What To Know About Locationships With Friends

Friendship is important — so important that it could literally save your life. According to a 2010 research article published in PLOS Medicine, lacking social connection can increase your risk of mortality at a rate similar to regularly smoking or consuming alcohol. It might even be worse for your health than obesity or physical inactivity. Even still, loneliness is becoming more common in many places. In the United States, for instance, loneliness is trumping many other major health issues, as outlined in a recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General.


Dealing with loneliness would be easy if making friends as an adult were as simple as it was during childhood. But if you ask Dr. Marisa Franco, author of the book "Platonic: How Understanding Your Attachment Style Can Help You Make and Keep Friends," it can be. The key is to focus less on people you'd like to get to know better but only see sporadically and invest in "locationships" instead. Here's what the catchy term means and how to apply it to your social life.

What are locationships?

If you ask Urban Dictionary what a locationship is, it'll spit out a definition along the lines of, "A temporary, uncommitted relationship that only lasts while two people are in the same location" — think a vacation hookup or a work bestie you'd never talk to again if one of you switched jobs. In her book, Dr. Marisa Franco offers a somewhat similar definition for these relationships, though she argues that they can make way for meaningful and long-lasting connections. Locationships, according to Dr. Franco, are "low-cost friendships that are sustained because friends live in the same location."


As she points out, potential friends are more likely to meet and hang out when there are few barriers in their way. A long drive or mismatched schedule can make two people less likely to see each other often enough to become bonded (and for what it's worth, it takes about 140 hours of quality time to form a close friendship, per a 2019 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships). Dr. Franco also points to the "mere exposure effect"  — the idea that people tend to like those they've been exposed to — to explain why locationships seem to pan out better than other types of friendships.

That doesn't mean you're limited to becoming besties with your roommate or neighbor. Locationships can be built away from home, too, like at the office or during your Saturday morning French class — anywhere you frequent regularly.


What does this mean for you?

If you're feeling a little disconnected from others and want to meet new people, try starting with locationships in mind. Plant yourself where potential friends might be, and keep returning on a regular basis. If you follow the 3:6 rule to make friends in adulthood, you should meet up with a new friend or group at least three times within six weeks to forge a connection. "I suggest joining something that meets regularly over time — so instead of going to a networking event, look for a professional development group, for example. Don't go to a book lecture; look for a book club," Dr. Marisa Franco shared with The New York Times. She added that these kinds of structured, repeated encounters take advantage of the mere exposure effect and make a budding friendship more likely.


If you'd rather not go out of your way to make new friends, consider where you already spend time. If you visit a neighborhood coffee shop every day, chat up the barista or other regulars. If you attend a local yoga class, try befriending your fellow yogis and possibly turning those downward-facing dogs into post-class dinner and drinks.

Whatever you do, don't stay home watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Even if it feels awkward at first, push forward, put yourself out there, and you might just discover that making friends can be (almost) as easy as it was when you were a child.