I just got a taste of my own medicine.

At Sea Change, we often tell clients, “that’s a good research question.” Or “what would your donors say?” Then we help them find out the answers so they can better communicate with their target audiences.

Sometimes we corroborate something that was a hunch. Sometimes we’re completely surprised with what learn. 

During the last six months, I’ve had to take my own advice in a big way.

As part of my passion project Lifeboat, which is dedicated to creating a groundswell of people rediscovering meaningful friendship in the digital age, I’ve recently done a lot more listening than talking (Yes- I know it’s hard to believe). And with the help of my generous business partner Mark Rovner and the brainiacs over at Edge Research, today we released a first-of-its-kind study, the State of Friendship in America, 2013.

As usual, there were some surprises and some hunches confirmed.

What did we find out?

The headline is that there is a growing “friendship crisis” facing adults across the nation. Less than a quarter of Americans are truly satisfied with their friendships and almost two-thirds lack confidence in even their closest friends.

Other findings we surfaced:

  • Hit hardest by the crisis, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers exhibit markedly lower levels of overall satisfaction with their friendships than do Millennials and Seniors, indicating a mid-life friendships slump.
  • Women say they have access to more intimate friendships, but they are no happier than men with the state of their friendships.
  • Most Americans — by more than 2 to 1 — would prefer to have deeper friendships than more friends.
  • Use of social media is not a factor one way or the other in the quality of one’s friendships or one’s overall friendship satisfaction.
  • Most Americans doubt that their close friends would have their back in a crisis, for example, to lend them $500 (33%), bail them out of jail (23%) or donate a kidney (22%).

Want to know more? Get the infographics and full report here.

Called to this project by my own mid-life friendship slump, I plan to use this research to help:

  1. Start where my audience is to better communicate with them about friendship.  
  2. Call attention to the “friendship crisis” through media outreach.
  3. Kick start a deeper and richer conversation about friendship and its role in our lives.

This project has been a labor of love. If you think it’s an idea worth spreading, please share the infographics with your friends.