Brother Lacks Friends

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

y older brother is 17 and doesn’t seem to have any friend. He just got in university and never goes out. He used to have a few friends in school but now he stays in home all day and I never heard about any of his college friends.He insist that he doesn’t go out because he’s “lazy” but we know it’s a lie. He keeps trying to get in a fight with me and make me mad. My mother says it’s because he’s bored and doesn’t know what else to do. I’m really worried. He has always been the shy boy but i don’t think its good or healthy to not have any friends or best friends! thanks.x

A: Your brother is lucky to have such a loving and concerned sister. You’re right not to fall for his attempts to provoke you. I think your mother is right that picking a fight with you is a way to distract himself.

Sometimes people don’t know how to make friends. Sometimes their attempts haven’t worked out so they get discouraged. I hope your parents are able to talk to him gently about this. If he is getting depressed or even if he is just discouraged, he could benefit from some coaching. A therapist can be helpful but so can other people he trusts.

If he were to talk with me, I would suggest to him that the best way to start to get to know other people is to join an organization, a team, or a club that truly interests him and where he is likely to find other people who share his interests. When people are focused on accomplishing something together instead of on their anxiety about connecting, relationships evolve quite naturally. If he were to reply that he’s already tried that, I’d remind him that sometimes it takes more than a few attempts before anything new goes well.

All your parents can do is make friendly suggestions. If it becomes a fight, he won’t be able to hear them. I hope he finds the courage to get into life. At only 17, he has lots of time and opportunity to make changes.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Brother Lacks Friends. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/29/brother-lacks-friends/