Friendships are declining in America. According to a recent American Perspectives Survey, people reported having fewer close friends than in previous years, with roughly half of Americans citing three or fewer. Instead, they’re turning to parents and romantic partners for support.
“People have lost their fringe friends, or those friends they saw once in a while. So it’s unsurprising that surface-level friendships have decreased since we haven’t been out and about as much,” psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco says, citing social distancing measures and lockdowns.
Shasta Nelson, friendship expert and author of “ Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong health and Happiness” adds that many people faced significant personal challenges during the pandemic, and as a result, became more selective in deciding which friends were worth confiding in. More than one in five survey respondents said the past 12 months have been “much more difficult for them than usual.”
“More people were willing to be vulnerable during the pandemic. They wanted to be accepted and wanted it to feel more meaningful to have deep conversations rather than surface-level ones,” she says.
Friendships have been on the decline for years thanks to increased geographic mobility and increased workplace demands, according to the survey. Americans are working longer hours and spending twice as much time with their children compared to previous generations.
“The reality is they’re just too busy and it’s hard to keep up with their non-essential relationships. And sadly, friendships tend to be the first relationships that people drop,” Franco says.
Nelson also blames the larger culture in America that sees “friendships as optional” in comparison to romantic or familial relationships.
“We live in a society where we feel friendship is a luxury for when we have extra time. And when we feel pressured for time due to work or our home lives, friendships are what we don’t feel we have permission to maintain,” she says.
“In contrast, the belief is that our parents and spouses will always be happy to hear from us, kind of like a safety net, even if we haven’t been good at reaching out.”(Washington Post)
My comment: What these “friendship experts” leave out is individual disposition. Are you extrovert or introvert? To the extrovert the recent period of pandemic must have been dreadful; to the introvert a period of calm and and a chance to catch up on things undone, to exercise, and to reflect. I should add that Epicurus was a great advocate of friendships ( plural) as essential. But he sounds to me to have been a huge extrovert, enjoying the company of many friends and acquaintances. To each his own.