Can having more friends make you lonely? As someone who has social circles in continents and countries all around the globe, I think so.
It’s been a while since I’ve wrote a proper self-help article based on life experiences so let’s dive deep into this one.
A Tale of a Lonely Kid
I didn’t always start out so socially adjusted. In fact, I was known as the weirdo in my school.
Somehow I’ve gone from having a few (unreliable) acquaintances in middle school to supportive, amazing friends all around the world originating from countries such as USA, Canada, Belgium, UK, Bulgaria, Thailand, and Indonesia.
I say “originating” because that is where the connections are made. Others have traveled, expanding my “circle” perhaps to all 6 populated continents.
At this point it is near impossible to track without putting my friends into a CRM (customer relationship management software system, typically used by businesses to improve sales).
As a lonely kid growing up in Nebraska, I never could’ve imagined just how my life would’ve unfolded.
I remember watching a video by a guy named “David Brown,” and he was talking about flying to another country to go to a concert alone to make friends there.
“What the fuck? How could he do that? He just went ALONE, and made friends.. there?”
Fast forward 5 years and there I was walking through the immigration line to go into Sofia, Bulgaria to create what would become the happiest time in my life up to that point.
As a kid, I always thought that I needed more friends. More contacts. More people.
That’s not necessarily bad, but it can also make you lonely. Oh was I in for a surprise for that one!
Too Many Dates
A week or two ago I went through a period where I was meeting way too many people- and I’ve gone through phases like this in Bulgaria and Canada as well.
On one day I had 2 dates scheduled, the next 3, and the day after that another 2 (or 3 if I decided not to flake on the last).
After almost a week of this, I got literally sick. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
On one of the days I took home one girl, then she left and I immediately went out with another girl before recovering. I took that one home too, and as we laid in bed I started making a joke about something which happened to the previous girl, having forgotten that this was a different girl.
By the end of the week I was so bored & sick of girls (and people) that I turned my phone off and rejected anyone new who wanted to go out with me.
This was the dream that I imagined myself happening- something every little boy going through puberty would’ve wanted. Yet I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt lonely.
The next day I didn’t meet anyone, and it felt fucking amazing. I played video games, walked through the park, ate at restaurants alone, and meandered through the day compared to the previous week of scheduling dates and work by the hour.
One of the YouTube videos I watched was particularly inspiring (about loneliness). It reminded me that introversion/extroversion is a scale.
You can be an extrovert but still need alone time. You aren’t all on or off. Everyone has a certain degree of social interaction and alone time that is healthy.
Recently I’ve tried to take more naps at home, and it’s made me feel like I’m on heaven. So much so I might even do a 30 day massage or nap challenge.
I found that in between social interactions it allowed me to reconnect, gather my thoughts, and recharge. It helped me clarify so much and “reset!”
Recently I’ve been truly appreciating alone time, as meeting new people can surprisingly consume energy.
Meeting New People: More or Less Energy?
I think that meeting new people can be stimulating and exciting. But if you’re meeting way too many people or only new people, then it can consume a lot of energy.
There comes a point where your body & mind, for whatever reason, can’t handle to meet new people at least without alone time and/or time with people you are already close with.
Most people probably aren’t meeting enough people so they will find that meeting new people brings energy.
Alternatively people may feel anxious or restless about what the other person thinks about them.
It really depends how well you can connect. Meeting so many new people gets tiring though, and so you get tired of constantly trying to form connections. You just want to let what “is” flow out.
Having met so many new people recently I experience almost 0 anxiety around new people. In fact a girl I recently went out with apologized that she was so nervous, but because I was so relaxed and “chilled out” I didn’t even realize that she was nervous or register that being nervous when meeting a first date could be a thing!
The point of this section is just that meeting new people can give energy or take energy- it depends on how well self-connected you are, and whether you are tempering each new interaction with interactions with people you already know.
If you are constantly meeting only new faces, then it will take energy. And that’s exactly what I was doing.
More Quality, Less Quantity
Having even one quality connection is key to so much happiness in life. In the past 4 days I’ve hung-out with one girl that I really like, and it’s allowed me to feel so much happier.
The first 2 days were so-so, actually. I wasn’t too impressed by her, and we didn’t know each other so well.
Yesterday I was considering not meeting, but then we really finally connected. Today I realized I’m starting to get some deeper feelings, and surprisingly have hopes that this goes somewhere.
On paper it’s more likely that it won’t go anywhere (she is leaving Chiang Mai next week), but still- it’s at least a hope.
It’s a surprise to me to think that I might be cool with being with someone, as I’ve told all the other girls that I wasn’t ready for anything serious. Now I realize it just wasn’t quality, but quantity.
Besides romantic prospects, this is true of friends also.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being recognized all over the place and having those short, surface-level conversations by people who know me barely everywhere. That feels good.
But you need that depth first and foremost. It’s the 80% of your fulfillment, and the “being locally famous” part gives 20% of your fulfillment.
One of my focuses moving forward will be nurturing those 1-3 deeper social connections wherever I stay rather than constantly trying to meet new people.
By doing so it’s making me set stronger boundaries and become clearer about what I want, making me more likely to cut out people that don’t serve that purpose.
For example, yesterday I went out with a new girl and I just wasn’t feeling it at all and she slightly misrepresented herself on Tinder. So I left after knowing her for like 20 minutes.
This sounds harsh but it’s necessary for my mental health, and in the end it’s better for her because I don’t care to get to know her- better to end it sooner than waste 3 hours of her time to then end it.
How More Friends Makes You Lonely
The more friends you make, the more lonely you can get because you miss out on the deeper social connection which happens with alone time or with someone you have a shared history with.
That’s not to say not to make lots of acquaintances. That’s great. And being recognized all over the place is great as well.
Just focus though on 1-3 deep social interactions, and if you can handle it maybe 5. These are the people that will make you fulfilled and happy.
Everyone else does not deserve priority. I will still enjoy meeting new people & acquaintances, but they simply will not receive priority.
If you give yourself to everyone, then you lose yourself. No one wins because you’re giving 1% away to everyone.
I say give 80% to a few people, then 20% to the rest- but when you’re with anyone give them 100% of your attention. You can only give someone 100% of your attention if you are socially fulfilled.
So strangely by focusing on the close friends, you also feel more socially fulfilled and thus capable of meeting new acquaintances who can turn into romantic partners, deep friends, or business partners!
At the very least you can be party buddies and share good times together.
In the end, focus on what matters: meaning. Those close connections are key to fulfillment, and constantly meeting new people in the absence of deep friends is no way to live.