Friendship, Relationship, Stress

Do you ever feel like you are not good enough? Does it feel difficult to be with people because you catch yourself thinking others do not want to be with you? Do you find it difficult to trust that other people value your company and want to spend time with you?

These and similar concerns are very common and understandable. We all hope that others will like us. This is why we may be afraid that we will disappoint others, be rejected or be left out.

Both those who have actually been lonely in their lives and also those who appear to be popular and liked can have these concerns. Having a lot of friends does not automatically protect them from this fear. Even a popular person may be worried about being rejected by others.

However, for the sake of clarity, this blog post focuses on those who have, or have had, challenges with finding friends or becoming a part of a group. If this is you, you may understandably be even more concerned about being left out. It is a real concern. Over the years, I have met many students who have spent all their student years without a group of friends of their own, even without any friends at worst.

There are many reasons for being left out, but they can be roughly divided into three parts. These reasons do not sound particularly nice, but they are very important to be aware of.

1. WE ARE NOT ACTIVE IN FINDING COMPANY OURSELVES

Many people believe in the idea that friendship manifests “on its own”. If two people are compatible, they automatically become friends. This is somewhat true for small children. Often, being in the same school group or club alone led to the formation of friendship.

As an adult, this is no longer the case. Friendship does not get created on its own, but requires input from both parties in the relationship. In practice, this means initiative, time spent together and interest in the other party. This is true for both parties. If any of these elements are missing, the friendship will not deepen.

Many adults live a busy life where they prioritise other things. We may prefer to stay at home to take care of work, house work or our children instead of going out for coffee or to the movies with a new acquaintance. This is, of course, perfectly understandable, but it has a negative impact on the deepening of the relationship. Without mutual interest and input, friendship will not develop.

Many students are also left out because they remain a somewhat distant character. Because none of the group members feel that they know you well enough, they cannot or do not dare invite you to join. So, you see, it is not a question of anyone actually thinking something negative about you, they just do not know you well enough. Many people find it difficult to connect with a person who is not somehow known.

Once the necessary level of familiarisation has been achieved, it is usually easy to join the group. For this reason, too, it is important that you make yourself known in the eyes of others. In practice, this means joining others, talking to them and actively telling them about yourself. It is difficult to get to know a person who does not actively share anything about themselves. Many people believe that it is not good manners to talk about yourself, but from the perspective of establishing friendships, it is still important.

2. WE REJECT OTHERS IN ADVANCE

The following may also sound a little unpleasant, but it is so common that it is important to talk about it. Despite their loneliness, many people are very selective about who they are willing to connect with. Many lonely people place people in certain boxes sometimes very harshly based on characteristics that they find negative. I have encountered the following reasons among students for not wanting to get to know someone:

  • – ‘That guy’s popular, they’re probably superficial and stupid’
  • – ‘That guy’s too loud, they’re probably really arrogant and self-important’
  • – ‘That guy’s always alone, they’re probably some weird nerd’

When we label other people this easily as “bad guys”, we risk playing ourselves out of the social field. Soon, there is no one around us who will do. The reason for our possible loneliness is no longer due to other people, but due to our own actions. It is important to be aware of this. Many lonely people do not notice their strong tendency to be critical of others.

It is important to consider what kind of people have friends around them all the time. Contrary to public opinion, they are not arrogant and prickly like some character from the “Mean Girls” film, because very few adults are willing to tolerate such behaviour. Instead, popular people are usually friendly towards others. They are also outgoing and willing to accept other people as they are. For this reason, criticism of other people is a genuinely dangerous characteristic which puts you at risk of being left out.

3. WE ALSO REJECT OURSELVES IN ADVANCE

In addition to being too critical of other people, we may also be too critical of ourselves. This is typical especially if our self-image is negative. If we do not see ourselves as desirable and interesting, we may also decide, as if on behalf of others, that our company is not good enough: Nobody wants to spend time with people like me.

In this situation, you easily create a so-called self-fulfilling prophecy. Because you think your company is not good enough, you are not even trying to join in. As a result, others will not get to know you and ask you to join. Now, you are alone and, in a way, have proof that you were right in the first place. Nobody wants to spend time with people like me.

So, it is important to remember that it is not up to us to decide how others will relate to us. Often, the attitude of others towards you is significantly more positive than your own. We are often our own worst critics.

This is why it is important that you let other people make up their own minds on whether they like you. You should not decide for them. When you genuinely give others permission to decide whether or not they like you, you might be in for a positive surprise. Even if we do not like ourselves, others may like us very much.

Love,

Yevgeni Särki
I am a student of psychology and an entrepreneur. In my work, I specialise in social challenges. I got into this topic because I was struggling with shyness and loneliness myself. I host a popular blog called “Elä paremmin” (eng. live better) and run a business called Rohkeuskoulu (eng. school of courage). In my free time, I’m happy to be with my family and friends, and do sports.