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The Friendship Recession

This website will list all the recent articles I can find which mentioned the so-called “friendship recession.”

To submit: hello@nickgray.netTwitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blog

I Thought I Was Too Old to Make New Friends. One Trip Changed My Mind. by Tom Vanderbilt (April, 2024)

“All relationships require risk,” Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, told me when I went poking around for data on men and friendship. “You always risk being uncomfortable with someone, or getting too close to them. If we become so risk-averse in getting to know each other, we lose out on opportunities for greater intimacy.”

In a study that Dr. Hall conducted, it took subjects 40 to 60 hours spent together to describe themselves as casual friends, and more to become “good” or “close” friends. That sort of time is relatively easy to find for young adults. But for older guys like me, Dr. Hall noted, “it’s not developmentally typical to be spending a ton of time with your friends, without partners, without children.”

In Search of The Great Male Friend, One Man’s Quest for Intimacy by Chris Lyford (April, 2024)

In case you’re wondering, I’m not some mopey sad sack. Life is pretty darn good. I’m young (sort of) and healthy. I have a wonderful, supportive wife. I have a roof over my head, food on my plate, and a bed so soft it feels like sleeping on a giant marshmallow. There’s a lot to be thankful for. But still, something’s missing: I could really use a Great Male Friend.

‘Friendship recession’ is ravaging our mental and physical health. Here’s how we fight against it together by Jay Height (Mar, 2024)

The good news is that the friendship recession, unlike many of the other big challenges we face in the nation and the world, is a solvable problem. It doesn’t require a new government agency or an infusion of tax dollars. We don’t need years of in-depth research on how to combat isolation and loneliness.

Navigating the Male Friendship Recession: A Conversation with Mark Greene (Mar, 2024)

Watch this clip with Mark Greene, the founder of Remaking Manhood, Senior Editor for The Good Men Project, and author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men. Greene talks with Networker senior editor Chris Lyford about the state of men and the male “friendship recession,” as well as Lyford’s article in the March issue titled “In Search of the Great Male Friend: One Man’s Quest for Intimacy.” 

The Friendship Recession by Samuel Dunsiger (Mar, 2024)

That’s the thing: when you’re a boastful child or an energetic adolescent, it’s much more organic to make friends as you can approach your peers on the playground or hang out with your classmates after school.

But, as a thirty-something, it’s not as easy to immerse yourself into a social group and make platonic friends. As an adult, the whole concept of making new friends is almost foreign. And making plans with friends is not unlike the process of scheduling a dental hygiene appointment — you have to make it six months in advance .

The Friendship Recession by Dr. Caroline Leaf (Mar, 2024)

In a recent article in Women’s Health on this “friendship recession”, journalists note that “the average 30-year-old has shed 4.5 friends since the start of the pandemic.” Although it is normal for friends to come and go as we grow older, move homes, change jobs and so on, these statistics are notable. As the article points out, “our social stock is crashing – and those bonds are vital for health.” According to the Mental State of the World 2022 Report, our ability to maintain meaningful friendships and connections had reduced dramatically, and not just for 30-year-olds. One report points out that 18-24 year olds are more likely to have no close friends than those aged 75!

Opinion: Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day and … Palentine’s Day? by Brooklyn Hughes Roemer (Feb, 2024)

Findings from the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey reveal that men are significantly less likely than women to receive emotional support from their friends. Surveys conducted on 2,019 American adults reveal that 41% of women receive emotional support from friends compared to 21% of men. Nearly half of the women have told a friend they love them over the course of a week while only a quarter of the men have. And 48% of women reported sharing personal feelings or problems with a friend during a week compared to 30% of men. There are also, surprisingly, no generational differences on this — all men, no matter their age, are just as unlikely to have shared personal feelings or problems with a friend.

If you’re suffering from the “friendship recession,” you’re not alone by Steve Yount (Jan, 2024)

It would be easy to blame the friendship recession on the aftereffects of the pandemic, but the American Perspectives Survey indicated that would be misleading. Although roughly half of Americans said they had lost touch with a friend during the pandemic, nearly as many had made a new friend.

The Friendship Recession by Ted Bauer (Jan, 2024)

That’s definitely a huge part of the picture, but it’s not the entire picture. I’ve written a ton about friendships in the past three years. I won’t link everything for you, because that would be utter overkill, but I’ll give you two that probably matter somewhat to this discussion first:

  1. A semi-comprehensive look at modern friendship
  2. How to think about male friendships now

Why a growing number of American men say they are in a ‘friendship recession’ by Geoff Bennett (Jan, 2024)

American men are stuck in what’s been dubbed a friendship recession, with 20 percent of single men now saying they don’t have any close friends. More than half of all men report feeling unsatisfied with the size of their friend groups. Geoff Bennett traveled to Phoenix to take a closer look at the implications of male loneliness and how some men are confronting it.

Opinion: Combat the Friendship Recession: Pepperdine University Graphic by Faith Oh (Jan, 2024)

Florence Ann Romano, a personal growth strategist, also appeared on Fox 13 Seattle and believes the friendship recession may have stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic. People no longer knew how to socialize and found staying at home to be easier than going out and talking to others. As a huge introvert and pretty reserved person, I admit it can often be tempting to choose alone time instead of going out with friends. However, I did not fully register the impact the pandemic had on friendships until I reflected on my own relationships.

CreativePool: Raw, real and relatable: How content is reflecting the friendship recession by Valentina Culatti (Dec, 2023)

Despite being more connected than we have ever been – through mobile phones, connected TV, the internet and social media – we are lonely. Research from Survey Center on American Life informs us this endless stream of connection to the outside world comes at a time when people of all ages say they are lonelier than ever, and feel a pressure on their mental health.

I Love You, Man: The male friendship recession (Rebroadcast) by Haili Blassingame (Dec, 2023)

Why are men struggling to make and maintain friendships more than ever? And what can they—and the people who care about them—do to change this? We speak to two psychologists who specialize in friendships and men. We also hear from two guys who’ve been best friends for 30 years about their podcast on male friendship and how they keep the love alive.

It’s really hard to make (and keep) friends by Chris Cillizza (Nov, 2023)

And I did some soul searching. (I didn’t have much else to do!). What I realized was this: I was rapidly becoming that friendless dad I had pledged not to be. I was SO busy becoming someone that I had done, in truth, next to nothing to cultivate and build deep and deepening friendships with the friends I truly cared about.

In other words, I had a whole hell of a lot of Twitter followers and Facebook “friends” but very few people I could really open up to, almost no one I trusted fully and completely.

The Friendship Recession: The Catalyst by The Catalyst (Nov, 2023)

On top of these responsibilities, everything is more expensive, more competitive, more demanding. The pressure is real. It is no surprise that people are burnt out. In this context, the act of friendship now becomes a job. I would say that people could be having difficulty making friends because they are simply lacking energy. I would also add that such a stressful society impacts friend making by increasing the prevalence of poor mental health.

Are you a victim of the ‘friendship recession?’: Women’s Health by Claudia Canavan (Nov, 2023)

Published in March, Sapien Labs’ Mental State Of The World In 2022 report, which involved more than 407,000 participants from 64 countries, discovered people’s ‘social self ’ had nosedived over the past 12 months. That metric refers to your ability to maintain meaningful friendships and connections, and again, it was young people who’d lost out the most – 18-to-24-year-olds were more likely to have no close friends than those aged 75 and over. It’s a social shortfall reflected specifically in UK data, too.

Why We Should Care About The Friendship Recession: Millennial by Meghan Clark (Oct, 2023)

Despite the ubiquity of social media and the language of connection, Americans struggle to build friendships. As a society, we are plagued by loneliness. In “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” the United States surgeon general details the health effects of social isolation and lack of community connections. The decline in friendship correlates to declining health outcomes across the population. “Lacking social connection,” the health advisory notes, “can increase the risk for premature death as much as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” Social isolation and loneliness have been publicly debated for almost 25 years, since Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster), yet the problem grows….

The Great Male Friendship Recession: Impactus by Jordan Harnum (Oct, 2023)

Recently, a study from the Survey Centre on American Life discovered that the percentage of men with at least six close friends fell by half since 1990, from 55 percent to 27 percent. The study also found that the percentage of men without any close friends jumped from 3 percent to 15 percent, a fivefold increase.

Friendship Recession: How to meet new friends: News4Jax by Ivan Newswire (July, 2023)

Recent research shows that the pandemic and social media both caused people to become “rusty” when it comes to making friends and creating emotional bonds. But there are ways to forge new friendships and infuse your life with a renewed sense of purpose and joy.

The friendship recession is a problem for the common good: U.S. Catholic by Meghan J. Clark (July, 2023)

Despite the ubiquity of social media and the language of connection, Americans struggle to build friendships. As a society, we are plagued by loneliness. In “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” the United States surgeon general details the health effects of social isolation and lack of community connections. The decline in friendship correlates to declining health outcomes across the population. “Lacking social connection,” the health advisory notes, “can increase the risk for premature death as much as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” Social isolation and loneliness have been publicly debated for almost 25 years, since Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster), yet the problem grows.

My husband never sees his friends – he’s part of the male ‘friendship recession’: UK by Lucy Dunn (July, 2023)

As I reach my fifties, friendless husbands seem to be a thing. My own husband, Kern, is one of them. The few friends he has – his bromance with golfing mate Duncan is a lovely thing to see – he can count on one hand, and he hardly sees them. And while I don’t like to judge, I do get slightly irritated that 99.9 percent of the time he leaves it up to me to fill up the social diary. But it’s one of the many fleeting niggles of being married to someone for 21 years and not worth fighting over.

The Friendship Recession: What It Is and How to Cope with It: By MAHEVASH SHAIKH (June, 2023)

A friendship recession is a real thing. When was the last time you hung out with your friends? Or when have you had a real heart-to-heart conversation? If you cannot recall the date, you, like countless others, may have been hit by the friendship recession. 

Here’s why experts say men need more friends in their lives — and how they can make them: Salon by Mary Elizabeth Williams (June, 2023)

Siple says, “Many men (myself included) struggle with being proactive in our male relationships. It is important for men to explore any and every outlet to make and maintain these connections. Formality isn’t necessary. Whether it’s a running group, trivia team, Bible study, or whatever, I believe this social connectivity is an incredibly important aspect of our mental health.”

‘We don’t do deep emotional discussions’: why men lose their friends – and how they can make more: The Guardian by Sam Wollaston (May, 2023)

Dr Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, and a top researcher into friends and friendship, says that, though some might not want to believe it, men’s and women’s friendships are different. Women’s friendships tend to be more personalized and dyadic: who you are is the most important thing. “Men’s friendships are more clubby, and in some sense anonymous – it matters more what you are than who you are,” he says. “In other words, do you belong to my club? If you do, that qualifies you to be a friend, and anybody who ticks that box can be substituted in if you don’t turn up or go off to Thailand for ever, or whatever. A lot of men’s friendships seem to be built around activities, so conversation is quite unimportant, and is largely designed to trigger laughter as much as anything else. Men don’t do deep emotional discussions about friendships.”

Opinion piece: Rebuilding communities in a ‘friendship recession’: The Daily Telegraph by Andrew Leigh (May, 2023)

Even before the pandemic community engagement was declining. In Reconnected: A Community Builder’s Handbook, Nick Terrell and I documented a drop in the share of Australians playing organized sport, volunteering, attending religious services, joining a union, donating to charity or joining community organizations.

Are We Witnessing a Friendship Recession?: ShoutOut UK by Amelia Brady (May 2023)

Whom do you go to when you need to talk?
You might call a parent, drop in on a sibling, or maybe spend some time with a friend. Whether you’ve known them since nappies or met them a week ago, the fact is, friendship is an intrinsic part of human nature — something that may be reflected in the fact that people with stronger social relationships have a 50 percent lower mortality risk than those without. Unsurprisingly, loneliness does the opposite: increasing this risk by 26 per cent, with one study likening its detrimental effects to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Still, one in eight Britons (12 per cent), say that they have just one person whom they consider to be a close friend. By all indicators, the friendship pool seems to be running dry, and with rates of loneliness reaching record highs, it seems that the friendship economy is entering a hopeless depression.

Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath is worried about friendship recession. Here’s what it means: Money Control by Ankita Sengupta (May 2023)

Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath recently shared that he is worried about the world facing a “friendship recession” with a number of people admitting to lacking close friends. The billionaire added that he has five friends that he would “do all for”.

What Is a Friendship Recession and Why Are We Currently In One?: Reader’s Digest by Jessica Kaplan (May 2023)

According to a 2021 survey done by the Survey Center on American Life, a friendship recession describes an uptick in the average time spent alone, the number of friends one has and overall time devoted to friendship. The survey found that since 1990, the number of men with at least six close friends decreased from 55% to 27%. Similarly, for men who identified as having zero close friends, the numbers jumped from 3% to 15%.

The Friendship Recession: Connection and Isolation in the Digital Age: Not Alone by Matthew Frank (April, 2023)

What could be causing our acquaintanceships to fizzle? It boils down to a number of factors that have slowly taken hold of our lives, many of which are tied to our modern lifestyles. Firstly, technology has enabled an ease of communication that has replaced face-to-face interactions. Far from being social, however, these means of connecting–not least of all the Internet–have only served to add further distance between us.

The lonely bloke’s guide to friendship: Positive.News by Max Dickins (March, 2023)

For decades, studies have consistently shown that men have fewer friends – and especially fewer close friends – than women. “As men get older, we often become trapped in tiny social circles,” says Flanagan. Sadly, it’s a situation I know well. A couple of years ago, I planned on proposing to my girlfriend only to realize I had no one to call on as my best man. Ever since, I’ve tried to get to the bottom of men’s friendship problems. And explore solutions, like this one.

Why the Friendship Recession Matters and Ways to Cope: UW Medicine by Emily Boynton (February 2023)

Loneliness was already on the rise before the pandemic. The current U.S. surgeon general called loneliness a public health concern back in 2017, and census data between 2014 and 2019 revealed that the amount of time Americans spent with their friends decreased each year — leading to what some experts have called a friendship recession. So, it’s no surprise that a recent study found 20% of younger adults are lonely.

The friendship recession: Big Think by Richard Reeves (April 2023)

Americans without friends have increased 250% in recent years. Here’s why. Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, discusses the importance of friendships and the potential “friendship recession.” He notes that loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, but measuring and quantifying friendships is difficult. According to Reeves, an ideal number of close friends is around three or four…

Scientists Warn of A “Friendship Recession” — I’m Part of It: Medium by Addie Page (Feb 2023)

I’m thirsty for friends. It’s embarrassing. I’m far too old to be courting acquaintances like some middle school girl at Claire’s, harassing strangers for their opinion on $5 earrings. But here we are.

Why Is It So Hard for Men to Make Close Friends?: New York Times by Catherine Pearson (Nov 2022)

American men appear to be stuck in a “friendship recession” — a trend that predates the Covid-19 pandemic but that seems to have accelerated over the past several years as loneliness levels have crept up worldwide. In a 2021 survey of more than 2,000 adults in the United States, less than half of the men said they were truly satisfied with how many friends they had, while 15 percent said they had no close friends at all — a fivefold increase since 1990. That same survey found that men were less likely than women to rely on their friends for emotional support or to share their personal feelings with them.

Are you experiencing a ‘friendship recession?’: Women’s Health by Claudia Canavan (Dec 2022)

The ‘friendship recession’ phrasing – showing that 15% of American men and 10% of women reported having ‘no friends.’ This spike looks sinister when contrasted with 1990’s data, in which 3% of men and 2% of women expressed the same sentiment.

‘Some weeks I only speak to the postman’: how to escape learned loneliness – and soar socially: The Guardian by Anita Chaudhuri (Feb 2023)

Meanwhile, in the US, the term “friendship recession” entered the lexicon after census data revealed that Americans were spending an ever-decreasing amount of time with friends. The blame cannot solely be put on the pandemic because the decline has been steady since 2014. A decade ago, people spent six and a half hours a week with close friends, but by 2021 that figure had plummeted to just 2hr 45min.

Are We in a ‘Friendship Recession’?: StyleBlueprint by Alissa Harb (March 2023)

There has been plenty of talk of an economic recession, but the under-the-radar recession no one is talking about has to do with our relationships. In our post-COVID society, we might think isolation is in the rearview. And with practically unlimited access to people and information at our fingertips, we might also think that connection is easier than ever — but surveys show that there are a lot of lonely people out there.

Is America suffering a ‘social recession’?: The Guardian by Anton Cebalo (Jan 2023)

Ever since a notorious chart showing that fewer people are having sex than ever before first made the rounds, there’s been increased interest in the state of America’s social health. Polling has demonstrated a marked decline in all spheres of social life, including close friendships, intimate relationships, trust, labor participation and community involvement. The continuing shift has been called the “friendship recession” or the “social recession” – and, although it will take years before this is clearly established, it was almost certainly worsened by the pandemic.

Why Friendships Among Men Are So Important: Greater Good Science Center by Jill Suttie (March 2023)

Having an intimate group of friends like that seems to be a rare thing for men these days. In fact, according to a recent American Survey report, men have fewer social ties overall than they used to, with only 27% of men in 2021 saying they had at least six close friends compared to 55% in 1990. This suggests men may be suffering a “friendship recession” that is likely affecting their health and happiness.

Curing the crisis of a friendship recession: Catholic News Herald by Dr. Christopher Kaczor (August 2022)

If we better understand what friendship is, then we might better understand how to build new and better friendships. Aristotle provides us with some resources for thinking about friendship. Indeed, when I was a freshman in college, it was Aristotle’s teaching on friendship that first awoke in me an interest in philosophy.

Men have fewer friends than ever, and it’s harming their health: Vox by Aubrey Hirsch (August, 2022)

Young men are living with their parents longer and those that do often forgo making other friendships and bonds outside of the home. Changes in the workplace might be contributing as well. Americans are working longer hours, switching jobs more often and going to the office less than we were in the past. But we also tend to socialize young boys in particular to hide their vulnerabilities and value toughness and stoicism over emotional sensitivity and connection. 

Men suffer ‘friendship recession’ as 15% are without a single close pal: New York Post by Adriana Diaz (July 2021)

These staggering statistics of the friendship recession found in the American Perspectives Survey are being attributed to a multitude of cultural-trend changes in the past two decades, including a decline in religious involvement, lower marriage rates and changes in the workplace, that are creating a surge of disconnection.

American men experiencing ‘friendship recession’: report, Fox News by Ann W. Schmidt (July 2021)

Single men are especially affected by the “friendship recession.” According to the survey, 20% of men who are not in a romantic relationship reported not having any close friends.

American Men Suffer a Friendship Recession: National Review by Daniel Cox (July, 2021)

The bad news doesn’t end there. Not only do men have smaller friendship circles, they report being less emotionally connected to the friends they do have. Both men and women benefit from developing strong emotional bonds with their friends, but women are more successful in establishing these types of relationships. The study finds that women report far higher rates of emotional engagement with and support from their friends. This type of intimacy matters. Americans who receive regular emotional support from their friends are far less likely to report feeling anxious or alone than those who do not, and this is true independent of how many friends they have.

American men suffer ‘friendship recession’ with 15% not having ONE close friend – and the number with at least six plummeting from 55% to just 27%: Daily Mail by Rory Tingle (July 2021)

American men are experiencing a friendship recession, with nearly one in six not having one close friend, a new poll has found.