Is it okay to not have a “friend group”?
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Is it okay not to have a “friend group”? I have friends whom I love dearly, but I rarely hangout with more than one of them at a time, even pre-pandemic. Am I missing out on something socially?
Your question is one I ask myself a lot. I also don’t have a “friend group”—though it wasn’t always this way. Until I moved away to college, I had a small group of girlfriends, and we did everything together. Sleepovers on school nights, applying for jobs at the same restaurants, learning how to drive a stick shift—we even went to prom as a group, opting to protest the patriarchy (kidding, we didn’t know that word yet). Still, we figured, why wait for boys to ask us to the dance when we’d have way more fun going together?
Since leaving my hometown, that group has dwindled, and now there are just two of us who remain close. I’ve made other friends along the way—through college, travel, and marriage—but each relationship is very different, and I can’t imagine us all hanging out together. Or rather, I can, and the thought of it makes me nervous! I love them all, but like I said, very different.
I’ll admit, sometimes I feel like I’m missing out. When I see other groups of friends together—in-person or (let’s be real) via social media—I get envious. I wonder, Why don’t I have a big group of friends to have dinner parties or travel with?
Especially as an introvert and as someone who prefers one-on-one interactions, I’ll begin to question if there is something wrong with me. If I’m not careful, I can spiral into a negative thought-hole, believing I’m the only person in the entire world who doesn’t have a friend group.
But here’s what I often repeat to myself, and maybe it will help you too: It’s not about the number of friends you have, but about the depth of your relationships. We can have a friend group, but if we’re not investing ourselves into those individual relationships, are we really creating meaningful connections?
Okay, so not everything needs to be about serious conversation and connection. (Lighten up, Kayti.) One could argue it’s fun to have a big group of friends—it’s a both/and sort of situation. Having a lot of friends is fun. But so is having one friend. Or five individual friends. Fun is what you make it!
Which leads me to what I’m about to say. And it’s something I say in love and mostly to myself: Maybe it’s time we stop comparing ourselves to others—in life, in work, in love, and in our friendships. It’s not helpful for anyone to measure themselves against other people. We are all unique and beautiful individuals. What is best for you and your friendships? Lean into that.
And finally—post-pandemic—if you still feel like you want to know what all the fuss is about, why not create a friend group? It’s okay to want to try it out! Consider hosting a gathering. Who knows, maybe your friends are more similar than you think and they will become friends with each other too. The beautiful thing about relationships is that they are always evolving.
So, are you missing out because you don’t have a friend group? Is it truly the more, the merrier? I don’t think so. But that’s ultimately for you to decide.
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Kayti Christian (she/her) is a Senior Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.