Same here.I've had a lot of friends, but most of them weren't close to me.
But I've realized that I don't need others' approval. I know that I can't depend on outward circumstances, including people, to make me happy. And that frees me up to be whatever I am.
I know what it's like to conform to a self-image. It's imprisoning. On message boards I'm rather fond of the image of advice-giver, but that sort of boxes me into one mode of responding, as does identifying with, say, the assertive, independent person. The problem with self-images is that they're either one- or two-dimensional. They hide lots of aspects of your personality, perfectly endearing aspects that everyone has whether they show them or not. It's confusing and scary to depend on keeping up your self-image. It's so much more liberating to be who you are without limiting yourself to one mode of being. I know how impossible that goal seems sometimes, though.
However, when I'm not concerned with gaining others' approval, I can be myself. Once you have the confidence to not always get approval, it's not as scary, and for some reason that lifts the heavy curtain and allows you to show all of yourself, good, bad, everything.
I enjoy my friends in a completely selfish way. I enjoy them as people. They make me laugh, they tell me stories, they entertain me, support me, and help me have fun. But I don't see this as sucking their blood - if they're unhappy giving me their affection, jokes and support, I don't want them. But I think they actually really enjoy sharing their fun and joy with me because this is exactly how I feel toward our friendship, and they just seem happy to be around me.
Joy that is shared is multiplied. Thus it's like Jesus's supply of fish and bread: there was one basket or something but it multiplied to feeds thousands, therefore by sharing it, they weren't actually depleting it. Joy is something that can't be bought, borrowed or stolen. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. Joy, knowledge, support, insight - when they're shared, they're not lost.