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Are Friends Difficult To Find In Las Vegas?

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McCartney and Lennon said it best - we get by with a little help from our friends. 

But for some people, Las Vegas' transient nature makes it difficult to find a friend. 

Writer Josh Bell was not in a romantic relationship and was looking for friends. And like most things in our modern lives, Bell turned to the internet to find those connections.

"I had a pretty decent experience," he said, "I think you have to have to get used to the idea of using an app to find a friend."

He said there are plenty of apps and websites designed to help people find romance and these friend apps are really no different because it's about finding a human connection. 

"For me personally, it was about figuring out the kinds of relationships that I wanted to have in my life and that was friendship," Bell said.

He said going online and making a plan to find friends made the most sense but he did have to be proactive. 

 
From Desert Companion: Friendquest

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Research is showing that friendship is not just a nice thing to have in our lives but is actually vital to our health, said Lydia Denworth. 

Denworth is a contributing editor at Scientific American. She is the author of “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond."

"People have appreciated friendship for thousands of years. Aristotle talked about it, but we've never understood it as invaluable," she said, "We've thought of it as valuable but not invaluable and what this new research, which has really taken off in the past 10 or 20 years, what it is showing is friendship is as important as to your health as diet and exercise."

The health benefits of having connections with a friend are so stark that studies show social isolation is as deadly as smoking, Denworth said. She said people should make friendship a priority in their lives. 

"I don't want people to feel like I'm just adding to their to-do list when I say that," she said, "What I hope is that it gives people permission to go hang out with their friends."

How do you make friends in a place where you don't know a lot of people? Michael Borer is a professor of sociology and director of religious studies at UNLV.

He said finding people with a common interest can be a way to find friends.

"Specific activities then become the mediator for relationships or for building relationships," he said, "Every friend doesn't need to be your best friend."

He said friendships can work on multiple levels and that friendships don't have to be as tightly bonded as they might have been in high school or college.

Denworth said part of the reason it is more difficult to find friends and keep friendships going as people get older is time. In the teen years, people have more free time but as we get older the time to devote to those relationships starts to diminish.

Studies show that it takes 50 hours of interaction for people to move from being acquaintances to being friends.  

It is that effort that many times people just don't devote to friendships. Marisa Franco is a psychologist and writes blogs on how to make and keep friends.

She said our brains have a 'liking gap,' which means that we underestimate how much people like us when we meet them and overestimate our chances of being rejected.

That skewed belief prevents us from putting ourselves out there to meet someone new, but Franco said using a positive inner dialogue can help.

"In order to introduce yourself to new people, you have to make your running dialogue, 'Hey, people like me. People want to connect with me. People are going to open to connecting. Just like me, other people want to make friends too,'" she said.

But to move from knowing a person to becoming a trusted friend, Franco said it takes incremental steps of building trust. However, to build trust, people have to make themselves vulnerable.

"You can start with smaller vulnerabilities and build up over time and see how another person responds to you," she said, "Are they listening to you? Are they open to you? Are they putting down their phone and centering you, when you offer something vulnerable?"

She said when you show vulnerability it will allow other people to be vulnerable.

Whether you find friends through online meetup groups, friendship apps, religious organizations, or alumni associations, Borer said it will take effort.

"Friendship, like most of social life, is an accomplishment," he said, "It doesn't just happen. Life just doesn't happen because we sit back and let it happen. We have to do it."

 

 

Guests

Josh Bell,  contributor  Desert Companion; Michael Borer, professor of sociology and director of religious studies, UNLV; Lydia Denworth, contributing editor, Scientific American; Marisa Franco, psychologist and expert on friendship

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