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Site helps find close friends, which is good for health

October 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Facebook friend count is at an all-time high, but true friendships seem to be fewer than ever.

Twenty-five percent of women say they have no true confidant and another 20 percent say they've got just one close friend. That puts almost half of us on the edge of social isolation.

Doctors say these kinds of social networks are extremely important in keeping us from depression, heart disease and other health problems.

Now one woman is helping others make a connection that lasts. It's called GirlFriendCircles.

We all want them, but finding people we actually like is not so easy.

"Drama. I don't like drama," said 50-year-old Life Coach Kellie Barrow.

"We're so competitive," added 51-year-old artist Nelly Cotto.

Barrow and Cotto gave up their draining relationships and found a lasting BFF with each other.

They found each other through a friend-matching website called GirlFriendCircles.com. Shasta Nelson created GirlFriendCircles after a divorce and move to a new city left her more than a little lonely.

"I remember walking down the street looking in a window and seeing a group of women laughing in a caf? and I thought...I want to know them," said Nelson.

Research shows women are replacing half their friends every seven years. Not only do you mentally need friends, but they're good for your health, too.

A study out of Brigham Young University found that if you feel disconnected, it is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, twice as harmful as being obese and as damaging as being an alcoholic. And having a deep friendship could improve the chances of your survival by 50 percent.

"I call it 'friendtimacy,'" said Nelson.

The first step to "friendtimacy" is to put yourself out there. Begin online. GirlFriendCircles is $30 for a six-month subscription. They have gatherings in 35 cities.

"You show up, you meet people and have a good time," said one person.

Then it's up to the women to follow up, plan another event or call for coffee.

"It's totally a date," one person said.

As for Barrow and Cotto, they are now confirmed best friends and hope to be for life.

"We tell each other everything," said Cotto.


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