Feeling and being lonely happens to almost everyone, even people who are normally outgoing and extroverted. People spend their day pretending to be satisfied with their circumstances when really, they feel empty.
In recent years, a newer cause of this has come from social networks and burgeoning online relationships. More people are comparing themselves to their friends on these websites and wondering why they aren't living the exciting social life their friends are.
This can be a major problem when one begins thinking there is something wrong with them, but the truth is that the habit of "friend envy" gets us nowhere.
Perhaps you are a person who has trouble making friends and keeping them. The latter is especially challenging for most people, and the cause is rooted in several habits that ultimately isolating people who crave the closeness of good friends.
Keep in mind that the following list is not a review of tips and advice for "being better" at making friends. Rather, this is an identification of actions that are preventing people from cultivating meaningful relationships.
1. Letting the conversation stall.
When you first meet someone, the initial conversation you forge with them will pretty much make or break their first impression of you. During these exchanges, you may find it difficult to find things to talk about, and the conversation stalls.
For some people, this is mostly because they are not comfortable with talking to strangers, and they're not sure how to come across.
This can be fixed, however, by practicing basic small talk with people you are comfortable around. The key is not worrying about making the conversation very deep or interesting. Focus on topics that are universal and easy for both of you to talk about.
Additionally, try to maintain balance in the conversation. If you find that the other person isn't contributing a lot, be sure to ask questions and figure out what they're interested in.
2. You worry that people don't like you.
This happens a lot in group settings of friends. Once people start competing for attention in these types of situations, it's common for people to believe that they are disliked, even if there is no rational reason for it.
This is an aspect of Social Phobia, which isn't necessarily shyness or exclusive to introverts. A lot of this is developed in our upbringing, as we find it difficult to believe that people like us when they first start getting to know us.
This type of uncertainty can be a toxic habit because it prevents people from building chemistry with new friends. Instead of calling people up and trying to build a strong relationship, we may end up believing the risk of putting ourselves out there is too strong.
Because this type of social anxiety is usually rooted in our formative years, fixing it is not very easy. For some people, the only lasting solutions might be to seek professional help through therapy. It's extremely beneficial, however, because a lot of these anxieties can lead to worse cases of depression and loneliness that will be increasingly more diffcult to handle.
3. You expect too much from people.
This is actually a very common situation. Because we're not mind readers, most of us have expectations that don't necessarily match up with the ones of the people around us.
For example, we sometimes expect our friends to hang out with us every weekend or every day, and we end up annoying our friends. Also, we may expect friends we've had for a long time to still have a lot of time for us, even though they may have kids and other responsibilities keeping them busy (and stressed).
You may not be able to avoid this habit all of the time, but it's important to identify when you're pestering someone. Of course, you want to have a great expectations of a high quality friendship with someone, but this doesn't mean they're very sure of you yet.
Ultimately, this all comes down to empathy (thinking of their feelings before yours). Listen for social cues and don't be content with being oblivious to the wants and needs of the people who are your friends. That is one of the best possible ways to keep good people around you for the long haul.
In conclusion, there are a lot of habits that prevent us from having legions of friends and allies, but not even that will cure the ails of loneliness. Instead of trying to fill the void with superficial relationships, fixate on the ones that have meaning behind them, and put the work into maintaining these friendships for a lifetime.