Do you hear the birds chirping and the smell of fresh flowers? Spring is in the air. So, that means friendship is in the air, too!
I’m sure you want to correct me and say, “Love is in the air!” But, recently, there has been a shift in important relationships, from the romantic to more platonic ones.
When I think about friendships, this famous quote from Eleanor Roosevelt comes to mind: “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
When we reach our mid to late 20s, romantic relationships seem to take precedence over friendships. But, in recent years, we’ve seen a major shift where friendships are becoming the center of people’s existence.
Friends are buying houses together, raising each other’s children, have joint credit cards, and even hold medical and legal powers of attorney for each other.
There are 4 factors that have caused the shift in importance from romantic relationships to friendships.
1. Marriages are in a free fall.
People just aren’t getting married at the same rate as they used to. A 2019 Psychology Today article stated that 4.3 percent of women in their late 40s worldwide have never been married.
In Europe and North America, the rate is even higher at 10.8 percent, and in Australia and New Zealand, even higher at 14.1 percent.
2. There’s a lack of affordable quality care.
As people are living longer, so is the need to have quality care.
With no spouse or relatives to pick up the slack, people are turning to life-long friends for support, both mentally and physically.
3. The pandemic didn’t cause folks to be isolated, but it helped.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. Census had reported that 28 percent of the U.S. population lived alone. With the rise of the pandemic in 2020, isolation was at its all-time high.
Never before in recent history have so many people been restricted from physically visiting, seeing, and interacting with other people.
This type of isolationism increased the risk of death from all causes and increased morbidity across a variety of physical health outcomes. This has caused people to reassess their lives and prioritize friendships even more for comfort and strength.
4. Values are shifting around friendships and relationships.
Individuals are valuing friendships over romantic relationships.
People are turning to a more individualistic lifestyle that stresses independence and freedom of self-expression, even while in a relationship.
Due to these shifting changes in society, here are 6 reasons why friendships are more important than relationships.
1. Friendships reduce stress.
Being around a close friend can help lower your cortisol levels, the hormone that causes stress.
This is because you tend to laugh more and overall you are just happier.
2. Friendships can help you find purpose and meaning.
A great friend can truly shape you into being the best version of yourself. A friend will see you and accept you for who you truly are.
They encourage you and push you to do better and be the person you want to be, even when you don’t want to.
3. Friendships help create a sense of belonging and build confidence.
A great friendship helps you develop a sense of belonging to another person. Belonging helps build your self-confidence during those times when you are insecure in your life.
When you care for others, you take on the responsibility of offering compassion and emotional support. This can make you a stronger, better person.
4. Friendships help you feel less isolated.
Friendships can reduce feelings of isolation, but it’s not just the number of friends that matters — it’s the quality of the friendships. You know, the ones you can confide in.
5. Friendships help you feel supported through challenges.
The longer we live on this earth, the more challenges we will have.
When they come, it helps to have a friend that can help get you through the traumatic, difficult times in your life.
6. Friendships encourage healthy behaviors.
When you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a good friend can help you set and maintain those goals by encouraging you to stick with your plan.
A friend will also push you out of your comfort zone when your goals get challenging.
Ditch the dates and take the time to cultivate strong friendships this season.
So, as spring begins to roll into summer, take the time to cultivate stronger friendships. Unlike love relationships that are centered on specific responsibilities and expectations, friendships are can be pure joy.
When we find friends who share similar qualities and interests, people to whom we can be vulnerable, it can be truly lifesaving.
Keith Dent is a certified relationship coach and the author of “In the Paint, How to Win at the Game of Love.” If you are a couple that needs direction when setting goals for the future send him an email at [email protected]