Relate Cymru offers tips for deepening your friendships
In a UK-wide study looking at the state of social relationships, people living in Wales were the most likely to report having good relationships with their neighbours – 67% or two thirds.* People living in London were the least likely to report good relationships with their neighbours (52%).
A report on the study’s findings, You’re not alone – the quality of the UK’s social relationships, was released this week by national charities Relate and Relationships Scotland. Over 5,000 people were questioned about their relationships with friends and neighbours as part of the study.
The study found that people who enjoyed better relationships with their neighbours were more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to feel down, depressed or hopeless. Nationally, 60% of people reported having good relationships with their neighbours.
People reporting good relationships with their neighbours, by region
The report also looked at friendship and, worryingly, 1 in 8 people in the UK (13% or 1 in 7) reported not having any close friends. This figure was the same in Wales.
People living in the East Midlands were the most likely to report having no close friends – 17% or 1 in 6. People living in the South West were the least likely to report having no close friends – 10% or 1 in 10.
Proportion of people who have no close friends, by region
The report shows that people with no close friends were two-and-a-half times as likely to say they feel down, depressed or hopeless either often or all of the time (31%) as those with four or more close friends (13%). And people who reported their friendships to be ‘very good’ were more than twice as likely to feel good about themselves often or all of the time as people who said their relationships were ‘average’.
Gwilym Roberts National Director at Relate Cymru said: “There are many reasons why we may lose confidence in those around us and in ourselves as good friends and neighbours. Making friends and keeping them isn’t always easy: it can take time and effort that we don’t always have to spare. Life can take over as we juggle careers with family life, and it might seem as if our social media friend count is high but what is the quality of those friendships really like? Take a moment to sit and think how you could give the ‘gift of friendship’ and how you could put it into effect.”
“It’s great that we’re such a neighbourly bunch here in Wales. But whilst we may have a nice chat over the garden fence with our neighbours, it’s a shame that so many people feel they don’t have a close friend who they can rely on.”
Relate Cymrus’s tips from deepening your social relationships
To coincide with the report, Relate Cyrmru is offering tips for improving and deepening ties with friends and neighbours.
Show an interest in others
Too often, when we meet someone new, we listen just long enough until we think of something we want to say. Really listening means asking follow up questions which deepen the conversation. But, if you feel the chat is becoming one sided, don’t be afraid to say: “Now, what do you want to know about me?”
Practice tolerance and forgiveness
All relationships go through low periods. But when we also feel low, we can get stuck feeling that no one likes us and no one cares. Push through the negativity and try to find a way of reconnecting with friends and neighbours, even if there’s been some bad feeling. Don’t let it fester. Think: “If now isn’t the time to forgive and forget, when will be?”
Don’t be a phone zombie
We can lose the gift of friendship because we’re continually burying ourselves in screens and are not fully present. Turn off those phones and devices for a few hours and see what it’s like to be in the moment of now, smiling and making contact with people as you walk around your neighbourhood. Offer help if you see someone struggling with shopping or children. Notice how good you feel about getting involved.
Deepen friendships and contacts by suggesting new outings or new ideas. Whether it’s a gig, a new exercise class or a book club, be brave and try something you’ve not done before.
Perseverance brings satisfaction
When we first try something new, we often give up at an early stage because we don’t see immediate or amazing results. This can also be true of trying to deepen or improve the quality of relationships. Don’t give up too quickly or get downhearted. Just keep doing the best you can and you’ll see results.
Remember Relate can help
Relate is best known for couple counselling but 16% of Relate counsellors have also counselled friends in the past year. Individual counselling can also allow people to explore any issues that are impacting on their ability to form, maintain and deepen friendships. Relate Cymru offers a range of relationship support services. Call us on 0300 003 2340 or visit www.relatecymru.org.uk for more information.