One in eight of us has no close friend

6 March 2017

One in eight people living in the East of England say they have no close friends.

A Relate survey report on friends and neighbours You’re not alone – the quality of the UK’s social relationships says people with no close friends are two-and-a-half times as likely to say they feel down, depressed or hopeless, either often or all of the time, compared with those with four or more close friends. People who say their friendships are ‘very good’ are more than twice as likely to feel good about themselves, often or all of the time, as people who say their relationships are ‘average’.

Diane Whitmore, from Relate Bedfordshire and Luton says: “It’s often said that we should be able to count our true friends on one hand, but it’s very concerning that so many people feel they don’t have a single friend they can rely on. Making friends and keeping them isn’t always easy: it can take time and effort that we don’t always have to spare. Life can take over as we juggle careers with family life, and it might seem as if our social media friend count is high but what’s the quality of those friendships really like?

“There are many reasons why we may lose confidence in those around us and in ourselves as good friends and neighbours. Why not take a moment to sit and think how we could give the ‘gift of friendship’ and how we could put it into effect.”

The report also shows that people who enjoy better relationships with their neighbours are more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to feel down, depressed or hopeless. In the East of England, 60% of people report having good relationships with their neighbours.


Tips for deepening your social relationships

To coincide with the report, we’re offering tips for improving and deepening ties with friends and neighbours:

Show an interest in others Too often, when we meet someone new, we listen just long enough until we think of something we want to say. Really listening means asking follow-up questions which deepen the conversation. But, if you feel the chat is becoming one sided, don’t be afraid to say: “Now, what do you want to know about me?”

Practice tolerance and forgiveness All relationships go through low periods. But when we also feel low, we can get stuck feeling that no one likes us and no one cares. Push through the negativity and try to find a way of reconnecting with friends and neighbours, even if there’s been some bad feeling. Don’t let it fester. Think: “If now isn’t the time to forgive and forget, when will be?”

Don’t be a phone zombie We can lose the gift of friendship because we’re continually burying ourselves in mobile devices. Turn off those phones for a few hours and see what it’s like to be in the moment of now, smiling and making contact with people as you walk around your neighbourhood. Offer help if you see someone struggling with shopping or children. Notice how good you feel about getting involved.

Something new Deepen friendships and contacts by suggesting new outings or new ideas. Whether it’s a gig, a new exercise class or a book club, be brave and try something you’ve not done before.

Perseverance brings satisfaction When we first try something new, we often give up at an early stage because we don’t see immediate or amazing results. This can also be true of trying to deepen or improve the quality of relationships. Don’t give up too quickly or get downhearted. Just keep doing the best you can and you’ll see results.

If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors about the effects of loneliness give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.


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