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Don't Have Close Friends? Consider This

Dr. Audrey Davidheiser

Updated Apr 03, 2024
Don't Have Close Friends? Consider This

If you lack true friends, volunteer yourself to be one. No need to wait until someone offers you the gift of friendship.

Do you have, uh, a close friend? 

I feel as though I'm prying. Maybe it’s because there’s a stigma around loneliness, even if this condition is something of an epidemic. About 1 in 3 Americans reported feeling lonely in a recent survey

Loneliness means we’re journeying through life solo. In the words of the Bible, loneliness hits probably because we lack a friend “who is as [precious to us as] our own souls” (Deuteronomy 13:6, AMP). 

As precious to us as our own souls? Whoa! What a tall order.

Few relationships would fit. Can you classify coworkers and acquaintances as “friends who are like your soul mates” (ISV) when all you do is chat about casual things with them? 

Here’s why the question I asked at the beginning is worth considering. I attended the 2024 Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) conference and learned about a sobering study on the well-being of pastors and their spouses. These researchers discovered pastors who had more close friends also endorsed fewer depression symptoms. They felt more satisfied in ministry. 

Granted, pastors are unique. Their leadership role sets them apart from the rest of the church. However, this position’s endless demands often intrude into the pastors’ personal lives and impact their families, further pressuring them, which explains their need for close confidantes.

But the need for true friends isn’t limited to just clergy. God created all humans to be relational beings. And so, it makes sense for all of us to need a trusted friend. Whether you lead a Fortune 500 company, a tribe of young humans still at home, or are somewhere in between, even if your life is relatively drama-free, you’ll still benefit from having an ally.

Friendship increases life satisfaction. In contrast, loners have been found to be twice as likely to die prematurely. Research shows baring your heart to a buddy can lower blood pressure during stressful situations.

But how do we find that kind of friend? 

Here are three ideas:

1. Old Friends

Did you meet someone who then became a close friend earlier in life? Cherish that friendship. Work through any rift that might have ripped you two apart in the course of time. Old friendships—that is, connections we made while we were younger—offer a richness that can be missing from those fostered in adulthood. 

As Scripture says, “never abandon a friend” (Proverbs 27:10, NLT). Don’t discard an old friendship in the face of quarrels.

But friendships, obviously, fall under the umbrella of relationships, and conflicts within relationships are notoriously tricky to resolve. So, if you feel stumped by the schism between you and your friend, email me your dilemma. The Ask Dr. Audrey’s Advice Column might offer the balm you need to soothe the cracks in your friendship.

If there is no squabble separating you from your old friends, wonderful. I’m happy for you. Still, please don’t take your pals for granted. Keep working on your friendships. Whether it’s a quick “miss you!” text or a heartfelt video chat, cherish your friends. Let them know how appreciative you are of them.

2. Risk a "Yes"

Remember the conference I told you about earlier? I presented on—what else?—Internal Family System (IFS), my favorite therapy modality. Afterward, while browsing the book tables, I ran into one of the people who attended my workshop. We chatted about IFS before she dropped an unexpected question: “Would you like to come to my birthday party?”

I didn’t know this lady. At all. Plus, the party was at the hotel where the conference was held. Because I stayed at a different property—and the forecast called for rain for the rest of the day—RSVP-ing yes might have meant being drenched as I walked to the party and back.

There were many reasons to beg off, but I'm so glad I risked a "yes"!

I didn’t know it then, but my agreement unlocked a roomful of joy. The birthday party ended up feeling like a clean comedy show. As a present for the birthday girl, every guest was supposed to share two truths and a lie while the group guessed the lie. Because some were expert storytellers, stories about squirrels and singing captivated us while others crafted creative jabs and poked innocent fun as more stories flowed.

The evening erupted into one raucous laughter after another.

But how does my experience affect you?

The next time the chance to socialize arises, risk a yes. Pray and confirm it with God first, of course, but unless you feel a clear "no" from the Almighty, lean on your yes. 

You might make a few friends that way.

3. Initiate 

May I indulge you with one more story from the eventful party? This one originated from the birthday girl herself. These parties, she explained, started because her birthday used to be lonely. No friend was around to celebrate her happy day.

“Why don’t you invite a few people out and treat them to a nice meal?” her husband advised. “Not McDonald’s.”

She listened to his advice and gained a group of close friends as a result.

Let’s apply this concept to you.

If you lack true friends, volunteer yourself to be one. No need to wait until someone offers you the gift of friendship. Instead, initiate the process. Stretch your comfort zone and get to know others. Be generous in spending your time with them. Buy them a Christmas gift. Surprise them with a gift card for their birthday. 

Keep nourishing that new friendship until it won’t be that new anymore, and before you realize it, you’ll have a close friend to share life with.

Take it from the party I attended. One reason it felt special was because the guests kept showing up at the same conference, and the same birthday party, for years. By the time I arrived, the bond between them—and the birthday girl—had been clearly established.  

It Takes One

There is a flicker of hope arising from the research on pastors I cited earlier. Whether it’s them or their spouses, the researchers discovered it took having only one friend to improve the lives of these study participants. 

Imagine that! We don’t need to have a close friend in every state to improve our welfare. It only takes one. 

Scripture confirms that friendship isn’t about quantity but quality. “A person of too many friends comes to ruin,” warns Proverbs 18:24 (NASB). 

Moral of the story?

If you’re an extrovert, don’t let your natural ability to socialize backfire. Collecting an impressive number of contacts is great, but advance only the right persons into your inner circle. “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Don’t let those you call friends corrupt your decisions regarding God or life in general.

And if you’re an introvert, endure the discomfort that comes with reaching out to make new friends. Extroverts might rate this kind of activity as less nerve-wracking than you, but that’s okay. Scale down the effort if you need to. You only need one good friend, remember?

No matter your tendency, and whether the friendships you’re working on are quite old or brand new, cultivate them. Check in on your friends. Forgive. 

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to plot out my two truths and one lie. 

My new friend’s next birthday party awaits!

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Elle Hughes

dr. audrey davidheiser bio photoAudrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, and IFSI-approved clinical consultant. After founding and directing a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, she now devotes her practice to survivors of trauma—including spiritual abuse. If you need her advice, visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com and Instagram @DrAudreyD.