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Friendship. Why is it Important in Life?

How to choose friends and maintain friendship for a lifetime?

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]riendship is defined as a relationship characterized by lasting love, regard, closeness, and confidence between two individuals. Friendly connections have been treasured as essential partnerships since ancient times when Confucius and Aristotle highlighted the advantages of interacting with individuals who foster moral integrity, match one’s own limits, and give loved company. Aristotle, in particular, emphasized emotional and reciprocal qualities of friendship that are regarded as fundamental now.

A true friend is someone who gives you the total freedom to be yourself– Jim Morrison

A good and healthy friendship is that which builds over time. It is based on love, trust, and support. What are its types? Science discusses a lot about it as,

Cycle Of Friendship

Beyond that, creating deeper friendships may be mostly a matter of investing time. It is not uncommon to have a large number of acquaintances, a few casual friends, and just one or two close or close pals. Maintaining friendships takes more time and effort, and research indicates that it’s tough to retain more than 50 solid friends at a time. Here is the cycle from when people can become friends,

  • Acquaintances are people anyone encounters on a reasonably frequent basis who they “kind of know,” at least well enough to engage in vapid small chat, but who lack the motivation or emotional connection necessary for a deeper relationship.
  • Casual friends are often people with whom one spends time participating in common hobbies or who cross paths on a frequent basis and have grown to know well enough to feel comfortable calling “friends.” This kind of relationship is often formed as a result of a similar hobby, career, or circumstance. One may like all of the attendees of your yoga class to laugh with them during meetings, and even socialize with them outside of class, but these are individuals with whom one would not associate if they did not have this common interest.
  • Close friends almost always begin as acquaintances who develop into casual friends with whom one share sufficient mutual interest and appreciation that one can discuss a little more of oneself, they end up sharing a little more about themselves, and then they continue to enjoy learning about one another and spending time together. In comparison to casual friends, close friends tend to meet more often and provide greater emotional support.
  • Intimate Friends. A close friend is an intimate buddy. Close friends accept and encourage one other and also have a deeper connection. With a close friend, very few subjects are off-limits; one may feel as if they can discuss anything. This type of connection has an air of security and familiarity about it. “Best friend” is another phrase for intimate friends.

New research from the University of Kansas revealed that it takes around 50 hours of socializing to move from acquaintances to casual friends, an extra 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a maximum of 200 hours to become a close friend.

Friendships Across Lifespan

Throughout their lives, friends participate in a variety of activities together, yet friendship is conceptualized identically by children and adults. However, not all relationships and friendships are the same at each phase of life.

During Childhood. Even though the exact age at which children begin to create friends is unknown, the seeds of such connections are planted early on. Toddlers behave more consistently and predictably in their interactions with known peers than with new peers, due to a sense of similarity according to research. A true friendship can be even more obvious by the time kids reach preschool. Preschool friendships aid in the development of social and emotional abilities, as well as a feeling of belonging. Children, on their own, began to assume friendships as things they do together, like playing together.

Additionally, friendships between children are not always bidirectional. While friendship is often defined in terms of reciprocity, unilateral friendships, in which one kid in a pair nominates the other as a friend, are extremely prevalent in early childhood. Indeed, almost half of all preschool friendships are unilateral.

Middle Childhood. child friendshipsSchool-age friendships vary from childhood connections in many ways. Middle childhood connections are more permanent than early childhood interactions, but not as solid as teenage or adult friendships. Social interaction, chatting, equality, pleasant effect, mutual intimacy, and loyalty define school-age friendships. Like in preschool, shared activities characterize friendships at this age. Close friendships in high school are associated with benefits in mental health in early adulthood, according to the study.

Middle childhood connections are usually more complicated and adult-like than early childhood ones. Shared interests, empathy, common understanding, and self-disclosure become more vital by preadolescence. Even while same-gender (vs other-sex) friendships predominate in early and middle childhood, their percentage drops dramatically in middle childhood. Same-sex friendships often last into puberty.

Teens. Teenagers desire companions that match the identities they are attempting to develop. During the early adolescent years, friendships grow more passionate, strong, and supportive. The amount that youngsters communicate with their peers also rises. Teenage friendships are likely to be founded on personal likeness, acceptance, and cooperation. Same-sex friendships are indeed widespread throughout the early high school years.

Adults. Men and women appear to distance themselves from friendships after they marry. Adults have fewer friends and usually friends of the same gender. Middle-aged friendships are also more homogeneous in terms of age, race, and socioeconomic position than younger adult connections. This tendency may be due to societal standards portraying other-sex relationships as a danger to marriage. The decline in friendship frequency and rise in friend homogeneity at this stage may mirror most middle-aged persons’ circumstances, with fewer peers and prospective friends. Adults’ lives are also often more complicated, including family, children, and professions.

Older Age. Friendships between older adults occur in distinct circumstances from those of middle and early adulthood. This age and period of life are often defined by events such as retirement, relocation, death of a spouse, and declining health. These shifts affect older people’s capacity to develop and sustain friendships in a variety of ways. For example, retirement reduces the possibility of interacting with potential friends. Consistent research indicates that friendships are just as significant as familial connections in predicting mental well-being in adulthood and old age.

Individuals form Friendships in Unique Ways.

Making friends at a young age is important because friendships teach children how to cope with practical life events and social standards. Yet not all net-positive friendships look the same. Sociologist Sarah H. Matthews of Cleveland State University speaks about three unique forms of friendship: independent, discriminating, and acquisitive. Independent individuals tend to be content chatting informally with whoever’s present, while “discerning people are profoundly linked to a few extremely close friends,” The third category, acquisitive people, “gather a range of friends as they travel through life. They are willing to meet new people, yet maintain existing connections, too.”

Average Age of a Friendship?  Establishing a lifelong friendship is not an easy feat to do. In reality, according to 2009 Dutch research, the vast majority of friendships survive just roughly 7 years on average. Friendships, like any other kind of connection, need effort if you want them to endure.

Average Time Spent with Friends. To go along with their newfound sophisticated attitude to relationships, young people also make time to spend with their friends. According to the Encyclopedia of Human Relations, many adults spend 10 to 25 hours a week with friends, and the 2014 American Time Use Survey indicated that people aged 20 to 24 spent the most time per day socializing on average of any age group.

Recent research indicated that the highest number of social contacts for both men and women happens around the age of 25. But when young individuals settle into employment and pursue love relationships, those social networks swiftly narrow and relationships tend to take a second place.

People have buddies throughout their lifetimes, from preschool to retirement, but according to a new global poll commissioned by Snap Inc., the average age at which people meet their best friends is 21. The closest friend, according to the social media company, is someone with whom “you share everything.”

Benefits of Having Good Friends

Friendship is seen as such a beneficial factor because it works as a buffer in stressful circumstances and aids in the development of healthy habits; the emotional support we get from our personal connections is important to our health. Here are some proven benefits of having good friendly ties,

It Helps You Live Longer.  According to research carried out by Australia’s Flinder’s University, elderly persons who have close friends and allies live longer. After ten years of tracking 1,500 individuals, researchers revealed that those with a wide social network outlived their peers by 22%.

Other researchers at Brigham Young University analyzed 100 years of friendship across 48 prior studies and discovered that maintaining a strong social life may increase lifespan by up to 50%.

Keeps the Brain Sharp. Social connection, regardless of the number of friends that is appropriate for everyone, helps maintain the sharpness of thinking and cognitive abilities.

  • According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neuropsychology, and Psychiatry, those who felt lonely had a 1.6-fold increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who were socially excluded but not lonely.
  • In another study involving senior women, researchers discovered that having a wide social network has a protective impact on cognition and lowers the chance of developing dementia. 
  • New research published in JAMA Network Open in August 2021 indicated that engaging conversations may help safeguard brain health. The Framingham Heart Study found that among 2,171 individuals, those who had a good listener in their life had a greater amount of intellectual endurance.

Keeps Self Esteem High. Friends may help you gain more self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. A good buddy is your biggest supporter. According to research published in May 2015 in the journal PLoS One, membership in a social group corresponds with a greater self because individuals take pleasure in and get value from these interactions.

Makes Us Happier! A strong social circle (as defined by research participants’ cellphone activity) predicted happiness and overall wellbeing better than fitness tracker data, such as heartbeat and physical activity. Even living in a neighborhood also increases pleasure as per a study involving over 4,000 participants, having a cheerful buddy who lives within a mile of you enhances your own probability of happiness by 25%.

Can Encourage Healthy Habits. Having good interactions with people who make healthy choices might drive you to make an equally healthy decision. It can also be regarded as peer pressure, which is a very powerful force. However, it may also have a beneficial effect. There is another area in which friendship may assist! If your friends also quit, you’re 36% more likely to stop.

Even in the case of living a healthy lifestyle, the case is similar, 2011 research found, that people receive cues from their friends who exercise or eat healthily to lose weight. In fact, according to 2015 Michigan State University research, working out with a friend may help you get more exercise done in a shorter length of time. This can be explained by a study that experts at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles believe that relationships have an influence on physical health as a result of the body’s stress reaction.

They Give a Shoulder to Cry On. According to UCLA researchers, this is particularly true for women. When women feel anxious or ruffled, they are considerably more inclined than men to seek social assistance (typically from other women), which may reflect why stress has a greater impact on men’s health. Also, according to 2017 research of 2,000 adolescents and young adults, having deep connections helps us deal with the unexpected challenges of life.

We have seen some very beneficial effects of having friends in life, but what can be the result of having no friends? According to a Brigham Young University study, not having enough friends is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

According to AARP research, an estimated 42.6 million Americans over the age of 45 suffer from chronic loneliness, which greatly increases their risk of early mortality.

Despite the fact that it is difficult to assess social isolation and loneliness accurately, there is compelling evidence that many persons over the age of 50 are socially inept or lonely in ways that are detrimental to their health. Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with an increased risk of developing a number of physical and mental health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weaker immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even dementia.

  • According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), about one-fourth of persons aged 65 and older are socially isolated.
  • Social isolation greatly increases an individual’s risk of dying prematurely from any cause, a danger that may parallel that of smoking, obesity, and inactivity according to 2020 research.
  • Social isolation was shown to be connected with a roughly 50% greater risk of dementia.
  • Poor social interactions were shown to raise the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%.

Want to learn how dementia and mental health can affect your life? Read the article here.

How to Make Healthy Friendships

Certain friendships develop spontaneously and need little to no upkeep. Then there are friendships that began with amazing chemistry, but as time and experience pass, you realize the individual is no longer a good match for your life. Individuals with whom you associate have a significant effect on your own achievement. You just must pick the appropriate friends for long-term success. Here are some tips on how to do this:


1. Be an Attentive Listener.

Being a good listener is a simple technique to establish a connection. According to Princeton University neuroscience research, your brain derives more joy from talking about oneself than from food or money, therefore providing opportunities for prospective friends to do so by asking several questions. Research has found that individuals who get to know one other by asking lots of questions are regularly considered ‘more likable’ than others who ask fewer questions.

2. Stay Connected.friendships
It is always good to be connected to people you vibe with either through meeting or with a call. According to a study published in the journal Physica A, reciprocity — such as returning phone calls from a friend — is the most important element in determining whether or not friendships will continue.
It is also a good idea to re-connect with people with whom you have lost connections. According to research published in the journal Organization Science, reuniting with long-lost acquaintances may result in strong connections, even if a significant period of time has gone without touch.
How frequently do you need to check in with someone if you want to remain close friends? 
At the very least every two weeks, according to research.


3. Choose People That Celebrates You.

You want friends who will appreciate your accomplishments, not simply tolerate them. A real friend will applaud your journey’s milestones, accomplishments, and success stories. They will actually be pleased to see you achieve and will be the first to wish you well. These kinds of friends are uncommon, so cherish them when you come across them!

4. Find Like-Minded People.

According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, people form friendships with others who share their likes and dislikes, mutual interests, and even certain personality features. While variations are excellent in many ways, it’s preferable to retain core connections with like-minded individuals. While you may accept others’ views and differences, selecting friends who share your values will prevent you from compromising or being adversely affected by individuals who do not share your views. Friends with similar ideals may assist one other stay responsible as per research.

5. Share & Keep Secrets.

According to studies published in the book Friendship Processes, vulnerability is a necessary component of developing closeness with someone, and self-disclosure is a necessary component of relationship formation. Secrets are a major element of every friendship at any age. Friends constantly exchange secrets with one another. If a friend tells you a secret, keep it forever. Don’t violate their confidence by divulging their secrets. You also shouldn’t use your friends’ secrets against them. Use it for good. The best idea is to reciprocate. Friendship is a constant exchange of secrets. That doesn’t mean you can’t share yours with them.

6. Be More Humorous.

Don’t be shy when it comes to your sense of humor. According to research published in the journal Human Nature, having a laugh with someone increases their likelihood of giving personal information about themselves. Laughter may make individuals feel more at ease while communicating details, so don’t be hesitant to crack your favorite joke.

Smiling is another vital to creating new connections and also maintaining them, according to research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, since individuals are more receptive to pleasant feelings when they are developing new relationships.

People will come and go from your life for the rest of your lifetime. However, if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll come across a small group of people that will be there for you for the long haul. The choice to maintain your BFFs as a part of your life must be made. The ability to maintain a lifetime friendship is not simple, but it is possible. Because of friends. They can do more than just pass the Box of tissues after a break-up, let you laugh after a difficult day at work, or give you dating advice over a drink. True friendship actually saves lives and helps us to Prime with Time!

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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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