How good are you at friendships?

The chorus from health and wellness experts is familiar: get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and make time for exercise. But one key area appears to be missing: friendships.
Though seldom viewed as such, friendships not only are the cornerstone of a vibrant life; they’re also linked directly to good health and longevity.
Friendships are unique in that we rarely, if ever, wake up and say to ourselves, “Today, I’m going to make a new friend!”
Go to the gym. Sure. Eat better. OK. Get to bed on time. Why not? But make a new friend? It’s not something we do with intention, yet the literature is rich, listing endless benefits that derive from strong friendships (foremost, perhaps, keeping loneliness at bay). 
Notes author David Brooks: “We don’t enter into friendships to improve each other. We enter friendships because we delight in each other’s company.”
Friendships come easily in our teen years and even our 20s, but the next several decades are more challenging, for all the obvious reasons.
Daniel Cox, in a piece for the American Survey Center, says a new development compounds the challenge. 
“American parents are spending twice as much time with their children compared to previous generations, crowding out other types of relationships, including friendships.”
There’s a resurgence, of sorts, in our senior years, but the steady challenge throughout life is to both cultivate and honor the friendships that we have.
Letting go
Who do we stay with, and when should we let go? Writer Aaliyah Daniels reminds us that “nothing is forever, not friendships, not relationships.” She adds, “Whether someone is in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, they can still bring value, meaning, and something perfectly impermanent.”
Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, author of “Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships,” says that close relationships tend to break down every 2.3 years (lack of care, poor communication). 
Dunbar also speaks to the limits of human capacity with his 5-15-50 model: – five close friends with whom you’d share almost anything; 15 in that next concentric circle – when one friend moves in, one typically moves out; 50 is the number of “friends” you might invite to a special gathering. 
It’s all about time
How do we make new friends, and how best to nourish the ones that we treasure? There’s no single formula, but there is one central notion – time.
Somewhat randomly, it seems, we establish work friends, neighborhood friends, activity friends. We join a yoga class, take a sailing lesson, and new people enter our lives. Something clicks, our wavelengths match, and as we spend more time together, a sense of comfort and ease sets in. One study says it takes roughly 34 hours to move from acquaintance to friend, others say it’s more than a hundred hours to become close. Time alone, of course, won’t create the magic, but quality time will.
Nourishing friendships
Who do you turn to for advice or camaraderie? A family member perhaps, but a friend is often the one.
And how best to nourish? Beyond support, and listening, and remembering the important days and people in their lives, it’s important to tell them how much we care. With family members, it’s often natural, at a phone call’s end, to say, “Love you.” Why not with friends?
Just yesterday, my wife turned to me and said, “I have a new friend.” We were at a restaurant, waiting for a table, when she struck up a conversation with a woman whose background and pathway were alike. They exchanged texts that evening, and now are set to lunch next week.
A new friendship begins.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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