I had the pleasure of being a guest author for Wear Your Voice Magazine where I wrote a short piece about how to manage our friendships during COVID-19, pulling from some of my research on friendships. I hope you check it out!
Due to the website shutting down I have transposed a copy of the article below:
There are four key ingredients to building and maintaining successful friendships: investment, emotional closeness, trust, and support.
By Dr. Marcus C. Shepard
After a year-and-a-half of battling Zoom fatigue, isolation, and a host of mental strains, it should come as no surprise that some of our friendships have taken a backseat as we try to prioritize our own well-being. Researchers at the University College London (2021) found that roughly 22% of those surveyed in a recent ongoing study felt that their friendship quality has suffered due to the pandemic. Friendships are good for both our mental and physical health (Chopik, 2017), and the desire to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in a while, reset or readjust friendships, and/or end long-term friendships strained are possibilities many of us have been juggling over the past year. In order to talk about friendships and how they have been impacted by the pandemic, I think it’s helpful to first overview what I call the “friendship formula” in my textbook Midnight Musings: Interpersonal Communication & Social Media (Shepard, 2018) and understand how these ingredients are the bedrock to any friendship.
There are four key ingredients to building and maintaining successful friendships: investment, emotional closeness, trust, and support. Investment is what you put into the relationship and this investment includes your time, feelings, energy, and thoughts. Close friendships are formed through initial encounters (Twitter mutuals, fellow bar patrons, classmates, coworkers, etc.) which, through mutual investment, are extended into something more intimate. You and your friend both put in the time, energy, thoughts, feelings, and maybe even money into building your friendship.