Why One to One?
You’ve probably seen by now the awesome story of a life-long Best Buddies friendship highlighted in People magazine last week. In case you missed it, in celebration of National Friendship Day, the publication put the spotlight on Lisa Buchanan and Ruth Godding, two people who met through the Best Buddies program at Marymount University 20 years ago and who are still friends to this day.
They’ve been through a lot together; they’ve seen jobs come and go, weddings, and kids. And they are still connected through the bond of their friendship. Keeping in touch with people as we move from schools, new homes, and over years is hard. But when you connect with the right person, it becomes part of the fabric of our daily lives.
That’s what we want to talk about today. How do we connect with one person – and why is this so important? Let’s dig in.
First, there is a lot of research behind the value of one-to-one friendship connections, like this this one that outlines the argument that “you’re going to cultivate a closer relationship with the one person than you would with ten [people].” And this one that says having one best friend can boost your mental and physical health, build your self-esteem, and make you more successful at work.
In addition to these cold, hard facts, we also have the warm, soft truth of friendships like Ruth’s and Lisa’s. The fact is, when we humans make a good connection with another person, we want to include them in our life, in the milestones and changes, and have them by your side for the fun adventures. This is equally true for people with and without disabilities.
A study published in 2016 found that “social exclusion, loneliness and a lack of friends present many people with intellectual disability with a health and well‐being triple jeopardy. Social inclusion can be described as not only being present in a community, but also having meaningful social connections and participating in fulfilling social activities. Participation in meaningful social activities has been demonstrated to have a significant positive impact on loneliness for people with intellectual disability.”
And when we don’t take the time to invest in one person, we run the risk of perpetuating feelings of loneliness and exacerbating the false idea that people with disabilities cannot make good friends. Just take the word of Cynthia Pickett, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Davis. She says that “according to the Equity Theory of Relationships, when one person feels that they are investing more in a relationship than the other person, this will lead to dissatisfaction. So, by spreading oneself thin, one risks losing friends.”
This is also evidenced by the experience of Lizzie Gillen, Best Buddies Chapter President at the University of Maine. “When I was matched with two people, I was constantly feeling left out of the loop and missed multiple opportunities to do things with my buddy because I was left out of the circle of communication. Although having multiple people in the friendship seems like a good idea in theory, there are so many communication and logistical issues that end up hurting the friendship, rather than strengthening it. When I was matched with one person this year, I was able to relax, able to concentrate on building a friendship between us. We had the time to get comfortable with one another, and are still able to include lots of new friends in our outings, now that we have a strong foundation between us.”
Best Buddies is committed to sharing all sorts of different friendship experiences with everyone involved. But one-to-one friends is crucial to the integrity of our mission because we know it works. Research, experience, and best practice for 30 years have led us to this point where we know the foundation of our mission is strong.
Kylee Sanchez is an extraordinary volunteer from Southern California and has been involved with Best Buddies for the past six years. She was a chapter president at her high school for three years and is currently the activities coordinator at her college campus. She is a member of the Young Leaders Council where she has led multiple initiatives. Kylee believes her work with Best Buddies gives her a platform to advocate for the rights of those with IDD and she wants to continue finding ways to make a difference.
Professionalism 101 is a webinar produced and facilitated by Kylee with the help of Best Buddies staff from the Jobs program. The webinar reviews the importance of how to best interact with co-workers, keep professional boundaries and maintain a positive and productive workplace and culture.