Why You Don’t Need Many Friends to Be Happy

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“Introversion—along with its cousins ​​sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a secondary personality trait, somewhere between embarrassment and disease.” ~Susan Cain, Calm: The Importance of Power in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’ll be honest, I don’t have many friends.

And it’s something I’ve always felt ashamed of.

In fact, I realize that a self-limiting belief I’ve had since high school: I don’t make friends easily or have a large circle; therefore, I am not worthy or there is something wrong with me.

That doesn’t mean I went never he had friends. I’ve had friends from childhood that I’ve been estranged from. I have had my share of intense and dangerous friendships. And I’ve had a few healthy friends wither and eventually die because I didn’t take enough care of them (which is probably why I can’t keep houseplants alive, or…).

In fact, is it okay not to have many friends? Does that make me ‘less than’? And what is a ‘healthy’ number of friends, anyway?

Understanding Traditional Approaches Around Friendship

Let’s be clear here—I’m not denying that friendship can have amazing benefits.

Friends provide emotional support, create a sense of belonging, and allow us to form meaningful connections through shared experiences.

In studies of Blue Zones—regions where people live the longest and healthiest lives—friendship is often highlighted as one of the main factors contributing to longevity.

On the other hand, feeling lonely or socially isolated has been linked to a higher risk of premature death.

Humans are a social species. Historically, the survival of our ancestors depended on forming cohesive social groups. If you were expelled from the tribe, you could die. So, in many ways, the need for friendship and social acceptance is hardwired into our DNA.

While I don’t think anyone can exist in a vacuum, it strikes me as important to realize that you can’t die if you’re not part of a group. Just as having children was an inevitable part of life, forming friendships is now a luxury of choice in the 21st century world.

The Time That Hit Me

“Do you have many friends?” Steve Bartlett suddenly asks.

“No,” Molly-Mae Hague looked uncomfortable. “That’s a blunt question! I mean, no, no, I don’t. My circle is small… And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work, spend time with my boyfriend, then sleep. That’s really my life… I don’t really drink, I don’t carry, I don’t go out, but that’s because I don’t really enjoy it.”

“So you don’t want more friends?”

“No,” Molly-Mae said with more confidence. “It takes time, I’m trying to make people happy… I’d rather focus on things that will lift me up.”

“I’m asking this question in part,” said Steve, “because every successful person I’ve been around here doesn’t have many friends.”

To be honest, I wasn’t judging this episode of The CEO’s Diary unfairly. I can’t say I was expecting to get so many pearls of life wisdom from a former Love Island contestant.

But I think that’s why this was such a big time for me—because Molly-Mae beats me indeed the kind of popular girl at school who would have a great friendship group together.

For years I have criticized myself for not trying hard enough when it comes to making and keeping friends. Even my family and colleagues have commented on it before. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me for not wanting or needing friends as a strong presence in my life.

But maybe the problem wasn’t my lack of friends, but rather my belief that it was a problem in the first place.

7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need Lots of Friends to Be Happy

1. Induction is a powerful force.

I always saw my introduction as lacking.

Why wasn’t I like the other girls who wanted to get ready for the night together and paint the town red?

In true rock’n’roll style, I’d rather be curled up in my PJs with a book and a cup of tea at 9pm on a Saturday night.

But when I peel back all the layers, I see that it’s just a matter of appreciating different things. And just because it looks different, doesn’t mean it’s invalid.

While introverts may not have the loudest voices in the room, we are gifted with healthy inner worlds. Our natural instincts for self-reflection, creativity, and critical thinking are incredible strengths that deserve to be celebrated.

2. You get exactly what you want.

When you spend time with other people, you are like a sponge. The psychological concept of mirroring is evidence of this—the unconscious tendency to mimic the gestures, mannerisms, and expressions of those around us in order to build rapport and empathy.

There is also an inevitable level of compromise in friendship where you can’t help but go with the flow (unless you want directly similar things).

Fewer friendships, on the other hand, mean less social pressure to conform to expectations or engage in activities that do not align with your values ​​or interests. This enables you to better understand who you are, what you like, and what you want in life.

This is one-sided and perhaps this is why Steve Bartlett sees a strong correlation between ‘success’ and few friends.

3. Popularity does not equal confidence.

The idea that I could use my perceived popularity as a barometer to determine my worth was something I had unconsciously internalized for years. But it should go without saying that there is no link here. You are not defined by social status or external validation.

I also point out that it is very easy to fall prey to comparison. In the past, I was very sensitive to the portrayal of people on social media as having the ‘perfect’ group of friends.

But remember that Instagram is a highly edited version of someone else’s life. Most people don’t have as many friends as they would like you to think they do.

4. You are complete and perfect.

First and foremost, your first relationship in life is with you. People come and go, but what you always count on you.

I’ve been through some of the hardest times on my own. Perhaps I would have found it easier to lean on friends for support. But, in many ways, I think I only found out how strong I was by realizing that I could get through things on my own.

In this sense, loneliness can change. Relying on yourself to be your best friend promotes independence, confidence, and crazy personal growth.

5. You don’t engage in toxic activities.

When I was younger, I wanted more than anything to be loved and accepted, so I undoubtedly ended up trying too hard. I went along with what other people said and did because I was so desperate for their approval. And in the process, I completely destroyed my own sense of self.

I see many times where I have crossed boundaries, entertained drama, or gossiped and bit other people, despite deeply hating how it made me feel.

Instead of holding on to toxic friendships out of fear of being alone, you are 100% better off without these people in your life. Integrity and authenticity are very important.

6. Family can be your support system.

I realize that not everyone is blessed with a strong support network, but it’s worth pointing out that close family relationships can often provide a foundation of love and trust, especially between siblings.

Besides, we can get a lot of the emotional security we need from our significant others.

The unwavering presence of a family or life partner can be reassuring. Having a space where you can feel, be yourself, and not have to make small talk provides a place where you can regroup and recharge at the end of a long day.

7. Quality is more important than quantity.

When it comes to friendship, the old saying “quality over quantity” is true.

Investing in a few real, supportive friends is more fulfilling than many acquaintances. If you’ve ever felt alone in a room full of people, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

As humans, we long for deep, meaningful connections that create a safe space to be vulnerable and allow us to be ourselves. Therefore, when our circle is too wide, we risk becoming too thin and reducing the quality of our relationships.

All relationships require work and commitment, so make sure you invest in what adds value to your life.

Embracing the Power of Introversion

For those of us striving to live more intentionally, it can be difficult to see where there is real room for improvement and where we need more self-acceptance. And in this area, it was a matter of reframing my perspective to be at peace.

So, to all the guilt-ridden introverts out there, I want you to know that it’s okay if you find yourself living life without many friends. As long as you feel happy and satisfied with yourself, you don’t need to try harder to be someone you’re not.

Who knows, maybe I haven’t found my tribe yet. The irony is that now that I don’t cling or wish things were different, I might let more good people into my life.

But you know what? I was completely satisfied either way.

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