Transparency Item: The Perspectives section of the Graphic is comprised of articles based on opinion. This is the opinion and perspective of the writer.
As time marches faster and faster toward my final years in undergrad, I cannot help but ponder my current friendships and wonder what will happen after graduation.
Will people drift apart? Will I lose those friendships when I inevitably start my own life and career?
My concerns about friendship are not unfounded.
The study found that 15% of men and 10% of women said they had no close friends. About 30 years ago, only 3% of men stated this, according to Fox 13 Seattle.
Florence Ann Romano, a personal growth strategist, also appeared on Fox 13 Seattle and believes the friendship recession may have stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic. People no longer knew how to socialize and found staying at home to be easier than going out and talking to others.
As a huge introvert and pretty reserved person, I admit it can often be tempting to choose alone time instead of going out with friends. However, I did not fully register the impact the pandemic had on friendships until I reflected on my own relationships.
When the government mandated quarantine in 2020, I was at a close friend’s house, laughing and making Dalgona coffee. I did not see her again until two years later, and things were much different by then.
I regretted not talking much with her in the years between, but I also think a shift occurred during the pandemic as well — a shift in which I became somewhat complacent.
“All of a sudden, that human connection is gone,” Romano said in an interview on Fox 13 Seattle about friendships after the pandemic. “And you’re not putting in the effort anymore, and that’s what’s led us to this recession because the effort and intention are no longer there.”
Friendship is important for various aspects of our lives, including our mental and physical health. They are probably part of some of our best memories and have also been there for comfort and support.
“Activities [with friends] buffer the body biochemically and immunologically against the kinds of coughs and colds of everyday life,” said Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist, in an interview with Scientific American.
The benefits of friendships are precisely why people should put in more effort to cultivate friendships. Life is difficult enough on its own.
A necessary step to making friends is for a person to admit that they want to make one, which can be difficult since not having enough friends can cause a sense of shame, according to Big Think.
Considering what environments provide the most opportunity for someone to make friends can be a good first step to forming new friendships.
Personally, I socialize most naturally when there is a shared goal. For instance, I have easily befriended many different people at once through volunteering.
I enjoy the company of other people who are genuine and willing to use their time to help others.
“Research suggests it takes 34 hours of time together for an acquaintance to elevate to a friend. It’s a concept called ‘mere exposure,’” according to Women’s Health.
It is OK to also simply be acquaintances or general friends with someone — not everyone will be your best friend. The effort itself will open opportunities for further connection and benefit your own well-being too.
People who have friends are less likely to suffer from depression and less likely to die from heart problems and some chronic diseases, according to the American Psychological Association. The article also found that “weak” ties, such as interactions with acquaintances and strangers, can also boost one’s mental health.
The friendship recession is not merely a general social phenomenon but a poignant reality that may pervade any individual’s life.
Putting in the effort to maintain contact with close friends and also remain open to meeting others is an act of kindness and care to both yourself and others.
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