Wake up. Get ready. Grab breakfast (if you're lucky). Go to work. Go home. Walk the dog. Watch Netflix. Go to bed.
Sound familiar? Regular routines aren't just a part of our everyday lives; they become our identity, the very foundation of our existence. We get so caught up going from predetermined point A to point B that thinking about injecting spontaneity into our agenda may never even cross the mind.
That's just one of the reasons branching out and making new friends as an adult can seem exceptionally difficult. With the days of cafeteria lunch sessions and late-night study groups behind us, the opportunities for meeting new people and building meaningful relationships can seem all but lost.
So how many adults are looking for ways to make platonic friends, and what options are there for social interaction when we're already so busy managing everyday life? For an inside look at the quest for companionship, Sofary.com surveyed over 1,000 people for their perspective. Read on as we break down how many close friends most people have in their life, where they go to make new ones, and how many people think they have time to build new relationships. Looking for an easy way to break the routine up a bit? Take a look at what we learned.
An Uphill Battle
Not only is making new friends as an adult difficult, but studies show our existing group of friends stagnates once we hit around 25 years old and then begins to decline. Whether it's from moving, getting married, having children, or getting divorced, the routines we fall into as adults may leave little time for cultivating relationships and keeping acquaintances as an active part of our lives.
Not only did nearly 52 percent of men and over 64 percent of women identify the process of making new friends challenging, but we also found the struggle may be most difficult for younger generations. Compared to just shy of 48 percent of baby boomers and 60 percent of Gen Xers, nearly 61 percent of millennials identified the process of making new friends as difficult.
Between their affinity for social media and the prevalence of spending extra hours working side gigs among younger adults, establishing meaningful relationships can be difficult for millennials. Social media may reduce the idea of friendship down to "likes" and comments on an Instagram post, which many admit isn't the same as genuinely getting to know a person.
Quality Over Quantity
Just because you can rely on someone to like all of your latest Instagram posts doesn't mean they're necessarily a "close" friend. Instead, the distinction is typically held for someone you lean on for emotional support, whom you can share life's challenges with, or have been connected with for many years.
On average, we found respondents of every age averaged between 11 and 14 friends, but only averaged (at most) four people they felt genuinely close to. While men surveyed might find establishing meaningful friendships more straightforward, younger generations still struggle with the process. On average, millennials and Gen Xers admitted it had been a year (or longer) since they made a new friend, compared to about 10 months for baby boomers.
Finding Common Ground
It shouldn't take a scientific study to tell you that flaking can be the death of a friendship. Like any relationship, building a substantial connection with another person takes time and dedicated effort to make sure you do more than stay in touch or catch up every once in a while. For most people, prioritizing personal relationships means making sure they see each other in the "real world" too.
According to nearly 59 percent of people, going to a party or a social gathering was the easiest way to meet new people and make friends intentionally. While going to a bar (about 39 percent) or the gym (over 30 percent) also ranked as popular methods for adding new faces to your circle of cohorts, you don't have to be a complete extrovert to make friends. Hobby groups (roughly 43 percent) and online gaming (almost 24 percent) also have the potential to create easy bonding over shared passions and cooperative play.
No More Excuses
Sure, spending time with your significant other or family is great. With so much commitment to work and daily responsibilities, making time to see the people you love may not always come easily.
But making time to get out for a girls' or guys' night with just your friends has benefits too. Having meaningful relationships helps increase our sense of belonging and purpose, can help reduce stress, and encourages us to avoid unhealthy habits (like not exercising). Perhaps even more importantly, having people you can rely on as close friends provides a safe outlet to share traumatic experiences, like divorce or the death of a loved one.
While being single may increase the chances that you'll schedule (and show up to) a dedicated friend's night, most people reduce these events to an annual experience. Compared to the near 57 percent of single women who participated in a girl's night out just once a year, 39 percent of men made these gatherings a monthly commitment. Once in a relationship, over 53 percent of men and 61 percent of women relegated group activities with their friends to just once a year, and getting a divorce can make spending time with friends even more difficult for women. Where 40 percent of divorced men had a guys night out once monthly, more than 72 percent of divorced women did the same only once a year.
Before you start making excuses for why you don't have time to make a GNO (girls or guys night out) a priority, scheduling these get-togethers may not be as difficult as you expect.
For men, we found getting together at a bar, hosting a game night (either with video games or board games), or meeting up for a sporting activity (like golfing or bowling) ranked as the most popular choice for friends to see one another. For women, grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant, meeting up at a bar, or catching a movie together at the theater were common gathering spots.
These assemblies don't have to be expensive, either. On average, people surveyed spent under $34 when they went out to see their friends.
For some people, one of the biggest deterrents of spending time with friends can be the jealousy of a spouse or significant other. It's not uncommon for a partner to see the emotional role friends play in our lives and start to feel the pangs of resentment. Particularly if your partner doesn't have close friends of their own, or if they feel you're oversharing with other people, close friendships can start to complicate your romantic relationships.
While a bit under 43 percent of men believed their partner is jealous of their outings with the guys, more than 27 percent admitted having similar feelings of envy directed toward their own significant other. Women were less likely to believe their partners were jealous of their platonic outings (34 percent) but more likely than men to feel jealous themselves (about 33 percent). Overall, we found gay and bisexual couples were much more likely to both feel (almost 51 percent) and perceive jealousy (nearly 55 percent) at the idea of girls or guys night out compared to heterosexual couples.
More New Friends
Making friends as an adult is hard. With busy schedules and stressful obligations, carving out dedicated time for our friends takes commitment and energy. While we may start to lose connection with old friends as we get older, finding new ones has more complications than one might expect. In addition to finding the time and going outside our daily routines, we may occasionally have to deal with jealousy from our partners too.
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Methodology and Limitations
To get the data presented in the study shown above, a survey was run using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service. 1,009 respondents were asked about their social habits and their frequency attending girls/guys' night out. Of these respondents, 472 were men, 537 were women, and one individual chose to identify as neither. 96 of the respondents were baby boomers, 257 were from Generation X, 628 were millennials, and 29 respondents were from a generation outside those.
The data in this study rely on self-reporting, which can be host to some issues, such as telescoping or exaggeration. To get the most accurate data possible for the study, an attention check was used to make sure respondents were paying attention and not answering randomly.
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