As plentiful as they might be, the reality is online friends aren't enough, and real-world connections will always be more powerful. Indeed, although social media offers the possibility to stay in touch with friends and even to make new connections, it shouldn't be seen as a replacement for real-life friendships. In fact, what really makes a difference is the depth of the connections we have with others. Some psychologists claim that just having one meaningful friendship can make a world of a difference.
Additionally, variety within friendships is also important. It's natural to look for people who are 'like us', but it's helpful to expand our circle of friends to include people with different ages, backgrounds, interests, etc. Each of them will bring something new into our lives, making for a richer social experience. Interestingly, the founder of a friendship site said we tend to replace half our close friends every seven years. As we go through different stages in life, our needs and interests change, so we're more likely to be drawn to different types of people.
Friendships have to be nurtured so they can grow healthily. Just like a plant, putting the seeds in alone is not enough. Ongoing care and attention are needed, so it's crucial to make a conscious effort to invest time in our friendships. We can't expect relationships to survive without investing in them.
So, be there for your friends (both new and old), be a good listener, prove they can trust you, praise them, write or tell them what their friendship means, and spend time doing things together. Of course, sometimes friendships break down for different reasons and it may be that at some point you need to think about when (and how) to end a friendship.
And yes, making and nurturing friendships gets harder as we get older. Remember how easy it was to make friends as a child? Try to approach relationships as you did when you were younger: being less self-conscious, more open, and generous with your time. Volunteering is an important and fun way of making friends as an adult, as you're likely to find people who share your concerns and values.
conclusion: the power of friendships
Developing and nurturing meaningful social bonds with others can help you live a richer life, both physically and emotionally. While it's unfortunate to see how widespread loneliness and isolation are, there's an upside to it: there are many people out there who may be feeling as lonely and in need of support as you are.
So, why not do something about it starting on the upcoming International Friendship Day? On 30 July, take your time to invest in making new friends and nurture existing ones. Happy Friendship Day everybody: the true power of friendships is real and proven by science!