I am in my late 20s. I used to be quite popular at school- not in a cliquey way, I just had lots of friends in different groups and found it easy to talk to people. All throughout school I found it easy to talk to people and have never been particularly anxious about social situations or doing new things.
When I went to university I had a massive knock, I suddenly found myself very out of my depth. I went to a university where I high proportion of people were from private schools and were very self-assured and had opportunities that I could never dream of.
Since university I have muddled along with a few jobs and then gone back to re-train in a career with good prospects. I have met lots of people along the way and have really tried to be sociable (I am an introvert so can have a tendency to be happy on my own). I send messages to people suggesting that we meet up and either get ignored (when I can see that they have received the message) or get "yes! I would love to meet up for a coffee" but then can never pin them down to a date. Or even worse, arrange to meet and then a few hours before get a text cancelling with something like "I'm really sorry but it's my friend's birthday tonight and I promised I would go out".
I have offered too to make myself useful to people- offers of babysitting to friends who are parents, offers to help with chores to people who have newborns, offers to help with decorating to friends who are feeling overwhelmed in doing up their new house.
I'm tempted just to stop bothering as it feels very one-sided but then am aware that I will end up friendless. Am I doing something wrong? Is offering to help people creepy? I'm having a bit of a crisis of confidence.
"I have offered too to make myself useful to people- offers of babysitting to friends who are parents, offers to help with chores to people who have newborns, offers to help with decorating to friends who are feeling overwhelmed in doing up their new house."
I think this is where you're going wrong. If they would not offer the same favours or help to you, it immediately creates a dynamic whereby you are more invested than they are. More needful. This can come across as a being a little intense.
The truth is, people pleasing never achieves the desired effect of making people like or respect you. It simply creates an inequality and impression that will derail a friendship...or attracts those who would take advantage. Knock the offers of help on the head.
Just my experience, but as you get older friends tend to get more involved in their partners and families. That, along with work commitments, means that socializing with friends and acquaintances is much less of a priority than when we were younger. Point is, it may not be anything to do with you personally, just circumstances.
As a suggestion, are there any sports or activities that appeal to you? I am active in a couple of sports and they give me a great opportunity to get out and mix and I've picked up a few good friends along the way.
I'm a believer in pursuing interests and hobbies you genuinely enjoy too. It's a conversation starter with people who are more likely to share your interests, as well as being enjoyable to do. Book group, local choir, walking groups...crafting, the gym, sport, life drawing etc. Hobbies are good for us, give us something to chat about and puts us in social contact with others.
I must admit I have been at medical school for the past 4 years so have allowed my interests and activities to narrow with just trying to get myself through. Which is never a good place to be. I also appreciate that people's lives narrow when you have a partner and a family and perhaps this is what has happened with some friends.
I did do a slight chuckle at the thought of making friends at a local choir, it's nothing against choirs it's just that my voice would make people run a mile!
It's hard work making friends once you are out of your teens. In all honesty, I would distance myself from someone who I didn't know very well enthusiastically offering to babysit my children.
If you are naturally introverted, do you have intro hobbies like reading or gaming etc? Can you join an online forum that has regular meetups in your area of interest so that the people you are meeting already share a common ground with you (if you see what I mean).
I really feel for you and hope you find some friends to be happy and social with.
Sorry to hear about your situation op. As well as the excellent suggestions in this thread, have you considered reconnecting with old friends you might have lost touch with? Friends can be made through friends too when hanging out in a group
Oh nooo, I didn't want to be seen as a creeper for offering babysitting. In my defence I only offer for people who I have known for a few years and in my extended family it's the done thing to help each other out (I know family is different compared to friends offering).
Some very good points made here, thank you. I will have a think about hobbies and filling my time with volunteering so that I don't feel so lonely should it come to the worst.