Loneliness is reaching epidemic levels in the US. While there is no one-size fits all solution, Professor Marissa King shares some ideas for tackling loneliness based on network theory.
Discover your own network type: https://www.assessyournetwork.com/
Commit to reconnecting with your dormant ties: https://www.teamgood.io/2020/01/22/reconnecting/
To learn more about networks, read Marissa’s book Social Chemistry: https://marissaking.com/socialchemistry
Research referenced & other notes:
[~0:33] Dormant Ties: The Value Of Reconnecting. Levin, Walter, and Murnighan
Quote from source: “…dormant strong ties did decay somewhat… about halfway between current strong (coefficient of 1.01) and medium (coefficient of 0.41) ties…. after controlling for 22 variables… trust of dormant strong ties was not significantly different from that of current strong ties”
(Transcript may be lightly edited for clarity and ease of reading.)
In order to combat loneliness, it’s helpful to take a page out of the book from conveners.
Conveners’ network structures — which are characterized by dense ties in which everyone’s friends know one another — helps guard against loneliness. Conveners’ networks are imbued with trust and reciprocity.
People who are struggling with loneliness are also often facing social anxiety. So the idea of going out and meeting new people to combat issues of loneliness, can actually be very, very difficult.
A much more effective strategy is to reach out to people you already know.
Research has shown that dormant ties — people that you were in contact with 3 years ago but maybe haven’t been in touch with for a while — hold the same trust as they did 3 years ago.
Relationships are extraordinarily resilient. And, if you can get over the psychological barrier of reaching out and reconnecting, it’s a much easier way to quickly develop and reconnect with strong relationships than trying to develop them from the outset.
So, if loneliness is something you’re struggling with, why not reach out to an old friend. For most people the cure for loneliness isn’t meeting new people, it’s reconnecting with people you already know.