The Friendship Recession: What It Is and How to Cope with It

June 28, 2023 Mahevash Shaikh

A friendship recession is a real thing. When was the last time you hung out with your friends? Or when have you had a real heart-to-heart conversation? If you cannot recall the date, you, like countless others, may have been hit by the friendship recession. 

What Is the Friendship Recession?

According to research, adults are going through a friendship recession, and it is set to worsen in the future.1 A friendship recession means that more and more adults are devoid of close friends, thereby having fewer people to rely on during crises and increasing loneliness. Loneliness was on the rise before COVID-19; the pandemic only made it worse.2 Loneliness impacts mental health and reduces one's quality of life. Therefore we have to combat the friendship recession. Here are some worrying facts about the same:

"We've seen a decline in a lot of traditional institutions including family, people marrying later if they do marry, obviously, in areas like religion, in some cases the labor market. And what this means is that there's more of a need for people to have social relationships, connections outside of those institutions. That's where friends are hugely important. But during the same period, we've seen a real decline in the number of people who say that they have close friends. You need a shoulder to cry on or at least someone to have a conversation with - that's less and less likely to be a friend now. It's important we pay attention to what is a very underappreciated human relationship, which is friendship. The pandemic has been a sort of stress test for our friendship networks. Obviously, being isolated from each other, shutting everything down has been a real test of our networks. Social support is hugely important for health, certainly mental health, but also physical health. Friendship is incredibly important for human flourishing, and people want to make friends."2

Irrespective of the reason, it is clear that we have an insidious problem on our hands. And to paraphrase Derek Thompson, the host of the podcast Plain English, the friendship recession has impacted everyone, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic class, race, and relationship status.3 It is time we work on deepening old friendships, making new, yet solid, friends, and maintaining quality friendships over time. 

Coping with the Friendship Recession

There are various factors responsible for the friendship recession. For the sake of brevity, I cannot discuss all of them in a single post. But it exists, and we must figure out ways to combat it. I believe that awareness is the first step to solving a problem, and you and I have completed that step.

What is left for us to do is to evaluate our list of friends on the basis of quality and then decide where to go from there. For example, my list of close friends comprises only three people, and that is okay because I can reach out to them whenever I need support. I maintain regular contact with them and vice versa; we know we have each other's backs. Yet, if you see my friend list on Facebook, you might think I have endless friends. But I know the difference between casual and close friends and invest my energy in the latter. If you do a similar analysis, you, too, will know who your real friends are and can prioritize them accordingly. And if you find yourself friendless, don't worry: you are never too old to make a new friend.


  1. Are We Witnessing A Friendship Recession? (2023, May 31). Shout Out UK.

  2. Reeves, R. (2023). The friendship recession. Big Think.

  3. Thompson, D. (2022, November 29). Why America Is Suffering a “Friendship Recession.” The Ringer.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2023, June 28). The Friendship Recession: What It Is and How to Cope with It, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

July, 3 2023 at 11:45 am

Very well caught stuff, surely true friendship is hard to find, not that it does not exist.
Having one strong friend is enough, if you have more, you probably should not take it for granted.
If you need help, then you shouldn't hesitate to ask as THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR.

July, 3 2023 at 11:36 pm

Thanks for sharing your views, Khuzaim.
And yes, even having only one true friend who stands by you in tough times is enough.

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