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'9% of people have no close friend'

It is a lonely life for some as a "worrying" 9% of people do not have a close friend, according to a study of UK relationships.

The research gathered statistics around how close we feel to others, including the "unimaginable" scenario of nearly one in 10 people saying they do not have a single close friend, and almost one in five (19%) rarely or never feeling loved in the two weeks before the survey.

The poll of more than 5,000 people by relationship support organisation Relate provides a snapshot of various areas of people's lives - from couple and family life, to sex, friendships, and interactions with colleagues and bosses.

The vast majority of people have at least one close friend, but it is significant that a "concerning" one in 10 does not, Relate said.

The survey found 91% of people said there is at least one friend they are close to, and 81% of women describe their friendships as good/very good compared with 73% of men.

Women also report that their friendships improve with age, whereas for men this remains static throughout life.

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of Relate, said: "This new study examines the quality of our relationships, showing a clear link between our personal relationships and our well-being. Whilst there is much to celebrate, the results around how close we feel to others are very concerning.

"There is a significant minority of people who claim to have no close friends, or who never or rarely feel loved - something which is unimaginable to many of us.

"Relationships are the asset which can get us through good times and bad, and it is worrying to think that there are people who feel they have no-one they can turn to during life's challenges. We know that strong relationships are vital for both individuals and society as a whole, so investing in them is crucial."

The survey found a quarter (24%) of people are not satisfied with their sex lives, while more than one in three (35%) think their bosses believe the most productive employees put work before family.

It also found that 85% of people have good relationships with their partners, but while the vast majority of people in relationships feel close to their other halves, there are also some concerning statistics in this section, Relate said.

A total of 24% of people report having an affair, and t he counselling service said the numbers of people who rarely or never feel loved are "worryingly high".

The study found a clear link between high-quality relationships and high levels of well-being.

But simply being in a relationship does not guarantee that people will feel good about themselves - single people feel better about themselves than those in average, bad or very bad relationships, suggesting it is the quality of the relationship that has an impact on well-being and happiness, Relate said.

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