Finding friends can be tough after college, but research led by Eliane M. Boucher of Providence College has found bonding over shared social anxiety can help build a foundation of platonic companionship. So, forgo trying to break the ice by finding a common interest in Battlestar Galactica or a fondness over Revolutionary War reenactments, and talk about how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel about social interactions.
Melissa Dahl from NYMag writes on the study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, that investigated how 56 same-sex friendships took off when people were paired with similar and dissimilar levels of levels of social anxiety. The participants were paired off randomly, it was only until after four weeks had passed that Boucher determined their levels of social anxiety through a questionnaire, plus an additional survey to assess how close they felt to their new buddy.
After an additional six weeks had passed, Boucher and her team interviewed the participants again, asking how close they felt to their friend. As suspected, those with similar levels of social anxiety (whether high or low) tended to be more closely bonded that those with dissimilar levels.
The researchers wrote:
“...friends matched on [social anxiety] experienced increased closeness and decreased uncertainty over the six weeks, suggesting [social anxiety] similarity may become increasingly important as friendships develop.”
It's nice to know that those of us who feel anxious about meeting people aren't doomed to become just another Forever Alone meme.
Read more at NYMag.
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