Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yesterday I reviewed the great nonfiction that centers around friendships - Friendfluence by Carlin Flora.  Today I am here to share my interview with the author . . . 

1.  What do you find yourself rambling about?

How men and women CAN be friends!  Every several months, it seems, an article comes out declaring the opposite.  It upsets me, because having a friend of the opposite gender - even if it is sometimes complicated because of attraction - is really rewarding.

2.  What brought you to an interest in friendships and their influence on people?  

One motive is personal: I moved as a teenager and was deeply affected by the experience of having to lose friends and make new ones.  It made me cherish my friends and really notice their affect on me over the years.  The other motive was professional: In my former job as an editor at Psychology Today for years, I saw so many books on romantic relationships and parenting yet not many on friends.  It convinced me that as a culture, we underestimate how our friends shape us, even as they are becoming more more important to us.  

(What I'm referring to in the last part of that statement is the fact that we're living alone more, we're marrying later and still divorcing at a high rate, and we're living more in urban areas where rooming with friends is common - all of which is leading us to depend more on friends than previous generations might have)

3.  What do you think about having to break up with friends from the past?

Breaking up with friends is very, very painful.  It's made even more painful by the widespread yet false belief that friend breakups either shouldn't happen or shouldn't be as hard as romantic breakups.  Clinical psychologists recommend distancing yourself from friends from the past you no longer connect with, as opposed to sharply breaking things off, which can lead to a big blowup.  

4.  What is the one piece of friend advice that you always give to others?

Remember that you influence your friends just as they influence you!  Resolve to be a better friend, and in time, you'll reap the wonderful benefits of healthy friendships.

5.  Do you think social media has impacted our friendships positively or negatively?  Is there a way to fix our friendships because of the impact of social media?

I think the answer to your first question is "both."  Those who write about the subject tend to come out with extreme theses such as: "Facebook is ruining friendship!" It's just not true.  It's enabling us to stay connected with people we wouldn't normally be connected with, and that's an amazing thing.  If people use it at the expense of spending time with friends in person, that can be dangerous.  But most people see friends in person and reach out to them online.

To answer your second question, there is evidence that people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to see others' lives in an overly rosy light which makes them feel inferior.  Reaching out to a friend one-on-one (even if it's via email), rather than publicly, can clarify the picture of her actual life versus what she's presenting on Twitter, etc.

6.  What is next on your plate?

I'm focused on sharing all I've learned about the power of friendship with as many people as I can.  It's time for friendship to be seen as not just a fun distraction, but as the stable-yet-flexible and vital relationship that it is for many.


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