As we embark on this new year of 2023, let me ask you a question. How many friends do you have? No, no, let us not count the people we know and our office mates, but the people who genuinely are close to us and know our deepest thoughts. It is not more than your fingers could count, right? Hmm….we have to agree that there has been a friendship recession in general in recent times.
As people are dusting off their social calendars after a long period of social isolation and attempting to rebuild and reconnect, a new survey finds that the social landscape is much less favorable than it once was. The number of close friends has declined over the last three decades, and research says this is especially true for men. Men appear to have experienced a far steeper decline than women.
Social connections are as essential to human survival just as food, water, and shelter. Here is what we have come up with to strengthen your social circle.
1. Go For It!
No! Friendships do not develop organically. You will need to put yourself in recurring social situations. For example, join a club or a class so that you can meet new people. Go with a mindset that people are going to enjoy your company. Just so you know, people are often better liked by strangers than they assume. So, why not give “mission: new friends” a shot?
2. Use Activities Of Shared Interest
Begin with a “let us go to the game together” or “let us play poker” – this will allow you to interact with others, along with making it easier to talk. Being in a group with shared interests can help ease the conversation and strengthen the relationship. Make a plan and bring a new buddy into your clan.
3. Use the Power of Casual Check-in
Send the text! Reaching out to friends and acquaintances, whether via text or email, means more to them than we realize and is especially powerful when the contact is unexpected. Casual check-ins have been shown to be more effective in strengthening relationships than annual get-togethers. Go grab the phone right now and send a ‘hi’ to that long-lost buddy of yours.
4. Be Completely Present
Avoid surfing your phone when in a social gathering. People appreciate your undivided attention when they talk; it gives them a feeling of being accepted and understood. This helps build closer relationships with people. Let your phone stay silent and not you!
5. It Is Okay to Be Vulnerable
Making meaningful connections might be difficult for some people as they fear being vulnerable in front of others. This can even make close friendships challenging for them. But, you know, sometimes, it is okay to put out your feelings and thoughts. Rather than you feeling light immediately after, it also gives your friends an understanding of how much you value their friendship. Having intimate conversations can help strengthen bonds if you do not know this already. Talk it out, folks!
A good friendship is an asset for life. While our social circles may look depleting now, we can surely work towards it. One step at a time, small investments can have immediate and long-term benefits.