• Making Friends

In the Media – The science of making friends (Wall Street Journal)

Published: April 18, 2016 | Last Updated: April 18, 2016 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading

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The Wall Street Journal (screenshot)

The Wall Street Journal (screenshot)

April 18, 2016

  • There are so many negative messages we tell ourselves that interfere with making friends.
  • Do you ever feel like you are the only person who doesn’t have enough friends or the right kind of friends?
  • Do you tell yourself it’s too late to make new friends now—that the time to make them was when you were young?
  • Do you hesitate to make new friends because you’re embarrassed that your new friend will find out that you don’t have any other friends?
  • Do you feel anxious about reaching out to new friends because you fear that you’ll be rejected?

Of course, all these thoughts pose formidable barriers to making new friends. In this article in today’s Wall Street Journal, journalist Elizabeth Bernstein (who writes the regular column called Bonds) talks about her efforts to make new friends after a move, reports on two research studies, and offers practical hints for making friends.

She writes:

Starting in early adulthood, our number of friends starts to decrease steadily. Changes in friendships typically happen around life transitions: graduation, parenthood, job switches, divorce or death of a spouse. One study, published in 2015 in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, looked at 540 men and women and showed we lose an average of two friends when we gain a romantic partner.

One important conclusion she reaches:

If you want new friends, you need to look with intention. And, just as you would when looking for a mate, you need to look for someone who has something in common with you, and who is emotionally available.

Elizabeth interviewed Dr. Levine for this article and wrote:

How do you make a friend now? Dr. Levine says the first step is to get over the stigma that something is wrong with you if you don’t have enough friends or are looking to make more. “As an adult, we think that everyone has their friends and we are the only ones seeking them,” she says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” Women especially feel judged if they don’t have friends, she says, since they’re supposed to be good at friendship.

Click here to read the Wall Street Journal article in its entirety.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Heidi says:

    I liked the light touch to this article. Makes being short on friends the norm. Just a problem to be strategized. Thank you.

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Renee, this is a great post is it not? I can relate, as I lost family and friends when I divorced 5 years ago. I moved to a new state and that was really starting over. Things have changed I made new friends, and I think if you give yourself some power talks lol I did that too, it helps to get over the nervous negative feelings we put on ourselves. We are all worthy of friends, spouses, etc. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We have a great group of people on here who will support you any time you need it. Keep moving forward. 🙂

  3. Ben says:

    What I gleaned from the article I think Irene in her training would also agree that any type of quantitative measuring in comparing number of friends as a way of making us feel “normal” has it’s own set of traps. I would add in addition to “looking with intention” I think it is equally important to look within with intention. Being true to who I am is as important as having anyone in my life. I certainly have had enough experience on what not to do….

  4. Renee2776 says:

    I’m really glad I read this. All of what was said rang so true with me. It’s nice to see that you’re not alone in the way you feel. I’ve been having a hard time these past couple years trying to make new friends. I’m not as outgoing as I’d like to be and I know that part of me holds friendships from happening because of fear. I feel as if I’ve become even more introverted than when I was a young, shy kid. Making friends was never easy for me to do. But when you’re a kid, it seems to happen a lot more easier – even if you were the shy kid. I know that fear holds me back a lot these days. Fear of past friendships that went sour. Sometimes it’s not easy getting your head out of the fear and negativity. I definitely need to work on putting myself out there more.

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