Friendship Trends & Changes

I’m feeling a bit reflective this week as we are re-launching GirlFriendCircles.com after our initial opening nearly 8 years ago.

In a few ways now feels very similar to then as every new beginning is fueled with both a sense of calling that change is needed and a slight vulnerability as one puts a new offering into the world.

And it’s also got me thinking about how culture has changed during that same amount of time.

I’ve seen some big shifts in the world of friendship since 2008:

  • Increase in Research and Studies:  I wish I had actual numbers to offer up here as proof, but what I can say is that back then it was easy to read everything that was being published (or had been) on friendship, and now it seems like there is a new study every time I turn around! (Which I love, obviously!)  I think Facebook and social media sites have helped heighten the interest in exploring friendship and social interaction (whereas our romantic and parenting relationships seemed to take precedence before), as well as giving researchers an easier pool of people to study.
  • Renewed Desire on Quality, Not Quantity:  With the rise of social media, we ran headlong into a greater number of connections than most of us had ever attempted to manage.  And as time wore on, we started hearing more expressed hunger for deeper connections, not just more of them. Social media has adjusted by giving us “groups” and creating algorithms to highlight the people we know, more than ones we don’t.  We got what we wanted: connection to everyone; and then realized we were full, but not fulfilled.
  • Creeping Awareness to our Loneliness: The stereotype of loneliness used to be someone who was isolated, reclusive, and lacked social skills; but the loneliest people today are those who seemingly know everyone, are too busy to go deep, and are talking to people all day so they lack the energy to really connect with a few.  My own studies show repeatedly that our loneliness isn’t due to not knowing enough people as much as it’s because we don’t feel known by a select few.  We are slowly admitting that we’re lonely even though we aren’t alone.
  • More Openness to Online Friendship Sites:  Remember back in the day when people would feel shame and lie about meeting a romantic partner online and how now it’s commonplace?  It’ll be no surprise then that the same path is  happening with friendship.  I won’t go so far as to say that there aren’t people who fear meeting friends online, but now our members are much more likely to share their involvement on social media without feeling like they need to hide it!
  • Growing Media Interest in our Friendships: When I started in 2008, the most common response from TV producers and magazine editors was something along the lines of, “Oh we covered friendship in a piece last year” as though that were all that was needed for another year or two! Ha! (And yet they think we need to learn how to “lose 5 lbs” every single month!) But I have been so encouraged by the growing number of books, segments, and articles on friendships in recent years!  The New York Times alone has published countless op-ed pieces calling out our loneliness!  And one major national magazine, in an interview with me in May, said “We have decided to cover friendships more than romance this year!”  That, my friends, is progress!
  • An Inflation in Bad Advice: With the increase in interest and heightened awareness of our lack of depth comes an escalation of bad advice from people who respond more to our fear than to our growth.  If I had a penny every time I see “advice” telling people some version of “get rid of your toxic friends” then I’d be rich!  The truth is that it’s less about who is toxic and who isn’t (research shows that 86% of us claim to have a toxic friend so that would imply that we’re all friends with the same 14% of toxic people or that some of us are considered toxic to someone else!) and more about how to teach people how to create healthier friendships. In other words, if someone does something we don’t like (which is 100% likely in every relationship at some point!) let’s learn how to communicate that and develop greater trust in each other than to simply drift apart, while righteously patting ourselves on the back for being so much better than everyone else.
  • An Uptick in the Desire to Learn About Friendship: Book publishers have long known that women will buy any book that promises love and good sex, and will buy up every parenting book when they are pregnant; but that far and few between are the women who walk into a bookstore thinking they need to learn about friendship. And I can’t say this has changed drastically, but I have seen far more willingness by women to come to my workshops, pay for classes, and share my book with their friends. I am encouraged that with the realization that they don’t have the close friends they want, more women are willing to start doing something about it.  We’ve long assumed, wrongly, that we should just know how to do friendship, but I’m witnessing entire audiences walking away in awe of what they didn’t even know they didn’t know. We are willing to pay to learn in every other area of life (i.e. how to lose weight, how to do social media, how to look stylish) and I’m seeing more women choose to learn over the alternative of staying lonely.

May these trends continue to increase, and more importantly, may your life reflect your awareness of your need and your willingness to learn how to create more meaningful friendships!

What have you noticed and observed in your life and in those around you?

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GirlFriendCircles.com– Re-opening to meet these trends and needs

GirlFriendCircles.com is being re-opened based upon these needs I see in the world: I want to connect all the women healthy enough to realize they are made to give and receive more love than they’re currently experiencing; I want to provide them a place to learn all the things we were never taught about friendship and share the research with them in applicable ways; and I want to inspire them regularly to pay attention to different aspects of their friendship and help hold them accountable to the outcomes they want! 

GirlFriendCircles.com is open to women all over the world and of all ages (over 21) and they will receive:

  1. connection to other like-minded women and introductions to new friends
  2. a new class/worksheet/goal with a different focus each month (i.e. how to set boundaries, how to meet new people, how to practice vulnerability)
  3. and access to coaching and advice from me, other teachers I bring in, and the wisdom of the community!

Posted in Importance of Friendship, Personal Growth/Spirituality, Research, Social Causes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

3 Tips for Successfully Making New Friends

I’ve got good news and bad news as I share my 3rd video in our series this week.

The good news is that with practice I am getting better:  it’s shorter and I don’t think I use any of the words that I apparently have a tendency to overuse: “abundantly”, “just”, or “right?”.  🙂 The bad news is that I didn’t shower and my hair reflects it! haha! oh well!?!

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the other two videos this week then I’ll catch you up today! This one covers it all!!

In this video I reveal:

  1. Which of the 3 Friendship Benefits Matters Most to You.  I remind you of the three biggest benefits that we covered in our 1st video, plus I share which one was overwhelmingly the most important to all of you based on all your comments! (Thank you! It was so fun to hear from so many of you!)
  2. Which of the 4 Type of Loneliness is the most Common to You.  In a poll that we took after this video– there was a very clear front-runner to which of the 4 types of loneliness is the most common one.
  3. And, My 3 Tips If You Want to Successfully Make Better Friends.  I share three expectations or things to encourage you to do if you want to make sure that you actually make better friends and not just say you want to!  (I expect that you’re not doing at least one of these!)

If you’re willing, please leave a comment and share with me which tip is the hardest one for you!  Which one do you find yourself most resisting or refusing to believe?

May we all stay open and willing to doing whatever it takes to create meaningful connection,

Shasta

CEO, GirlFriendCircles.com

p.s. We are re-opening GirlFriendCircles.com THIS Tuesday, July 19! Get ready to say “yes” to greater connection in your life! Watch your inbox for your personal invitation!

p.s.s. Not sure if the new GirlFriendCircles.com will provide what you most need and want? Watch today’s video to find out what’s coming!

Posted in Consistency, Exercise & Yoga, Happiness, Health, How To?, Importance of Friendship, Making Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Four Most Common Types of Loneliness

Hello GirlFriends!

I am more convinced than ever that the vast majority of us are suffering from loneliness. And it’s not that we’re hermits or socially awkward individuals as much as it’s a combination of:

  1. We’re exhausted and distracted with our lives.  Some of us are, in fact, around people all day long and serving people in every direction, but still feeling lonely because there’s a difference between being networked and feeling like we have a support net under us. We’re lonely because we don’t have the energy to engage more meaningfully.
  2. We haven’t been taught how to connect with others. We feel like intimacy and connection should come automatically to us, but few of us have ever studied the subject, practiced new relationship skills, or been inspired by amazing modeling. This is a subject that we can learn and improve with intentional focus! We’re lonely because we don’t know what to do to change it.
  3. We’ve been told that our friendships are a luxury when in fact they are very much a necessity to our health. More important to our health and happiness than our marriages, children, exercise, or work and money is whether we feel like we are supported and loved.  We’re lonely because our life is full with everything else and we haven’t prioritized our sense of community.

In this 11 minute video, I want to talk about loneliness, what it looks like in our lives, and how I want to address those needs by helping you meet new friends and make better friendships.  Here’s a glimpse:

  1. Why friendship is the most important health issue of our time. Wait until you hear the quote I share by Dr. Dean Ornish!  Amazing!
  2. Why admitting our loneliness is important and what the statistics show us about how few of us feel we have someone with whom to confide. If you don’t feel like you have a close friend– you will soon realize you are not alone!
  3. The four most common types of loneliness so we can recognize the needs in our own lives.  Which one most accurately reflects your current, or recent, experience?
  4. And how GirlFriendCircles.com can help women meet new friends and make better friendships.  We’re getting ready to re-open our doors to a new community that wants to provide resources and inspiration for all four types of loneliness!

At the end of the video I invite you to leave a comment and share with all of us which of the 4 areas of loneliness speaks most to you?  Which need do you most need to pay attention to meeting?

With so much love and a desire to transform our lives from that gnawing loneliness into fulfilling connections,

Shasta

p.s. This video is the 2nd in a series of 3 so watch for my next one on Saturday when I teach how we can grow our sense of connection! (And in case you missed the first one.)

p.s.s. I am re-opening GirlFriendCircles.com next Tuesday, July 19! Get ready to say “yes” to greater connection in your life! xoxo

Posted in Health, Loneliness, Making Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Three Biggest Reasons We Need Friends

Hello GirlFriends!

GirlFriendCircles.com is getting ready to re-open on July 19 with a bigger vision and a more beautiful interface! Woohoo!

I want to share with you WHY we’re going through all this effort to revision and relaunch our community for women’s friendships, so I made a 12 minute video to share with you:

  1. The Two Friendship Problems I see in our world that are stirring me to action and inspiring me to brainstorm solutions for connecting us in meaningful ways.
  2. The Three Biggest Possible Reasons Why We Need to be Connected as pretty much every other benefit falls under one of these three!
  3. Some of the Excuses We Use for giving up or not committing ourselves to action and learning… and how those objections aren’t serving our needs.
  4. A Glimpse of My Vision and Hope for All of Us as we commit ourselves to creating better friendships in our lives.

 

At the end of the video I invite you to leave a comment and share with all of us which of the 3 BIG reasons for better friendships speaks most to you today?  (Of course we all want all three of them, but which one feels most valuable or urgent to you?)

p.s. This video will be the first in a series of three so watch for my next one on Thursday when I want to remind us all of the 4 most common types of loneliness!

Posted in Exercise & Yoga, Happiness, Health, Importance of Friendship, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Two Best Friends Return to Paris to Fulfill a Promise

It’s story-time!

This week I am telling you a story with hopes that it inspires you to say yes to something big in the name of friendship…. despite the excuses we all make so easily.

Once Upon a Time….

Our story begins with an idealistic freshman collegiate girl who saw a poster promoting the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for 3 months.  While she knew not a word of French, it didn’t stop her from trying to talk everyone she knew into going with her on this glamorous-sounding adventure. Everyone eyed her like she was crazy except for one friend, Valerie, who within moments said, “I’m in.”

Wanting their passport photos would look as chic and grown-up as they felt, they made the horrible mistake of both chopping off their long hair right before the adventure. Therefore, our young heroines–one sporting a haircut that was basically a mullet, and the other with bangs that started at the back of her head– set off for Paris with little more preparation than learning how to say Bonjour on the airplane over the Atlantic.

To anyone who knows Shasta or Valerie, it will come as no surprise that their favorite activity while living abroad was eating the local food (and they each came home with an extra 20 lbs to prove that point!).  So much so that it made sense to them, at the time, that paying the 17 Francs to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower wasn’t as compelling as buying a week’s worth of pastries and bread. They figured they had seen great views from the top of Notre Dame and that pastries were much more important than “tourist traps.”  But needing to bolster that decision, they idealistically announced that they’d “save it” for romance and come back someday together with the “men of their dreams.” They patted themselves on the back that they could assuage any guilt for not ponying up the money and assured themselves that these imaginary men would one day thank them for the privilege of having Eiffel-Tower virgins to accompany them to the top.

The Paris Promise was made: they’d return.

Twenty Years Later…

It wasn’t an easy promise to keep.  There were many times when both doubted whether it would ever happen as it just never seemed realistic or likely. Neither of them ever had thousands of dollars sitting around looking to be spent, (especially knowing that if they ever did return they’d need more budget than last time)! ha! And it seemed one or the other was always in graduate school, pregnant, going through a divorce, or had some other big reason why an international trip wasn’t possible any given year.

But a couple of years ago, they started saying, “We simply have to do it.”

And finally–this month–they did.

In January they booked discounted airline tickets on a sale, split the cost on a two-bedroom AirBnB, and saved up all their extra money to eat their way through France once again (this time hoping that 20 lbs couldn’t be added in a mere 2 weeks, right?!?) Plus, as fantasized, this time they arrived with the men they love by their side.

These two best friends retraced steps and recalled memories.  They laughed at who they had been twenty years prior.  They grimaced over photos from the first trip; and then decided they might as well just be grateful that they had set the bar so low back then that now it was fairly easy to believe they had indeed improved with age! They toasted that they were still friends after all these years; and celebrated how much they’d created the lives that were mere fantasies when they were 18.  They bonded as friends, and as couples. . And they smiled.  And hugged. And laughed. A lot.

Here are a few photos:

A fun photo re-enactment at Les Invalides in Paris, twenty years later. (And please tell me we look better now!)

A fun photo re-enactment at Les Invalides in Paris, twenty years later. (And please tell me we look better now!)

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Valerie (the beauty on the right) and I finally atop the Eiffel Tower (and worth every Euro). #PromiseFulfilled

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And since we had promised that we’d return to Paris with the loves of our lives… (Huge thanks to John and Greg for prioritizing this trip with us and for making so many of our dreams come true!)

The Moral of the Story…

It’s really easy to make up excuses for why we can’t do something.  And by excuses, I don’t mean that they aren’t real reasons. In fact our reasons are usually pretty good as most of us feel limited by the constraints of time or money, or both.

For us to pull this trip off– Valerie and her husband had to find childcare for their three kids, my husband and I had to put some of it on our credit cards, and all of us had to say no to other things in order to say yes to this.

But I can attest that after having had the privilege of traveling with friends, as couples, that it was worth every decision that got us there. It was incredibly special and bonding.

Your story doesn’t need to be a return trip to Paris with a friend from 20 years ago… it can be a camping trip this summer with a group of new friends, or an invitation to a friend to meet you in Mexico for a 3-night deal, or the decision to go on a day-trip with another couple.

All you need is a willingness to plan ahead to do something bigger with someone than meeting for dinner, the courage to extend invitations to others to join you on a memory-making adventure, and the commitment to devote some time and money to that time together.  Traveling with friends–whether driving an hour out-of-town for a day-trip or jumping on a plane for a weekend away– logs more hours together and guarantees more bonding than meeting for a gazillion lunches ever could!  Shared memories bond us to each other in accelerated ways.

This summer:  what adventure do you want to do and are you willing to put that idea into action?

Posted in Best Friends, Happiness, Travel & Friends | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments