Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

by MARY JO DILONARDO

I’ve never met some of my friends. I work virtually, so I interact with my coworkers on daily conference calls. At least one I’ve never met in person, yet often he’s the first voice I hear every day. We talk about our dogs and our jobs, the weather and our families.

Similarly, I know lots of people in rescue who I interact with via social media. We send messages back and forth about dogs that need help or training tips. I’ll never meet many of them or even talk with them on the phone. But they still play a key part of my life.

It’s easy to believe that the friends who really matter are your BFFs — the ones you open your soul to about your hopes, dreams and failures or the friends you’ve had since high school. But a recent story in The New York Times points out that you also need a network of low-stakes, casual friendships. These lightweight liaisons offer all sorts of benefits. The more you have, the more connected you’ll feel to your community and the less lonely you’ll feel.

Why ‘weak ties’ make you strong
Sociologist Mark S. Granovetter of Johns Hopkins University refers to these casual relationships as “weak ties.” His research found that weak ties can help people build bridges, for example assisting them find jobs and other connections. They can also help them feel more involved in the community by having links to social groups.

Weak ties or these peripheral relationships can include parents in the school carpool line, the cashier at the grocery store, and neighbors you meet when you walk your dog.

A 2014 study found that although these casual interactions might not seem very helpful, they actually benefit your social and emotional well-being.

Talking to people you meet throughout the day when you’re running errands or working also expands not just your social circle, but your worldview, the Times story points out. You’re chatting with people who might not have everything in common with you, but still becoming richer from the interaction.

In addition, by asking questions of your hairstylist or your neighbor, you’re learning more about them than your likely first impression. That changes your view of them and, from that, alters your view of the bigger picture around you.

Fewer friends as we age

Young adults amass lots of friends but by the mid-20s when responsibilities increase and free time dwindles, so does the number of friendships. As we get older, we no longer have the need to be out with friends all the time. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still benefit from relationships — even super-casual ones.

Gillian Sandstrom, a senior lecturer of psychology at the University of Essex, studies social interactions. She found that sustaining these minor connections keeps us involved in the community, particularly after a move away from close friends and family or after the loss of a loved one.

“A lot of us think it’s not worth our time to have those kinds of interactions, that they can’t possibly provide any meaning,” Sandstrom tells the Times. “We’re focused on whatever is next and we don’t stop and take that second to enjoy the moment.”

How to make more friends

If you don’t normally chat to the people around you, you may want to start.

Experts suggest taking the time to talk to people you might normally overlook. Instead of just thanking a waiter or clerk, strike up a conversation. Make a point to talk to a familiar, friendly face you see often at the gym or when you walk in the park.

Don’t just ask about the weather or some generic, “How’s your day going?” Take time to get to know that person so the exchange and relationship becomes more meaningful for both of you. The more often you chat and the more involved the discussion becomes, the more likely a friendship of some sort will blossom.

https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/why-you-need-bunch-acquaintances-not-just-bffs?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0b6acd8a4f-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_MON0513_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-0b6acd8a4f-40844241

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As it turns out, we can be pretty terrible at knowing who our friends are: In what may be among the saddest pieces of social-psychology research published in quite some time, a study in the journal PLoS One recently made the case that as many as half the people we consider our friends don’t feel the same way.

The study authors gave a survey to 84 college students in the same class, asking each one to rate every other person in the study on a scale of zero (“I do not know this person”) to five (“One of my best friends”), with three as the minimum score needed to qualify for friendship. The participants also wrote down their guesses for how each person would rate them.

Overall, the researchers documented 1,353 cases of friendship, meaning instances where one person rated another as a three or higher. And in 94 percent of them, the person doing the ranking guessed that the other person would feel the same way.

Which makes sense — you probably wouldn’t call someone a friend, after all, unless you thought that definition was mutual. That’s why we have terms to capture more one-sided relationships, like friend crush or hey, I don’t really know her but I think she’s neat. Both of which, come to think of it, might have been better descriptors of a lot of the relationships in the study. In reality, only 53 percent of the friendships — a small, sad, oh honey number of them — were actually reciprocal.

Some caveats: The study was small, and all the subjects were undergraduates; friendships change over the course of a lifetime, and it’s certainly possible that, over time, many tenuous lopsided friendships can dwindle to a more solid few. But the study authors also looked at a handful of previous surveys on friendship, ranging in size from 82 people to 3,160, and found similar results: Among those, the highest proportion of reciprocal friendships was 53 percent, and the lowest was a bummer, at 34 percent.

“These findings suggest a profound inability of people to perceive friendship reciprocity, perhaps because the possibility of non-reciprocal friendship challenges one’s self-image,” the study authors wrote.

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/05/half-of-your-friends-probably-dont-think-of-you-as-a-friend.html