I Love My Friends, But It Feels Like They Don't Love Me
Maintaining friendships may come with conflicts, hardships, and changes. Because of this, it's not uncommon to feel insecure or ask the question “Why don’t my friends like me?” You may start to realize that some of the friendships you’ve had since childhood have changed over time. Your life may become busier. While not true for everyone, most people struggle to maintain contact during certain life events, including getting married, having kids, building careers, buying homes, and moving to new places. These changes might sometimes make you feel that your friends don't love you, but they can also lead to the beautiful experience of falling in love with your best friend.
On the other hand, you could be experiencing conflicts with friends and don't know where to turn. Maybe you give more than you get in your relationships. No matter the circumstance, there may be ways to find support and reconnect with old friends. You may also decide that the people you considered “real friends” might not be healthy for you.
Friends Not Staying In Touch
Life might get busy for some friends. Friendships may not be the top priority in someone's mind. Additionally, friendships might not last long-term. The feeling of being ghosted or ignored by someone you considered a “true friend” can still hurt, even if you understand the cause.
It could be that your friend is going through a transition preoccupying them. They might feel upset about a situation they are dealing with and worry that reaching out could be too much for you. If you are unsure of the status of a friendship, consider asking your friend. You can try the following methods:
- Mail them a brief note or postcard telling them you're thinking of them
- Comment on their posts on social media with kind words
- Send a message and tell your friend you miss them and are thinking of them
- Ask if they would want to plan a hangout sometime soon
If they continue to leave you on "read," ghost you, or ignore you, it may mean that the friendship is not double-sided or healthy. As healthy relationships are essential for physical and mental health, deciding to end a toxic friendship may be beneficial.
Feeling Unrequited Platonic Love
Even if you have healthy self-esteem, you might feel anxious about unrequited platonic love between you and your friends. If someone you consider a close friend makes rude jokes, arguments keep popping up, or your plans with them keep getting canceled at the last minute, you might feel pushed aside. You could also find that you put a lot of effort into your friendships, check in with them often, offer emotional support, and do not receive the same effort back. You may also feel that some friends will only seek you out when it’s to their own advantage. In these cases, it could be valuable to reconsider the friendship and how healthy it has been for you.
Just as a romantic relationship can require commitment and respect for both parties to feel secure, a lasting friendship may require respectful communication to stay healthy. Think through how you communicate and when you last had a pleasant, sincere conversation with your friend. Have they acted unkindly, dismissive, or rude toward you? Do you often hope they would treat you with more kindness? If so, it might mean the friendship is unhealthy.
Suppose you've only caught up via brief texts and social media comments and can't seem to maintain a caring or sincere dialogue about deeper topics. In that case, you and your friend may have differing interests or feel you're growing apart. Try to converse with your friend about how this makes you feel. It may be that you both feel unloved, and talking could improve the situation. If your friend is unkind or dismissive of your concerns, consider taking a break from the friendship.
They're Your Best Friend, But You're Not Theirs
It may feel heartbreaking to hear that the person you consider your best friend doesn't feel the same way. You might personally feel love towards your friend but also believe it's not being reciprocated because your friend has someone else they consider their best friend. You might feel jealous or hurt when you see them making posts with others.
Although you might choose to keep your friendship with this person, if the love is unrequited, it could also be beneficial to seek other friendships. There are plenty of other people in the world, and it can be helpful to explore your options. You may want to try to have more than one good friend, and as a result, you may end up having more than one best friend. If your friend hasn't explicitly expressed that you aren’t their best friend, ask them if your worries are correct. In some cases, it's possible that the situation has been exaggerated in your head; in these instances, it's helpful to get clarification. You might find that some friends show love and care differently but still appreciate your space in their lives.
How To Address Unrequited Platonic Love
It could be valuable to open a discussion if you think there's a conflict in your friendship or feel like you can’t accept your friend's actions. Be as honest as possible and allow your friend to speak. Actively listen to their response and try to understand their point of view, as long as they're respectful toward you. You may learn that a previous action or conflict angered or hurt your friend. In these cases, you might be able to resolve the conflict by talking about it and apologizing if you made a mistake.
When talking with your friend, try to use "I" statements. For instance, instead of saying, "you hurt me when you did this," say, "I felt hurt when this happened." Using "you" statements might feel aggressive toward your friend. If you feel the relationship is one-sided, consider saying:
- "I feel like our relationship is one-sided sometimes. I'd love to try to spend more time together."
- "Can we hang out more often? I miss you."
- "I'd love it if we talked more. I have been missing our conversations."
- "I want to keep supporting you, but it feels like I don't receive support as well, and this friendship has felt one-sided to me."
- “I feel like something is wrong, can we talk about it?”
If your friend is unkind, rude, or dismissive, try setting boundaries. Note that you do not necessarily have to offer extra support, gifts, conversation, or attempts to reach out if your friend is not doing the same. In some cases, the best course of action may be to avoid seeing that friend anymore, especially if you decide the relationship is beyond salvaging.
Ways To Support Yourself
If you feel constantly stressed over the state of a friendship, you could be experiencing anxiety or another mental health concern. In some cases, the relationship might not be healthy, and you may choose to leave your friendship. It's possible your friend said something that doesn't sit well with you, or the two of you are otherwise incompatible. Choosing to "break up" with a friend can feel challenging and may cause feelings of grief, which can be normal. It may be more difficult if these ex friends attend the same school or participate in the same social activities that you do.
Consider partaking in self-care during these times, including trying mindfulness exercises, journaling, or talk therapy. If you feel nervous, scared, or shy in social situations, you might find support from therapy for social anxiety. Treat yourself as well as you'd treat a friend you love. Consider taking yourself out on outings you want to do with your friend if they're unavailable. Spending time with yourself could feel rewarding.
Start a new hobby or social activity. Whether you want to make new friends or find something fresh to do with your existing friends, a new hobby could be a valuable option. Joining a club or activity group can also improve your existing social skills.
Evaluating friendships and building new ones can feel intimidating. Many people seek life coaching or professional support to deal with feelings of low self-esteem, grief, or hurt. A professional therapist can be a non-judgemental and neutral mediator that may be able to offer advice about the situation with your friend.
If you often feel too busy to meet with an in-person therapist, consider online therapy. You can choose between video, phone, or live chat sessions on many platforms and attend a session at a date and time that works best for your schedule. Additionally, studies show that online therapy is more effective than in-person therapy for treating loneliness, isolation, and symptoms of depression.
"Mark is an amazing therapist. He listens so well and has such valuable insight into male and female perspectives and issues while also not passing judgment. I have only just begun, but he has already given me so many great takeaways to improve my relationships and situations. I am filled with gratitude, and I would highly recommend him to anyone!!"
I love Lisa! I joined better help after a breakup. Lisa helped me to understand that I’m not alone in my feelings and that I need to be patient with myself. I was able to work through with her fairly quickly and she was always there when I needed her most. Can’t say enough about her!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions on the topic of friendship.
What Do You Do If Your Friends Don't Like You?
Think about how your friends make you feel. Are they kind, attentive, thoughtful, and reciprocate the care you offer? If so, they may be healthy friends and not know how you feel. You could be experiencing a symptom of anxiety, or your friends might not notice signs that you feel unloved. Try opening up dialogue to let them know how you feel and consider self-care to work on any feelings of fear that come up.
If your friends have communicated that they don't like you, are rude, distant, dismissive, unkind, or pressuring, you might be in an unhealthy or one-sided friendship. In these cases, it can be beneficial to end the relationship and seek professional support to deal with grief or sadness.
Why Do My Friends Exclude Me?
If your friends exclude you or don't invite you when they are going out, they may want to spend time with other friends or might not know that you want to spend time with them. Talk to your friends and let them know you're interested in spending more time together when they’re available. If they continue not to invite you or not talk to you, it could be a sign that they're trying to exclude you, which could mean the relationship is unhealthy.
Do My Friends Care About Me?
Sources show that healthy friendships include the following elements:
- Mutual respect
- Conflict resolution
If your friends do not partake in the above behaviors, it may be that they are not acting healthily.
Why Do Friendships End?
Friendships may end for many reasons, including:
- Differing opinions
- Growing up
- Unhealthy dynamics
- Disrespected boundaries
- Abusive behaviors
- One-sided dynamics
- Lack of communication
- Growing apart
Sometimes ending a friendship is an active choice made by either side or mutually. Other times, friendships might fade over time. If this is the case for you, you might reach out to your friend and express a desire to reconnect.
Is It Normal Not To Have Friends?
It can be normal not to have friends. Finding individuals you connect with in a busy society may be complex. If you want friends but don't know how to find them, try the following methods:
- Join a club
- Attend university
- Attend a social event
- Join an online group
- Go to a support group
How Can I Stop Feeling Left Out?
Identify the reason you feel left out. Is your friend spending more time with other friends? Do you feel you're not having fun when you're out together? Are you worried that you'll lose your friendships?
Once you've identified the cause, consider having an open conversation with your friends about how you feel. If they aren't the cause of your feelings, you might benefit from talking to a professional.
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