Since writing 83,339 words on the subject of friendship, people have started to approach me to talk about their own. I wrote The Friendship Cure – a manifesto on the importance of friendship – because I truly believe we do not value, nurture or talk about it enough. I was validated in that when I spoke to people for the book because so many of my case studies – people who spoke to me generously about their feelings of loneliness, their friendship break-ups and their best friends – had actually never spoken to anyone but me about what friendship meant to them and especially what it felt like when it crumbled or vanished from their lives.
But since appearing on TV and radio on my publicity tour, I’ve been struck yet again by how delicate and fractured our approach to friendship can be. And just how much we crave a chance to talk about our friendships. It’s been both harrowing and beautiful, hearing people talk about their friends and I’ve become somewhat of an agony aunt for people with friendship dilemmas. An 84-year-old woman rang in to radio the other day to ask me what she should do to make friends at her age, since being widowed 14 years ago. A 76-year-old woman rang in to say that she didn’t expect to make new friends at her age until she got a dog and made two new girlfriends at the dog park. A man rang in to assure anyone who was floundering in the friendship department that they simply had not found their best friend yet.
I am particularly moved by people who want to make new friends well into adulthood because I think we so often suspect it to be impossible or too hard and we leave it out of complacency or fear. But actually, it’s entirely possible that my 84-year-old caller could make new friends. My greatest advice is always to actually mine your life and your surroundings for friendship leads and be opportunistic. We let so many possible companionship opportunities pass us by – really, we should be talking to our neighbours, chatting in public spaces and translating that “hello” with a work acquaintance into a proper friendship. We should be using social media strategically to make new, genuine connections and revive old ones. We should be asking better, investigative questions about each other and actively listening. We should be implementing an aggressive uptake in kindness toward one another.
At events I’ve spoken at and even during ad breaks while I’ve been on the telly, people have whispered things to me like “I’ve just had a fight with my best friend of 30 years. Is it worth salvaging?”, “I’ve moved from Brazil to Sydney and I don’t feel like I belong – how do I surround myself with the right people?” and “My mother has a friend in her life who puts her down and makes her miserable. How do I tell her to get rid of her?” People are constantly asking me how to make a friend as an adult, how to get rid of a bad friend tactfully, whether ‘ghosting’ someone is appropriate and how social media has changed the way we communicate.
I am so taken aback by the trust and confidence people have put in me to help solve their personal friendship dilemmas and I could not be more honoured to try and give them appropriate advice. I am so pleased my book seems to have touched people and convinced them that friendship is something worth talking about – even if it’s with me. I think we could afford to be so much more emotionally transparent and candid about friendship, and I am delighted if I can coax anyone into doing that.
So, truly, if you need a little friendship advice or you’d like to talk to me about my book, hit me up. Find me on Twitter, if you’d like. But more importantly, talk to your friends and your loved ones. Explain to people what you need from their friendship, be clear about your intentions, ask people for coffee, be brave and take acquaintances into friendship territory, nurture an old friendship, salvage a childhood friendship, make a new friend and mourn when a friend breaks up with you or inexplicably disappears from you life. We could all do with being more open and more compassionate when it comes to the platonic relationships we have in life. Go on, pick up the phone, start now.
Kate Leaver is a journalist for Glamour, The Guardian, The Independent, Pottermore, Red and Vice. In Australia, where she was born, she was features editor at Cosmopolitan magazine and senior editor at Mamamia. She lives with her boyfriend and their dog in London.
Kate Leaver’s new book The Friendship Cure is available now!
Friendship is like water. We need it to survive, we crave it when it’s scarce, it runs through our veins and yet we forget its value simply because it’s always available. The basic compulsion to make friends is in our DNA; we’ve evolved, chimp-like, to seek out connection with other human beings. We move through life in packs and friendship circles and yet we are stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time. It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. But what if friendship is the solution, not the distraction?
Journalist Kate Leaver believes that friendship is the essential cure for the modern malaise of solitude, ignorance, ill health and angst. If we only treated camaraderie as a social priority, it could affect everything from our physical health and emotional well-being to our capacity to find a home, keep a job, get married, stay married, succeed, feed and understand ourselves.
In this witty, smart book – an appealing blend of science, pop culture and memoir – she meets scientists, speaks to old friends, finds extraordinary stories and uncovers research to look at what friendship is, how it feels, where it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it – and how we might change the world if we value it properly.
Posted on April 14, 2018 by Andrea
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Health & Personal Development and tagged advice, Friends, Friendship, Kate Leaver, Loneliness, Lonely, Making Frinds, Mental Health, The Friendship Cure. Bookmark the permalink.