Why women have a hard time meeting friends, and a new app that can help

There’s a new app that’s basically Tinder, but for meeting friends. Well, specifically it’s for women to find female friends.
Feb 05, 2016

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  • There's a new app that's basically Tinder, but for meeting friends.

  • Well, specifically it's for women to find female friends.

  • The app, called Hey! VINA, matches women with other females who have similar hobbies and interests in their surrounding area, Quartz's Corinne Purtill reported. It's an app very much like Tinder: users sign in through Facebook, answer a quick quiz and then begin swiping through potential friendship matches. A right swipe allows two women to chat.

  • So far, the app is only available in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. But it wouldn't be surprising if it expanded to other American cities given that women often desire to find female friends, Purtill reported.

  • "While there's no shortage of apps to connect potential romantic partners, Hey! VINA offers something many women want even more than a date: the chance to bond with a friend."

  • In fact, the app's purpose is rooted in its beginnings. Hey! VINA's founders Olivia June Poole and Jen Aprahamian are two women who met in Silicon Valley, a place that's been known for having male-dominated work environments, Fast Company reported.

  • "We built this app to solve for our own needs as women who have moved, traveled, changed careers and shifted lifestyles and life stages," Poole told Fast Company.

  • Female friendships have been known to help women in more ways than one. A 2002 University of California, Los Angeles study found that friendships between women are "special" because they can actually limit stress.

  • "They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more," a report on the study said. "Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis."

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  • The study found that the idea of "fight or flight" isn't common in women when they're surrounded by their female counterparts. Rather, the oxytocin hormone, known to create feelings of reward and joy through the brain, gets released when women are near each other, calming stresses.

  • "It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research — most of it on men — upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible," the report said.

  • A similar study from 1991 found that women with more social relationships or supportive friends tend to survive cancer more often than those who had weaker friendships.

  • But it's not always easy to make friends. In general, making friends outside of high school and college can be a tasking process for adults since there's rarely time to engage in social activities, other than the weekend. Most of our friendships are established before the age of 30, after all, since schedules only increase as we get older, The New York Times reported.

  • Women specifically face challenges because they are often tasked with taking care of children, keeping their schedules full and, unfortunately, free of time for friends, Sarah Jenks, founder of Live More Weigh Less, wrote for The Huffington Post. Women also rarely know where to meet people when they are stay-at-home moms, too.

  • There's also the general societal pressures that go into meeting friends that cause women to struggle, like feeling embarrassed over awkward behavior or worrying that a potential new friend will think you're "too much," she wrote.

  • But Jenks has some solutions, too. To build more friendships between women, she suggests finding a woman and just simply talking to her.

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  • Meeting new friends can be as easy as talking to the women next to you in the library or at a cafe, or even at the playground when two mothers are watching their children.

  • "Here's what I want you to do, go start up a conversation with a new friend by the end of the day tomorrow. Be nice, be bold, be awkward. It's OK," she wrote.

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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