How hard is it to make new friends

Published 10/13/2015 by Patook LLC

For many of us, making friends seemed almost effortless in our school days - groups formed and disbanded like shoals of fish, and you could have a new best friend every week - but how does the experience differ as an adult?

We designed our social app, Patook, as a means of facilitating friendship and helping individuals connect with groups in their community, so this question seemed particularly pertinent to our plans and future success. In order to get a feel for people's opinions and experiences in making friends - and to give us a valuable insight into the size of our target audience - we decided to send out a paid survey to a random set of adults in the U.S. so we could explore this subject.

So let's go back to school ourselves with an exercise in analysis! The question posed in our survey was:

In the last two years, how hard has it been for you to make new platonic friends in the state in which you currently reside?

We received 2,151 responses to the survey. Let's examine the findings we deduced from analyzing the data, by using the following questions:

1- How hard is it to make platonic friends?
2- Is it harder for women to make platonic friends than for men?
3- Does making friends get easier as you get older?
4- Does making friends become easier when you stay in the same place longer?
5- Which are the states where it’s hardest to make new friends?

How hard is it to make platonic friends?

As illustrated above, over one third of our respondents - around 35.6% - believe that making friends as an adult is difficult. Considering that the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau puts the population of the states at over 320 million, if these stats were representative of the whole country, that'd be a whole lot of people!

Is it harder for women to make platonic friends than for men?

If we break down the above data into male and female sets, we get the following results:

About 31% of men think it’s hard to make new friends compared to over 40% of women. The data above indicates that it may be harder to make platonic friends as a woman than as a man.

Does making friends get easier as you get older?

We then broke down the data by age to analyze whether friends became harder to make as you got older:

Please note that the 65-74 and 75 and above only got 13 and 3 responses respectively so are not very significant.
There was no clear pattern between age and difficulty of making friendships. It did seem to be slightly harder in the 25-44 range.

Does making friends become easier when you stay in the same place longer?

If you moved schools when you were a child you'll know what a daunting prospect it can be to contemplate starting from scratch at another school, having left your established buddies behind. Let's see what effect moving to a new state has on making friends.

The pattern here is quite pronounced. 50% of people who moved to their state within the last 5 years find it either hard or very hard to make new platonic friends. It’s not until the 5th year in that state that it starts easing up to 37%, and then to 31% after 10 years. It would appear that familiarity breeds friendliness!

Which are the states where it’s hardest to make new friends?

We'd best start this one with a disclaimer. We had 2,151 responses to our survey, spread over 50 states, with some states yielding only a handful of replies, so these results can't be considered statistically significant and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Still, it's an interesting little study, so - just for fun - let's check out the results (we removed the “never tried” column).

Please click HERE to view the table

The table is ranked from hardest to easiest, with those states where it's, reportedly, hardest to make friends at the top, and the easiest at the bottom. Top of the class when it comes to making friends are Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Arizona! Of course, it's also possible that this relates to the previous question regarding how long people have lived in those states.

There were varied results from the top to the bottom of the country, but it seems fair to conclude that wherever we live and no matter who we are, we can all do with a helping hand sometimes, when it comes to making new friends or expanding our existing circle of contacts. Patook aims to make it easier for adults to connect and form new friendships, so give our website or apps a try and let us know what you think!

Do ping us if you'd like us to dig into this data some more, or drop us a line at info@patook.com if you want the raw survey data (feel free to share the information above and add your own commentary or speculation, but do ensure that you provide visible links to this page and to patook.com, in addition to crediting Patook LLC for the original work). We'd also be happy to run more surveys and include other countries, if that would be of interest to our readers.

Update 11/14/2015: many thanks to Paul Sanders for covering the results on his blog

If you'd like to share your feedback about Patook, your experiences in making friends, or chat about anything else, please contact us on info@patook.com. We'd love to hear from you!

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