By Nikel Rogers-Wood Ph.D, Licensed Psychologist
Think of the top items on your list of priorities – perhaps it’s making progress in your career, maintaining fitness goals or keeping up with the day’s tasks and appointments. I’m guessing that finding and fostering solid friendships isn’t at the top of the list – if it’s on it at all! For years, I’ve heard the idea that women are highly relational.
Far from being a rumor, research shows that one of the key factors in women’s health and well-being is the presence of healthy friendships. If friendship is so important, why does it come in so low on our list of priorities? Let’s take a look!
Too Many Friends?
First, we tend to think that we have more friendships than we actually do. Social media is all about those “Follows” – the more followers we have, the more popular we seem and the better we feel. In reality, connectedness requires interaction, and we do not have the time or brain space to truly connect with hundreds of people.
In fact, according to evolutionary psychologist and anthropologist R.I.M. Dunbar, we only have room in our lives for 150 people. Beyond that, we are not truly connecting, and trying to maintain too many relationships can actually be a drain on our emotional resources.
Second, we lack the time and/or skills to develop adult friendships. For many children, forming new friendships is as easy as asking if someone is interested in playing with them. Some children are even bold enough to ask if another child wants to be their friend. Talk about getting to the bottom line straight away!
We knew that we needed friendships back then, yet we neglect it now. For some of us, it’s because we’ve forgotten what it’s like to have friends or feel that friendship is a luxury we cannot afford in our hectic lives. It might also be that we haven’t had to make a concerted effort to build friendships, so we avoid doing so because trying feels uncomfortable.
Building Your Friendship BankA face-to-face friendship is more fulfilling than a virtual one. Click To Tweet
Some connectedness is better than none at all. However, research shows that, although connecting with others solely via social media can initially create positive feelings, if that “friendship” doesn’t go beyond being on a list of followers or the occasional “Like” on social media, then we end up feeling more isolated and depressed.
In an age where being Facebook friends or a social media follower starts to feel hollow, sometimes we need to find the real thing – a face-to-face friendship. While this might seem “old school”, it’s an essential ingredient in healthy functioning.You aren’t alone when it comes to needing to find friends. Click To Tweet
One of the pitfalls of being surrounded by so much social media is that it’s easy to believe that everyone has plans every weekend and that these plans always involve them living their best life. This simply isn’t the case. In fact, I read a Business Insider article recently about Elva Carri, a woman who wanted to go out dancing but didn’t know anyone in the area. Keep reading to find out what happened next!Don’t be afraid to be creative to make friends. Click To Tweet
As I mentioned before, the Business Insider article by Rachel Sandler spoke about Elva Carri’s lack of friends in a new area. Instead of sitting at home and lamenting the fact that she didn’t have friends to have fun with, Carri took a dating app and turned it on its head by searching for people who wanted to go out for fun and female friendship.
She was overwhelmed by the number of responses. What Carri and her future partners realized is that women are in desperate need of friendship but don’t always have access to it. Fortunately, women like Carri are behind the recent upsurge in friendship-geared apps. This is by no means the only way of finding people to connect with in real life, but it does illustrate that wonderful things can come when we open ourselves to new and creative ways of making friends.
Helping You However We Can
If you’d like to talk more about your relationships or having a safe place to learn and practice interpersonal skills, then Rice Psychology Group is here for you. Please feel free to reach out to us in Tampa today to schedule an appointment.