Friendship – that intimate bond that nourishes us and provides us sustenance! Much has been written about romantic love, yet philosophers and writers have written reams about the complexities of friendship and that unique bond between two people who aren’t related by blood or societal contract.
What is it about friendship that’s inimitable yet as natural as life itself? Is it simplicity? Is it camaraderie? Is it sharing? Or is it simply the feeling of being seen and heard? The crux of friendship is the connection between individuals – showing people that they belong and that they’re not alone. And this connection is invaluable. We all have had childhood friends – playmates from the neighborhood or classmates from school.
The thing is friendship matters. Friendships have tangible, lasting positive effects on people’s day-to-day as well as long-term well-being. Good friendships reduce stress and anxiety. Friendships among children happen with great ease. School years often form the bedrock of lifelong friendships.
But even the best of friendships is challenged by adulthood. Most commonly, increased responsibilities, the comfort of a routine, and erratic energy levels chip away at what friendships need most – shared time and just that – more sharing.
What’s more, often, we “grow apart” into adults who actively choose not to relate with some of our existing acquaintances. New friendships are becoming harder to make and nurture in the increasingly crammed schedules of adult life.
Science and recent research confirm this. Adulthood brings with it myriad responsibilities. A study showed that it takes about 50 hours to make a casual friend and 200 hours to develop a close friendship. Those figures are probably the reason why adult friendships become harder to maintain. We are amid not just the Covid-19 pandemic but also a loneliness epidemic. Increased isolation and usage of digital time rather than ‘real-time’ conversations have led to more interactions but fewer connections.
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