But even the clueless among us know that close friendships aren’t made or celebrated on a single day. They’re nurtured by repeated contacts over time when we share our real selves with others.
A landmark study published in the American Sociological Review (June 2006) reported that the circle of close friends held by Americans over the past two decades has shrunk markedly. During the same 20-year period, the researchers found that the number of people who said that had no close confidants at all had doubled.
So if Friendship Day is approaching and you feel like you are experiencing a friendship deficit, you aren’t alone. Here are some of the reasons why this happens:
1) Focusing on career to the exclusion of friends: You may be a high-achiever who has come to find that it is very lonely at the top of your game.
2) Focusing on family to the exclusion of friends: You may be immersed (or drowning) in caregiving responsibilities for young children, older parents, or be sandwiched in between the two.
3) Forging acquaintances rather than friendships: You may be caught up in a social whirl but never take the time to develop more meaningful relationships.
4) Thinking you prefer the life of a hermit: Given the opportunity, you may choose more solitary pursuits and spend too much time alone.
5) Thinking that just one is sufficient: One friend may have satiated all your needs for friendship but that one friendship may have disappeared, dealing you a terrible blow.
If you feel lonely and don’t have the number of quality of female friendships you want, use the day to reclaim old friendships, nurture the ones you have, and develop new ones, one day at a time. Need some inspiration? The following ideas were emailed to me:
START A TRADITION
Two of my good friends, sorority sisters from the University of Toledo, celebrate our sorority anniversary together every year, which was on December 4, 1994 at 4:50:19 AM. Each year we plan a series of activities to celebrate our friendship over a few days. For the first 12 years, we literally were together in the same room and set our alarms to wake up and wish each other a happy anniversary. Recently, we decided to do anniversary trips. The first year, I planned the trip and we went to NYC. We did a scavenger hunt, saw a Broadway play, and more. This past year we did a trip to Martha's Vineyard and next year the plan is to take a trip together to Costa Rica.
From Dani Gibbs
My best friends are a group of working mothers I met online when I was pregnant with my first son. These are women that have been with me in the good times and bad from virtual baby showers, to the death of my dad, others losing jobs, difficult births, divorces, etc. They are women, although most I’ve not meet in person, whom I would trust my life with. Each year, we have a reunion to get together to celebrate our friendship. We are there to support each other each day on our private message board.
From Lois Whittaker
LEND A HAND
On last National Girlfriend’s Day, I was recuperating on the couch between chemotherapy sessions, while my girlfriends drove my kids to religion camp and cooked for me. My girlfriends made it possible for me to take care of the business of getting healthy by taking over running my house. My friend Susan organized the neighborhood to cook for us three times a week. My friend Kim sent me a schedule every Sunday night that showed which neighbors would drive my kids to camp, take them home for playdates or get them to swim practice. I barely had the energy to walk, let alone cart kids around town, so I really needed her help, too. Kim and Susan are just two of the girlfriends who helped me through the roughest time of my life.
From Jen Singer
MAKE A DATE
I am a mystery writer and the inspiration for my latest series of books -- the Friday Afternoon Club Mystery (Simon & Schuster) came from my own group of friends. We’ve been getting together on Friday afternoons for about 17 years. And yes – we call ourselves the Friday Afternoon Club (FAC). We have no agenda, no crafts or no service projects. It’s just a chance to chat with women who have come to know and love me for who I really am. I count the friendship of these women as one of the most precious blessings in my life.
From Cyndy Salzmann
BLAME IT ON THE KIDS
We are four mothers of sons who met because our boys were in the same grade in elementary school on the same baseball and basketball leagues and we wanted to socialize without the kids. We created a Dinner with Friends night – every other month; one couple selected a place and we’d all go out to eat. After the boys went their separate ways, we continued the group, albeit less often. The women decided to celebrate birthdays (ended up being 1once a season) and got together for lunch. It’s a chance to connect (no matter how busy things get) and keep in touch (even when life takes us in different directions).
From Joni Daniels
Fourteen years ago I was friendly with two women. Between us we have six children in a seven-year age range. While we met through a business network, we quickly discovered our mommy-connection and decided to meet for lunch to share issues which we might find mutually helpful in the rearing of our children. I'll never forget the first lunch, and maybe the second or third. The food arrived, conversation was lively and, well, fluffy.....until maybe as the check was being paid, one of us would have the nerve to mention something really juicy and challenging that was going on in our lives as mothers. Hardly time left to discuss anything, we learned gradually to trust each other and to open the lunch with the high agenda points. I remember thinking "Thursdays just don't come around often enough."
From Sally Landau
In 1993, Laura, Julie, Charlene and I met at York University in Toronto. We were all living on the same floor and working at the same pub. As our schooling progressed, so too did our friendship. In 1995 Colleen joined our little sisterhood. Now, 15 years later, a few husbands, a few children, several moves, and lots of long distance phone calls and visits, we make an annual pilgrimage to Ontario for “cookie baking weekend.” This weekend, usually the first one in December, is 72 hours of shopping, prepping, baking, eating, and packaging. We also add in lots of laughter, some tears, a few snarky comments, plenty of hugs and kisses, some beer, wine or other mixology. These four women have been my bedrock.
From Gena Rotstein
I hope Friendship Day enriches your friendhips and helps reverse the deficit!