After spending a year separated from your friends, you may have noticed that your friendships have changed. Some lost friends to the virus, and many others let friendships fall by the wayside, feeling overwhelmed and scared. Survival was key and that meant limiting our bubble to those friends and family who meant the most to us.
A recent survey conducted by American Life has found that the number of close friends most American’s have has plummeted. This friendship recession is especially harmful for men. From 1990 to present , having close friends men could count on fell from 55% to 27%. One in five men report not having a friend they can rely on. The friendship recession affected women’s friendships as well, but not as significantly. Women tend to be more emotionally supported in their friendships than men. The latest statistics were by far the worse for single men because they didn’t have the support of a significant other.
Society does not socialize women and men the same toward friendships, but friendships are equally important to both genders. Close friendships reduce blood pressure, lower stress, reduce the risk of depression, and increase longevity. Humans need to know they are cared and thought about by someone who is emotionally connected to them. If you are trying to re-connect after feeling a friendship recession, these suggestions can help you.
1. Be bold by setting an intention to meet and reach out first. Pick friends who add positive feelings or hope to your life and who’s influence you have missed the most. You don’t need a lot of friends; you need faithful, caring friends who are there for you in the good and bad times.
2. Plan a get together you will both enjoy. You don’t need to know someone a long time to invite them to a game, out to eat, or for a game of hoops. It doesn’t matter what the meet up involves as long as the two of you have time to connect and enjoy the time you spend together.
3. Keep it simple but address the changes you’ve both been through. If you’re getting together with old friends, it’s important to catch up on what’s changed in your life. Sharing loses and talking about why you lost contact can help resolve past hurts and help your friend let their guard down. If it’s someone you don’t know well, plan to be a good listener. The first step to feeling emotionally connected is to feel heard.
4. Expect to face tough emotions. Sometimes the reason we let go of friendships is because of unresolved personal issues. Friendships are the lifeline to mental health, so face your fears and be honest about your feelings. Drawing closer to someone happens when we make ourselves vulnerable to sharing our regrets.
5. Plan something you can both look forward to in the future. Sharing plans about what you look forward to in the future offers hope. Planning to attend a concert or event gives you both something to look forward to. Getting away with our friends gives us insight and perspective on how we’ve changed and grown.
The greatest gift given to us is our life, but the greatest gift we give ourselves is friendship. Nurture your friends and encourage your significant other to develop friendships. No one person can give us the emotional support we need; that’s why friends play a crucial role in maintaining our mental health and relationships.