Statistics are showing that Americans have fewer friends than they used to, according to a recent study, “Social Isolation in America,” which was published in the American Sociological Review. The authors found that the number of Americans who feel they have someone with whom they can discuss important matters dropped by nearly one-third from 1985 to 2004, and the number of people who said they had no one they could discuss such matters with tripled to nearly 25 percent of Americans. The authors suggest the cause for this decrease in intimate friendships may be longer work hours and the increased popularity of the Internet and television.
The same study also determined that the number of people who discuss important subjects with family members only increased from 57 percent to 80 percent, and those who depend solely on their spouse for such intimate discussions increased from 5 percent to 9 percent.
So what does this mean for you? It may be harder than ever to fight loneliness in society and to form intimate connections with others, but the health benefits are worth the effort to forge friendships with a large number of people.
Start visiting with friends on a regular basis and befriend their own friends, family, and acquaintances to instantly increase the number of friends you have. There are countless ways to meet people in your community as well. You can get involved in volunteer work, take local classes in subjects and hobbies you’re interested in, or start a book club at your neighborhood bookstore or café. You can also take advantage of online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, but with the view of using these to set up real-life meetings with the friends you make online, taking the safety precautions of meeting new people in groups of people you already know and in public places, of course.