The State of American Friendship

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tim Walker, co-founder of Lifeboat, a new organization that explores the "art and science of friendship," stops by to discuss the findings of their recent "State of Friendship Report."



Tim Walker

Comments [23]

clive betters

it is so silly, to rely on self-reporting for assessing the quality of a friendship. and, how in the hell do you quantify friendship to begin with? that is asinine. conservatives,are going to say their friendships are very good ;because, that is much more in synch, with the non-introspective dialogue,that they are more likely to have with themselves.

May. 23 2013 08:19 PM

What about Where You Draw The Line in friendships?

May. 23 2013 11:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Cats have lots of friends because they are dumb, furry, cute animals. If you are a dumb, cute, furry animal you will have lots of "friends":)

May. 22 2013 12:04 PM
Malu from Sea CLiff, NY

I just became a member a few hours ago. Though I did contribute to your station about 6 years ago, you used my picture from a 40s under singles event, and my quote, I was all over your billboards going upstate and NJ, I said something about public radio being a form of democracy. I just wanted to say, maybe you could pass this to your interviewer, that it is very lonely to live in America. Many will rave about their BFFs (middle schoolish) and I believe the testimonials of positive friendships, but I'm sorry to say, Americans are repressed,anti-social because of their insecurities, thier biases, their fears and phobias, well you could say that sounds human, I think that it's excessive here. I live in suburbian America, I came here to little Sea Cliff, NY, thinking it was a village, a unique place, artsy, well, it's very clicky, but I've lived for 26 years in the US, in RI, DC, Manhattan, Brooklyn and now here. Unless people are single and come from somewhere else, Americans don't usually call you for a coffee, your business colapses and no one calls you to ask how are you doing, the snobs, think it's your fault and heeelloo! look how scruffy you look, you don't moan your lawn! the more 'liberal', heellooo! you don't do the moon walk, and you are too oppinionated, kharma made you a lonely bitch! I don't know if I make myself clear. Facebook is not in the way of our socialising, FB is the only socialising some people do, they are mostly politically correct on FB, but it also reveals very powerful sociological issues, people express unconciously their phobias, their insecurities, their obsessions. If I didn't do FB, I'd spend days without any social contact. (the other American neurosis, I've got to be doing something, I can meet you between 1 and 2PM, they put you in their calendar - are you going to send me to go live somewhere else? I love NPR, I love the values that it stands for and the people who share those values, I don't hate everything, and I'll move as soon as I can for my own sanity, but you're all a bunch of very lonely people and I have become one of you!)

May. 22 2013 12:02 PM
rosemary from Highlands, NJ

When I lost my house in Sandy, oneof my high school friends sent me $1000 and another offered to buy all of my appliances when I rebuild my house. I was so touched by their kindness and generosity.

May. 22 2013 11:44 AM
Jesiah from Upstate NY

I was hoping this topic would make it as a research topic. Has lifeboat taken into consideration the contrast between the state of American friendships compared to the state of foreign friendships? I've noticed while I was in an Asian country that friendships take more precedence in social life than friendships do in American social life.

I think it may be a cultural thing, where independence and difference is more important in an ever increasing narcissistic American culture where "I" am more important than "you".

May. 22 2013 11:43 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Suffice it to say that disposal, push-button 'friendship' abounds in these Facebook times. Though, some of the stories here are very encouraging.

May. 22 2013 11:42 AM
Nina from NYC

When a friend got a diagnosis of Stage 4 stomach cancer, a group of his friends got to gether and, for the last year of his life, formed a care group--all the way to the end, staying overnight with him in hospital, so that one of us was with him when he died. We are boomers. I am so grateful that I could be with him this way. And I miss him every day.

May. 22 2013 11:42 AM
Denise from Cranford NJ

My friend decided that instead of looking for full time work in an office in 2009, she would babysit my infant daughter for me at a rate that was well below market for what nannies were getting. She still sits for us and is like a third grandmother!

May. 22 2013 11:42 AM
carolita from nyc

I can't believe I forgot about this, but it seemed so natural that it didn't seem like a big deal. A friend of mine bought me my computer when I was broke so I wouldn't put it on my credit card and pay interest, and let me pay her back in installments over a couple of years. That was a huge favor, and I really really appreciated it, as I needed the computer to work. I still look at that old laptop fondly and thank her in my mind. And then a few years later, she was broke and needed some money to help pay a huge dental bill, and I thankfully had it to give her, too. And she did pay me back, though I told her she didn't have to. (It was right before the recession, and I thought I'd be making great money forever, haha!)

May. 22 2013 11:42 AM
NIna from East Village

A friend in California flew into NY one weekend to attend an afternoon memorial for my father, whom she had never met.

No New York friend of mine attended.

May. 22 2013 11:42 AM
Elsie from Brooklyn

I think the real question here is how American society makes deep friendship difficult if not untenable. You can't expect people to connect if they view each other as competition. American society, at its core, is about getting ahead, and the idea of getting ahead is incompatible with the sacrifice and hard work that a deep and lasting friendship requires.

Almost all of my friends are foreigners for good reason. In other cultures, family and friends still take precedence over money, career and social status. In America, it's considered rude to bring your problems to relationships; that's what therapists (and pills) are for. In other cultures where these options are not common, people band together and help each other out. My foreign friends find it strange that so many Americans go to a paid therapist rather than family and friends when they need help.

May. 22 2013 11:41 AM
Emma from Maplewood, NJ

I think queer people have different ideals about friends. We call them "chosen family," somewhat because we are not necessarily welcomed in our families of birth. In some ways, because we used to not be assumed to be looking for a special spouse to be our family member for life, we tend to gather around each other in friend groups for more broad based support.

May. 22 2013 11:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Born alone, die alone," that is my core belief. "Friendship" and "family" are both bull. God helps those who help themselves, and God help those who can't! Or if not God, then at least the gov't.

May. 22 2013 11:40 AM
Marie from Brooklyn

Friends, most of whom I have never met in person, but only through social media, contributed $3,000 towards our cat's recent and expensive medical procedure.

Donations ranged from $5 to $1,000 per person (we actually returned the huge amount as we felt it was too much...)

I was overwhelmed.

Admittedly, the cat is very handsome and has his own blog:

May. 22 2013 11:38 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

I asked, and a friend agreed, to be my health care proxy a number of times when I've had surgery.

I offered to backstop a (different) friend when there was a possibility her coop was being foreclosed on--i.e., buying it for her in some way, etc.

May. 22 2013 11:38 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

It occurred to me a few years ago, that you know someone's your friend when he or she makes you feel good about yourself -- when you feel good after spending time or speaking with him/her.

I know of so-called friendships (including ones I've had), wherein the real experience is one of frustration, hurt, exasperation, competition, etc., instead of the above.

For example I had a narcissistic friend. I recall remarking to myself after spending an evening with him (and another friend) that there wasn't enough oxygen in the room for others when he was there.

If they don't make you feel good about yourself, they're more work than they're worth. I jettisoned all of those folks from my life.

It's that simple.

May. 22 2013 11:37 AM

has the facebook redefined friendship?

May. 22 2013 11:29 AM
carolita from NYC

STAYED friends with an impossible friend even though I had been given the best excuse to finally be rid of them. That's what I call going far for a friend. Jeez, what a pain in the butt. (Lives in another country now, thank heavens!)

May. 22 2013 11:27 AM
Aldona rygelis from Williamsburg

I became friends with my friend Audra in Lithuanian boarding school. We remained close friends for 25 years,
despite her living in Toronto, and my living in NY. When she died of leukemia leaving twin daughters, she left them to me to adopt and raise. They are now 23, as talented in art and music as she was. It was really the strength and love of our friendship that let me raise "our" daughters.
I have thought a lot about why certain friendships fade away and others grow stronger. Audra and I would see each other infrequently, but shared intensely when we did, somehow managing to accomodate the changes each of us had gone through in the meantime, letting us become current with one another not just socially, but on deeper levels as well.

May. 22 2013 11:20 AM
Julie from Blauvelt, NY

Last year I asked my friend to be present at my daughter's birth as my doula. She is a trained doula, but I did not pay her for her services (rather, she refused payment). I asked her to be there for me as a doula, but more so as a knowledgeable, supportive and loving friend. She tended to me (and my husband) during a natural labor in a birthing center. She's seen me naked, in pain, with bodily fluids seeping out of me. She held me, wiped my brow (and other more intimate parts) and encouraged me. I will never forget her presence and will forever be grateful.

May. 22 2013 11:13 AM
Elaine from BX

My friend asked me to serve her ex papers for child support. It was a hard decision to do it, but there was no one else who could or would do such a difficult task. I was friends with the ex prior, but that friendship is now irrepairable.

May. 22 2013 11:09 AM
Dawn Cardi from New York City

I once asked my best friend to help me decide whether to take my dear mother off a respirator. I was her health care proxy and she was suffering. While I totally respected my mother should have her choice, I did not think she was ready and was just suffering but would recover. I turned to my best friend because I knew she would not tell me what she thought I wanted to hear and she loved my mother too.

May. 22 2013 10:47 AM

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