The average person hasn’t made a new friend in five years. Why that’s bad

The average North American hasn’t made a new friend in five years, and 45% of adults say they find it difficult to make new friends.

This is according to a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Evite.

The survey also found that popularity hits its peak at age 23 “for many,” (they didn’t say how many) and that for 36% that peak hits even before age 21.

Asked what the barriers were to making new friends, 42% of respondents said the were introverted or shy, while 33% said it was because they weren’t into the bar scene.

Top 5 reasons it’s hard to make friends as an adult

  • Being introverted/shy 42%
  • Most people just want to go to a bar but that’s not my scene 33%
  • I feel like everyone has their friendship groups already formed 33%
  • My family takes up a lot of my time 29%
  • I don’t have any hobbies that allow me to meet new people 28%

The media release didn’t say how old respondents were, but I’m thinking they might have been under 35 because I’m (a little) over 35 and almost none of my friends ever “just want to go to a bar.”

Forty-five per cent, meanwhile, said they would go out of their way to make new friends if they knew how or had more opportunities.

When it comes to how many friends people actually have, the average number is 16. More precisely, we have:

  • 3 best friends
  • 5 good friends
  • 8 people they like but don’t spend one-on-one time with
  • 50 acquaintances
  • 91 social media friends

Most people have remained close to the people they met when they were younger. Nearly half have stayed friends with people from high school, 31% with people from college, and three per cent with people they met in their childhood neighbourhood.

Making friends is an important part of career success

This is kind of sad. Making new friends is part of what keeps life fun and exciting. Also, when it comes to your career, you have to make new friends. Expanding and advancing your career is directly reliant on getting to know new people. This is partly because friends can introduce you to new opportunities, but also because different people consistently provide new areas of interest and perspectives — which in turn can enhance your own perspectives on your life and career.

Piera Pizzo, Evite’s In-House Party Specialist (yes, that appears to be a real job title), stated:

“For the 45 percent who are looking to make new friends, the best and most underrated way to do that these days is still in-person. You can host a party, or something more low-key like a book club or happy hour, and tell each of your guests to bring a friend. You’ll be surprised at how naturally social circles can come together, and at the lasting connections you can make when bonding face-to-face.”

That’s a nice idea. A lot of people probably don’t want to host a party, however.

For those folks, here are a few more suggestions for where to meet people:

  • Ask your friends to take you places. They’ll usually be happy to.
  • Look up events you will enjoy and go to those. Find something that interests you.
  • Ask people if they know of events happening that you might enjoy. You can go on your own if you’re comfortable.
  • Invite connections you make on social media out for a coffee or event. Lots of people will be thrilled to meet in person.
  • Join an interest group. Join a group that does something you enjoy, like knitting, skiing, or yoga.
  • Volunteer. I have met a lot of new people through volunteering, and we all have common interests.

It takes courage to make friends, and it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

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