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Confused about wanting friends but not wanting them

Community Member


I'm new to Beyond Blue & wanted to start my own thread in the hope that I can get some support. Lately I've been feeling a bit down, I'm getting some professional help but feel that what I also need is to chat to others who may be going through something similar so that I don't feel so alone. What I find hard is friendships & I don't quite know why. I easily meet people, make lots of acquaintances & get offers to meet up & go out. I also have no problem (as in fear or lack confidence) to ask other potential friends out but what's a bit confusing is that when I get invited out I don't want to go & for the life of me I don't understand why. I want friendships, I need them & I'm terribly lonely at times so I just don't get why I don't take up these invitations. Yesterday I was asked to go for coffee with a new potential male friend & today I was invited to dinner on the weekend from a female longer term friend. Both people are still waiting for my reply & I'm avoiding answering because I don't want to go. Is this what depressions does? Is it the lack of motivation part of depression that does this? Has anyone else ever felt this way & developed some understanding about why this happens? For the life of me I don't get it. I want & need friendships yet don't make it happen when the opportunity arrives.

13 Replies 13

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi justintime,

Welcome to beyondblue and congratulations on making a thread. Good first step.

I think I'm similar to you in that I've got lots of friends, don't find it hard to get out and invited to things but I don't always like going. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Some people I can hang around with a lot of the time, others I can't. Even some of my best friends need to give me space from time to time. If you communicate to them that its just how you are feeling and its nothing (necessarily) against them personally then I think you will be surprised how kind the response is.

When I've told people I'm not feeling very well or I'm pretty exhausted I've generally received a very friendly, loving response. After that period I tend to feel like I've recharged my batteries and feel like socialising again.

Maybe part of being as social as you are or want to be is working out who you really get on well with? Who shares your values? Those people generally make the best friends, in the good and the bad.

Also, if you haven't seen a counsellor or a GP yet I would advise you to just for a checkup. Never hurts to do so.

Just a couple of other questions - do you feel anxious about going or worried about what they will think of you if you don't go?

Community Member

Hi BenB,

Thanks for the welcome & reply.

Just to clarify, I don't actually have a lot of friends, I have a fair few acquaintances yet I think it's more about keeping friends or allowing them to progress to anything more than an acquaintance.

It's great to have confirmation that it's all good about not wanting to go out. I think I feel some guilt about letting people down because I do it a fair bit. I took your advice & explained I was feeling a bit exhausted to a couple of invites this weekend. One person was fine the other I haven't heard back from.

After thinking a bit more, I wonder if it's because I have to put on a facade (which takes energy) when I just want to be me yet I get a little scared that if I'm true to myself & say how I'm feeling I'll either get advice on what to do i.e. be positive etc, huffs & puffs, judged & wind up feeling rejected, ashamed & regret opening up.

I do understand that for some people it can be hard to be around someone who's down & negative especially if they themselves have their own worries yet it seems like a catch 22, either avoid people & suffer in isolation or reach out & risk rejection. I'm not sure what the better option is.

I've seen a counsellor but am tired of being analysed, I just don't find it helpful. It feels like all my faults are constantly being looked for & that I'm being blamed which leaves me feeling that there's something wrong with me.

My GP feels I'm not at the stage that concerns him yet he encourages me to see another counsellor who isn't so negative & who doesn't label.

I do feel a little nervous about opening up to people, exposing myself, warts & all, because I anticipate being judged which hurts, I'm quite sensitive to that which is part of why I avoid people.

I feel a bit worried that I cancel invitations so much which makes people give up on me.

Your questions are helpful, they're making me more aware of myself which helps:)

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hey again 😊

So you struggle to convert acquaintances into friends? I’d also say this is a fairly common phenomenon. We might only end up with a few best friends as we grow older (lucky they’re generally worth it!) but lots of acquaintances through work, sport or other hobbies.

That is not at all to diminish feelings of loneliness and frustration though. They are real feelings and they suck.

I think opening up and being true to yourself is a good idea, but I would start small first. Chat to your closest friends about how you are feeling and maybe try a new environment with different people to the ones you normally hang out with.

It might come with a bit of pain at first when you start setting some boundaries with people you already know, but it’s worth it in the long run.

I had a bunch of mates I was close friends with once, but I never felt myself around them and like I always had to wear a mask. I was always leaving things early or avoiding going in the first place. Eventually we drifted apart and went our separate ways for a while. At the time it felt hard but I have no regrets now because it’s allowed me to develop as a person and find friends who I really enjoy hanging out with, warts and all.

There is light at the end of that tunnel.

As for counsellors, I agree. They’re no silver bullet and it’s hard talking about your problems all they time. They are helpful when you want to educate yourself more about what you are going through though.

With regard to how to practically improve your feelings immediately I find exercise great because it literally changes the chemicals in your body to make you feel better. There’s also an app called resilience that I had a go at recently, it’s a 21 day course where you list the positive things you did for the day. I didn’t think it would work but it’s been surprisingly effective.

Lastly, about rejection, you sound like a decent, well-spoken person. If someone rejects your offer of friendship that says more about their situation than it does about you.

Hang in there, you’re probably doing better than you think.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

H justintime,

your story and BenD’s resonates with mine.

the way I started handling this was by analysis. It was a light globe experience. Understanding that I was faced with a combination of traumas and social illiteracy gave me a sense of relief. This is work in progress for me, I’m in my 50s learning to negotiate social interactions without compromising self.

The analysis of pro and against reactions for me pointed to the sore spot - fear of needing to compromise self to comply with expectations placed on me. Essentially not being in control of situations and allowing to be violated.

Community Member
Hi, this is my first post so hope I’m doing it right! This thread interested me, so I thought I would like to contribute. I’ve never been one to have a lot of friends, preferring to have a select few very close friends. However, when I moved from UK to Australia, I felt I lost my close friends and have had to start again. I’ve lived in Australia now for 25 years, but found it hard to make a new set of close friends. I am a private person and enjoy a lot of quiet time, but long to find a couple of close friends that I can hang with when I ever I want, and most importantly they have to live near me. My other close friends are spread around the world so can’t just pop in for a coffee. I often wish I was an extrovert type with lots of friends and a busy social life, and feel quite inadequate in some ways. But the reality is I would not enjoy this lifestyle so why do I long for it! I also have the issue of longing for friendships, but then when I get invited out I really don’t want to go, thinking it’s easier to just stay home, cuddle up with the dogs, and watch TV. I do have a husband, who was born and has lived in Australia all his life. We do have a good marriage, but he has a lot of friends, which he needs to see a lot of. Sometimes I’m so envious and of other people who have lived here all their lives and have good solid friendships with people they went to school with. To be honest if my hubby was the sort of person to just want to hang with his wife, and we did everything together, I would simply love that. However, he is not that person and I wouldn’t dream of stopping him from seeing his friends. So I find this all very draining and confusing!!! I may add that I suffer from depression and always have and have been on antidepressants for years. Although they give me the ability to cope, they certainly don’t make me happy. In fact I’m still depressed most of the time, and by the time I’ve worked all week and dealt with all the office politics etc I’m just over the world! Hence it would be lovely to have those few close friends that I feel completely comfortable with that I can just do something simple with like dropping in for a coffee. Feel like I could on forever so will stop now. Thanks for listening.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Yorke, warm welcome to the site and thank you for sharing your story. I have joint in 2 days ago so still pretty new to it but feel a relief just by being able to talk openly and read stories that resonate with my experiences.

Sadly we are conditioned to follow the mainstream expectation pushing forth an image of an easy going extrovert, loud and funny party goer as an ideal. Media and entertainment industry promote this for their own benefit. Introverts are usually more sensitive, enjoy much subtle experiences, often more sofisticated and hence are not an easy targets or do not make for easily approachable consumers. There would be a long list of benefits that introverts bring with them. The main is the balancing reflection, acute observational skills and usually high emphathy.

I have a very happy marriage and similarly my husband is fun seeking extrovert, whilst I could go without human interaction altogether. Seeing, organising and participating in those events has one slowed down considerably. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Or perhaps he has learnet I find them overwhelming at times. It took me years to share this and explain to him. Frequently now though I am the one to remind him to make contact with his friends.

Migration takes away established networks. The quality of childhood connections are hard to replicate.

Community Member

Hey Ben,

Yes, that's how I'd describe it, "convert acquaintances into friends".

I think that's the way to go, open up bit by bit to test the waters.

When you say to try a new environment with different people to the ones you normally hang out with, do you mean to start with newer people at places where I don't normally go?

Yes, I do experience discomfort when I set boundaries & unusually I find it easier to do with people I don't know, like too much or don't respect much. I reckon that's because I don't care what they think of me yet those I know better, I care what they think. It seems that when I let people into my life/get closer I find it harder to put boundaries up & if I do put them up I worry in anticipation of doing so. It takes a lot of energy & courage for me & I find it easier to avoid them. The discomfort I feel is letting people down, feeling I've upset or disappointed them, this is a biggie for me.

I had a similar thing happen to me where I withdrew from a group of people I regularly socialised with. We had similar interests that bonded us yet I decided not to pursue those interests anymore which is why I opted out & is why I find myself in the position I'm in now. Although, like you, it's hard, I too have no regrets yet I'm in that middle part where I'm developing as a person and am yet to find friends who I really enjoy hanging out with, warts and all as you've done.

Hearing how you went through something similar has made me see the light at the end of my tunnel & I thank you for that, I'm still just a little lost.

Yes, with the counselling, I felt quite exposed & it ended up overwhelming me & becoming too intense so I've not gone back. I struggled with the confrontation & all the attention being focused on me.

I've experienced some good feelings after exercise. I've not done any for 5 weeks or so. I know going back will help & I didn't realise that it changes the chemicals in your body to make you feel better, it makes perfect sense.

Is the app called "Get Resilient?"

It's true that "If someone rejects your offer of friendship that says more about their situation than it does about you" yet at the time, I get consumed by my feelings that stop me from seeing that truth.

Community Member

Hi Vero,

Thanks for your reply.

How did you do your analysis? with a counsellor or just your own reflections?

I like the idea of learning to negotiate social interactions without compromising myself. Just reading that makes me see that in reality it's really just that simple & it's fair enough too. I know I have some underlying things going on too. When you say the analysis of pro and against reactions, would you mind telling me a little more about how you do this?

"The fear of needing to compromise myself to comply with expectations that are placed on me" is hitting home. If I compromise myself too much I wind up feeling ashamed of myself, like a coward, which doesn't do much for my self esteem & if I don't compromise myself I wind up feeling the discomfort of letting people down, feeling I've upset or disappointed them which is a struggle for me too yet in the end this way doesn't affect my self esteem unless I get rejected.

It's funny, as I was replying to Ben I had on the tip of my tongue to write about giving my power away, a life long theme that resonates with what you wrote "Essentially not being in control of situations and allowing to be violated"

Hi Yorkee,

Thanks for your reply.

I'm not sure what's right or wrong with regards to posts yet your contribution is helpful for me.

I'm a private person too & enjoy quiet time & I, like you, long for a couple of close friends except I struggle to pop in for a coffee & just hang out like you do & that's what makes me feel inadequate.

The friendship I crave is people I can have the types of conversations we're having on here, real ones where I can just be myself (whether I'm feeling good or no so good)

I sometimes wonder whether deep within I don't feel I deserve someone's time or to be listened to when I'm upset or have feelings I want to let out.

I used to be an extrovert myself with lots of friends, a busy social life etc... yet what I came to realise is that they weren't true friends & I found this out when life threw me a curve ball & they weren't there for me. Having this experience made be see how superficial it all was, just one big ego boost.

I was wondering whether wanting friendships yet avoiding them is related to depression & is why I started this thread yet I'm now starting to think after reading these replies that there could be some underlying feelings & behaviours that are causing the depression, I'm not sure yet:)