes you tick by yourself. If you love music, focus on learning the instrument you love and writing songs. Perhaps you want to write a book, or you love crafts and want to open an online shop.
There’s always something that makes us happy as individuals, something that doesn’t require anyone else to be involved. Lean in to those things and you never know where they might take you in the future.
How to make friends as an adult:
Making friends as an adult is hard. We just don’t have that carefree nature about us anymore and it’s not as easy as just going up to someone in the playground and saying, “will you be my friend?”
We’re all so worried about what people think of us or whether we’re going to make a fool of ourselves if we go and speak to someone that we retreat more and more into ourselves and the less we put ourselves out there, the harder it becomes.
Here are some quick tips for making friends as an adult:
- Use your online friendships: Especially if you’re a blogger or influencer in some way. There are SO MANY people in the same industry as you, so you’ll already have stuff in common. Strike up some conversations with likeminded people online.
- Grow your acquaintances: You might feel like you have a ton of acquaintances but no actual friends, so why don’t you start there? Get chatting to these acquaintances more and you might find you have loads in common.
- Join a group or a class: There are plenty of classes around, such as dance classes, Yoga classes, book clubs and more. These are all great places to meet new people who obviously have a shared interest as you.
- Reach out to old friends: if appropriate. They were your friends for a reason and if you find that actually, you don’t think you’d get along as adults after all, that’s absolutely fine. Move on.
- Say yes to opportunities: Perhaps it’s an invite through work or a family function, try saying yes to more events, social gatherings and opportunities because the best way to meet new people is by getting out there and doing it!
I think this is a topic that definitely needs to be spoken about more. I think a lot of people may think it’s embarrassing to talk about or admit that they don’t have friends in their 20s or 30s but when you consider the climate we currently live in, it’s not so surprising after all.
If this sounds like you, please know that you’re not alone by any means and I hope this post can help you gain some clarity, comfort and tips.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to anyone who’s going through their 20s with no friends?
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