A study conducted by Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies found that less than a quarter of Americans are fully satisfied with their friendships, and almost two-thirds lack confidence in even their closest friends. Seniors (70 and over) and millennials/Gen Ys (16 to 34) are more likely to be extremely satisfied than Gen X-ers (35 to 49) or baby boomers (50 to 69), indicating the existence of a midlife friendship slump.
The research was based on a self-reported survey of 1,016 Americans ages 16 and up. Across all demographics, people that report they have more close friends feel happier and are more fulfilled than those that say they have few or no friends. The majority also prefer deeper friendships with fewer friends over just having more friends. Qualities that most people look for in friends are loyalty, honesty, goodness and reliability in a crisis. Among the attributes considered least important are similar political or religious views and physical attractiveness, which ranked last.
The use of social media appears unrelated to the number or quality of friendships or overall friendship satisfaction. People that attend religious services at least once a week are twice as likely to be completely satisfied with their friendships than those that rarely or never attend such services.
The researchers concluded, “Those seeking more fulfillment from their friendships should invest disproportionate time and energy in the relationships they consider close.”