American men suffer a friendship recession

Single men fare the worst. One in five American men who are unmarried and not in a romantic relationship report not having any close friends.

Even men with a couple of close friends are not in great shape. When it comes to our social circles, size matters. Americans with one close friend are not any less lonely or isolated than those without any close friends. And those with a couple of close confidants are only modestly better off. For those with three or fewer close friends, loneliness and isolation are fairly common experiences: More than half say they have felt that way at least once in the past seven days.

The bad news doesn’t end there. Not only do men have smaller friendship circles, they report being less emotionally connected to the friends they do have. Both men and women benefit from developing strong emotional bonds with their friends, but women are more successful in establishing these types of relationships. The study finds that women report far higher rates of emotional engagement with and support from their friends. This type of intimacy matters. Americans who receive regular emotional support from their friends are far less likely to report feeling anxious or alone than those who do not, and this is true independent of how many friends they have.