Photographed by Sara Haile.
Many of us find that the older we get, the harder it is to make new friends — and to keep in touch with old ones. As we change jobs and cities, enter and leave romantic relationships, marry and start families, platonic friendships can fall by the wayside. We may have our forever friends — ones we've known for years, whom we will always count among our inner circle — but life circumstances often mean that besties from way back aren't around for our daily ups and downs.
As Shape reports, in a recent survey (conducted by the counseling organization Relate) of 6,000 women in the U.K., 81% reported maintaining friendships that are "good" or "very good." Of those surveyed, however, 10% feel they have no close friends; 3% reported they have no friends. Social or emotional disorders can be responsible for these extreme cases of isolation, but major life changes can take their toll on social networks, as well. No matter the reason for it, a lack of friendships can have physical and emotional consequences, putting people at risk for depression and lowered self-esteem. Among survey participants who called their friendships "good," 87% reported feeling "good about themselves" anywhere from "sometimes" to "always." Only 63% of people with "average" or "bad" friendships — and 62% of people with no friendships — reported the same levels of self-esteem.
So, how can you nurture new platonic relationships? It's valuable to recognize that friendship can take an unlimited number of forms: Just because you don't have a "BFF," it doesn't mean you don't have positive, close friendships. Weekly brunches and half-heart necklaces aren't for everyone; friendship doesn't need to fit a mold. But, it should fulfill your emotional needs. So, ditch the idea of what a "best" friendship "should" look like, and start putting yourself out there to connect with people on your wavelength. Ahead, Shape offers tips for doing just that. (Shape)