I am 21 female and have not had any friends for 10 years. I am high achieving and am scoring really highly in my degree in Economics at LSE. It is not the work that is getting me down, it is companionship. When I was at school I cared but not as much about not having any friends because I was the highest performing so I saw it as necessary to my success. Now I am at university my peers around me all have social lives and boyfriends and so it hurts more now. I tried making friends but seem to have a perpetual block for the last 10 years. I don’t think I will kill myself – a desire for success and my family and my dog are protective factors. I used to snort cocaine every week or so when I was 11-14. I have been clean of everything inc alcohol and cigarettes for last 7 years. A psychiatrist noticed at a play group when I was 6 I seemed not to look at other kids and not know what to do. What should I do? (age 21, from UK)
I’m sorry that you are struggling with making and keeping friends. All the success in the world can’t replace the feelings we get from experiencing closeness with others, so I’m glad you are concerned and want to remedy the situation. We all have personal strengths and weaknesses. From what you describe, it sounds like you have strengths in academic areas but weaknesses in social areas. Have you ever been tested for neuro-developmental delays or Asperger’s Disorder? Some very bright individuals can have delays in other areas.
I am also concerned that you used cocaine regularly during your developmental years, and from what you said here, it also corresponds with the time frame of lacking friends. Although you did mention that a psychiatrist had made some observations at an even younger age.
It might be easier to tackle these issues with the help of a therapist. Group therapy is an especially good way to improve social interactions and gain productive feedback in the context of a safe and confidential environment. Otherwise, in order to improve social skills and make friends, you have to put yourself in as many situations conducive to this as possible. Explore hobbies, volunteer, join a Toastmasters club, etc., and hopefully the friendships will come. You may need to put as much effort into this as you have your academics. Don’t be afraid to ask for constructive feedback from others along the way. I hope things get better for you soon.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts