Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

The New Science of Friendship

Recent studies address questions such as, what is friendship good for, and what’s with the people who keep adding more and more friends? Read More

I'm one of those people

Great article, Bella.

I'm one of those people who moved around a lot in my childhood and early adulthood. One of the reasons I love Facebook is because it has allowed me to re-establish connections with friends who would otherwise remain long-lost. I also love how easy it is to discover people with similar interests on Facebook.

My (now ex) partner told me I didn't have "real" friends. One of the benefits of having to unwillingly say goodbye to people you love, is: It makes it easier to say goodbye willingly to those who try to make you feel bad about yourself.....

"Intuitively, we probably all

"Intuitively, we probably all surmise that friends (well, at least the “good” ones) give us confidence and self-esteem."

For me, RESPECT ranks high above confidence and self-esteem. I think in general we are lacking respect for each other...lacking humanity; hence increase in bullying/workplace harassment/ shootings.

"Confidence" and "self-esteem" seems to me, to mean very different things than their original meanings. These two words have evolved to become very shallow and superficial things that others do or become to make you feel special...not in the way that they should feed your soul to help make you whole, but in ways to feed your ego -- to falsely make oneself feel good, and desiring more, and more attention.

Today, confidence and self-esteem are heavily intertwined with the imaging and branding of well as extending to your social circle. For example, if your friends are hot and cool people, you'll feel like a hot and cool chick too. They are part of your image. You then are dependent on their sustain your so called "self-esteem"/confidence or rather EGO in this case.

We have totally lost the idea of RESPECT. Respect doesn't care what clothes you wear, rich or poor, good-looking or ugly, fat or thin -- it doesn't care about your SOCIAL STATUS. You are respected because you exist! You are YOU!


What makes me, me (character) gives me confidence and self esteem as well as my skills and abilities. These things stroke my ego and thus I don’t need friends to feed my ego. Friends enhance my self esteem and confidence and therefore I don’t depend on their validation. Their validation is a luxury not a necessity. It is their love, loyalty, respect, and their willingness to listen and tell me the truth in a way that doesn’t feed my ego but emphasizes that I have the wherewithal to get through rough patches and life challenges because they are clearly aware of my strengths and weaknesses, these are the necessities. This is the reason a friend’s betrayal is so devastating. They know your vulnerabilities.


Having a Facebook account, I think it would be wiser to add and accept friends whom you know or acquainted with personally. You can even trace your friend whom you haven't seen for years. This 'new science of friendship' is really trending today.

A coment about Facebook, slightly off-topic

The wrath against Facebook is amusing.

Dr. DePaulo is right, up until a couple of years ago the relationship that was most important in our modern day culture were romantic relationships. People were allowed to have friends but once they got involved in romantic relationships it was expected that they eliminate their platonic friendships and focus exclusively on their romantic relationship.

Facebook came along and unwittingly challenged that idea on a very public level. The matrimaniacs have yet to come to terms with this.

It turns out the world has social networks, big ones and small ones. People know people, they are friends with people, they talk to other people and they even make new friends. These networks provide social and emotional support. The media, advertisers and politicians are using Facebook to widen their circles of influence.

I'm amazed at how many people feel that Facebook is a bad thing. Somewhere deep in those haters' subconscious might be a little jealousy. Sure, people on Facebook present themselves as they want to be viewed, but everybody does that in some form and most intelligent adults are quite capable of reading between the lines. Facebook is a great tool to widen friendship circles and that is exactly what it is doing on a global level.

People blame Facebook for the dissolution of marriages. Maybe what Facebook is really doing is giving married people a path out of isolation and loneliness.

Watered Down

When burying the hatchet after a falling out that lasted 20 years, when asked if she and David Letterman were now friends, Oprah said “No, I don’t use that term lightly. We are friendly but we are not friends.”

Facebook has watered down friendship. You can be someone’s friend just by clicking the mouse. And to think that people know the difference between a real friend and a facebook friend is wishful thinking. I recall reading a story about a person who killed someone for de-friending them.

As time goes on aspects of our lives are becoming more and more superficial. Quality friendships are what I seek not quantity and thus I don’t have many. It takes a certain kind of commitment to cultivate a meaningful friendship. A certain kind of work ethic, if you will, that’s been replaced by Twitter and Facebook. I’ll even go a step further and say it’s been replaced by Having someone to do something with is not a friendship. It’s so much more than that. So much deeper. And I’m afraid we’re losing that depth.

There are advantages to social media. I’m just saying it pales in comparison to a bonafide-flesh- and-blood-friend when nobody is watching or will ever know showing up and being present in the moment and the meaning of your presence is reflected back to you when you look into your friend’s eyes and realize they are dancing and the only thing you two are doing is talking. And the feeling is mutual. Social media has allowed people to take the easy route. I agree with Deresiewicz, who Bella referenced in her previous post, “We save our fiercest energies for sex.”

Social media friends in need

My flesh-and-blood friend lost her job last spring and when she got home, everyone in her office had unfriended her on Facebook. Losing your work friends when you lose your job is hurtful enough without electronic confirmation.
And where are the boundaries with social media--I wouldn't think it wise to have your office coworkers all up in your business like that, but people do it. I've observed with the younger generation that there is less awareness of boundaries and appropriateness because social media is stripping that away. I'm old school--no bare midriffs in the office, no headphones, and do your social media at home, with people you don't work with. Keep your "worlds" separate.

That is one reason to not be

That is one reason to not be friends with current coworkers. Another is that they don't need to know all your business.

Just Another Tool

Friendship is just another tool that bosses and co-workers use to exploit people. Though they may feign concern for others, appearing warm, considerate and even helpful, such interest is shallow and superficial and merely serves as the foreplay for future exploitation. Because I go to great lengths to maintain boundaries, my current boss goes above and beyond to cross them. And when I called her on it, she has made it very difficult for me to do my job effectively by bombarding me with “busy work.” A faux friend hates to be found out. I have a particular skill set that she wants to take credit for at every turn. I would never befriend a coworker. Friendship means too much to me for me to play with it like that. Today, the workplace is just too volatile. Here today gone tomorrow. Facebook allows people (employers and coworkers alike) to easily cross boundaries. I don’t do Facebook.

Here’s an idea

Just ask a favor, say “Can you help me move?”, one will find out very quickly who their friends are. As far as FaceBook? Those ‘friends’ are acquaintances; real friends are the ones that you spend time with.

Here’s an idea

Just ask a favor, say “Can you help me move?”, one will find out very quickly who their friends are. As far as FaceBook? Those ‘friends’ are acquaintances; real friends are the ones that you spend time with.

Quantity v. Quality

One thing that I hardly ever read about is how we understand quality in relationships in general, which seems to be at the heart of the matter in discussions of singlism. You know, what makes for a good relationship between two autonomous adults in general, not just in partnered relationships.

There is a lot of info out there--and a whole branch of psychotherapy--on how to improve the quality of your marriage (or partnered relationship). People talk about "good" and "bad" marriages and put out all sorts of hypotheses about what is good or bad in a marriage, why something is good or bad, how to fix something that is "bad" to make it "good." People are obsessed with this, always trying to sniff out where you are regarding partnered relationships, to see if you are "normal" or not, or to judge whether your partnered relationship is "good" or "bad." And people who believe they have a "good" one are quick to promote that, especially on Facebook!

For some reason, this same sort of obsessive interest is lacking when it comes to friendship. It's really very curious, when you stop and think about it.

The matrimaniacal assumption is that the marriage relationship is (or should be) "good," close, intimate, normal, and most important, and you demonstrate that your relationship is all of these things by your willingness to bind yourself legally to that other person. To make something legal you have to define it and set that definition down on paper, which really means that you are looking to regulate that something.

Why do we want to make things legal, to regulate them? Usually to avoid dispute. Disputes pop up when people are at cross purposes. People get into disputes no matter what kind of relationship it is. But why do we feel the need to regulate what is "supposed to be" the best, closest, most intimate, most normal, and most important relationship in our lives? You'd think it would be the opposite. That if you really felt that if all of those things were true about your relationship that you wouldn't need to regulate it, that you'd want complete freedom to express your love for other person in whatever way you saw fit and to leave as easily and as respectfully as possible when the relationship stopped being good, close, intimate, normal.

That isn't what happens in marriages, though. It's like marriage is the opposite of all the things it professes to be. The ideals that marriage supposedly espouses (hehe) are actually ideals of a high-quality friendship. Curious indeed. Maybe if we started talking about quality of relationship, rather than form of relationship, we'd see this more clearly.

Some very valid points here Simone, well put

I agree with a lot of what you say and I think it's interesting that there are so many self-help books on relationships, but none on friendship! Forgive me hijacking your discussion with a personal story, but I think it neatly illustrates your point and it has also got something to do with "Faux Friends".

I recently had a huge falling out - the first one I've had with a friend in about 10 years - with my gay friend D. I really thought was a genuine (if at times a bit melodramatic!) friend, but with hindsight I can see that he is very insecure and has serious issues forming proper relationships with anyone. He is a prolific Facebook poster and is constantly making new and shiny friends, to whom he loves to portray a certain type of life and lifestyle (as an example if we go to a so-so restaurant or bar for a cheap bite or evening out, he'll tag us on Facebook as being at the Four Seasons next door). As soon as people get too close and see the "real" him, he pushes them away and moves onto the next new BFF.

So it happened with me - I caught him lying about something, questioned him about it and he cut me off. He hurt me deeply and I truly felt wounded by his unkind and spiteful behaviour, in the same way that I would be heartbroken after a break-up with a boyfriend. I saw a few of my friends lately and they all asked "How is D?". I told them about what had happened, how sad I was, how I felt sorry for him and felt that he had serious problems and how lucky I felt to have "true" friends. The differences in response were what I found very interesting. A few friends shrugged, said "oh well, I always thought he was a bit strange" and changed the subject. They didn't seem to think it was a big deal because it was "only" a friendship. Others seemd genuinely sorry to hear what had happened and we had quite deep conversations about the importance of friendship in our lives. One simply said "I'm sorry, poor you, I can see how much he hurt you". Interestingly, those who showed most concern at my upset are the ones who I vew as putting put most effort into maintaining a strong friendship with me.

Explanation of previous subject line

What I meant by quantity v. quality--when it comes to partnered relationships you're supposed to have "one"--which means that it's super special and so are you. You've achieved the highest ideal of human relationship. With friends, it's the opposite. You're supposed to have a lot of them, another ideal of human relationship that again points to how special you are. What does quantity of partners or friends really say about the quality of those different types of relationships? Nothing, really.

Note on age-differential friendships

First of all, let me say that I don't do Facebook but the only thing I have against is the pressure to join in order to do basic things--for example, I need to get in touch with a guy at a local bike shop and I can't e-mail him; the company's web site is a Facebook page. I won't do Facebook myself because I'm actively avoiding a lot of people from my past who would be likely to seek me out that way, and because I spend so much time at the computer working, the last thing I want do is hang out online after work. I want to go out with flesh-and-blood friends and do actual things. I come from the analog era and don't live online the way the younger people do now.
I had one friend who said we couldn't be close unless I joined Facebook because that's where she posts her innermost thoughts and feelings. I told her I couldn't get close to someone who broadcasts her innermost thoughts and feelings online.
So, to the subject of my post, when I was 21 I made friends with a woman who was 40, we shared a job and it was a horrible job but we loved it because we crossed over a bit, we both worked 24 hours a week, and those two 2-hour overlaps a week made it all worth it. After we left that company, we stayed in touch and still visit each other regularly, and keep in touch by conventional e-mail. I used to wonder what Jill got out of the friendship, with me being so much younger and learning so much from her. Then, when I was 40. I made friends with a 17-year-old at work; she was the boss's daughter, working as a receptionist to save money for school. Everyone else kind of ignored Lauren at first because she was a kid, but there was just something about her I liked. When others formed groups for lunch out, I would wait until Lauren's break and ask her to lunch. We both moved to the same small town a year later and we were each other's only friend for a short time. We developed circles of friends our own age, but we were always special to each other and we still keep in touch--our friendship was strong enough to withstand my being fired from the company her dad owns and her marrying the guy who got my job. I totally get it now, what Jill got from our friendship. It is wonderful to make friends from all walks of life, different ages, ethnicities, religions, what have you. It teaches you that "we are more alike, my friend, than we are different." (Maya Angelou)

With her friends back in the 1940s and well into the future

“With the help of friends, she moved the mission into its present building on Ashley Street in downtown Jacksonville. In 1944, a fire destroyed much of the building but, with her customary resolve, Miss White raised the funding to rebuild and even expand the original structure.”
Childfree and never married, the late African America Eartha Mary Magdalene White, a prominent African-American resident of Jacksonville, Florida, was widely known for her humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors in northeast Florida. Born on November 8, 1876, and reared by her adoptive, altruistic mother, Clara English White, Eartha White displayed a lifelong commitment to helping others and a strong belief in God. Her adoptive father, Lafayette, left little influence on her life as he died in 1881, five years after her birth. After the death of her husband, Clara White, the daughter of two former slaves, was left with the necessity of supporting her daughter and herself through work as a maid and later as a hotel and steamboat stewardess. A pious woman and fervent humanitarian, Clara White was a prime role model, and mother and daughter became a deeply committed team in their unflagging dedication to helping others. Indeed, Eartha White later embraced her mother's motto as her own: "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, for all the people you can, while you can."

In 1893, upon graduation from Stanton School in Jacksonville, Eartha White moved to New York City for a brief period, to avoid a yellow fever quarantine in Jacksonville. She attended the Madam Hall Beauty School and the National Conservatory of Music. The latter affiliation led to a job with the Oriental American Opera Company, called the first African-American opera company in the United States. A lyric soprano, she sang under the direction of J. Rosamond Johnson (brother of James Weldon Johnson), and in the company of musical luminaries of the time such as Madam Plato and Sidney Woodward. After a highly successful opening on Broadway in New York City, the troupe traveled widely for a year throughout the United States and Europe. Upon returning to Florida in 1896, she decided to continue her education and subsequently graduated from Florida Baptist Academy. With degree in hand, she embarked on a sixteen-year teaching career in Bayard, Florida, and later at Stanton School in Jacksonville.

At the same time, Miss White also displayed considerable business acumen, as evidenced by her various entrepreneurial endeavors, including the ownership of a dry goods store, an employment and housecleaning bureau, a taxi company, and a steam laundry with the catchy motto:"Put your duds in our suds, we wash anything but a dirty conscience." Her versatility and determination also enabled her to become a licensed real estate broker, the first woman employee of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville, and a charter member of the National Negro Business League and Jacksonville Business League. Due to her numerous businesses and astute real estate transactions, it is estimated that she accumulated over one million dollars in assets throughout her lifetime. According to Dr. Daniel Schafer, biographer of Eartha White, she donated most of these profits from private investments to finance her humanitarian works and, as a consequence, struggled financially throughout her life.
Her work and influence also extended to political activities, through her participation in the Republican Party and her formation of the Colored Citizens Protective League in Jacksonville. In 1941, she joined with A. Philip Randolph to protest job discrimination. But, it was particularly in her later years that she became an influential force whom Jacksonville politicians consulted on diverse issues and who routinely granted her social welfare requests. To wit, former Jacksonville mayor Hans Tanzler was quoted, in a 1982 Florida Times-Union article, "At least once a month she'd come to my office at City Hall. She was irrepressible and undeniable. She could not be denied. She only came up to my waist but she'd point that little finger at me and she'd tell me, `God has chosen you and you must do this, that and the other thing.' "

I’d like to have friends, she further said.”

Unfortunately, for decades, Ms. Renee Broussard lived a life of bizarre isolation, cut off from the world in a Paris suburb. Miss Broussard indicated that in 1969, at age 34, with no place to live after the death of her mother, who had done some knitting for an apparel workshop owned by Francoise and Jacques Saunier of Paris France. The couple offered her a place to stay in exchange for knitting work. The irony of this timely, real life story is that she survived a long life of living solo – no husband & children, no parents, had no car, no vacations, no books to read from the local library, no pets to keep her company and, not even a TV to watch, and no friends to visit her for 20 years plus; and had, no money to speak of to go shopping! She said her only consolations, were listening to the radio, reading the Bible and poring over newspapers that she retrieved at night from garbage cans. Curiously, Ms. Broussard never tried to make contact with anyone else. One of the Sauniers’ neighbors recalls that she used to catch glimpses from time to time of a woman near the small shed, which she used has a house. As to why she didn’t leave, or at least ask for help, there seems to be no easy answer. “I had nowhere else to go, she told reporter, Ms. Angelique Negroni, a reporter for Le Figaro, who interviewed Ms. Broussard, found her pitably passive. Ms. Broussard was finally discovered last Near Year’s Eve, when police went to the Sauniers’ home searching for a reported prowler and found her cowering in the shed! At present, the woman who answers the door at the senior citizens residence in the French town of Le Vesinet, a suburb of Paris, is neatly attired in a woolen sweater and skirt, her light brown hair carefully coiffed. Asked for an interview about the events that have made her a cause of celebre in France, Renee Broussard, 65, politely declined. She did tell the reporter, Negroni, all she wanted was peace and quiet. And, “I’d like to have friends, she further said.” In 2004, I received an updated report that these days Broussard lives in a simple but comfortable one-room apartment in Le Vesinet, France

diary details frequent trips to Jamestown and many meals with neighbors and friends.

Diary of pioneer returned to N.D.
JAMESTOWN (AP) - The diary of an area pioneer from New Jersey has been returned to North Dakota, some 20 years after it was found in a bucket of toys. The diary of Levi Dalley was written in 1886, two years after the New Jersey native began homesteading south of Windsor. Somehow, it ended up in Buffalo, N.Y., where Paul and Sandy Kolacki's daughter found it in the bucket of toys she bought at a garage sale. She gave the diary to her parents, who live in Peapack, N.J., and have never been to North Dakota. "I thought the diary was so interesting," Sandy Kolacki said. "Everything there depended on the weather." She kept the diary for 20 years, until, after reading a book about the Dust Bowl days, she decided it should be returned to Jamestown, the city mentioned in it."A book I read reminded me of the diary. It originated there, and I thought we should give it back," she said. "First, we checked to see if there still was a town named Jamestown." The couple contacted Daphne Drewello, director of Jamestown's Alfred Dickey Public Library. Barron found that Dalley was born in New Jersey in 1856, and when he died in 1931, his will left everything to a niece and nephew there.
Drewello speculated that Dalley had little reason to marry. His diary details frequent trips to Jamestown and many meals with neighbors and friends.

“And I’ve never had an intimate friend, man or woman,” he said.

In the book, One Hundred and Over One Hundred (1998), this is a collection of photos and interviews of the lives of 31 extraordinary centenarians, surprisingly so; many of them are lifelong solitary people. John Lord, at age 100, who is also written about in the book, says he never wanted much more than the freedom to work and read and live his life peacefully. He says he’s never really thought of getting married. He worked as a printer. He’s been a Mason for over 70 years and found that this gave him all the social life he needed. “I have never had a car. I’ve never driven. I was never keen on it. I walked instead.” And then he turns, as if to acknowledge the fact that what he values in his life today is honest talk with people: “And I’ve never had an intimate friend, man or woman,” he said. He also added that he was use to living alone.

The Friendship as a paranormal phenomenon

It may sound funny,but ask people, who were disenchanted and even disgusted by the friendship, what they thing for its existence. They could be easily called "Friendship skeptics". Myself, I have became one long ago and I feel, I am still one more or less. I knew many people, who had the same sorrowful experiences and their arguments against the reality of the friendship, the humanism and all the "good in people" were very similar to those, who deny the existence of God, spirituality, spiritual experiences and yes, the paranormal phenomena.

"there is no God, no spirits, no UFOs and psychics, there is only matter" -> "there aren't real friends, there are only interests"

"those, who believe in God are dupies of the priests/all psychics are frauds" -> "there aren't real friends, the people just misuse and manipulate you"

Compare the creation of cults, sects like the Scientology or the Mormon church to the "toxic friendship".

"Everything, what people take for intervention of Divine, supernatural or psychic/paranormal forces could be explained with more simple and natural things(and here will come all more simple and "possible" explanations to these).The people are ignorant, they do not know the only real(i.e "materialistic") explanations of the phenomena" - Except all the "possible explanations" for the friendly behaviour, some claim another one: the friendship results from mild, unconscious (homo)sexual attractions(some call it "bromance").

"Only weak and feeble-minded people believe in God/psychics etc. The strong people believe in themselves" - see Ain Rand for this!

"The religion, the mysticism and the belief in the paranormal are an anachronism from the superstitous past. They must be abandoned and forgotten" - many will agree, that "love and true friendship are in the past".

"if the paranormal phenomena exist, they occure very rarely" - "the true friendship occures very rarely".

Regretfully, this is the sad truth. For some, the friendship exists, for others it doesn't and it is just a result from human ignorance about life. That, what makes the existence and the paranormal phenomena and the belief in friendship close is, that they weren't proven scientifically - i.e. under strict laboratory conditions. The (so called "true") friendship is something subjective, it is something, which some people experience and nothing proves its reality. For some people, it falls under the label of "extraordinary claim" and will demand extraordinary evidence.

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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.


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