Women are hardwired for friendship – so knowing how to keep friends is important to us
We need to keep friends. We need others to laugh and lament with and we crave the energizing connections that allow us to share our inner lives, fill the emotional gaps in our marriages and feel less alone when life gets tough. Our very survival depends on deep friendships with other women: Study after study shows that women with a close circle of friends live longer, happier and healthier lives.
But we often don’t keep friends as close as we’d like – and we’re not all that happy with the ones we have. (Here is how you can make new friends, though.)
Seventy-five per cent of women are dissatisfied with their friendships, according to friendship expert Shasta Nelson, founder of the women’s friendship matching site GirlFriendCircles.com and author of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness.
Her view that a lack of friendship has created an “unacknowledged epidemic of loneliness in our world” is borne out by the numbers: Almost half of Canadians say they have three or four close friends, according to the General Social Survey on Social Identity and 25 per cent describe themselves as lonely. That figure rises to 40 per cent in the United States, where data from the General Social Survey reveals that 25 per cent of Americans say they have no one to discuss personal troubles with, more than double the number in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of friends has dropped from approximately three to two. Our Facebook friends are multiplying, but our “real life” friends are dwindling.
We’re lonely “not because we don’t know enough people but because we don’t feel close enough to the ones we already know,” says Nelson. “We are more networked than ever, yet we often feel like we have no net of friends beneath us.”
What can you do to create more meaningful friendships? Start by considering what might be standing in the way of creating a stronger solidarity of sisterhood. Could you be making one of these eight mistakes?