I am a 32 year old wife and a mother of 2 beautiful children. I am lucky and grateful for many things that I have in my life. But there is one obstacle that interferes with my inner peace and because of which I often loose sleep. I always need friends. And it's been like this since teenage years when I didn't have a lot of friends and couldn't really get along with peers. I remember it really hurt me. In my mind I was always an outgoing person and I was supposed to have lots friends who would've liked me. And in the beginning of every new social setting it would appear that way but slowly everyone  would loose attention towards me. Being unpopular at school or college was the worst thing for me. I changed my school (there were many other reasons, one of them was an unhealthy social relations among kids) and I thought then since no one knows me it was my chance to act a different way in order to get friends. I guess I always wanted to seem cool.  Of course  it didnt work out. The same thing happened when i went to college. After college I left everything behind and moved to America. But still wasn't able to make friendships. I often fell very lonely even  though I was married. I felt like life was passing by me and I was missing a lot of fun. Now I am 32 and still can't get over this problem. I know it's me. Right now I have 2 very good friends but that's about it. I am a very sociable person and NEED people who I feel close to around me. I can't be by myself for a long time even though I like it sometimes. It's very hard to describe this feeling and I don't know if I portrayed a correct picture. Here is one very common scenario: I make a friend, then two of us meet somebody else who becomes a better friend to my friend. Sorry for all the confusion. And eventually I become left out. It really really hurts. I have a hard time to forgive.  I understand it's a personality thing. And the problem really is not in changing my personality but in getting independent from any friendship. I don't know how to learn to be self sufficient. As I said interaction with others and communication are things I live for. My best birthday party would be the one with zillion phone calls then big celebration and possibly dancing))) but I only have my hubby (who is a good guy but it's really a different story )  and a couple of friends (I am blessed to have them). Doesn't sound like it d make a big party(((
I hope maybe you could help me with this problem or recommend some books I could read. I think it's time now that I grow up and learn to be content with who I am))

Thanks in advance,

Hi Diana - Being excessively needy for social interaction is one way of avoiding getting to know yourself. Avoiding self awareness can be caused by excessive shame and guilt - which can be inherited from psychologically-wounded ancestors.
  "Not getting along with" peers, and/or having trouble forming and maintaining friendships, can be caused by many things, like [1] lacking empathy; [2] being phony; [3] being too self-centered; [4] codependence; [5] underdeveloped communication skills - e.g. listening, asserting, and problem-solving; [6] low self-esteem; [7] trying too hard to be "nice" - smothering; etc.

  I suggest: expect to take several months to achieve a better balance, and...

1] assess yourself for inherited psychological wounds, for your and your kids' sakes;

2] Explore your inner world: read and apply "The Artist's Way ", by Julia Cameron [?]

3] Patiently upgrade your communication skills:

4] expand your awareness about relationships: study these and discuss with your husband and friends:

Doing these patiently will expand your awareness, self-confidence, and your self-acceptance.

If you have questions along the way, Diane, please ask! - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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