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Talking Friendship Among Friends

We learned how to achieve "frientimacy" with author Shasta Nelson at the PA Spring Luncheon.

It's not a lack of interaction that leads to what some today term a "loneliness epidemic," but rather a lack of intimacy—or "frientimacy"—says author and relationship expert Shasta Nelson. At our recent Parents Association Spring Luncheon, Shasta walked through the science and social repercussions of loneliness and how to develop friendships that are both meaningful and lasting.

"Social engagements have become just dates on a calendar," explained Shasta. "Society has forgotten that people are at the core of emotional, relational, and spiritual health." Frientimacy requires that both parties in a relationship feel seen in safe and satisfying ways. To accomplish this ideal, Shasta described three essential components of friendship: positivity, consistency, and vulnerability.

"You want people to leave your presence feeling better about who they are," emphasized Shasta. Then there must be a frequency of interaction that builds trust, memories, and the sense of a long-term commitment. Finally, both friends must be willing to share all sides of themselves. Simply put, "Friendship is not something we find—it's something we foster."

As parents, it's also critical to help our children develop the same healthy friendships we seek. In a world where anxiety, suicide, and loneliness rates are skyrocketing among the young, parents must not only model relationship-building but also teach our children the skills needed to achieve it and monitor their friendships through questioning and observation.

"At the end of the day, we all want to feel connected and loved," pointed out Shasta. "It's a goal that we have to keep showing up for!" For more information, check out Shasta's books, Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and Friendships Don't Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends.