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Psychology of Friendship: The Real Deal

Updated on February 17, 2016
Will the true meaning of Friendship flourish in our interconnected world?
Will the true meaning of Friendship flourish in our interconnected world?

Discovering and Maintaining Friendship

Just about every human being on earth has friends or yearns for friends. These friends are people that an individual cares about, trusts, and would stand up for because of the mutual bond that they share. This type of bond is different from that of a family or spouse bond because there is neither blood relation nor intimacy. However, friendship can occur between family members and spouses. There are many benefits associated with finding and having friends, but friendship is not the easiest thing to get your arm around. It may be difficult or simple to find friends depending on the individual, and it may be difficult or simple to lose friends depending on the individual. With that said, discovering and keeping friends is not the easiest thing to do.

What is a Friend?

The basic definition of the word friend, “is an individual that one share mutual care and trust with.” However, there are many different types of friends, “best friends, close friends, casual friends, work friends, activity friends, and even just friends.” The type of friends that we are most concerned with are the close friend and the best friend or the friend that is always there for us and we are always there for them. According to Camerer, the four characteristics that close friendships have in common are “mutual caring, mutual trust, mutual respect, and symmetrical reciprocity”. Once these characteristics are met, true friendship can be established.

Mutual caring refers to the friend’s ability to always be there for each other. This means that a friend is always willing to listen, give advice, and be sympathetic and empathetic when necessary. For instance, if a person suffers the loss of a family member, he would not think twice to talk to his friend about the event; since he knows that doing so will ease his pain. In addition, if a person is about to make an important decision, he would not be hesitant to consult with his friend, for doing so may allow him to make a better decision.Symmetrical reciprocity is a characteristic of friendship which indicates that a kind act is returned with a kind act. Although “friends do not expect each friendly act to be reciprocated immediately or in kind, still each expect that the friendly act will be more or less reciprocated in the long run”. This does not indicate that a friend is nice to his friend because he wants that person to be nice to him. It shows that friends feel as though it is there duty to be nice to each other. They do not expect anything in return, but they feel as though they should give something back.

Mutual respect is an aspect of friendship which makes each person equals. When two individuals respect each other equally they cooperate with one another. For example, if an individual commands another individual to help with homework, the person may not want to help because he feels disrespected. However, if a person asks another person nicely to help with homework, the individual will feel compelled to help the other individual out. Mutual respect is very important because when friends are together, they need to cooperate with each other so that they can get along. Without mutual respect real friendship is not a possibility.


Mutual trust speaks about a friend’s ability to be able to tell each other personal information. Trust is very important in friendship because it connects with all of the other characteristics of friendship If a person informs others about his friend’s personal information, he would break all of the other three ideologies of friendship. He would hurt his friend immensely which breaks the mutual caring characteristic. He would be disrespecting his friend which breaks the mutual respect characteristic, and he would be failing to return kindness, which beaks the symmetrical reciprocity characteristic.

Friends that have these characteristics are not the average friends that we have on Facebook. As a matter of fact, those thousands of friends on Facebook are more like acquaintances, not friends According to a study of the thousand friends that a person had on Facebook only a few remembered him. This indicates how misguided many people are when it comes to who their friends are. Furthermore, all of those few “friends” that remembered him may not meet the criteria of close friends; in the view of a conducted study showed that most times people can count their close friends in one hand

How is Friendship established?

According to Camerer(1994), we must first be in contact with someone for friendship to be established because without contact we would not be able to communicate and learn about the person . A person could be our absolute twin, but if we do not ever meet them we cannot possibly become friends because we would never be able to interact with each other. To actually communicate with a person is sometimes the most difficult part of establishing friendship because walking up to a random person and talking to them is not an easy thing to do. However, attending events such as meet ups and clubs puts a person in close proximity with people who they can talk to so that communication can begin. Once communication begins, there are three criteria, "dislike, disregard, and like" are all analyzed to determine whether or not we are willing to establish friendship.

Dislike represents the aspects of the person that we do not like. These aspects can be the way the person behaves or appears. Some common examples would be how the person talks, acts, smells, and looks. The way we look at these things may allow us to immediately determine whether or not we want to make friends with the person. If we cannot stand the person, we will not want to have anything to do with them and we would try our best to end the conversation and move on.

Disregard refers the things that we ignore or want nothing to do with. For example, some employees want nothing to do with their boss, being they just hate them or they think that their boss wants nothing to do with them. Analyzing these criteria allows a person to quickly decide whether or

FRIENDSHIP

not they want to be friends with another person. For example, a strong republican may never want to make friends with a strong democrat considering they would have complete disregard towards each other.

Like represents the things that we admire or respect about the person that we are communicating with. Most of the times these likes are similarities of "interests, attitudes, and values" seeing these are things that allow us to easily interact and cooperate with the person. For instance, an athlete would not have much to talk about with a nerd, for they have completely different interests, but an athlete could easily strike up a conversation with another athlete by virtue of the many things that they have in common. Also, if a person behaves in a way that is pleasing to you, you would not have any problems interacting with that person for they would not annoy you as much as a person that has behaviors that you dislike. However, some individuals develop likes towards people that are opposite to them because they respect and admire the abilities that they do not have. For instance, an introvert may like an extravert because he wants to be outgoing and talkative, but he is unable to do so.

A meaningful conversation must be had in order for a person to see the likes, dislikes, and disregards. In order to create a meaningful conversation one must ask open questions such as "are you married?" which cannot be answered by a few words. Questions such as " What do you intend to do with your political science degree?" should be asked since they allow the person to talk about something that she is passionate about and it also gives you the ability to talk about something that you are passionate about if she asks you the same question. In addition, when a person asks you questions you should give an open response so that they can learn about you and decide whether or not you are compatible with her. One should not be afraid of rejection because not taking risks may result in one taking longer to make friends.

How is Friendship Maintained?

The most important aspect of maintaining friendships is keeping in contact, and remaining mutual and reciprocal. Although technology allows us to communicate from great distances, nothing can replace a face to face conversation because of the emotions you feel from a person's body language and tone of voice. Mutuality refers to the togetherness that close friends have. The type of closeness exemplified by mutuality can be compared to two basketball players playing a game so that they can win a match and not compete with each other. According to Camerer (1994), "Reciprocity refers to the concept of giving something back in an equal amount in which it was given". True friends do not expect others to return favors right away, but they expect lasting kindness in the long run. The three acts that are mutual and reciprocal in a maintained friendship are "helping," having fun, and "sticking up for."

Maintained friendships keep a continued flow of mutual and reciprocal helping. Whenever a friend is in desperate need of help, you must always be there for him. This help may not need to be physical. In fact, most the time friends need emotional and psychological help such as advice or support. For instance, a friend may come to you for help with an important decision, and in order to maintain the friendship you have to help him out.

Maintaining friendships requires you to have fun with the individual once in a while. This fun does not have to be anything big; it can simply be a lively phone conversation with jokes and lots of laughing. These simple conversations keep you in contact with your friends and let them know that you still have interest in them. Further, it keeps them interested in you and allows for the relationship to endure.

Finally, sticking up for your friend is necessary for maintaining friendship. This act has two meanings, "sticking up for and covering for". Sticking up for is defined as physically teaming up with your friend to fight opposition such as an oppressing classmate. Covering for is defined as hiding the wrong things that a friend has done such as breaking the law. Again, sticking up for and covering for tells your friend that you are there for him when he need you.

Maintaining friendships takes a great deal of time and effort, for not spending time with friends can cause friendships to quickly and easily dissolve. Friendships that are well maintained flourish for a very long time. However, it must be noted that most people only have a few close friends. This makes sense because you can only spend that much time maintaining friendship with a few select people. There is only so much that you can physically do.

Health Benefits of Friendship

Friendship has a great effect on our health. According to Mayo Clinic:

Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too.

Friends help us by keeping our company when we need them and preventing us from feeling lonely. As many of us are well aware, loneliness can cause depression because we think about the worse possible things. In addition, when something traumatizing has happened to us, we need people around us to make the situation better. This is where friends come in and save the day. They become a source that we can tell all of our problems to and they will listen and give the best possible advice to us. The psychological help that friends offer to us help to strengthen our immune systems because a strong mind leads to a strong body.

Friendship is something that is not easily discovered and maintained. It is something that we

not they want to be friends with another person. For example, a strong republican may never want to make friends with a strong democrat considering they would have complete disregard towards each other.

Like represents the things that we admire or respect about the person that we are communicating with. Most of the times these likes are similarities of "interests, attitudes, and values" seeing these are things that allow us to easily interact and cooperate with the person. For instance, an athlete would not have much to talk about with a nerd, for they have completely different interests, but an athlete could easily strike up a conversation with another athlete by virtue of the many things that they have in common. Also, if a person behaves in a way that is pleasing to you, you would not have any problems interacting with that person for they would not annoy you as much as a person that has behaviors that you dislike. However, some individuals develop likes towards people that are opposite to them because they respect and admire the abilities that they do not have. For instance, an introvert may like an extravert because he wants to be outgoing and talkative, but he is unable to do so.

A meaningful conversation must be had in order for a person to see the likes, dislikes, and disregards. In order to create a meaningful conversation one must ask open questions such as "are you married?" which cannot be answered by a few words. Questions such as " What do you intend to do with your political science degree?" should be asked since they allow the person to talk about something that she is passionate about and it also gives you the ability to talk about something that you are passionate about if she asks you the same question. In addition, when a person asks you questions you should give an open response so that they can learn about you and decide whether or not you are compatible with her. One should not be afraid of rejection because not taking risks may result in one taking longer to make friends.

How is Friendship Maintained?

The most important aspect of maintaining friendships is keeping in contact, and remaining mutual and reciprocal. Although technology allows us to communicate from great distances, nothing can replace a face to face conversation because of the emotions you feel from a person's body language and tone of voice. Mutuality refers to the togetherness that close friends have. The type of closeness exemplified by mutuality can be compared to two basketball players playing a game so that they can win a match and not compete with each other. According to Camerer (1994), "Reciprocity refers to the concept of giving something back in an equal amount in which it was given". True friends do not expect others to return favors right away, but they expect lasting kindness in the long run. The three acts that are mutual and reciprocal in a maintained friendship are "helping," having fun, and "sticking up for."

Maintained friendships keep a continued flow of mutual and reciprocal helping. Whenever a friend is in desperate need of help, you must always be there for him. This help may not need to be physical. In fact, most the time friends need emotional and psychological help such as advice or support. For instance, a friend may come to you for help with an important decision, and in order to maintain the friendship you have to help him out.

Maintaining friendships requires you to have fun with the individual once in a while. This fun does not have to be anything big; it can simply be a lively phone conversation with jokes and lots of laughing. These simple conversations keep you in contact with your friends and let them know that you still have interest in them. Further, it keeps them interested in you and allows for the relationship to endure.

Finally, sticking up for your friend is necessary for maintaining friendship. This act has two meanings, "sticking up for and covering for". Sticking up for is defined as physically teaming up with your friend to fight opposition such as an oppressing classmate. Covering for is defined as hiding the wrong things that a friend has done such as breaking the law. Again, sticking up for and covering for tells your friend that you are there for him when he need you.

Maintaining friendships takes a great deal of time and effort, for not spending time with friends can cause friendships to quickly and easily dissolve. Friendships that are well maintained flourish for a very long time. However, it must be noted that most people only have a few close friends. This makes sense because you can only spend that much time maintaining friendship with a few select people. There is only so much that you can physically do.

Psychological Benefits of Friendship:

  • Friendship has a great effect on our health. According to Mayo Clinic:
  • Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too.
  • Friends help us by keeping our company when we need them and preventing us from feeling lonely.
  • The psychological help that friends offer to us help to strengthen our immune systems because a strong mind leads to a strong body.

As many of us are well aware, loneliness can cause depression because we think about the worse possible things.In addition, when something traumatizing has happened to us, we need people around us to make the situation better. This is where friends come in and save the day. They become a source that we can tell all of our problems to and they will listen and give the best possible advice to us.

Conclusion

Friendship is something that is not easily discovered and maintained. It is something that we learn to create and maintain through trial and error because no one thinks about reading a manual before exploring friendship, and even if we did few would be able to immediately master it. Friendship has many benefits however, so it is very important for us to know how to develop and maintain friendships throughout our lives.

Origins of freindships

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