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The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships

by Kat Vellos

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-73437-970-9
Publisher: Self

An analysis of the challenges of making friends in the modern world.

Vellos has trained as a facilitator and conducted hundreds of hours of workshops on building communities and forming adult friendships, and in her nonfiction debut, she attempts to break down the nature of friendship in the “always on” 21st century—its roots, its potential obstacles, its most familiar patterns, and some strategies for its improvement. The stakes have never been higher, she says: “the average American hasn’t made one new friend in the last five years.” And the price for this trend is steep: Loneliness and isolation place enormous stresses on the body and the mind. Vellos distills her wide reading and dozens of interviews on the subject into an assessment of what she terms “platonic longing,” the desire felt by increasing numbers of people for the simple joys of close friendship. She addresses her book to readers who’ve found they have nobody with whom to share moments of pain, confusion, or joy—to those, for example, who’ve gone on a dating app and wondered if it might work if they’re looking only for friendship or who have tried friend-matching apps too and found that the great connections they promised haven't materialized. She outlines many approaches to the complexities of friendship, from upping “your dosage” (simply trying to create more friendship time with friends you already have) to practicing greater honesty when meeting potential friends. Throughout she focuses on the basics of friendship that writers from Cicero to Norman Vincent Peale have stressed: openness, flexibility, and, most of all, commitment. “No amount of ‘I really like you too’s’ will convince someone that you want to be friends if you don't take actions to make time and space for them in your life,” she says. The sheer amount of energy and inventiveness on display in these pages, engagingly written and illustrated by the author, will give even the most jaded some hope for more friendships in the future.

A heartfelt and winningly optimistic guide to understanding—and finding more—friendship.