Do you ever find it difficult to make new friends? Perhaps, for whatever reason, you can’t break out of your bubble, making it nearly impossible to make a decent social connection with someone else?
If so, you’re far from alone.
According to a new poll, the average American hasn’t made a single new friend in five years.
The new research casts a grim light on the prevailing social situation in the United States, where about 45 percent of adults said it’s too hard to befriend someone new.
The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Evite, looked at the social lives of 2,000 Americans and showed that 42 percent of those interviewed said that they are too shy or introverted to befriend others.
The study also found that many adults face a peak in their popularity around the young age of 23. For 36 percent of Americans, that peak arrives even earlier, before the age of 21.
And those polled have many perceived reasons for being unable to break out of shells and into new social situations or social groups.
Many respondents cited their alienation from the “bar scene” or their belief that most people already have pre-formed friendship circles—a self-fulfilling prophecy that seals off the potential to make a profound social connection with strangers.
Others also cited their commitment to their families (29 percent), a lack of hobbies where they can meet new people (28 percent), and having to move to a new city (21 percent) as reasons for struggling to make new friends.
Yet this isn’t due to Americans not wanting new friends. About 45 percent of American adults expressed their eagerness to make new friends and that they would go out of their way to do so—if only they had an idea of how.
In terms of adults’ typical number of friends, that number is pretty small and averages out to about 16.
Most of those friends—about eight—are friends that they like, but don’t typically spend time with one-on-one. Three of the 16 are so-called “friends for life”—friendships often dating back to high school, and five are those they are quite fond of and would like to hang out with one-on-one.
Nearly half of those surveyed said that they have remained friends with many of their peers from high school, and 31 percent noted that they still have friends from college.
Yet 82 percent said that they see lasting friendships as hard to find, while 63 percent said that moving was a common reason for losing touch with former friends.
Most cited work as the best way to meet friends, followed by high school, college, and the neighborhood in which they grew up.
In a society as individualistic as the United States, it’s almost obvious that many have lost a sense of community or simply have never felt it beyond work, school, church and family.
However, it’s never too late in life to form profound bonds with others—be it in a book club, a film screening, an informal party, a music scene, or even a few drinks and games of pool at the bar.
As the study shows, many of the factors blocking our ability to make new friends are in our own heads—and there’s no reason why we can’t shed our inhibitions, form diverse relationships, and break out of isolation, especially if we’re mindful of the fact that many “strangers” are simply friends whom we’ve never met.