Is it Possible to Live Without Friends?

28 October, 2020
Is it possible to live without friends? Does this have any consequences for our psychological health? Today, many people spend their normal days without having trust, contact, and friendship with other people. We'll analyze this in today's article.

Can you live without friends? Some people may answer this question by saying, “Of course you can! I do. I have no friends and I’m perfectly alive“. And, of course, this is true.

A lack of social ties won’t kill you. Your heart won’t stop, and you won’t fade away because of this. However, what sort of quality of life do you have without friends? Do you experience well-being or are you filled with feelings of emptiness?

Of course, no one’s going to lose their life because they don’t have at least one friend. However, in many cases, it’ll cause sadness, disappointment, and discouragement. It’s enough to say that one of the reasons why people go to therapy is because of the feeling of loneliness. They aren’t able to build solid social bonds and don’t have anyone to talk to, laugh with, and share good times with.

People are social beings and their brains need that quality interaction with their peers in order to enjoy positive emotions, feel validated, and find security.

As we’ve already pointed out, from an evolutionary psychologic standpoint, having friends isn’t necessary for our survival but it does give our lives more quality and can help us find true happiness.

Three friends.

Is it possible to live without friends?

People often say that the quality of our social relationships is nourished by what we’ve experienced in our family. However, this isn’t entirely true.

Some people have a traumatic past due to abusive or unloving parents and yet have still been able to find a true “family” built on the bonds of friendship. Sometimes, it even happens the other way around. Having a loving family doesn’t guarantee, in all cases, that we’ll be able to achieve solid friendships.

On the other hand, and beyond all this, nobody can deny that good friends bring color to our lives. These people are found on almost a casual basis. Unlike family, they aren’t given to us. And almost without knowing how, they become companions, unexpected treasures that travel with us during a certain time of our lives or sometimes even forever.

It’s true that some friends come and go. Some are false friendships and others are real, but they can all make us better people in some way or another.

However, some people, due to a lack of social skills or disappointments in their lives, have been without friends for a long time. Therefore, the question is: can one live without friends?

It’s possible to live without friends because we live in an increasingly individualistic society

Yes, it’s perfectly possible to live without friends. In fact, research work conducted at the University of Arizona by Dr. Melika Demir and Dr. Ingrid Davidson showed something interesting, something that invites us to reflect on its meaning.

They discovered that, indeed, friendships help us to experience happiness. However, this factor isn’t the most important for people as a whole.

The most decisive factor is the satisfaction of basic needs, and also the feeling of being competitive. Feeling independent, having basic aspects covered such as food, work, housing, or even having a partner are all more desirable. We can add another factor here: “liquid relationships”.

As philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman would say, society is becoming increasingly individualistic. This makes bonds and contact more fragile, unreliable, and even elusive. Friends come and go and rarely last. Although this can generate dissatisfaction, some people get used to it.

I don’t need friends because I socially interact with many people

People need to have access to daily social interaction, the most basic ones at least. Talking with colleagues at work and having conversations with neighbors or with the sales clerk at the local shop.

This makes us feel good, even to the point that many people don’t need to go any further. They don’t want, and don’t seek, to consolidate solid ties that will become true friendships.

Therefore, this type of rather superficial interaction is enough for certain men and women. These people could safely say that one can indeed live without friends.

A sad man.

Is not having solid friendships harmful?

We already know that it’s possible to live without friends. Many people lack this kind of bond for one reason or another, and they accept that this is how they’ll spend their time. However, the question is whether this has some kind of psychological cost.

It’s true that each person is different. Some will find the bond of their family or partner sufficient. Others may even feel fulfilled in their loneliness.

However, this is neither normal nor recommended. Moreover, we should take this fact into account: suicides are more and more frequent in this individualistic society full of fragile relationships. Yes, it’s true that not having friends doesn’t kill us by itself, but it does make life harder.

People need quality friendships, people they can trust to create situations in which they can nourish themselves emotionally. Friendship makes human existence more fulfilled, gives more meaning, and offers support that has such a positive effect on mental health.

The absence of this factor creates emptiness and wounds in which dissatisfaction and loneliness painfully deform our reality. Make sure that you don’t deprive yourself of friendships. Look for people you can share your passions with. Look for people you can grow, laugh, and spend time with. The benefits are incalculable.

  • Demir, M., & Davidson, I. (2013). Toward a better understanding of the relationship between friendship and happiness: Perceived responses to capitalization attempts, feelings of mattering, and satisfaction of basic psychological needs in same-sex best friendships as predictors of happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(2), 525-550