WHAT IS FRIENDSHIP?
The words “friend” and “free” come from the same root word, suggesting that one aspect of friendship is the freedom to be ourselvsin the company of another person. “A friend,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “is a person with whom I may be sincere.” Most friendships begin with shared interestsor activities, which gradually develop into mutual trust, openness, affection, and loyalty.
We like people who are similar to ourselves, who share our attitudes and values. When someone agrees with us, or makes the same choices we do, we gain confidence in our own views. Proximity can also influence our choice of friends, be they co-workers or neighbors. Most of us tend to enjoy the companionship of people of the same economic status and level of education. As we become older and our experience grows, our expectations of friendship change.
Sometimes we find ourselves attracted to people who are different and who can provide us with a fresh perspective. A very reserved person and an uninhibited person can often complement each other; one friend gains a sense of stability while the other achieves spontaneity. Yet, for the relationship to endure, the “opposite” friends may still need a common bond, and perhaps find it in a shared activity or sense of humor.
Friends can help fill other needs- for self-esteem or for reaching one’s potential. When friends share an altrustic goal, such as a concern for justice or the cultivation ofthe arts, thy are fulfilling Aristotle’s description of “friendships of virtue.”
Do we actually need friends?
There are some cultures in which friendships are not valued. The Seri Indians of northern Mexico, for example, have no word for friend, and frienly relationships don’t appear to exist among them Yet, the historical record suggests that most human beings form alliances of one kind or another beyond their immediate fmilies. As part of a wider circle, the indvidual finds practical support. Today this still holds true. A friendly neighbor may drive you to the doctor if you are sick; a close friend may calm you down during an emergency.
According to psychologists, contact with friends and family, and affiliation with a club or religous group, can help you live loger. Studies have shown that socially isolated people are more likely to eperrience a variety of health problems, including heart disease and asthma, tha people wih many social contacts.
Do some people need more friends than others?
Some people are happy with afew close friends; others have a tremendous number of friends and are eager to have more. Adolescents, in particular, may feel they need many friends to show that they are “popular,” or socially approved and desirable. Friends are very influential in adolescence, furnishing emotional support. Some groups of friends set trends that othrs all too willingly follow.
What qualities are most valued in friendship?
Most highly prized among all the attributes of friendship are loyalty and trust. This includes the ability to keep a personal confidence. People like to be sure that they can rely on their friends in an emergency, and they want to feel that their friends will stick by them when the going is rough. And most people also expect that a real friends will be open and honest about their feelings and opinions. Everyone hopes that friendship will offer warmth and affection, Many people believe it is important to be able to share their jokes and sense of fun with their friends.
Are friendships between women different from those between men?
It’s difficult to generaliz about male and female friendships Among the many studies on the subject, one showed that when with friends, women tend to talk about family, health, weight, food, and clothing. The majority of men reported discussing current events and sports Generally speaking, men are reserved about personal problems, and do not air their insecurities even with friends of long standing. Women, on the other hand, are less inhibited about seeking personal advice from their close friends.
“Relationships seldom die because they suddenly have no life left in them. They die slowly, either because people do not understand how much upkeep, time, work, love, and caring they require, or because people are too lazy or afraid to try.” – David Viscott