Question: Why is It So Difficult to Find Real Friends?

(I haven’t posted in a few days. I have been at Abilene Christian University’s “Summit.” While there, I heard many good speakers and also met with a number of friends.)friends-shadow.jpg

Lately, I have been thinking about the importance of being and having a friend. A real friend.

I have been thinking about this as a result of conversations with a lot of people. What I hear from so many people is that they do not have friends.

Now many have Facebook friends. (I am one of those who has enjoyed reconnecting with people via Facebook.) But does this really satisfy our longing to know someone and to be known by someone?

Why is it so difficult to find real friends?

  • Maybe friendship is difficult because many of us are very busy and find little time to invest in friendships.
  • Perhaps it is difficult because we get tired of always being the ones who have to take the initiative with friends.
  • Some believe it is difficult because once we have a few friends, we have used up our capacity to form and nurture new friendships.
  • It could be that our friendships are hampered by our unwillingness to be known. Consequently, we hold one another at arms length.
  • It could be that we fail to put out the energy (or interest) that is necessary to cultivate and sustain friendships.


(I would really like to hear what you think about this.) Why are friendships often so difficult? Why do some people experience great difficulty in finding and nurturing friendships?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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17 thoughts on “Question: Why is It So Difficult to Find Real Friends?

  1. Another timely post. I am one who has always only had one or two really close friends and then usually those friendships die or fade away. Part of it is my upbringing, but with age comes enlightenment and I am now trying not to repeat the sins of the fathers. I am trying to overcome the worst part of myself and risk being vulnerable and more open and giving. I think that’s what I find so hard about relationships is the personal investment that one has to make. For some of us that can be so draining and yet the positive side of things is that is also can be deeply rewarding especially when you develop a friendship with someone with whom you can truly be yourself. Someone who will understand all your flaws and accept you and tolerate you and walk the road with you. Through a very trying time at my church, I am now trying ever so tentatively to let my guard down, soften the demeanor and become more approachable. Not only might I gain some friendships, I may find the kind of people who can speak in to my life and help me be a better person.

    • Pat, you have written a beautiful statement about friendship. You describe so well the personal investment, the fear, and the longing. I appreciate what you have expressed on this page. Your words are important.

  2. This is a deep topic to discuss in a few statements. I thank God for quite a few friends I still have from teen years. We don’t live in the same city and only socialize when we go back to our hometown. We carry on where we left off!

    In some relationships I was fairly open and have had to learn the hard way that others can’t handle that. In the last 20 years I have noticed a change. Most people seem to want superficial relationships and different friends for different activities. They don’t really want to be known or have had too many negative experiences and have withdrawn. I observe many one sided relationships – one does all the unburdening of their heart, but doesn’t return the favor and listen. One-up-manship is rampant and people just learn to withdraw. Sad!

    To me an intimate friend is someone with whom I may talk about anything and who will always have my best interest at heart and importantly that would be mutual – conversations are confidential – we pray for each other – challenge each other in our faith journey – support each other when needed – allow God to do the changes necessary – and just simply love, respect and appreciate one another. I’m blessed with a couple of friends like that. I truly want to be that to others.

    • Karin, I suspect that the kind of friendship that you have with your friends from your teen years is rare for most people. In fact, what I hear is that many people only have a couple of really intimate friends during their lifetime.

      This is an interesting subject and once that is very near to those who have great difficulty naming even one or two close friends.

  3. I believe some of the challenge is in knowing how to be a good friend. As we all have blind spots and they can be uncomfortable for other people learning to change is often akward and messy. The intimacy I long for in my friendships often mean I have to mature in ways I don’t readily understand. So the process of being a real friend can be wearisome and often discouraging. Unless we have a real covenant of fidelity with someone, who is also learning, it seems nearly impossible for two people to grow close. It is much easier to move on and see the problem as outside of ourselves. At best only half of the problem is outside of us. As I work on maturing my own character so that I become the type of person others would like to be with I have hope for growing intimacy and opportunity. I really appreciated your post, thank you.

    • Jared, you’ve left a great comment. In particularly I love the way you take responsibility for your own maturity (which by the way, is a very mature thing to do). I really like the sentence, “The intimacy I long for in my friendships often mean I have to mature in ways I don’t readily understand.” Yet, what you express so well, Jared, is that you are taking responsibility for your own functioning. Anyway, I really appreciate this.

  4. My questions are, what do you do when you’ve attempted to reach out to folks , you’ve opened up some, taken the initiative over and over to befriend someone, but it is not reciprocated, yet they talk about the need for authntic relationships and real community? Obviously, not everybody wants to be my close friend, but it seems that some people are good at Christian service and ministry, but lousy at relationships and friendships. How do you talk to someone about this without seeming too needy or like you are having a pity party. I admit I could be a much better friend tham I have been to people, but it gets tiring to not have much given back after you’ve given out.

  5. I can relate mostly with the part about being tired of being the one to initiate most of the time. I find that I need to pull back and see if the other person has any interest in calling me also, and if they don’t, I can live with it, but it is a challenge not to feel something is wrong with you or not many people truly care about you even if you truly care for them. True frindship is a 2 way street and it hurts to find out you are the only one interested in the friendship.

  6. Why am I afraid of being hurt? Why am I afraid to drop my guard and take the risks to be a true authentic friend?
    We all hide behind our masks and sometimes it’s so hard for our friends to truly know who we are and what we’re made of if we’re so afraid of taking the chance.
    Maybe it’s because we expect something in return, something reciprocal and mutually satisfying to each other.
    Men finds it especially hard to find real and true friends because we tend to me so competitive and we’re afraid of showing our true emotions and afraid that others will reject us? In order to truly fins real friends, we must be willing to take risks and expect nothing in return?

  7. I am part of a house church that I assumed wanted to develop real friendships with one another, yet when my good friend and I voice our concerns of how we only see some of the folks every 2 weeks for the meeting and we have reached out over and over with little or no reaching back, we are met with a “let’s not become too inward focused, we must be missional’ kind of defense. Now after months of hashing this out, my friend is going to stop meeting with us as a group but be open to developing friendships. He plans to let the group know soon what he is doing and why. I am saddened both by the groups lack of friendliness to him and by him choosing to stop, but I think the group needs to hear him out and respond. I’m wondering how it will go when he basically tells them I’m leaving because you weren’t interested in friendship nor were you very friendly. I myself am strussling with having to keep initiating contact with folks and am wondering what it will take to cause someone to realize it is important if you want relationships or friendships to call someone up once in a while.

    • Jim,
      You raise some important issues in your comment. As I read the first part of your comment about the reaction to the concerns you voiced, I was reminded that some people seem to like the idea of friendship but are not committed to do what it takes for form good friendships. Perhaps this was behind such a reaction by this group.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      • Jim,
        One of the other responses from the group was that only the Holy Spirit can knit people together and it just happens (friendships that is} or the way they happen is to be on mission together and that will knit you together. I think they are finding though that they must show an interest in people if they want friendships and that when they don’t, people will lose interest in them, we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit, He doesn’t do it all. My friend and I didn’t want the meeting to be a substitute for real relationship and it seems that it was, so we have pulled back from emphasizing the meeting and are focusing more on developing real relationships. It just seemed hypcritical to act like friends with people you only hear from at a meeting and they show no interst in you in between meetings.

        • Great point, Jim. There is no substitute for actually investing in other people. While God may bring people together, I think it is a mistake to conclude that I can just remain passive toward people. Very good.

  8. I invest heavily in friendships, and boy does it pay off! It’s a lot like depositing in a bank- whatever is given out is reaped with interest. I made my first life-long friend by sharing with her what was really going on in my life and heart- and she began to share right back. We have been friends and prayer partners now for 34 years. I often make myself vulnerable by sharing struggles I am having- I have found this to be the best ‘door-opener’ to friendship. In being open and honest about our struggles, others feel it’s okay not to be perfect; okay to be still learning at 60- people feel ‘safe’ to share with someone else who shares openly. I ask God to show me how to pray for my friends, and as He brings things to mind and I share with them my talks with God- they are willing to give more and more of themselves to the friendship which keeps on deepening and becoming more and more valuable. Everyone likes to be prayed for, given encouragement, gifts, quality time- whatever is a person’s love language- if you love them in that way they will be wonderful friends.In a nutshell- BE a wonderful friend- and you will have wonderful friends.

    • Marygems, you have written a wonderful comment. I love what you say regarding the importance of investing in friendships. “Like depositing in a bank.” So right! We all could learn much from you and others who have chosen to spend a lifetime investing in friendships. I really like your emphasis: “BE a wonderful friend-and you will have wonderful friends.”

  9. Marygems,
    It’s like the old riddle, What Vitamin should you take to have more friends? B1. Seriously, the idea of being the first to open up to the other can and does lead to deepening relationships. I guess all you can do is be friendly, open up from your end , show genuine interest in the other person, and hopefully, God willing, they will open up to you and God will work with you to deepen the friendship.