People who are often surrounded by friends but still feel lonely usually have these 8 traits

The fine line between solitude and loneliness is blurry at times.

A lonely person surrounded by a lot of friends isn’t the stereotype and yet it happens, even to the best of us.

So what gives? And what does it look like?

Here are the traits of people who are often surrounded by friends but still feel lonely.

1) They don’t live in the present

Even if they’re living the high life globetrotting with their friends, they’re still feeling terribly lonely.

Sure, they might laugh, have fun, and be hyper. But, if you pay close attention, you’ll sense it’s all quite hollow

And if you ask them what’s up, it’s often either of two things—longing and regret for the past, or anxiety for the future. Sometimes even both.

As they are having a beautiful experience, they have flashbacks with “the one that got away”. Or they’re already worrying about the work that they’ll have to catch up on once their holiday is over.

And because they’re not fully immersed in the present, they’re always lonely even if they’re surrounded by friends.

While they can mask that they are having a good time, deep inside, they’re not even there. 

2) They’re needy

They have a lot of friends but they feel like they have “no one to turn to”.

But it’s not because their friends are unreliable and are never there for them. It’s because they are really needy

They need attention, constant communication, reassurance, time, and affection—and lots of it!

They expect their friends to abandon their work deadline or commitment because they’re feeling sad or insecure and need company.

Anything less than 200% would make them feel neglected.

Whether it’s because they have an anxious attachment style, or they mixed up friendship with codependency, what happens is even if they’re surrounded by awesome friends, they still feel lonely.

3) They’re friendship standards are unrealistic

“Friendship should be this.”

“Friendship should be that.”

And if those standards are not met, they get thoroughly disappointed—furious even!

And so even if they do have a lot of good friends, they still feel lonely because they don’t pass their idea of “perfect” friendship.

They might even say nonsense like “I don’t really have friends” or “Sure, I have friends but I don’t have a single person I can truly rely on.”

But the thing is…their friendship standards are so impossible to meet that even saints would have a hard time passing it!

4) They’re overly competitive

They often compare themselves to others—especially to their friends.

If their best friend Jon is earning twice as much as them even if they’re working less, they’d pretend to be happy. But then they’ll do anything to earn more to prove they’re better!

If their BFF Nancy is getting married, they’d smile and congratulate her…but then they’d break down when they’re home crying, “Why am I single and what does Nancy have that I don’t?!”

So even if they have the kindest and most supportive friends, they feel deeply lonely. 

In fact, having friends makes them even lonelier because there’s always one thing that someone has that is better than theirs—whether it’s career, lovelife, sense of style, or weight. 

And so even if they have the most awesome friends, they feel incredibly lonely because they see them as THE competition.

While envy is totally normal (especially among friends), once it becomes too consuming, you’ll end up stressed, miserable, and terribly lonely.

5) They’re pessimistic

pic2174 People who are often surrounded by friends but still feel lonely usually have these 8 traits

They’re not the sunniest person in the world. In fact, they’re more like dark clouds, complete with lightning and thunder!

Give them any situation, bring them to paradise and you bet they’ll find something wrong with it. 

They say things like “We’re ultimately alone” or “Love does not conquer all” when you talk about love.

In fact, deep down they believe that all relationships are fleeting— even friendships.

And so even if they’re surrounded by the most loving friends, they still feel lonely deep down.

After all, they know everything is fleeting.

According to psychology, rumination, negative thinking patterns and pessimism can lead to depression.

So if it’s you or someone you know, therapy before it gets too bad is recommended.

6) They’re always number one

The beauty of healthy friendships (or any kind of relationship) is that it makes us more and more caring of others.

The moment someone thinks “What can I gain from this friendship?,” it starts to not become one. 

Genuine friendship is an experience of pure love and the joy of giving without expecting anything in return.

But for the person who is always #1—who prioritizes themselves, always, automatically, without an exemption to the point of selfishness—life, even with friends, is sad.

If they’ve been planning a big event, they demand you to be there to support them, even when you’ve told them you’ve been taking care of your mom who had an accident.

They always have to be the priority but it’s just not possible without abandoning yourself.

Sure, they can be generous and kind, but it becomes concerning once you realize it’s more like an investment they want returns on. 

Ultimately, people like this feel lonely because even though they have a lot of friends, all of them have set firm boundaries to guard their energy. 

7) They find it hard to open up

People who are surrounded by friends can still get incredibly lonely if they don’t feel free to express themselves.

It’s often hard for them to show who they really are and say what they really think and feel.

While there are so many valid reasons to not open up—from trauma, to fear of being judged, to insecurities—at the end of the day, if you don’t feel safe to be your authentic and vulnerable self, you’ll still feel lonely.

There’s nothing lonelier than to not have at least one person see the real you. 

And let’s be honest, it can’t be a friendship if they don’t know who you really are.

8) They’re people-pleasers

When their friends ask them for favors, they say “yes” without hesitation. After all, they think, friendship is all about being there for each other all the time.

Yes, it’s as if they’re prioritizing their friends’ happiness over their own.

They forget who they really are, what they really want, and what they really DON’T want just to become a “good friend.”

And if you’ve been doing this all your life, then of course, you’re bound to get lonely.

In fact, having friends would become a burden because it requires a lot of effort…kind of like being a contortionist to fit everyone’s needs. 

Real friendship is balanced. There shouldn’t be any power play, manipulation, or people-pleasing involved.

People who are lonely even if they have plenty of friends tend to sacrifice themselves for the sake of friendship. We all know that’s just unnecessary.

Final thoughts

Being surrounded by friends while still feeling deeply lonely can be hell on earth. 

Everyone yearns for genuine and deep connections where we feel loved and appreciated for who we truly are.

But sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy.

We have traits that sabotage our happiness so that we’re lonely no matter what.

If you or someone you know has a lot of these traits, know that while you can’t magically change, it’s totally doable if you just make small changes day by day.

You might want to make your first step by opening up to your friends about this.  I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help you.

Yes, you’ll get by with a little help from your friends.

Picture of Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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