WHOLISTIC WELLBEING | 27 FEB 2020
Friendships why they are important and not just online
If you grew up in the 1980’s and 90’ like me you probably watched Friends. A group of young 20 somethings that lived and hung out together on a daily basis. They were there for each other through every romance, break up and jobs. They knew they could rely on each other.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years since Friends aired. Social media, longer working hours, less connectability face to face. It means as adults, children, partners, and being exhausted does not help us maintain close friends or make new ones. We would rather curl up on the couch at the end of the day or weekend- watch Netflix and scroll through facebook and Instagram. We then can say to ourselves we are connecting with friends, because we liked their page.
Yet all the research shows that if we meet regularly, face to face with friends, spend time with them, depression and anxiety rates are lower, we are happier, have more energy and particularly for women, it shows that we live longer. One of the key things is that they need to have some close friendships.
It is normal for friendships to change over time. Just as we are not the same person we were in our 20s neither are our friends. Close friends become acquaintances, and then maybe facebook friends.
Then you have to begin that friendship cycle again. Finding other close friends as you get older can be harder, but they are for our long term mental and physical health essential.
Close friendships have 6 things in common that are most likely to stay the distance:
- Friends need to be consistent, available, reliable and predictable (Yes you do answer that text or call).
- Listen- Be emotionally available and empathetic. Don’t always talk about yourself.
- Be yourself- There is no point being friends with someone if you have to be someone you are not i.e. no point going to the school in your Lorna Jane activewear and then go to a fitness class and pretend you like it. Be authentic.
- Take your friends on a ‘test drive’. What we mean by this is- can you ring your friend up in the middle of the night if there is a crisis? Would you ask them to be with you if you had a major medical appointment? There will only be 1 or 2 people that will meet that criteria. But boy are they ‘Keepers”.
- Accept that everyone is different. Close friends don’t have to be your identical. One of my closest friend’s crochets, the other loves doing French lessons. Neither of these activities appeal to me. However, have I ever called on them in a crisis, or when my world had felt it was falling apart? You Bet. Were they available/ reliable/ listened and do? Straight Away. One of my friend’s I’ve known for about 35 years and lives 2 hours away. She dropped everything. Took time off work and was there for me. The other friend I haven’t know as long, and I met her at playgroup. She lives around the corner, and we meet and/or text at least once a week. My kids know they can also rely on her.
- Both these friends make me laugh, we have loads of fun and I’m completely myself. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I have other friends that I’ve known for a long time and a short time, but these ones are special.
Is it worth making the effort with friends- Completely and Absolutely.