The Science of Best Friends
We know that friendship is good for us, boosting our joyful emotions, decreasing stress, and helping us manage in difficult times, says By Dr. Jo Gee, Psychotherapist and founder of the Luna Hive, "but interestingly, the wellbeing gains and increased life satisfaction we feel from friendships tends to be from our close friendships.
She continues: "Having a large number of friends can be resource draining, as we attempt to put in effort across the different relationships and often end up criticising ourselves for falling short of our ‘friendship duties’. This is made harder as our friendships can be spread out across different parts of the world, giving us less time for that all important face to face contact.
“Dunbar, a leading anthropologist, found that due to our brain structure and size, humans can only maintain stable relationships with a limited number of people. This makes sense as our close relationships require more time and effort. If we have a few close friendships, this time is often translated into better communication, which means our friends are more likely to know us better, including knowing what we need in terms of support.”
Tips on Making Friends as an Adult
From Relationship Coach, Kate Mansfield
Making new friends as an adult can feel like a daunting process, something that comes so easily to us as children can fill us with dread as we get older. If you’re keen to make new friendships start off by trying something new. Sign up for a new group or class that you’re genuinely interested in. it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests. Listen and engage with others as they talk, ditch the mobile phone and join in other conversations without an agenda, you never know where it might lead you. Social media can be a great way of finding out about local groups in the area such as book clubs or walking groups with likeminded people.
Maintaining friendships as we get older can be hard. Work, families and busy lifestyles make it harder, while time often plays a big role. It’s important to factor in time to catch up, arranging to see each other in person. Be there for them and listen. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives but a good friend will always make the time to offer a sympathetic ear without judgement. Great friendships in adulthood are often based on a mutual understanding of each other’s needs - the person we turn to in hard times, the person we arrange to see when we need a good belly laugh or want to try a new wine bar or fitness class with.
My top five tips for maintaining great friendships are:
Make time for just the two of you
Even if it means if it means getting a date in the diary months in advance. Visit that spa, go for afternoon tea, arrange to go to the football.
Surprise your friend when they least expect it
Or send a card in the post to let them know how much you mean to them, tagging each other in memes on social media is a great way to let a friend know you’re thinking about them or making them laugh with a photograph or memory.
Text frequently but also make the time to pick up the phone
Make them the priority when you see them and try to switch the phone off when you’re together, so your friend has your full attention.
Don’t let them down
If you’ve arranged to see a friend, unless there’s a good reason, don’t let them down at the last minute.
Engage in acts of kindness and consideration that are focused on your friends
Do things they would perceive as funny or kind. Consider their interests when planning to meet up or say thank you