Platonic | Marisa G. Franco

Summary of: Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends
By: Marisa G. Franco

Introduction

In ‘Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends’, Marisa G. Franco explores the power of friendships and how they affect our lives more than we realize. Through intriguing anecdotal and scientific evidence, this book summary delves into the various ways in which friends make our lives more fulfilling, from improving our well-being and empathy to equipping us with the tools to nurture lasting bonds. Learn how essential factors such as vulnerability, authenticity, communication, and generosity can become the foundation for building and maintaining lifelong friendships. Discover how to create meaningful connections and the essential role that affection plays in strengthening relationships.

The Power of Friendship

Harriet once believed that finding a spouse was the key to a fulfilling life until she lost her husband. As she mourned, she discovered that friends were the true source of happiness and meaning in her life. Research shows that having a big social network reduces mortality by 45 percent and increases happiness levels more than time spent with spouses or children. Friendship also teaches empathy and molds us into more well-rounded individuals. To build lasting relationships, we must focus on making and keeping quality connections.

Building a Social Circle

Have you recently started living in a new city and are struggling to make friends? Joining a group with regular meetups is the first step in building a social circle. Spending more time with people increases the likelihood of making connections with them. Dr. Erica J. Boothby found that people often underestimate how much others like them. Participating in group activities for at least three months and inviting your favorite person from the group to hang out one-on-one increases exposure and builds a deeper connection. Don’t wait for others to come to you, take the lead, and put yourself out there!

Strengthening Relationships through Vulnerability

Making new friends is great, but maintaining and strengthening the relationship requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable means sharing the most fragile and humiliating pieces of yourself with others. Research has shown that people feel closer to those who show vulnerability. To introduce vulnerability into your relationships, you need to be the first one to show it. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. It’s particularly important in male friendships, as the Western ideal of masculinity discourages men from expressing what’s perceived as “weakness.” Start small by sharing something a little more personal than you normally would. However, be selective about who you choose to be vulnerable with. Only trust people who have shown to be supportive and accepting of your vulnerabilities in the past. By being vulnerable, you will connect more deeply with others and strengthen your relationships.

True Friendship and Being Authentic

Authenticity is vital in developing and sustaining meaningful friendships. According to ancient Greeks and modern social scientists, authenticity means behaving in harmony with your innermost thoughts and emotions. While hiding our true feelings might seem like a defense mechanism to protect ourselves or the relationship, revealing our true selves to friends helps us tap into our highest selves, leading to empathetic and considerate behavior. Researchers found that people who dropped defense mechanisms and showed their authentic selves became more favored socially, even making new friends. Therefore, being authentic is vital to building fulfilling friendships.

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