Having a tight-knit circle of girlfriends is lovely, but being able to rely on an expansive network or community of diverse voices and individuals can take you further in life by having varying levels of support at your disposal, including access to personal and professional resources, or simply a helping hand from someone unexpected, when you need it. As many know, we’re currently in a “loneliness epidemic.” According to data from Morning Consult, underrepresented racial groups and people with low incomes are particularly likely to deal with loneliness. While intimate friendships seem like the solution, it could be the opposite. Causal relationships or surface-level friendships may be the key to a happier, fulfilled, and connected life, allowing us to feel less isolated and alone.
Although Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter created the “weak ties” concept to highlight the importance of casual acquaintances, Danielle Bayard Jackson, a noted TikToker and friendship coach who helps people cultivate and expand their friendship circles, recently reintroduced the concept to her 281,000 followers. Jackson also claimed that “weak tie” friendships are more important than some of your longest-standing relationships and best friends. However, that doesn’t mean you have to trade one type of friendship in for the other, as the idea is that the two types of friendships work together to add very different but equally necessary things to our lives.
In her recent TikTok video, she explained precisely how vital casual acquaintances actually are to our happiness. “There are close friends, and then there are… acquaintances, associates,” she explained on TikTok. “The sociological term for people who are not our besties, but with whom we have pleasant enough relationships is weak ties. Those are people who you enjoy but who you see more infrequently, and you have less intimacy with.”
Jackson continues, “According to research, people with weaker ties are happier and less likely to have depression because close friends are not the only kind of relationships that offer value to your life.”
We all know friendly acquaintances in our lives and appreciate them for the micro-joys that they bring. Think about your neighbors, coworkers, servicemen, and airplane passengers; they all play a crucial role in rounding out our well-being.
Sociologists and friendship experts like Jackson believe that weak-tie friendships enhance our lives by providing connections to resources and perspectives beyond our own.
“People with a lot of weak ties probably have more access to resources they need, which keeps them happier and healthier,” Jackson shares. “Weak-tie” friendships also bring a diversity of experiences to our lives. People with lots of “weak-tie” friendships, according to Jackson, “have a variety of perspectives, which makes them feel like their world is bigger, and they are getting affirmed for the various aspects of their intersectional identities, which means you probably feel seen more because you have a variety of people in your life.”