Friendship has been a hot topic in the last few years as people recognize the benefits of having a close group of friends in your life. Here are the latest trends in friendship, and how you can make the most of them.
Meeting Friends Online
It used to be that online dating had a stigma to it. People looked down their noses at folks who used online dating as a way to meet someone new. Now, of course, online dating is mainstream, with almost 60% of Internet users agreeing that online dating is a good way to meet people, according to the Pew Research Center.
With all this positivity about Internet dating, could finding a new friendship online be far behind on the popularity scale? Many sites have popped up that help introduce female friends, older friends, couples, and more.
While some might find it odd to meet friends through a matching site, the majority of people looking for friendship have found it a good way to connect with others. Women, especially, have joined sites like Girlfriend Social (voted favorite site by About Friendship readers), Girlfriend Circles, and Social Jane to meet likeminded women for platonic friendship.
Changing Facebook Friendships
About.com’s Women in Business Expert notes that there are 500 million Facebook users worldwide. With numbers like that, it’s not hard to understand why Facebook has changed the way we look at friendship. The word “friend” has become a verb, and now encompasses people we know online only and have never met.
The Pew Research Center notes that 70% of online adults use Facebook, but not all of the time spent on the site benefits friendship. In fact, Facebook can make you happier or sadder depending on whether you interact and comment often or if you just lurk. Lurkers reported feeling more depressed and lonely.
Facebook will continue to change the way we view friendships in 2014, and to make the most of the site you should pay attention to how you feel about your friends when you interact with them there. Are you glad you’re able to keep in touch? Do you feel sad without fully understanding why? The site can draw you into arguments you wouldn’t normally have in person but can also help you stay in touch. There can be extreme positive and negative reactions, so pay attention to how Facebook changes your friendships. No two relationships will respond the same. Some friends with get closer with their comments and sharing posts, and others will find their friendships ending because they need more face-to-face interaction.
Increased Focus on Introverts
Several books for introverts have been released or gained popularity in the past year, like Susan Cain’s Quiet. This is good for introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts alike because it helps us understand how differently we all relate to each other.
The focus on introverts has started conversations with friends about how they react to things like parties, small talk, and even cell phone usage. This can only help smooth out misunderstandings and help everyone get along better.
A Spotlight on Vulnerability
The success of Brené Brown’s books Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection (in addition to her successful TED talks and appearance on Oprah’s Lifeclass) has brought the subject of vulnerability to the forefront. This is good for all the relationships in our life, especially friendship. Being vulnerable is the only way to have that close connection with friends that you desire.
But you can’t just “be vulnerable” right off the bat with a friendship. You have to work into it, take the time necessary to get close to friends and allow the relationship to develop in the time it needs to.
The increased focus on vulnerability has people looking at their own behavior and trust levels. This self-reflection is the first step to banishing loneliness and cultivating true friendships.
Random acts of kindness were all over the news last year, and this focus will continue into 2014. I think we’re all overwhelmed by all the bad news we hear, and what’s more, it doesn’t make us feel any better about our world or relationships.
Showing kindness to strangers can help us in our friendships, make us feel better about the world, and even help us to express gratitude to the people in our life. Make a goal to do a random act of kindness every week and see how it changes your life for the better.