loneliness and friendship

my last post reflected on the need for face to face encounters to deepen friendship: “… you can’t pretend to be there.” recently, i found an engaging article on the growth of loneliness that was highlighted during the covid pandemic.

“A recent study conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, suggests that the proportion of people who can name six close friends has dropped from 55% to 27% since the 1990s, while people who have no close friends at all had risen from 3% to 12%. One in five single men say they do not have any close friends, while only 59% of Americans have what they would describe as a best friend.” ( https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/18/loneliness-coping-with-the-gap-where-friends-used-to-be?utm_source=pocket-newtab )

we are in a relational crisis in the usa if these stats are anywhere close to being accurate.

20% of single men have no close friends?!?!?!

can i name six friends who i consider close? what does it mean to be close to another person? what makes one person rise above and be considered a “best friend?”

also from the article, this: “Loneliness is not about numbers. It’s about the depth of the connection, the feeling that you are being seen and loved.” this is intimacy and as a society, it is diminishing. the twist in the article points to the loneliness within a marriage and the need for intimacy in good friends. usually, when most people read “intimacy” we can immediately think of the sexual realm. on the broader level, intimacy is about loving and being loved. intimacy is how we share ourselves with others– friends– and how we receive our friends for who they are.

right now, i do not want to ponder all the related consequences of societal loneliness…

for me, there are many pastoral faith implications. if we really believe in the importance of community– where care and friendship can flourish– we must re-imagine parish life and what activities we offer. we have to provide opportunities for people to experience God’s knowing us and loving us– especially through retreats and prayer experiences. much of the time, parish life assumes healthy family relationships. but we must realize that these are rarities and within the best of families that people will experience loneliness.

can we walk with people as we rediscover what it means to be close friends who see one another, listen and care for one another– who love one another? isn’t that what jesus commanded us to do?


  1. Jose Sanchez says:

    Yes we can!


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      there is some truth to “fake it til ya make it”


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