Over the last three years, socializing has changed in dramatic ways. From the isolation of lockdowns, to the sometimes-halting return to “normal,” Americans are continuing to navigate this new world of staying connected, while often working – and living – apart. 

So how has this cultural shift impacted friendships? As latest CivicScience data show, around two-thirds of Americans say that they have the same amount of friendships now as they did prior to the pandemic. However, over a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) report that they’ve lost friends (n=3,209).

As it stands, adults aged 18-24 are the least likely to experience friendship consistency. Women have lost slightly more friends than men, though both genders report an equal amount of friendship growth. Meanwhile, fully remote workers are the most likely to have lost friends and fully in-person workers are the most likely to have gained them. 

Friendship and Emotional Well-Being

It’s worth noting that 34% of U.S. adults report they have less than three close friends, while 12% have none at all, as shown by CivicScience poll results from January. This hasn’t changed significantly since 2021, suggesting that fewer friendships may just be part of the Covid era’s “new normal.” This data is also in line with other findings that friendships have been in decline for decades. 

So why does it matter? Well, because friendship and emotional well-being are linked. Those who report feeling less happiness and greater stress are more likely to have lost friends than to have gained them – by a considerable amount. Likewise, those who feel less happiness and greater stress report having fewer close friends. Studies suggest that feelings of loneliness and isolation, which may or may not be associated with friendships, are linked to an increased risk for developing certain diseases and a shortened lifespan. 

The data further support that the loss of friendships, as a result of the pandemic or any other major life change, impacts more than just a social calendar – it could have lasting ramifications on mental and physical health, as well. It’s not surprising that Americans (especially younger adults) are more likely to say that friendships are key when defining happiness and success today.  

Stay tuned for upcoming data that explore how socialization habits have changed over the course of the pandemic. Be the first to know the latest consumer opinions – book a demo with CivicScience today.