Why Making Friends Was So Difficult For Me (And How I Changed)

Thoughts and expectations have incredible power over our behavior, and changing them is no easy task. Knowing what to change is the first step. Read more.
Medically Reviewed by
Dr Hamilton

I’ve lied. A lot. It’s something I do without even thinking. My expectations take the reins and make decisions for me. They tell me that going out with friends is going to be a disaster.

It comes from the fear of hanging out with people I’m not familiar with and makes me avoid committing to an outing. That’s normal, right? Haven’t you done it too?

I thought that I’d say something ridiculous, or try to tell a joke that would inevitably fall flat. Then the group (clearly unimpressed) would slowly but surely let me drift off into lonesome silence. There’s no way I could come back from something like that. At least, that was the lie I used to tell myself.

After seeking out answers for why I was constantly avoiding something I actually wanted to do, I’ve started doing the thinking for myself.


The Internet is full of blogs and videos about how to make friends successfully. They’re a good place to start, but can be incomplete. To really gain the skills necessary to socialize and feel comfortable around people I don’t know well, it was important to look inside myself instead of continuing to look outside.

When you look inside yourself, you’re able to see that your full potential to get what you want is blocked by inner barriers, like doubt, fear, and anxiety.

Anxiety is a tool that we need for survival. The brain developed this response over millions of years to protect us from threats, like wild animal attacks and other dangerous situations.

We need anxiety the same way a car or a house needs an alarm: to alert us when there’s danger.

The term social anxiety refers to nervousness in social situations, and everyone feels it to some degree. It also has an important purpose in our lives you might not know about. It makes us more aware of those we care about and helps us nurture our social connections.

So why does that alarm sometimes make our social lives so overwhelming?

A mix of our personality, demeanor and past stressful social experiences can set our alarm to hypersensitive mode. In addition, physiology and heredity can influence those factors.

Whatever the underlying cause is that made your 'alarm' hypersensitive, the most important thing to know is that there are effective approaches for overcoming social anxiety and increasing confidence.


When people face situations that make them anxious, avoidance is the most common action they take. It keeps people in their comfort zone and prevents them from feeling anxious.  

Unfortunately, avoiding uncomfortable situations also takes us further away from getting what we want, like new friends or socializing comfortably.

There are plenty of effective solutions that help people build confidence, feel less anxious in social situations and start doing things they thought were impossible. However, finding the most effective solution for you is important.

Experts worldwide recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a very effective technique for overcoming anxiety in social situations.

CBT exercises empower you to understand how your mind works and build new skills to react more positively in situations that would otherwise cause you anxiety.

Participants of clinical studies created new brain pathways through repeated CBT practice. When you think about it, it's like CBT can give you superpowers to reprogram your brain to feel more confident.

In psychology, a therapist is a person who is trained and licensed to guide a patient through CBT exercises.

When it's time to choose a therapist, some people may not know where to begin. Finding the right therapist can often be a challenging and lengthy process. Furthermore, many people think that face-to-face therapy is intimidating and can be too expensive.

Digital and self-guided approaches are a useful first step if you are unsure of whether or not to seek further help. It's also a convenient alternative if you aren’t interested in face-to-face therapy.

Research suggests digital CBT can be just as effective as having face-to-face therapy with a therapist.

These solutions are available around the clock and are easily accessible via smartphone or computer, wherever you are. On top of that, it’s discreet and confidential.


Once you know you're ready, you need the right tools to support you on your journey. Youper is a personal digital solution designed to increase confidence by overcoming anxiety in social situations. Youper reinvented Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to make it fun, interactive and engaging. 

Dr. Hamilton, psychiatrist and Youper co-founder, says building confidence and meaningful relationships are like climbing a challenging mountain. It requires time and dedication to reach the summit.

During your journey, think of Youper as your guide and the backpack full of tools that ensure you reach your destination safely and successfully. You can even fit Youper in your pocket with our free app.

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