You spend a lot of your time at work, which is why some people argue that you should try to find a job that you truly love. But beyond what it is that you're actually doing at work, it's also important to have friends — a support system who can make your time spent at work more fun and enjoyable, as well as lift you up when something doesn't go well. You might think that, generally, you and your coworkers get along really well, but if you recognize these signs you don't have enough friends at work, well, it might be worth it to branch out a little bit more and try to make a few more friends.
"Not having friends at work can take as much effort as making friends — you have to be closed off not to spontaneously engage in conversation with people you see 40 hours a week," Bianca L. Rodriguez, MA, EdM, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "This can give the impression that you're not interested in your coworkers and are unapproachable, which can impact opportunities professionally and personally."
Though your friends at work don't have to be your absolute best friends in the world, they can make your life a little bit better. So if you don't have enough friends at work, you might want to consider putting yourself out there a little bit more — it'll help you and them.
1. You Feel Lonely When You're At Work
Rodriguez says that if you feel lonely at work, despite working in close proximity with others, that's one sign that your connection with your coworkers might be lacking.
"Take time to talk with your coworkers and get to know them," she advises. "Inquire about how a specific project is going or what they did over the weekend. I recommend sticking with non-intrusive topics at first and avoid gossiping. Once you establish a connection you may begin to discuss more personal issues if it's comfortable and appropriate."
2. You Eat Lunch Alone
Eating lunch alone from time to time probably isn't all that big of a deal. Maybe you're working through lunch, hoping to wrap up a project that's nearing a deadline, or maybe you just need some time by yourself. But if you're eating lunch alone pretty much every day, that's a good sign that you don't have enough friends at work, Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health writer and expert in psychology and addiction, tells Romper by email.
If you see a group of coworkers sitting in the break room or heading outside to eat, ask if you can join them. You might feel a little bit silly at first, but it's really no big deal — and can help you all get to know each other better.
3. You Feel Like No One's On Your Team
If you're feeling like you're generally isolated at work, Rodriguez says that that's likely an indicator that you don't have enough friends among your coworkers.
"Your coworkers don't have to become your best friends but there is a value in having peers you can connect with on a personal level," Rodriguez says. "It eases stress and can enrich your day to day work life."
Feeling isolated or like you're on your own generally isn't a good feeling. And, chances are, your coworkers don't particularly want you to feel that way — they just might not know you very well yet. Trying to get to know them better will help you feel like you have a group of people you're working with, rather than against or all alone.
4. You Don't Get Invited To Post-Work Activities
If your coworkers play in an intramural league, regularly head to a local bar or coffee shop, or anything else and you're not invited to come along, that's also a pretty obvious sign that you probably don't have enough friends among your coworkers, Mendez says. If you're invited, but choose not to participate (or can't for whatever reason), that's one thing, but if you're not invited, it might be because you don't have a friend that's thought to invite you.
Reaching out to them and asking if you can tag along, is one way that you can try to break in with a tight-knit group of coworkers.
5. You Resent Your Coworkers With A Ton Of Friends
If you don't have many friends at work, despite your best efforts, it can be easy to find yourself starting to resent your coworkers who seem to fit in with everyone. But this might mean that you and your coworkers don't have a very strong connection, Rodriguez says.
Genuine compliments can also help you get your foot in the door. "If a coworker crushed a project or gave great feedback, acknowledge them," Rodriguez suggests. People like to be recognized and acknowledged, so if you offer sincere praise, that might lead to more of a conversation — and a greater opportunity for a friendship to blossom.
6. You Don't Feel Like You & Your Coworkers Have Anything In Common
If you feel like you and your coworkers don't have anything in common beyond the place where you all work, then that too is a sign that you might not have enough work friends, Mendez says. Of course, if you feel like you don't have a lot in common, it can be difficult to form a connection, but maybe the reason that you think you don't have anything in common is because you don't actually know them as well as you might think that you do. And they might not know you well enough either. Getting to know one another better can help you find things that you actually do have in common.
7. A Day Went By Without You Chatting With A Coworker About Anything Other Than Work
"If you often find that an entire day goes by where you haven't left your office or cube and had a friendly chat with a coworker, you likely need to increase work bonds," Rodriguez says. Just being a little bit more outgoing while you're at work can help you start to form some friendships. Again, you don't have to be the best of friends with your coworkers and colleagues, but having friends at work can make every day a little bit better.