Some things get easier as we get older – advocating for ourselves, having confidence in our decisions, being able to put our feelings aside – other things become much more difficult.

Think about it – making friends as a kid was super easy. You were in the same class, on the same team, or you lived in the same street. At varsity, you almost had to try to not make friends. But the older you get the harder, and creepier, it is to approach someone and ask them to be friends with you. And although social media has brought us closer together in some ways, it has also meant that feeling a real connection with someone has become much less common.

Back in 1985, a survey revealed that the most common number of friends was three. The same survey held in 2004 showed that that number had dropped to zero. In fact, 25% of the correspondents said they had no-one to discuss important matters with… That means that one in four people have no-one with whom to share their problems!

But why is friendship so important? We know of a couple of reasons these days, thanks science!

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Firstly, loneliness is a killer. Julianne Holt-Lunstad discovered this when conducting an analysis of social support and health outcomes. She found that having a weak social circle has the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Friendship also equates to happiness. About 70% of our personal happiness is made up of our number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbours, a 1996 study by Murray and Peacock found.

But, you have friends, right? So, why worry? Well, a study by Dutch sociologist, Gerald Mollenhorst of Utrecht University, tracked a thousand people of all ages and found that, on average, we lose half our close network members every seven years. Let that sink in, in less than a decade you will consider only half of your current friends, buddies.

So, how can we keep our social circle active while adding fresh friends to it? Click on to find out…

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.