Survey: Americans Have Fewer Close Friendships Than Recent Decades

Men Have Fewest Close Friends, Declines Among Singles and Young Adults Especially Concerning

July 12, 2021

TUPELO, Miss. —A recent American Perspectives Survey found Americans’ friendships face change, challenges, and loss. The findings reveal that more Americans see the importance of friendships; still, fewer are experiencing them—many report talking to friends less often and relying less on friends for personal support. The decline in friendships has been particularly hard on young adults and singles who rely more on friends for emotional and personal support.

COVID-19 has played a role; over 50% of women ages 18-29 reported they lost touch with some or most of their friends during the pandemic, but the survey shows a 30-year slide into social isolation. Compared to 77% in 1990, only 59% of survey respondents now say they have a best friend. Men have taken the brunt of the shift, with five times as many men now reporting they have “no close friends at all.” Women also faced a decline, but only 10% of women reported having “no close friends.” American Family Association (AFA, sees the yearning for friendship as an open door.

“Many Americans are drowning in misery,” said AFA Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano. “They are anxious, angry, and without hope for the future. Numerous surveys like this one reveal that the nation is also filled with lonely people. This is heartbreaking and tragic. There may be different explanations for the phenomenon of loneliness in a nation of 330 million people, but there is one surefire cure for it––the love of God through Jesus Christ. In fact, it’s the only cure for each and every malady suffered by human beings.”

Friendships are essential to good health. A Mayo Clinic report noted the positive effects of close friendships, including lower blood pressure, less likelihood of depression, improved ability to avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices, and strengthened immunity.

Vitagliano points out the opportunity for churches to become the resource for health, love, and friendship, “The church is called to preach both the good news of the gospel and the source of that offer of salvation––the love that fills the heart of God the Father for lost people. If the church isn’t making those truths known, we are utterly failing in our calling to be salt and light in a corrupt and darkened world.”

For over 40 years, AFA has operated within the mission to inform, equip and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission. Find AFA Action Alerts here.       

AFA—founded in 1977—has long been on the front lines of America’s culture war. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country, with nearly a million online supporters and approximately 160,000 subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry’s monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 180 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner.  

View the media page for AFA here. For more information on American Family Association, or follow AFA on Facebook or Twitter @AmericanFamAssc.       


To interview American Family Association Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano, or another spokesperson, contact, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.