Approximately half of Americans lost touch with a friend during government-mandated lockdowns and strenuous COVID-19 regulations, a new survey found.
This number paired with the fact that more than one in five of the 2,019 American adults surveyed for the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey said that they “faced significant personal challenges over the last 12 months” shows that many individuals could be lacking the support they needed in one of their most desperate times.
The same number of Americans report that the last year was “much more difficult for them than usual,” and losing friends is just one aspect of that. Nearly half of Americans already say they only have three or fewer close friends so losing touch with at least one of those could severely undermine the amount of emotional support an individual can find in their friend group.
As the report notes, “fewer Americans appear to be relying on friends for personal support than they have in the past.” In the last three decades, the number of individuals who find support in their friends has fallen to 16 percent, 10 percent less than in 1990.
The same drop occurred in Americans who claim to have one person who is their “best friend.”
“Fewer Americans have a best friend today than they once did. In 1990, roughly three-quarters (77 percent) of Americans reported having a best friend, a dramatic decline over the past three decades,” the report notes.
While the survey found that young adults were far more likely to potentially make new friends even after the social hurdles presented by the pandemic, seniors, who were notably vulnerable to the stress of isolation caused by lockdowns, were found to be “considerably less likely to have made a new friend during that period, with only 41 percent reporting they had done so.”
Another focus of the survey was the role politics played in ending approximately 15 percent of the participants’ friendships. As noted in the report, “Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans are to report having ended a friendship over a political disagreement (20 percent vs. 10 percent).” The same trend occurs among liberals and conservatives (28 percent vs. 10 percent).
“No group is more likely to end a friendship over politics than liberal women are; 33 percent say they stopped being friends with someone because of their politics,” the report concluded.