I Have No Friends

I'm 42...and I Have No Friends

I may have been in denial about this, but the thought has been there for a while now. Finally, I came to a profound realization, and I just admitted it. This year I will be turning 42 years old…and I have no friends.
I reached this point in my life very gradually. Despite the fact that I’m a natural introvert, and I suffer from an above average level of shyness, I haven’t always been friendless. Like most people, I started out making friends as a kid. It was easy back then. When we moved into the neighborhood of the Toronto suburb I grew up in, my brother and I were 5 and 3 respectively. There were three houses across the street from ours where other kids lived and they were all in the same age range as us. So of course, we all became friends.
We went to the same schools together, and were occasionally classmates. After school, we played outside riding bikes, playing tag and hide & seek. We’d go trick-or-treating at Halloween. In the times of Atari and Nintendo, video games became a popular bonding tool. We went to each other’s birthday parties and had sleep-overs.
We also made friends through our parents. We’d get together with couples who our parents were friends with who had children of their own. So we became friends through association. We didn’t become as close as we did with our neighborhood friends, but they were friends all the same.
As time moves on, some things change. When I was in high school, we moved out of the neighborhood. We were still in the same town and continued going to the same school, but it was the moment I started seeing my old friends less and less. My brother, who was older and had a car, saw them a lot more than me. He had always been the more socially outgoing of the two of us. I held the role of the nerdy little brother, and he was notorious for excluding me from anything he did with his friends.
I still did have other friends of my own. All through high school, I would eat lunch with the same group of guys. We’d eat and play cards. We did stuff outside of school, went to see movies, did other activities or just hung out. I was involved in the Student council, the yearbook committee and other school groups which provided other occasional social outlets.
But then, after graduating high school, we moved to a different city. Not a far away city, just an adjacent suburb, but far enough if you don’t have a car. Over the next few years, I gradually lost touch with all of my childhood friends. My brother, who had moved out of our parent’s house at that point, still hung out with our old friends pretty regularly. My interaction with them was limited to a handful of parties that I somehow got invited to
For the next 5 or 6 years, I was very much by myself most of the time when it came to socializing. I spent a lot of these years in the basement of my parent’s house watching TV. I went to College, I continued to meet people. I got friendly with the classmates who were in the same diploma program as me. I gained popularity for my collection of video tapes that I would bring in so we could watch them on the TV in the student lounge. Unfortunately, because of my shyness, I wasn’t able to figure out how to turn this friendliness into actual friendships.
Not only did I have trouble making friends, I was also struggling with finding a romantic relationship. By my mid-twenties, I had been on only 3 dates in my whole life. It wasn’t until the miracle of internet dating arrived that things started changing for the better.
It took some time, and many awkward dates with women, to get to a point where I could be more comfortable and less shy when socializing. Eventually I met a beautiful, wonderful woman who I fell in love with and married. We are still happily married to this day. Ever since then, I’ve certainly never been lonely. We are always there for each other. We have a son together. I would dare say that being alone is something of a rare treat these days. I have everything I could ever need, but my situation with having friends has still never changed.
Some people will say that they are friends with whoever they marry. But while my wife is absolutely the love of my life, means everything to me, and we enjoy doing some things together, I’m talking about a different kind of friendship. You know, a friend with whom you share no serious responsibilities with, and you only do fun, relaxing activities together. A friend who likes all the same movies, TV shows and pop culture that you do. My wife…well…Let’s just say that I go to a lot of Superhero/Sci-Fi/Action movies by myself.
I’ve had plenty of “work friends” over the years. Co-workers I’m friendly with during the workday. We talk about our families, and what we did on the weekends. We hang out at the company parties, but there is never any interaction that is truly separate from the office environment
My wife brings me to plenty of parties thrown by her friends, but I’ve always been an outsider at those things. My wife is from an Asian culture, and I’m a white Canadian. It’s difficult to make friends in a room full of people all speaking in a language I don’t understand.
So for the past 15 years, I’ve always been busy, always had something to do, never been lonely, and have always been loved. Then last year, it hit me that I truly didn’t have any actual friends anymore.
Like I’ve said, my brother remained closer to our neighborhood group than I did. One of our friends actually married the cousin of my brother’s wife, so that made it even easier for him. I managed to reconnect ever so slightly with them with the invention of Facebook. So they are now my Facebook “friends”. Just like the 60 or so other ones I have, but never actually see in person.
It was through Facebook that I learned one of those neighborhood friends, the one I would’ve called my best friend once, actually lived very close to where I was living. He posted a picture of his newborn baby that was born in the hospital that is literally across the street from my apartment building. Despite knowing our close proximity to each other, we never tried meeting up. In fact, earlier in the year, this friend celebrated a birthday with a spontaneous party at a bar. The entire neighborhood gang was invited. Even my brother, who lives two and a half hours away, was there. But none of them thought to notify me of a party taking place ten minutes away from my home.
That was a very sobering moment. It was when I truly realized that I didn’t have friends anymore. It hurt to think something like that, but I can accept it gracefully. It’s not my intention to make myself out as being some kind of victim. This didn’t happen because the “cool kid” clique decided to ostracize the nerd. I’m fully aware that the choices I made in life created my current situation. My friends enjoy drinking alcohol, but I've never touched the stuff. I can see that makes me a total "buzz-kill".
Shyness is a reason, but it’s not an excuse. I had phone numbers and addresses. It was nobody's job to make sure that I continued to have friends. I could’ve made more of an effort to keep in contact with them, but I chose the easier road of just doing nothing. I’m a lot more outgoing than I was 20 years ago, but my introverted nature is always going to be a part of who I am. I feel that I may have reached a point in my life where making new friends just isn’t going to happen anymore.
People my age tend to have friends they’ve known, and hung out with consistently for decades. No one is really looking to bring in outsiders to such a close-knit group anymore. How do you even make friends as an adult? I met my wife through online dating, but there is no online friend-making, is there? And even if there was, wouldn’t that whole process just seem kind of weird? What could you put in your profile – “Man seeking man to go see Marvel movies with”?
So now, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I’ve left the life of having close friendships behind; and I’m comfortable with that. I have a wife & son I love, plenty of wonderful family members, and a full work life. Even now that I’ve started to dabble in a side career as a writer, I’ve found that there have been a lot more opportunities for social interaction through that as well. If I can continue making progress in the field, who knows what might happen.
In the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, we’ve become obsessed with how many friends we have; even if we’ve never met them in person. If you’re someone with lots of flesh-and-blood close friends who you see all the time, congratulations to you. You’re the envy of millions. If you’re someone like me, having fewer friends certainly doesn’t have to be something that drives you into a depression. Life is better with company to be sure, but that can come in many forms.
Of course I miss the days when I had friends I could just hang out and be goofy with, but what’s past is past. I have nothing to really complain about when it comes to the company I currently keep. I may not have what is classically defined as “friends” anymore, but I have no shortage of special people in my life.
For me, that’s more than enough.

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