Who are my friends?

With countless social media connections and the demands of family and kids—as well as career, church, and other commitments vying for time—we often find it hard to identify and maintain solid friendships. In addition, younger adults move around more and stay single for longer than past generations did, making friendships both a greater necessity as well as a greater challenge.

I recently spoke with Wheaton College communication professor Emily Langan on the realities and opportunities for friendship in our time. Langan’s research, which focuses on relationship maintenance and the unique nature of friendship, has been highlighted in several recent articles that explore the changing dynamics of friendship in adulthood as well as technology’s impact on friendship. Langan is no Luddite when it comes to technology; she believes we can use it proactively and thoughtfully to further relationships. “In the church, we love ‘embodied relationships,’ the face-to-face, sitting down, sharing everything kind. But, we can also advance a friendship one text message at a time,” she said.

Langan also shared her thoughts on navigating friendships in singleness and post-college, as well as cultivating diverse friendships in the church.

How is friendship different now than it was in our grandparents’ time?

Our lives are more fragmented. My grandmother had a weekly bridge club. Those ladies met for years. They saw each other through major events and were part of each other’s ins and outs. Nowadays, there are book clubs and things like that, but we just don’t have those casual, continual relationships like we used to have. Families also fragment and demand time in ...

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