The Unseen Friendship Recession

The Decline of Friendship

Why is friendship becoming rarer in America, explained by author Richard Reeves. 

Richard Reeves, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, points out the significance of close social connections and warns of a possible downturn in this aspect. Research shows that loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking, and having three or four close friends is an ideal number. However, it is challenging to measure and quantify social connections.

The statistics are concerning, particularly among young men, with 15% reporting having no close social bonds, a sharp increase from 3% in the 1990s. The COVID pandemic has further strained social networks, particularly among women, who rely more heavily on physical contact to maintain their relationships. A range of factors, including moving frequently, parenting responsibilities, overwork culture, and romantic relationship breakdowns, has likely contributed to the decline in social connections in 21st-century America.

Reeves underscores the need to recognize and foster these vital relationships, as they do not develop automatically. Acknowledging the desire for social bonds requires openness and vulnerability, which can be difficult for some individuals.

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