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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Loneliness

In Forge. More on Medium.

A therapist’s advice for skipping the superficial stages of making friends

Many people crave stronger, more authentic friendships as an adult. But the process of building these relationships can prove slow and frustrating when our free time is already scarce.

How do you skip the awkward chit chat phase and hit the fast forward button on a potential friendship? As a therapist, I’ve learned a few things about building quick rapport with someone.

First, give yourself permission to bore people

We all know the safe topics to broach when you first meet someone. We stick to sports, the weather, and work because we worry that our specific interests, and our zeal for them, will scare people away. …


Our circles have shrunk but not permanently

Photo: Anthony Tran/Unsplash

There hasn’t been a single friend who I didn’t think was mad at me at some point over the last year.

I’m not usually like this. Typically, an unreturned text or an ignored Instagram DM would spark mild annoyance. Maybe a little bit of hurt. But not this level of profound paranoia — reply or no reply, I knew I’d still see the person again. In the time of our great social distancing experiment, though, I’ve interpreted any silence to mean the end of our friendship once and for all.

Of course, this wasn’t the case. But given the option…


The pandemic is not a friendship litmus test

A man playing chess with a friend over a video call.
A man playing chess with a friend over a video call.
Photo: visualspace/Getty Images

For me, the loneliness is the worst. I haven’t touched another person since I broke up with my partner in April. Over the past few months, in my desperation for human connection, I’ve taken to texting my friends way more than I otherwise would. When they don’t respond — right away, or sometimes ever — the loneliness spirals. …


Healthy relationships are as essential as vaccines and ventilators for our global recovery

Curtisha Bell and her aunt Vicky Blake show progress of their festive surgical masks to friends and family on video chat.
Curtisha Bell and her aunt Vicky Blake show progress of their festive surgical masks to friends and family on video chat.
Photo: Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

You may have heard of America’s “loneliness epidemic.” I’m the doctor responsible for coining that phrase.

After observing isolation as a rising public health calamity during my term as the Surgeon General of the United States, appointed by President Barack Obama, I wrote a book about the importance of human connection, the hidden impact of loneliness on our health, and the social power of community. What I could not anticipate, however, was the unprecedented test that our global community would face, just as this book was going to press.

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned physical human contact into a potentially…


For years, I’ve been doing the same thing to make this time feel a little less lonely

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

During the holiday season’s peak travel days, Los Angeles’s 405 Freeway almost looks festive — the red and white lights of cars, stretching for miles, can be beautiful, if you’re not stuck inside the traffic yourself. It can also lead one to believe that every single person vacates the city for the holidays. But ever since I moved to LA from Philadelphia four years ago, I’ve stayed here, 2,392 miles from where I grew up, throughout the holiday season, stuck in place by work schedules and the prohibitive cost of airfare.

To me, those 2,392 miles are measured by time…

Forge

A publication from Medium on personal development.

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