We Surveyed 500+ People to Find Out Why It’s Hard to Become Closer Friends

We’ve got an in-house obsession with keeping people close and bringing them closer, so we surveyed 500 of our closest (and farthest) friends to zero in on the barriers in their would-be-close relationships. The more you know, right?

by | Jun 18, 2019 | article

While we can’t say we were surprised by the number of people who struggle to deepen their relationships — that’s why we exist, after all — the reasons why were both relatable and surprising to see laid out so clearly.

If you’re looking to high-jump your own social roadblocks (or at least not trip on them too often), the feedback provides fresh perspective on what’s holding most of us back. It’s not all numbers, though, so scroll through to pick up the strategies and tools that foster closeness between you and your crew.

How Would You Rate Yourself on Getting Closer to People Who You Want to Know Better?

We asked, and nearly 50% of people we surveyed said they find it hard to get closer to someone. A whopping 48% of them rated themselves a five or less (on a scale of one to 10) when answering this question. This means they find it challenging to get close to people, even after they’ve become friends with them. Furthermore, only 23% of people rated themselves an eight or higher. This is where we learned about social self-esteem. It’s real, and it really matters.

What’s Holding People Back from Getting Closer to One Another?

We felt pretty confident workplace isolation played a major factor, but it turns out that applies mostly to the challenge of forming new relationships. According to our survey results, being able to get closer to people isn’t really affected by where you work. We learned that 22% of individuals who work from home or work alone rated themselves a five or less on their ability to foster closeness, while 23% of those working in a public space felt the same way. When trying to figure out why so many people have trouble getting closer to others, it wasn’t enough to look at where they work or how many people they work with.

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We Asked: What Challenges Hold You Back from Feeling Fulfilled in Your Social Relationships?

People say they feel too different, shy, depressed, anxious, or insecure to connect meaningfully. Others find it difficult to trust people, or their lives are just too busy to make enough time for their friendships. Even physical ailments make some people reluctant to open themselves up to others.

In other words, negative internal perceptions of the self, as well as insecurities, can play a role in stopping a person from becoming close with someone else, in much the same way that following a busy schedule or having kids can get in the way. It’s as much an internal struggle as an external one. Again, social self-esteem.

Here are some numbers to illustrate how individuals rated themselves when it comes to getting closer to people that they’d like to know better:

  • 59% of people diagnosed with an illness rated themselves a five or less

  • 47% of people who changed jobs rated themselves a five or less

The Good News: Getting Closer to People Is Not Impossible!

Whether you’re still feeling the sizzle of past relationship burns or you lead an ultra busy lifestyle between career and kids, if you feel self-conscious about opening up, you’ll find yourself with a lot of superficial friendships that aren’t quite doing it for you. Making friends is the first step — and our survey shows us that a lot of people get stuck at level one. It doesn’t have to be this way!

As a human (at least in this lifetime) your health and happiness come not only from having a strong body and mind, but also from maintaining strong relationships. Having people you can count on for support, and for fun, is a key component to your overall well-being.

Try out these strategies and tools to begin gently easing yourself into a space where you’ll feel comfortable and confident enough to pursue meaningful, lasting friendships, both with people you’ve recently met and those you’ve known for a long time:

Be upfront and honest. 

Can’t make it to an event that your friend is hosting because you have anxiety? Finding yourself needing some quiet time alone lately? Be upfront about these feelings so your friends don’t think you’re purposely avoiding them. 

By revealing these aspects of yourself, you establish a more honest dialogue, which helps you open up when someone hurts you, as well as when they bring you joy. A little vulnerability goes a long way in your personal relationships!  

Focus on friendships, even if you move.

More than ever, people move to different places throughout their lives, resulting in greater numbers of shallow friendships, as well as friendships that fall away completely. This coincides with our survey results, in which people included moving to a new city as one of the main reasons why they struggle with getting close to others.

After a move, you’re likely going to make your first new friends at your job. To create meaningful friendships, however, consider taking those relationships beyond the workplace. Go on a nature walk together, or invite them to your home for dinner — this brings you closer and increases the likelihood the relationship survives future job changes. Pretty sweet, right?

Download the Fabriq app.

“Social” media can sometimes make you feel more isolated, rather than connected — that’s why Fabriq isn’t a social network. It allows you to identify people you’d like to get closer to IRL. Fabriq helps you track relationship details and reminds you when it’s time to reconnect, from remembering your best friend’s dog’s barkmitzvah gift to when you called grandma last.

The goal is to use this technology to prioritize and regularly connect with the 50 people who matter most to you. If you’ve moved away, for example, Fabriq reminds you to have that bi-weekly Skype chat you promised each other. And if you’ve made new friends that you hope to get to know better, it’s where you’ll store everything from their astrological sign to their food allergies.

Don’t be afraid to make the first move.

A lot of people fall into the trap of avoiding making a phone call or sending a text if their friend hasn’t done so first, but communication is a two-way street, and everyone’s busy these days.

Out of sight, unfortunately, sometimes does translate to out of mind. Yet, this doesn’t mean you have to lose the people who are important to you. If you take action to reconnect, even if it’s been a while, you’re likely to find that your friend is happy (and grateful) you did, and then they’ll be more inclined to reach out first next time. Win win!  

The Truth: Anyone Can Deepen Their Friendships

Moving beyond shallow connections into relationships that are based on trust, honesty, and shared experiences can help you feel more fulfilled and joyful in your everyday life. Flexing your relationship muscles may feel like a workout at first, but as you use these tools (Fabriq, ahem, ahem) and strategies, it becomes second nature to jot down the details, have the important conversations, and reconnect when it matters most.


About Fabriq

Build Better Social Habits

Fulfilling relationships are scientifically proven to keep you happy and healthy — boosting your immunity and longevity. When you prioritize the people that matter most, even when life gets full, you naturally show up better for them and yourself.

Science-backed and the first of its kind, Fabriq is designed to improve your social health and make building better social habits easy, so you can focus on what (and who) really matters.

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