Axios Finish Line: Making Friends

This originally appeared in Axios Finish Line, our evening newsletter about life lessons, leadership and health and fitness. Register here.

In America we value family and work very much, but friendship is often left behind. Many of us have few, if any, confidants, the data shows.

Why it matters: Friends help us get through the hard times and make the good times sweeter. And a thriving society is filled with strong friendships.

Only 27% of millennials say they have no close friends, and 22% say they have no friends at all, according to a recent YouGov survey.

  • Americans also lost touch with many of their friends when COVID hit, a study by the American Enterprise Institute found.

Friendship is a huge investment, says Jeffrey Hall, a professor at the University of Kansas. According to his research, it takes about 50 hours to change acquaintances together into casual friends.

  • It takes about 90 hours to go from regular friends to close friends.
  • And it takes over 200 hours to become a confidant.

Spending that time together became even more difficult when the pandemic isolated us and homework and school kept us at home.

So if you are looking for friendship, here are some tips – obtained from sociologists and psychologists – on how to make those connections.

  1. Put in the hours. Cultivating a good friend takes time – and pays off.
  2. Put in face time. It can feel forced to build friendships virtually, Hall says. If you’re looking for a boyfriend, go to the office a few times a week when you’re remote, or try a personal training class instead of a YouTube video.
  3. Think of old friends. It may be easier to breathe new life into dormant bonds than to forge new ones. Many of us saw the value of reconnecting with old friends during the pandemic. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a buddy you’ve lost touch with.
  4. diversify. The ideal number of close friends to have is between three and five. Don’t underestimate the value of casual friends or work friends. Those in our larger circle can offer new perspectives, Hall says.

It comes down to: Life is short. Let’s lean on friends!

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