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Make New Friends with Dr. Marisa Franco (ep. 438)

Frienship expert Dr. Marisa Franco

Friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco joins John O’Leary on the Live Inspired Podcast to share the powerful benefits of platonic friendship + tools to combat loneliness.

Did you know…

  • Two-thirds of Americans report feeling lonely, and that’s even before the pandemic.
  • The average American hasn’t made a new friend in the last five years.
  • Loneliness is as toxic as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Today, psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco shares her research in the science of friendship and the powerful benefits platonic friendships have on our overall wellbeing.

In a season of social fragmentation and rampant loneliness, join us as we provide the tools needed to make, maintain and deepen friendships.

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  • Struggling after a breakup in her 20s, Marisa built a support system that taught her romantic love was not the only love that mattered.
  • “It’s a gift to give love just as much as it is to receive love.”
  • For friendships to happen, sociologists have determined we need continuous unplanned interaction and shared vulnerably.
  • Research finds that loneliness is as toxic as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  • Make new friends but keep the old: Assume others like you because if you assume rejection, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • The Liking Gap is the difference between how much we think another person likes us and how much they actually like us. Most people underestimate how much another person liked them and the more self-critical, the more pronounced this is.
  • Friendship networks are shrinking. We are four to five times more likely to have no friends than we were decades ago.
  • Having a trusted confidant is the best way to fight against depression.
  • Embrace vulnerability. The “beautiful mess effect” reminds us that we take a more negative view of our own vulnerability than we do of others and by having the courage to show our vulnerability, we will become more connected with others.
  • When our mental health is suffering, we tend to focus more on ourselves which affects our relationships.
  • In his book Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam finds the television as the biggest culprit for why we disengage with society because it creates pseudo-connection and lethargy.
  • Marisa’s research has taught her the importance of working through problems with friends and recognizing the gift of not only receiving love but giving it.
  • Marisa encourages to meet others with habitual open-mindedness.
  • “Anything you do to better your connection with others will also better your mental health and wellbeing.”
  • Five ways to elevate friendships:
    1. Assume others like you.
    2. Initiate new friendships.
    3. Tell your friends how much you love and value them.
    4. Be more vulnerable.
    5. Try to accept your friends for who they are and not what you think they should be.
  • Interested in being a better friend? Take Dr. Marisa Franco’s Friendship Survey here.
  • Due to publish in September, pre-order Dr. Marisa Frano’s book Plantonic here.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. All About Love by Bell Hooks.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. The ability to let loose and have fun.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. My laptop because it’s my second brain and has access to all the information I share on friendships. A necklace my brother bought me when we were in a state of conflict.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Oscar Wilde.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Trust yourself.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Feel your feelings.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. She healed people.