You’re Lonely and You Don’t Know It, Yet.
You’re lonely and it’s affecting your health, happiness, and your life. And in fact, that’s totally normal.
First, some scary stats:
Not having enough friends is like…
· smoking 15 cigarettes daily
· being an alcoholic
· or having twice the risk factor of obesity.
Not having enough friends leads to making an average of $131,232 less per year!
Just a couple more…
· it leads to raised levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure
· destroyed quality and efficiency of sleep, so that it is less restorative, both physically and psychologically
· higher levels of perceived stress even when exposed to the same stressors as non-lonely people, and even when they are relaxing
So you know, here’s a little about why I know and care: when my business partner and I started GoFindFriends.com we initially just knew that having friends felt good, and that as you go through life your friends come in and out of it. Sometimes you feel like you have tons of friends, and sometimes…
…kind of not.
As our little website-that-could quickly jumped past our wildest imaginations our advisors started pushing us to know more. We furiously jumped into studying the concept of friends and friendship. What makes it good? How many of us don’t have enough? What’s the big deal?
Turns out it IS a big deal, and scientists and psychologists have been studying it for the last few decades. Try Googling it some time. Tons of people are talking about it, but it’s still not something we discuss during our regular day, or that most people will admit to when they’re feeling it.
Last stat: in 1985 most people said they had 3 close friends. By 2004 most people said zero.
We should also define what a friend is in this context. It’s pretty simple actually, a friend is someone you’re emotionally and physically close with. Picture the person you hug when you see, and tell your actual feelings to.
How do you feel about your set of friends now?
So how do you make friends? Real ones?
First, start with meeting new people. Of course I’d push my own website! We work every day to make GoFindFriends be the easiest and most comfortable way to meet new people and do fun things. But there’s of course other ways. Joining a social sports league will have you on a team of people that may or may not know each other. In my experience they almost always go for drinks after playing, and that’s a great time to get to know people better. Meetups sometimes work as well. You can’t be sure people will be in your age group or have things in common with you, but lots of people do meetups, so there’s bound to be people you like there if you put some work into finding the right group.
The next step is the 3 encounter rule. It basically says you should hang out with someone three times before making a decision on whether you want to keep them in your life. I normally take this with a grain of salt. I do think there’s such thing as knowing you won’t get along with someone after the first time. But make that the exception, not the rule. It’s so easy to pass on people. Friends, dates, anyone. Give people a chance. It could lead to you finding new things about them, or it could even lead to meeting one of their friends you do like.
One note that hasn’t been researched but seems like it should be said: don’t be desperate.
With friends, just like a new date, desperate is weird to be around. It makes everyone uncomfortable. Don’t do that.
Next, there’s lots of research that shows the different circles of friends we all have. You start in two circles that are pretty far away from each other, and move towards each other. Don’t expect to start off best friends right from the start. It works great in movies and tv shows, but it doesn’t happen too frequently in real life. Expect to be light friends first, then think of new things to do together. The more you do the closer you’ll get naturally.
Lastly, you’re going to have to be proactive now. Don’t wait on it, go take a step. Join a sports league, or better yet, sign up for gofindfriends! You’ll be happy (and healthier, and richer) when you do.