The Bonds of Friendship
From Stranger to Friend
We cross paths with a stranger, and suddenly or in time, this person becomes a friend who may know us in intimate and deep ways. Friendships are very important to our physical and mental well being.
Who our friends are, has as much to do with who we are, as how we are. It is generally thought that we choose our friends because of their personality and who they are. But when you think about it, the relationship we have with our friends has a lot to do with how they support us.
How do we go from acquaintance to good friend?
Friends add a dimension to the many different relationships with others that we have. But good friends also give an added meaning to our lives. The importance of friends can not really even be measured. But what really attracts us to the friends we have, and what makes one friend better than another.
The bonds of friendship is a complex and integral part of being connected to others. Acquaintanceship turns into camaraderie, into a deeper reciprocity and more intimate relationship. Once we divulge something deeper about ourselves to a select few and they do the same, a friendship goes to a new deeper level.
Friendship is an intuitive relationship. It is not just a matter of what we disclose about ourselves, or what they tell us, but also about how they react to us, and we respond to them. Being emotionally responsive, unconditional support, loyalty, trust, and friendship are key ingredients to a lasting and deeply connected bond that defines friendships.
A friend intuitively knows when to cross the line. They care, but they don’t dictate. They are there for all the good and all the bad that we may encounter. They listen when we need, and give us validation that we are okay after all. They lend an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, arms to hug, and unlimited smiles and laughs that let us know they share our trials and tribulations.
It is these intrinsic gifts that are given, that make this person a true friend. Yet the deepest bonds come more from us doing these things for them.
Friends understand us in ways most others do not. Two social psychologists from Tacoma Washington at The University of Puget Sound named Carolyn Weisz and Lisa F. Wood, believes that friends help bolster our sense of sense. It has to do more with our own view of our own social role identity.
While we may have some friends that we enjoy hobbies with, and share interest with, best friends share and relate closely to how we define ourselves within society and the groups we associate ourselves with.
Friends help us with our practical needs and increase our self esteem and affirm what we view as our part of our identity. It is a powerful connection, so strong that when our social identity changes, we may lose the bonds with our friends, if they can not relate to the new changes. This happens often, as we transition from being graduating high school and college from being single to married, and becoming a parent, and other life changes.
The Bonds of Friendship
Debra Oswald, a psychologist from Marquette University has researched friendships and found fundamental behaviors that keep the bonds that friends share at any age.
Communication stemming from supporting each other, and recipricol self disclosure tha facilitates intimacy.
Support and listening to each other and interaction are integral to maintaining a friendship.
- It is also important that the intimacy shared be a positive one. If the friendship is built solely on complaints, and negative interactions, the friendship simply can’t last. The relationship needs to be rewarding for all involved.
The Good and Bad of Friendships
Not all friendships are what we think they are. Some people are involved, mostly unknowingly, in toxic friendships, where they may mistreat you, end up being unsupportive, or even sacrifice you for other choices they make. The most important question that needs to be asked is, why would we endure being treated like this?
Sometimes, it may be a significant clue that we are being abused by others in our lives too. Low self esteem and not valuing who you are, may make you more prone to accepting people who don’t treat you right.
Fear of being alone, may let some people tolerate maltreatment. Fear of abandonment going back to childhood and can lead to an unhealthy dependency on others.
Lacking in assertiveness can make people afraid of changing the situation, standing up to the friend, or leaving the friendship.
But in healthy relationships, good friends, in addition to being there when we need them, can bring a joy and support to us that helps us through the times of our lives. Friends give us a sense of belonging, and make us feel less lonely and isolated.
Friends build our sense of self worth and let us know that they genuinely want to be around us. Friends help us feel more secure, they teach us things we may not have known otherwise. They can give us guidance and advice and other assistance.
Friends offer us comfort when we need it most., when we may not even have asked for it. And in this way, friendship is a gift.
Good friends make us better than we are by ourselves. Good friends will keep us on the right path, expand our world and open us up to new things.
Good friends are confidants who help reduce our stress levels and increase our happiness in ways we may not have even expected.
Tips for Being a Good Friend
Quick tips to better friendships:
Make time to listen to your friends and to be there for them.
Extend yourself. In good friendships, whatever you do for them, they will return back.
Nurture the relationship.
Be compassionate. Listen and share. Be loyal. Be sincere. Forgive, but don’t be a punching bag.
It should be a mutually gratifying relationship.
Keep in touch, even though you may be distanced by miles or time.
Let your friends know you care.
At times when they may be doing better than you, financially, emotionally, and other ways, be happy for them. Don’t let envy get in the way of the relationship. Celebrate their successes and they will do the same in return.
Everything in moderation. Don’t try too hard. Don’t overwhelm them with email, texts, facebook, and phone calls. Too much of a good thing is not good either.
- Be there for them.
Make New Friends
Tips for Finding New Friends
If you feel like you would like a few more friends, here are some tips to find some new ones:
Get out and join a group that is around a passion or hobby you have. This is a great way to find people you have things in common with and an easy way to start conversations. One conversation may lead to another and before you know it, a friendship can begin.
Volunteer and pick a cause that has meaning to you. Again, you will be meeting people who have a shared interest and make it easy and natural to interact with others.
Join a gym, get involved in your religious organization, go to the local community center. By being involved in things outside of your home, you will get out and meet people. Sometimes one person introduces you to others and these introductions turn into deep friendships.
Go back to school, take courses in the local high school or college, or other centers. Take a cooking course, a karate course, or get an additional degree. By stimulating your mind you will also become a more interesting person and have more ability to join in a variety of conversations. The more you expand your horizon, the more people you will meet.
Online is another way to interact with others. Between all the social networking sites and sites like Hub Pages and forums that exist, you can easily find websites that will interest you and help you find common ground with new people. Always be aware of catfishing, and be vigilant about the friendships you make online.
The Meaning of Having Friends
Deep friendships endure. And friendships are not perfect. Part of lasting friendships is forgiveness. With good friends, we often understand them well enough that we can see past mistakes.
In part it may be due to seeing beyond, what is known as the fundamental attribution error. The fundamental attribution error has to do with looking at a person’s actions and attributing these actions as reflections of who they are without looking at the situations that may have influenced their actions.
What may seem like thoughtlessness and being uncaring, may just be circumstances that are currently overwhelming your friend, as an example.
Friends can bring out the fun in ourselves. Friends inspire us. Friends allow us to freely express ourselves. Friends make us feel safe in a sometimes unfriendly world. Friends help us feel significant. Friends help us imagine and give us a perspective we may not have otherwise had on our own.
There is a lot to be said for a good conversation, a hearty laugh, good cry, and shared special moments that words don’t adequately describe. Friends add immeasurable value to our lives. They help us know we are not alone. They help us keep our sanity, and hold us together when things may feel like they are falling apart.
Men and Women Friendships
The Friendships of Men and Women
Men and women have different types of friendships. Good friendships are one of the most rewarding relationships we can achieve. It is pretty much a universal need to bond with others. Friendships deepen our social connections and help us live longer, happier, and more fulfilling lives. The bonds of friendship are so strong that it influences our level of happiness more than most things. Intimate social connections around the globe have proven that even in the poorest of countries, people can feel happy.
Women appear to be better at building rich support networks, more than men. Women build friendships around strong emotional bonds. Men build friendships around shared activities involving sports, hobbies, and shared interests.
Much research has been done by social psychologists on the study of friendship and it has been found that women give and get more emotional support from each other. Data from the the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study has shown that men tend to interact with each other at a lower level of support seeking than women do. Meaningful interactions are the key to building deep friendships.
This is in large part because of the different ways men and women communicate and seek support from other people. Is it biological or is it sociological? The answer is in future articles.
Take today to appreciate the good friends you have. Just take a few moments to think to yourself how grateful you are to have these friends. Just spend a few precious moments thinking how dear they are to you, it will surely put a smile on your face, warm your heart, and set the pace for a wonderful rest of the day. You can call them and tell them this too, and perhaps you will make their day feel wonderful too.