After a prolonged period of social isolation, Americans are dusting off their social calendars. But as Americans try to rebuild and reconnect, a new survey conducted by the Survey Center on American Life finds that the social landscape is far less favorable than it once was. Over the past three decades, the number of close friends Americans have has plummeted.
This friendship recession is particularly bad for men. The percentage of men with at least six close friends fell by half since 1990, from 55 percent to 27 percent. The study also found the percentage of men without any close friends jumped from 3 percent to 15 percent, a fivefold increase.
Single men fare the worst. One in five American men who are unmarried and not in a romantic relationship report not having any close friends.
Even men with a couple of close friends are not in great shape. When it comes to our social circles, size matters. Americans with one close friend are not any less lonely or isolated than those without any close friends. And those with a couple of close confidants are only modestly better off. For those with three or fewer close friends, loneliness and isolation are fairly common experiences: More than half say they have felt that way at least once in the past seven days.