When You Lose Interest In People Quickly
A problem some people have when they're trying to make friends is they lose interest in others quickly. The issue may crop up early. They may meet a potential friend at a party, have a good conversation and talk about hanging out sometime, then be over the idea when it's time to follow through. The loss of interest can strike later on, but still too soon. Someone may meet a new friend and hang out over month or two, then suddenly grow tired of the relationship.
A related problem, that happens even earlier, is when you feel disinterested in initially chatting to people and trying to get to know them. I cover that here:
This article will list of a bunch of possible reasons you may be losing interest in people faster than you'd like. It will focus on friendships, but many of the explanations can also apply to romantic relationships. After that it will offer some solutions.
If any of these apply to you they're often unconscious. If you already knew why you were losing interest in friends so easily you wouldn't be here. Though it is possible to have these motivations or patterns, and be fully aware of what's going on.
While I can present some possibilities, I clearly can't tell you which, if any, of them are a factor in your case. You'll have to try to figure that out for yourself, through a mix of self-reflection, paying more attention to the dynamics of your relationships, or asking other people for their thoughts and feedback.
You haven't met anyone you're truly compatible with yet
If you lose interest in people easily you may worry there's something wrong with you. However, it's possible you don't get excited about most people because the ones you're meeting aren't a good match. This is especially likely if you're younger, quirky or non-mainstream, and you live in a smaller or more traditional town. You may be trying to force friendships with your incompatible or half-compatible classmates and co-workers, and can only keep them up for days or weeks.
You haven't figured out what traits you're looking for in a friend, and are sampling many different types of people
That's okay, assuming you're respectful about parting ways once you realize they're not right for you. But if you don't realize you're in the process of casting around for what you want, you can worry there's something off about you for churning through different friends or social groups so quickly.
You have high, possibly overly-high, standards for who you can be interested in
Maybe only the rare person is able to hold your interest. Assuming you're not rude or snobby about it, there's nothing inherently wrong with having higher standards, though it can be impractical.
Your lack of interest is a defense mechanism against various fears
There are risks to trying to make friends, and some people are more afraid of them than others. It's beyond the scope of this article to delve into why someone may have these fears to begin with, but here they are:
Fears related to being hurt
- Your new friends may reject you once they get to know you just a little better (i.e., beyond the quick conversation you had when you first met)
- Your new friends may reject you once they learn some more personal, intimate details about you
- Your friends may hurt or betray you
Fears related to commitment and obligation
- Your new friend may become emotionally attached to you - The fear is they'd be distraught if you ever ended the relationship, and you don't want that hanging over your head
- Your new friend may become too emotionally dependent on you - They may drain you with an excessive need for support
- Even if you enjoy it, you may end up spending a lot of time with your new friend - You fear losing your space and letting other aspects of your life fall by the wayside
Sometimes we don't want to acknowledge we have these fears, and use unconscious defense mechanisms to avoid them. One is to mysteriously lose interest in the relationship right before it would start to get scary or difficult. Some people adopt a face saving attitude to justify their choices to themselves, like they may see themselves as a choosy, aloof rogue who's above it all.
You're unconsciously trying to befriend people who don't intimidate you (but also don't interest you)
This is another way fear can influence you. You may feel nervous around the type of person you'd actually like to be friends with, to the point where you don't even try. Instead you socialize with people you feel comfortable around. That saves you from the unpleasant anxiety, but the cost is you're hanging around people who can't hold your attention for long.
You're feeling down and unhappy in general, and it's tainting the way you think of people
If your mood is sad and discouraged, even a little, it can make you feel more grumpy, critical, and pessimistic. It can also cause you to have less interest in the things you normally enjoy. That can create a pervasive mentality of, "Blech, no one I meet excites me. No one's good enough. Even if I meet someone who seems okay, it always peters out before long."
You know on some level that your life is in a rut, and that you need to make some big changes - Quickly losing interest in people is a symptom of that
For example, you know you're legitimately stagnating and unfulfilled in your current job and city, and that what you really need to do is move away and get a fresh start. You can't seem to hold an interest in anyone because you unconsciously realize none of it matters. You don't care about making new friends in town. You're counting down the days until you can leave.
You tend to spend too much time with new friends, and it drains your social battery, and desire to keep seeing them
We differ in how much socializing we can do before we start to feel drained and want some alone time to recharge. If your social battery is smaller, and you hang out with a new friend a tad too much, everything may feel fine at first, but under the surface you're slowly building a "recovery time" debt. When it grows big enough you may get a feeling of, "Ugh, I don't care about this person anymore. I'm sick of them. I just want to spend a bunch of time alone."
You're not interested in making friends at the moment, but are trying to force yourself because you feel it's something you should want
You don't have many friends, if any at all. Deep down you're honestly okay with that. But you've heard one too many societal messages about how less-social people are defective, so you're half-heartedly trying to change. But you're going after something you don't really want, so you find yourself losing interest in the people you meet.
Your motivation to be more social comes and goes - When it recedes you lose interest in any new friends in your life
You're less-social in the sense that sometimes you want to be around people and have more friends, but there are other stretches in your life where you're happy to be left to your own devices. During the times when you're feeling more social you may meet some people and develop a fledgling friendship or two. But before long the tide turns, and you're not into it anymore.
You tend to have conversations that don't allow people to show their interesting side
This isn't to say that with the right conversation skills you can become interested in everybody, or that it's your fault if someone doesn't intrigue you. No one is enthralled by everyone they meet. However, some conversation styles can prevent you from seeing the interesting sides of people. For example:
- Over-relying on dull, impersonal small talk topics
- Focusing on yourself, never asking about the other person
- Not listening much when the other person is speaking
- Never following up on their conversation threads, and always bringing to topic back to what you want to talk about
- Trying to turn every discussion into a random joke-fest
- Shutting people down when they try to open up to you (by making fun of them, implying they're weak for feeling that way, seeming bored, etc.)
You don't know how to build deeper, more satisfying friendships
You're okay at initially befriending people, but you don't know how to move it past that early, more surface level. Some people are perfectly happy to have longstanding friendships where they do activities, joke around, and talk about their hobbies, but never get to know each other on a more intimate level. Others are okay with a less-close relationship for a few months, then feel a need to move on.
You have social needs that aren't being met, and less patience for anything else
For example, there's not enough in-depth, intellectual conversation in your life. It's frustrating and you have less tolerance for light small talk. If you start getting to know someone and the interaction sticks to fluffy topics for too long you lose interest in taking things further. If you were getting your "intellectual discussion" fix elsewhere you wouldn't have been so quick to give up on them.
You're unintentionally attracting people you're prone to losing interest in
There are several ways this can happen, but here's one example: For whatever reason someone gives off a compassionate "helper" vibe that draws in needy people. The relationships they form are fine for a little while, but gradually, subtly become tiring and one-sided. They aren't conscious that's what's putting them off, and just feel like they always grow less keen to keep their friendships going after a few months.
You're unconsciously put off by anyone who likes you too easily
People who have certain types of tough childhoods can struggle with relationships as adults. A common one is being raised by distant, unavailable parents. Growing up it becomes "normal" for them to chase attention and approval from figures who give it out rarely and inconsistently. Later in life if they meet someone who likes and accepts them straight away it feels vaguely wrong, and they find themselves losing interest, even if they logically realize that person is a good match for them.
You're drawn to people whose shine tends to wear off quickly
Some people make a dazzling first impression, but as you get to know them you realize that underneath their charming exterior they're actually selfish, self-absorbed, undermining, mean-spirited, unstable, and so on. You may tend to fall for this type of person, but then pull away when you unconsciously sense their true colors are starting to show.
You're hooked on the thrill of a new friendship, and lose interest once it wears off
Starting a friendship isn't as intoxicating as beginning a new romance, but there can still be an exciting honeymoon period. Eventually the high wears off. Most people take it in stride and continue with the relationship. Others view the come down as a loss of interest, and seek out someone else to give them that "new friend" rush again.
You like the chase and validation of meeting new people and winning them over, and lose interest once you know someone likes you
This point is similar to the last. This pattern is more commonly seen with dating, but can play out in friendships as well.
You have unrealistic expectations for how interested you should be in new friends
You may have a typical level of interest in your friends, but you interpret it as being low because you're not head over heels fascinated by everything about them. You may have picked up a faulty belief that you should feel super excited about all your new buddies.
You tend to prematurely conclude you've figured people out
Some people say they lose interest in new friendships when they feel like they know everything about a friend and there are no more surprises left. However, they mistakenly believe they can have someone completely mapped out within a month or two.
You unintentionally do something that puts people off, and causes them hold back and not show their more interesting side
For example, maybe you're pleasant at first, but once you become more comfortable with someone your sense of humor becomes too cutting. Your friends can tell when you've gotten meaner and start to pull away and be more closed-off. They're not going to act loose and spontaneous, or open up about their insecurities, if they know you're going to make a harsh "joke". From your end it seems like they've become boring, and you lose interest.
Another example would be moving too fast in your friendships. Your friends realize the relationship is developing too quickly and become "less interesting" as they try to give themselves some breathing room.
You have a pattern of using and discarding people
You're interested in them at first, when they have a resource you can drain from them. It may something less-tangible like attention, emotional support, or a fresh source of potential gossip and drama. It could also be more practical, like social contacts or a couch to crash on. Either way, once you know you've extracted what you needed from someone, or you sense they're wising up and about to cut you off, you grow wary of them.
You have a condition that leaves you with little energy
For example, you have a chronic illness that leaves you fatigued and depleted, and waxes and wanes in intensity. If you hit a rough patch, you may use what little energy you have to get through the day and not have any left over for your social life. You may feel like you've suddenly lost your enthusiasm for any new relationships you had going.
It's just your personality and social preference at the moment
There may not be a deeper reason why you quickly lose interest in people. Maybe you're in a busy phase in your life, and new friendships aren't your priority. Maybe you're younger and your mind is more fickle than it will eventually be. It may simply be the way you're wired, and you bounce between hobbies and interests as quickly as you do friends. Maybe you'll change one day, maybe not.
If you haven't met the right people
If you haven't already, really think about the type of person you could see yourself getting interested in, and try to put yourself in situations where you might meet them. Don't just mindlessly go about your usual routine and hope you stumble on to them. If you can manage to find your scene and your people an interest in them will come naturally.
You may not be sure what your true type is, and won't know until you see it. Try new things related to your personality and interests. You may meet a like-minded friend at a class or volunteer position you decided to get involved with on a whim. And be patient. Even if you're following all the proper advice, you may not meet the right people instantly.
If you're really picky about who you can feel interested in
If you think you can handle it, try to accept your higher standards will cause you to have fewer friends - quality over quantity. Or try to stretch your standards. If someone meets your criteria, but doesn't set your heart aflutter, try to give them a bit more time to grow on you.
If your anxiety is getting in the way
It's a big job, but deal with your fears instead of avoiding them. This section of the site has a bunch of articles on addressing the many aspects of anxiety.
If you're feeling down
This is another large area to tackle, but do what you can to improve your mood. There are lots of helpful resources you may want to turn to beyond this site, but this article covers some lifestyle changes that can make you feel happier. This group of articles has lots of advice on addressing the kind of counterproductive thinking that can affect your emotions.
If you're feeling stuck in a rut
First, take steps to make the big change you need. You may be able to do it fairly soon, or you might need to prepare for a while. Second, see if you can mentally uncouple your urge for a change from your interest in people. You may have unconsciously and automatically linked the two: "I'm bored of my life situation = I'm unenthusiastic about everyone I meet".
If new friendships drain your social energy
Try to be more aware of your "social battery level". Rather than suddenly growing sick of your friend when you've gotten too drained, try to notice your energy levels dropping earlier, and set aside more time for yourself. Pace your relationships. You don't have to hang out constantly right away. Learn to say things like, "I can't make it that day, but how about next week?" Get better at setting boundaries if you tend to get drained because you're not good at turning down invitations, or leaving get togethers once you've had your fill. This article has some suggestions on managing your social stamina:
If you're not actually interested in making more friends
Think about what you really want and need. If you realize you're truly okay with having fewer friends at this point in your life, then try to accept it. Try to question and discard any messages you've absorbed telling you there's something wrong with you for not wanting a ton of mates.
If your desire to have friends ebbs and flows
Try to be more in touch with when your social motivation is dipping. Instead of dropping any new friends you have, try to keep the relationships going, but at a lower intensity. Hang out with them less often or for not as long. If you're really not feeling sociable and want a break, tell them you're going to be busy for a few weeks, but that you'll get back in touch when your schedule opens up again.
If the way you talk to people keeps you from seeing their interesting side
Try to change your interaction style and cut down on any self-focused or self-absorbed habits you have. Deliberately talk to people in a way where you let them speak, so you can hear what's interesting about them, as opposed to going on about what appeals to you. Curb any behaviors that may make people hesitate to open up to you, such as mocking any display of vulnerability or emotion. Again, realize that while adjusting your style can give people more of a chance, it doesn't mean you'll like everyone.
If your new friendships get stuck on an unsatisfying superficial level
Check out this article:
If you have a social need that's not being met
It may not be a quick and simple project, but try to find a way to fill it. Here's an article relevant to the example I used earlier about not getting enough intellectual stimulation:
If you tend to get into friendships with a certain type of person you're prone to losing interest in
This is potentially a huge undertaking, and way easier said than done, but try to become aware of and resolve any underlying issues that may be causing you to end up in friendships with that particular kind of person (e.g., you believe you don't have anything to offer unless you help everyone with their problems; you're insecure and are temporarily drawn to flashy, substanceless people, because they have a confidence you think you want for yourself). Reading books on healing childhood psychological wounds can be useful. If you really feel stuck, it may help to see a therapist or join a related support group.
You can try to consciously make yourself to be friends with a new kind of person. However, if you don't address your deeper motivations, hanging out with different people may feel off, and you can slip back into your comfort zone ("I know I should try to avoid becoming friends with needy people, but I can't help it.")
If you tend to chase newness or validation
If someone has the traits you look for in a friend, try to stay with them after the newness wears off. Try to figure out and resolve the underlying motivations behind your current choices.
If you assume you should feel ultra-interested in all your new friends
You may be able to solve this one simply by readjusting your expectations. If someone seems like a good match, realize you can keep hanging out with them even if they don't endlessly captivate you.
You get bored of people after you feel you've figured them out
Realize that while you can get a solid sense of what someone is like after only knowing them a short time, no one reveals everything about themselves after half a dozen weeks. If you believe you can figure everyone out that quickly you're overestimating your ability to read people. Stick with some of your new friendships and see what new things you can discover about them after you've already concluded you know them inside and out.
If you suspect you may unintentionally be doing something off-putting
Try to get feedback on what you may be doing wrong, and then try to stop it, obviously. Your friends, family, or colleagues may be able and willing to tell you. If that doesn't work, consider getting an opinion from a counselor.
If you have a pattern of using people then casting them aside
Of course, try to stop this pattern, and get into friendships for healthier reasons. If you can't do it on your own, look into getting some support from a professional.
If you're just wired to easily lose interest in people at this point in your life
Accept this is how you are at the moment. Think about what aspects of it are working for you, and which are keeping you from getting what you want out of life. If it helps, stick with it. If it doesn't, try to change it, or work around it. Once again, you can always try to make yourself stay with your friends beyond the point where you'd cast them aside. They may grow on you. If they don't, at least you gave them more of a chance.
Some people embrace the fact that they lose interest in friends quickly, and set up their social life to accommodate that. They'll find ways to meet lots of new acquaintances, hang out with them a few times, then drift away before anyone starts to get too attached. If they're involved with any social groups longer term, they'll establish themselves as a casual "I'll show up when I feel like it" member. They cycle between different groups, moving on when they start to feel bored again. That approach isn't for everyone, but some people feel it suits them at this stage in their lives.