• Aubrey Harris

Friends: How Many of us Have Them?

Updated: Nov 22

Community, especially friendship, is a prevalent discussion in mental health counseling.

Though many of us are back to embracing outside interaction after the pandemic, we’re still riddled with anxieties around our health and how to socially re-engage.

This coupled with a national financial crisis and disheartening news cycle, it creates a less than optimal environment for openness and connection.

Research supports that regardless of culture, gender, socioeconomic status or race, community is fundamental to individual well-being and longevity. So what’s the hold up?! Why aren’t we able to connect?

Establishing abundant and healthy friendships is hard work- especially in adulthood when financial, family, and health obligations often take priority.

While social networking provides an aspect of community, research supports this is not enough to keep feelings of isolation and dissatisfaction at bay.

We yearn for a community that is real, tangible, and accessible. However, we now struggle to engage with the very thing we desire.

A recent study found that higher withdrawal behaviors resulted in lower quality and quantity of friends later on for adolescents. We can infer this is connected to a lack of social skills, conflict resilience, and self-esteem, traits that usually develop through socialization.

When we observe quarantine trends throughout the last two years, we see a similar thread of withdrawal and isolation impacting our social perception of self and others.

So, the challenge is to take the risk of stepping outside of yourself to truly embrace others. More often than not, people are