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Either directly or indirectly.You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results.Please note the information contained within this document is for educational and entertainment purposes only.All effort has been executed to present accurate, up to date, and reliable, complete information.No warranties of any kind are declared or implied.Either directly or indirectly.You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results.I have no friends.That was the truth, not too many years ago.What with trying to get my career off the ground and raising a young family, my life was way too busy for anything else.My hubby also had a demanding career and we hardly spent any quality time together as a family or as a couple, for that matter.I was actively pursuing my dreams and had two adorable children and a loving partner.What else could I possibly need?The truth is, that I didn’t allow myself to address the fact that I had no friends at that time.Sure, I had colleagues, family, neighbors, and associates, but no one that I could turn to for a good chat or rely on when I was having a meltdown.I’ve always been quite independent, and never thought twice about going somewhere alone if I needed to.I’d been attending zumba regularly for about three months and the classes were usually packed with about 30 or so enthusiastic participants.They all seemed to know each other and were always chatting away and laughing throughout the session, while I never struck up a conversation with anyone.I must have seemed very antisocial looking back, but no one ever tried to talk to me either.As I was getting ready to leave after one particular evening class, I overheard the other women arranging to meet up together afterward at a local pizza place.I felt a tinge of envy.On the way home, it dawned on me that, although going to the class alone was no big deal, it would have been so much more fun if I had also felt a part of the group.As for pizza night, I clearly wasn’t invited and why would I be?I never said more than a ‘Hi’ to anyone or made any effort to get to know my fellow zumba fans better.In truth, it hit me that I had forgotten how to make friends.But it isn’t just about zumba and pizza.Having friends means so much more than that.They can be your mentors, confidantes, and supporters.They will pick you up when you are down, lend a trusted ear to share your problems with, and bring greater joy into your life.They will be there when you need them, have your back, and always be honest with you.Who wouldn’t like some of that?I did have close friends when I was younger but since moving to a new city, I had lost touch with most of them over time.Once I became aware of how much I missed having people in my life who I could call friends, I started to look at what I had been doing wrong.The answer to that is, nothing.I had simply put having friends low on my list of priorities, thinking that I could do without them.That bad habit gradually left me feeling lonely, but I couldn’t see it.It wasn’t until the ‘pizza’ conversation that I had to admit it I had no friends.I’m sure that many of you might be experiencing the same thing and would like to change that.You could be living in a totally different place to where you grew up and find it difficult to keep up with old friends or meet new ones there.Perhaps you are leading a very busy life, with hardly any free time to yourself.In the moments you do have to relax, you may have little energy to make an effort to socialize.Even if you are in regular contact with people at work, college, or the gym, you may find it difficult to open up and prefer to avoid engaging in any kind of conversation.After talking to other people in my role as mentor, I get the impression that many of them actually feel isolated but don’t know how to break through that wall of getting to know someone better.They aren’t sure what to say, worry that they will be viewed negatively, and feel awkward about appearing ‘too friendly’.We don’t want to appear creepy or desperate, right?It’s a lot easier to keep to yourself than to open up to another person.Why expose your inner thoughts or feelings to someone who may not understand you, or be reliable and trustworthy?It’s certainly safer to maintain your distance and use social media as your main form of interaction.After all, there’s no obligation on your part to show up, be honest, or reveal your true self.You don’t have to commit to anything.Sure, not all digital connections stay that way and you will have heard of cases where people actually meet up and become good friends, even romantic partners.But for the most part, we seem to be forming ‘fake friendships’ rather than real friends.My belief is that we do want to have friends and understand the need, but we are so out of practice.In addition to that, we aren’t that willing to invest the time and energy needed to form more meaningful bonds.The fallout of this is that more and more of us find ourselves feeling totally alone, emotionally stunted, and socially isolated.The longer we feel that way, the less likely we are to brave the real world and start making friends.Was it always this way?There are differing opinions about that but all the recent studies show that many of us find it more and more difficult to strike up a simple conversation with someone, never mind build a genuine friendship.Yes, the hardest part about making friends seems to be talking to someone in the first place.You aren’t the only one in this boat.In fact, a recent study by an app called Patook found that about 70% of those who participated said they had difficulty making friends.Women seem to have an even harder time, as do young adults, and moving from one city to another seems to play a large role too.Whether it’s linked to your age, gender, location, or lifestyle, you need to do something to get out of the ‘no friends’ trap.Most of you probably had childhood friends and didn’t have to think about the problem until later on in life.Kids are very social animals and can bond extremely quickly with their peers.Spending a large part of their day with hundreds of other kids of the same age means that school is the perfect way to forge lifelong friendships.You may have friends from kindergarten that you are in touch with even today, and are much more likely to retain those close bonds if you both still live in the same town or location.It’s when we enter the real, adult world that things start to get difficult, such as starting university or beginning your first job.Now, you have to start from scratch, finding people you get along with or have similar interests with.That’s by no means easy.Maybe you needed to move away from home to an area where you knew absolutely no one, which can be tough.Naturally, it takes some time to adjust and fit in, and we aren’t always prepared to handle that.After all, none of us are taught the social skills needed to strike up conversations with perfect strangers.As a society, we are even encouraged to avoid that, because we don’t want to come across as rude, nosey, or intrusive.It could be that you have suffered a bad experience with a close friend who you feel let you down, leaving you with certain trust issues that have prevented you from forging new friendships.If you were betrayed by someone you relied on or confided in, it’s not easy to get over that and the fear of making the same ‘mistake’ again is a problem.If you have a negative impression of yourself, it’s extremely difficult to overcome that and feel you are worthy of someone’s attention.You probably feel exhausted a lot of the time as you put your children’s needs before that of your own and don’t have any social life anymore.If you are one of the new generation of remote workers, although working from home has a lot of perks, there is a downside to that.You probably have less real interaction with the outside world, only connecting with people over ten minute Zoom chats.These are all valid explanations of why you now find yourself without friends, but it doesn’t mean that things have to stay that way.What if you could gain the confidence to approach potential friends and be able to develop a fulfilling relationship with them?How about learning ways to open up to people and allowing them to get to know you better and actually like you?If the thought of making small talk sounds terrifying, what if you could develop strategies for overcoming those fears?Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn how to make new friends easily at school, college or in a totally new city?How about finding ways to look forward to holiday seasons like Christmas, instead of dreading them because you have no one to share them with?The art of making friends has more to do with how we feel about ourselves than about where we go, what we do, or who we meet.What was I doing wrong, and how did I make it right?We’ll begin by looking at why having friends is so important and what benefits they can bring into our lives.If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t feel so bad about not having any in the first place.It does require some effort and a genuine desire to open up to others, but I think you are ready for that.That’s the most important step of all!– Robert Louis StevensonYou can’t fully comprehend just how important friends are until you find yourself without them.Friends serve profound needs that just can’t be met by family, colleagues, or acquaintances.Although it’s difficult to describe exactly what a friend is as it may mean different things to different people, everyone likes to have them.With friends, life is simply nicer, richer, and more rewarding.Quite frankly, you are missing out on so much in life without friends.Apart from having someone to hang out with or a shoulder to cry on, the emotional bonds that are created between friends are truly unique and can last a lifetime.You may have sisters, brothers, a spouse, partner, or work colleagues, but none of these are necessarily going to be good friends.They can be, but that’s not always the case.Family ties are something different from friendship and although most people love their siblings or relatives, they don’t always classify them as good friends.Our relatives are connected to us through biology and although we can’t change that, we can decide if we actually like them or not, often feeling closer to a friend than to a sister or brother.Partners or spouses can also be great friends and many people profess that their husband/wife/partner is also their best friend.That’s great until the relationship breaks down, which often means losing both a friend and partner in one fell swoop.Relying on a partner to meet all of your emotional needs could leave you without a social circle outside of the relationship, which can be a bad thing in the long run.If you or they leave the job, or the dynamic of your working relationship shifts, that can be the litmus test for how strong your friendship really is.Friendship is really a gift that you give to yourself because it is the one thing that brings absolute joy.It’s the icing on the cake, the laughter through the sadness, and the light in the darkness.Having someone to depend on who will be there for you no matter what, and who will always be truthful, even if that hurts, is invaluable.If you have a strong social support system, you are much less likely to suffer from health issues like depression, high blood pressure, and obesity.Ask any octogenarian what the key to a long life is and apart from the usual ‘staying healthy and active’, they will also mention, ‘having good friends’.The benefits of having besties are multiple and below you will find some of the reasons why building strong friendships can seriously improve your life.Having friends can literally keep you balanced.They will help to put your problems into perspective and stop you from obsessing about how bad your day was.By taking your mind off any negative thoughts, you can refocus on other things and have a laugh rather than feel sorry for yourself.You may wake up in the worst of moods but after spending time with friends, the world looks wonderful again.Most people suffering from depression describe feeling lonely or isolated.Although these feelings don’t necessarily cause depression, they can play a part if prolonged.While some of us can manage being alone for a certain duration of time without a significant effect on our mental health there are those who desperately crave companionship.Having friends would certainly make them feel better about life as a whole and reduce the risk of depression.Loneliness increases the amount of cortisol in the brain, which is the stress hormone.It’s also responsible for a healthy immune system which, if left vulnerable, can lead to diabetes, sleep disorders, heart problems, and even cancer.Even if you don’t meet up with friends often, just knowing that they are there if you need them helps to control the amount of stress that you may experience.A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say, and this definitely applies to friendships.Negative thoughts, worries, and concerns can eat away at you but if you have someone to share them with, it is literally like taking a weight off your shoulders.It’s not feasible to deal with problems on your own all of the time, and having an understanding friend by your side is certainly very useful.Whenever you go through a difficult phase in your life, as we all do, having someone to support you can make all the difference.Just talking to someone who passes no judgment and acknowledges how you feel can be very empowering.And while you may be way too hard on yourself, a true friend will show you kindness and help you to get back on track.

Last edited by William Jones