August 12, 2016

What Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey had might’ve been entertaining, but perhaps not the most realistic. Elizabeth Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal says that as we get older, it gets harder to make friends.

Bernstein cites many reasons for the difficulties people face making friends, starting in young adulthood.

“Research shows when we gain a romantic partner, we lose on average two friends,” she says.

But, it’s not just our romantic partners: growing job responsibilities, children, and moving for work also chip away at our friendships.

And that’s a problem. A study published in February in the British Journal of Psychology reveals -- unsurprisingly -- that people with close friends are happier. (This is apparently not the case, however, if you’re highly intelligent.)

And the benefits go way beyond personal happiness.

“People with friends are healthier, they live longer,” Bernstein says. “Friends decrease our blood pressure, they decrease our stress, they decrease depression, and they increase longevity…. Having friends is very beneficial. It’s protective to our health.

So how do we find the friends we so desperately need? Bernstein thinks we should look to the Internet.

The rise of social media helps us find friends in our area who share our interests, whether it’s knitting or scuba diving. She suggests websites like Facebook and Meetup. (We tried a more focused solution.)

Bernstein says we need to get creative when finding new companions, because the truth is: good friends are good for us.

Friendship, science and tech, elizabeth bernstein

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