It's your fault you don't have any friends

I would say that, generally, I don't have many friends.

Yes, this depends on where my head's at in a given moment. Sometimes I'll feel good and be amazed at how many friends I actually have. More often, though, I'd say I have absolutely no friends. Colleagues, classmates, yes. Friends, well, that's harder to say.

Yes, I'm almost 33, and at this point I should not really be whining about being where I am at this point. But almost all of the time, the feeling of being isolated and alone is crushing, more so these days when we're not really supposed to be out for "non-essential" reasons. When you're alone with your thoughts and you can't really do anything about it, well, that's difficult. Knowing you can't really just speak up even to those you feel really comfortable with, more so.

And then I remember what I've been constantly told across those 33 years, almost. Not told, per se, but implied, almost always implied. It's your fault you don't have any friends, Niko. Back then I still had the gall to, er, complain about not having friends. Must be one of those extremes. It's your fault you don't have any friends, Niko. Remember, you have to adjust to them. They won't adjust for you, so you have to adjust for them.

That's had two results. The first is this tendency I'm pretty sure I have to want to please everyone. Or maybe not. I'm not really so sure. When I want to piss people off, I... would think about it real hard, and then proceed not to. I don't want any enemies. I don't want any of the animosity. I mean, it's difficult enough to be virtually friendless - or, if I'm being nice, to be considered as a friend but not strongly enough to be in anyone's immediate thoughts - anyway, that's difficult enough; what more to have people who actively dislike you? Which I'm sure was, is, the case.

The second is this clinginess. Or maybe it isn't clinginess. It's a child-like fascination when I realize that I do have friends. This usually happens at the end of a long conversation with folks I haven't talked to for ages. The chat will be easier than I thought, and I would probably be oversharing, and I'd be tired from all the talking and feeling guilty for dominating the conversation, but man, I do have friends. I hope this continues after tonight. Maybe it should continue after tonight. But I will overstep the boundaries, so I will simmer and then the happy hormones, I guess, will transform into something stressful, if not self-destructive.

Yeah, I'm sounding silly. Pretty much everyone else around me has it much easier. They can easily make friends and keep those things going. Outside of my girlfriend I barely have anyone else to talk to. I feel like I'm always the last option - and I can't just start a conversation from out of the blue, for that's just cringe-y.

What's worse is when I realize that the friendships I consider to still have isn't actually all that great. Like, what do you do when you realize that the conversations you've had were always one-sided, that they were never really interested in what you had to say, that they spend all that time talking about themselves to the point that I feel like my feelings don't matter? Or, what if you realize your values don't really jive, because your origin stories (sorry, that's the first thing that came to mind and I'm sticking to it) are different? Or, what if they dismissed your interests until it became their interest, their all-consuming interest, by which time you just feel sidelined? It's funny how this has happened a lot in the past couple of years, when we had far less avenues to be human.

What happens when your sense that the friendship is reaching - or has reached - the finish line is tingling? What happens when that happens and you're like me, a guy who has always lived with the idea that I never deserved any friends because I'm inherently unlikeable, which means I should work extra hard to keep the friends I do have?

Me, I'd quietly spiral until I self-destruct. Chest pains, for one.

And your responses...

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