When You Feel Like Your Group Of Friends Could Be Better
Poking around on various forums about social skills I've read a few posts by people complaining that their friends sucked. They'd say that their buddies were boring and never wanted to do anything, or were flawed in some other way. Their overarching concern was they thought their social circle was holding them back. At least having some friends is better than nothing, but what do you do if you're not that thrilled about the ones you've got?
If this applies to you there are two issues to consider: One is that on some level your friends may have problems. You wouldn't be complaining about it otherwise. And it happens. Sometimes we aren't matched well with our social circle. The other is it's possible you're being too critical of them.
This article will assume that your friends aren't legitimately abusive or toxic. People like that obviously need to go. The ideas below are more about what to do when here's nothing horribly wrong with them, but you vaguely feel you could do better.
Be careful about being too quick to want to dump people
I'm putting this point first because it can be relevant to those who have social issues. Some people who struggle socially can be too negative and down on others. Whether they have a friend group that's just beginning to form, or they've been hanging around one for a while, something inside them always seems to be saying, "Ah, I don't know. These people are kind of lame. I think I should forget about them and go back to the drawing board."
There may be nothing all that wrong with their friends, but they're still not satisfied with them. There are a number of possible reasons this may happen:
- Someone may have low self-esteem and is subconsciously rejecting other people before they reject them.
- They're naturally be a tad negative and tend to see the flaws in things, including people. Their nature may cause them to overlook their friend's good features.
- They're socially inexperienced and have unrealistic standards about how their friends should act. They may be seeing totally normal "flaws" as deal breakers.
- They're socially inexperienced and tend to feel a little peeved and uptight in some situations, because they're not totally used to them yet. This includes hanging around with new buddies.
- They may have an unrealistic sense of their social value, and falsely think they're only worthy of hanging around the most engaging, popular people. They don't realize they're mainly attracting "average" friends because they're pretty typical themselves.
- They may be insecure and overly worried about their image and think hanging out with "flawed" people will reflect badly on them.
- They may be struggling with their own supposed flaws and feel uncomfortable and conflicted hanging out with anyone who is too similar to them.
If you suspect you have that tendency to be too hard on everyone then take your urges to drop your friends with a grain of salt. Instead, try to stick it out for a bit longer and give them a chance to grow on you. If things still don't improve there's nothing stopping you from moving on in the future.
Try to change up how you hang out with your friends to make them seem less boring
If you feel like your friends are dull you can sometimes make them seem less boring by doing more fun things with them. That gives their boring nature less of an opportunity to show itself. At the same time, it gives them an opportunity to cut loose and show a more colorful side of their personality. Also, the good feelings you get from doing something enjoyable can rub off on them.
On the other hand, if you always see them under the same mundane, humdrum circumstances, of course they might seem boring after a while. Even more engaging people can be a bit lifeless if they have nothing to work with. If you feel like you have dull friends then don't just sit around their apartment and aimlessly watch TV week after week. Try to pull your own weight as well. Find interesting new topics to bring up. Joke around. Have lots of ideas for things to do. If they resist certain suggestions then try to find some way to compromise or meet them halfway.
Another thing to try is interacting with your friends in different combinations. A guy who seems boring one on one may be quite fun to spend time with in a larger group. Some people who are quiet in larger groups come alive when you get them on their own.
Finally, some people are only fun in certain situations. If worse comes to worse, only see them under those conditions. Many people have friends who they like hanging out with at bars or parties, but who they don't click as well with otherwise.
Derive what value you can from friends you feel are so-so
I almost didn't include this point because it feels selfish and Machiavellian. I think it is an option some people take though, so it's worth mentioning. You can always choose not to do it if it doesn't sit right with you.
Sometimes even if you're not totally keen about your friends you can still use them to access fun situations that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Like you may not want to go to a movie, concert, party, or bar by yourself, but if you go with your buddies then you can enjoy it on your own once you're there. Don't blatantly take advantage of people or treat them like garbage, but if you have a choice between sitting around alone on a Friday night, or going out with two casual friends who aren't the most scintillating company, you may decide it's worth the trade off to at least get out of the house.
If your friends aren't meeting a particular need, find some custom ones to fill it
For example, maybe you're happy with your friends for the most part, but they have no interest in taking part in a certain hobby, and you have no one else to do it with. With time this unmet need can grow into a point of contention. You may be fed up and consider dropping them entirely, when they really just aren't a match for you in one area.
In that case find some other friends for that activity. You don't need to have all your needs met by one group. You can compartmentalize. Plenty of people have shallow "hobby buddies". The same goes for other things, like having friends you go clubbing with, or turn to for emotional support, or to have deep, philosophical discussions.
If all else fails then make entirely new friends
In general I think it's good to give your friends the benefit of the doubt and try to make the best of what you have to work with. However, if you're really not feeling it then you'll obviously want to move on. Sometimes you just aren't a good fit for the people you fell into hanging out with. Don't beat your head against a wall too much trying to change a group who just aren't a match for you. Check out How To Make Friends And Get a Social Life for some advice on making new contacts if you haven't already seen it.
When some people decide they're done with their social circle they stop hanging out with them right away, and don't mind if they're alone for a while they take the time to meet new friends. Others stick with their current group, and gradually phase them out as they add newer friends to their lives. It's your call. This article talks about how to end friendships:
Related: Factors In Whether It's Worth It To Hang Out With So-So Friends When You're Lonely