After you listen to this week’s podcast, what are you doing? Do you have plans? Maybe work, maybe a load of laundry, or a trip to the grocery store? Whatever you do next, do us a favor — bump calling a friend to the top of your to-do list. Just throw the call on Bluetooth and do it hands-free while you go about your day, but make sure you do it.
Roughly half of us report having lost touch with at least one friend during covid, according to the recently released American Perspectives Survey, and women are having a more difficult time than men — Nearly 60% of us report having lost touch with several friends, and 16% of women say we’re simply no longer in regular contact with most of our friends. And when people are asked how many confidants they have, the most common answer is “none.” And we know it’s been a rough couple of years. In many cases, we lost friendships because people were forced to move across the country for a new job, and the majority of us — 54% — find close friends through work, so if you’ve been working remotely for the last couple of years, then you know it’s virtually impossible to forge natural connections via Zoom. We lost so much when we lost that ability to grab lunch together, or simply chat over a quick cup of coffee.
And when we do feel a lack of connection in our lives, it’s not only a recipe for loneliness and depression — there’s a cost to our physical health as well. Loneliness has been documented to be as lethal as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. And a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that women with early-stage breast cancer were four times more likely to die from cancer if they didn’t have very many friends. Those with a larger group of friends had a much better survival rate.
Of course it’s not necessarily quantity that matters here — most of us would rather have three very close connections than, say, 10 acquaintances. But it’s a concern when so many of us report struggling with all types of friendships, which is why on this week’s show, we’re going to dive into a discussion about strengthening the bonds we have, and forging new ones.
We’re doing it all with Amy Weatherly and Jess Johnston, co-authors of the new book, “I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants): Finding Unfiltered Real-Life Friendships in This Crazy, Chaotic World.” Amy lives in Texas with her husband, three kids, and two rescue dogs, and Jess is based in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and four kids. They are both award-winning journalists who created the “Sister, I Am With You” online community, a space where millions of women get real about friendship.
Listen in to this special episode as Jean, Amy and Jess talk about all the ways we can forge new friendships — because for adults, it can be tough. We talk about befriending and de-friending, celebrating, apologizing, and everything in-between. We also discuss cheap (or even free!) dinner parties, friendship apps for meeting people, and the importance of deepening our relationships over time.
And guess what? If you’re feeling awkward sitting in a moment of silence with a new friend — you’re absolutely not alone. Amy discusses her best techniques for getting over that fear: “One of the biggest things that kept me going was I would literally be sitting in my living room with someone and I would feel that panic, and I would be like It’s awkward, it’s real awkward, and I’m making it weird, and I would say, in my mind, ignore it. Ignore it and get through it, because it’s normal,” she says.
Listen in as the pair offer a “road map” to authentic friendships, and actionable steps we can all take to build deep and satisfying bonds. (Because no, it doesn’t always come naturally. But we can work at it.)
We also talk about the investment of time and money we make when making a new friend. (According to communication studies professor Jeffrey Hall’s research on friendship, it takes an estimated 94 hours to make a casual friend, 164 hours to become a friend-friend, and over 200 hours to become a close friend.) But he stressed that leisure time spent together is especially important. What does that need to look like for us?
In Mailbag, we tackle questions on annuities and health insurance. And in Thrive, all the ways to blow our wedding budgets (and how to save).
P.S. We are so happy to have you as part of our HerMoney community. We value all of our readers and listeners as friends, and we are always here for you. Please reach out with any questions you might have for Jean, or comments on how we can better serve you. xoxo.
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