Not Having Any Friends is Bad for Your Health

It's not about going out to have fun, but about having people you can count on at all times. Believe it or not, having no friends can actually harm your health.
Not Having Any Friends is Bad for Your Health
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

In this day and age where your social networking profiles show you have hundreds of friends, we often realize that we’re actually not surrounded by many people we can trust. Did you know that not having any friends is bad for your health? In this article, we’ll explain why and how you can reverse the situation.

Not Having any Friends: a XXI Century Problem?

Social Networks

People aren’t “programmed” to live in solitude. However, there’s a growing number of people who acknowledge that they have no “real” friends.

And we’re not talking about hermits who live in mountains, but people who live in big cities. Nor it’s a question of age, because it can affect both the young and old.

Not having any friends has many negative consequences for emotional health. The worst one of all is depression.

While you may think that you owe to your family the link you have with society as well as a sense of belonging, the truth is that you need friendships because they make you feel good.

What happens when not having friends translates into not having anyone to rely on, anyone to hear you or be there for you when you need them?

This may make you feel distressed, your self-esteem may hit rock bottom, and you may feel totally alone in a world filled with trillions of people.

It’s normal for those who have no friends to feel angry or be critical of themselves because they see this problem as a personal failure. While this is true, you also have the power to change this situation.

See also: When Friendships Dry Up, When Love Extinguishes

Having no Friends Affects Your Health

lonely woman staring into space

There’s always been talk of the benefits of friendship and having people you can trust in your life. But what about the impact of not having friends for your physical and emotional health?

According to a research article published in 2010, people who have healthy social relationships can live up to 50% longer than loners.

This is because living a reclusive life without sharing experiences and opinions with others is a risk factor as serious as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.

The research was conducted in Utah, United States. They studied more than 300,000 people for 7 years.

The tests measured relationships in different ways: social circle size, if the person had a partner, how many times they saw their friends a month, in what situations they could count on their friends, etc.

Regardless of the age or standard of health, it was concluded that participants with stronger social relationships had a higher survival rate.

The Treasure of Friendship

One of the study’s authors, Julianne Holt Lunstad stated that interpersonal relationships can affect one’s health and, therefore, the years one lives.

Having people you can count on in stressful or distressing times perhaps may seem “normal.” However, for many people, it’s really not.

A friend may recommend you visit the doctor if you’re not doing so well, may encourage you to eat healthier if you’ve gained a lot of weight, or can encourage you to exercise.

You can even make “sacrifices” for that person if they need it: go to a health food restaurant with them, go to the gym with them, don’t smoke in front of them, etc.

Social relationships are very important for both your physical and mental health. Friends are more effective than any treatment, therapy, or medication.

How to Make Friends

a group of friends

Now that you’ve read all the facts, it’s time to find real friends (and not social media profiles). “Face to face” contact is always much harder but is also the most beneficial.

If you’re not a people person, you’re shy or introverted, or have a very lonely job, here are tips to help you make friends (and thus enjoy all the health benefits of friendship):

We recommend that you read: 7 Habits of Good Friends

  1. Get Over Your Insecurities

Forget your fears,  don’t criticize yourself, don’t say that nobody wants to be around you… because those statements make people steer clear of you.

Instead, convince yourself that you’re outgoing, friendly, interesting, and have many other positive qualities that make you a good friend.

  1. Don’t Judge Others
    a group of friends consoling a man

Perhaps you don’t have any friends due to prejudice. If every person you meet seems inadequate, maybe you should be less “demanding”.

Give people a chance to get to know them better.

  1. Talk More

You never know where you can make a new friend. On vacation, in the supermarket, on the subway… Surely there are people who have many things in common with you out there.

How about starting with a simple greeting or small talk about the weather or some current event? Don’t wait for others to take the plunge.

  1. Find People With Common Interests
    social circle

A good way to make new friends is attending events related to your interests. It may be sports, music, art, or gardening.

The important thing is to surround yourself with people with whom you can share pleasant moments.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • González, M. D. P., & Rey Yedra, L. (2006). La escuela y los amigos: Factores que pueden proteger a los adolescentes del uso de sustancias adictivas. Enseñanza e Investigación en Psicología11(1).
  • Lahuerta, Carol, Borrell, Carme, Rodríguez-Sanz, Maica, Pérez, Katherine, & Nebot, Manel. (2004). La influencia de la red social en la salud mental de la población anciana. Gaceta Sanitaria18(2), 83-91. Recuperado en 04 de febrero de 2019, de
  • López, C. B., & Cárdenas, D. E. R. (2014). Percepción de amistad en adolescentes: el papel de las redes sociales. Revista colombiana de psicología23(2), 9.
  • Martínez González, A. E., Inglés Saura, C. J., Piqueras Rodríguez, J. A., & Ramos Linares, V. (2010). Importancia de los amigos y los padres en la salud y el rendimiento escolar.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.