I don’t have a “friend group,” though it wasn’t always this way. 

Growing up, I had a small group of girlfriends at my school, and we did just about everything together—sleepovers on school nights, working as hostesses at the same restaurants, teaching one another how to drive a stick shift in the school parking lot. In the spring of senior year, we went to prom as a large group, protesting any notion that we needed to wait for the boys to ask us to attend. We bought fancy dresses and took photos at sunset. We danced in a circle in the middle of the dance floor.

I knew deep down our group would eventually dwindle. When we left for college, we did our best to stay connected across state lines and by spending every moment together on holidays and summer vacations. But the distance and years eventually pulled us in different directions. Everyone made new friends, pursued serious careers, found love, had children. 

In my coming of age and bouncing around to new jobs and cities, I haven’t found or maintained a “friend group” like that one in my adult years. Instead, it’s been a friend or two with shared interests, sometimes one or two sets of couples to invite over for movie nights. But there hasn’t been anything quite like that intimate friend group from my younger years. And I’ll admit, sometimes it feels like I may be missing out. 

I haven’t found or maintained a “friend group” like that one in my adult years.

When I see other groups of adult friends together, it’s difficult not to experience a sense of longing. Who wouldn’t want a friend group to invite over for fancy dinner parties or to travel with on vacations? Even as an introvert who often prefers one-on-one interactions, there is something attractive about finding your people and then doing life with them. 

Perhaps that’s because there is something special about having a close-knit group of people in your life. I’m one of four siblings, and my favorite memories are with my brother and sisters and their significant others. 

But while I’ve grown to appreciate that friend groups can be truly magical, I’ve also grown more interested in the depths of my relationships rather than the number of people in my life. Age has taught me that it’s not about the number of friends you have but the quality of your relationships. We can have a large group of friends, but sometimes those connections lack deeper meaning if we’re not investing ourselves in those individual relationships.

The grass isn’t always greener, as they say. Comparison never offers us anything—in life, in work, in love, and in our friendships. We are as unique as the different seasons of our lives. Sometimes we may have groups of friends; other times, we may have one friend. For some, our “friend group” is often family. In certain seasons, solitude may be what we’re craving most.

Comparison never offers us anything—in life, in work, in love, and in our friendships.

Finally—and I think we forget this part—we can create new friend groups by inviting our individual friends to meet and spend time together. It may not always be a good fit, but often, more than not, it is. Your friends may be more similar than you think and might become friends with one another too. The beautiful thing about relationships is that, like us, they are always evolving.

So, is it okay to not have a friend group? Is it truly the more, the merrier? I don’t think so. But that’s ultimately for you to decide.

Kayti Christian (she/her) is the Managing 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.