The Importance of Friendships
According to a recent study that sampled 20,000 people 18-24 years old, the young people experience feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation, with 46 percent of them stating they sometimes or always feel alone and 43 percent saying their relationships are not meaningful.
People without friends often experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. While loneliness isn’t technically a classified psychological disorder, a lack of social connections, purpose in life, and a sense of helplessness can significantly decline the quality of a person’s life. Loneliness is entwined with various psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
The Childhood Friendships
First friendships form during early childhood when young kids learn to interact with each other. Children form friendships and learn about social roles through free play. Also, through play, children learn how to express their opinion, agree or disagree, control their emotions, and show empathy. The development of these early social skills is a foundation for later friendships.
Why are Friendships so Important?
One study of adult’s lives found that those who had close, long-term friends coped better than socially withdrawn. Close friendships have the power to improve people’s mood as well as emotional, mental, and physical health.
Real-life vs. Social Media Friendships
Social media today substitute real-life social interaction and promote feelings of isolation and loneliness. Studies show that the more time people spend on social media, the more isolated these folks perceive themselves to be. Also, another study suggests that it takes a real-life social interaction, not virtual, to maintain our friendships.
Additionally, the survey results showed that people who report feeling lonely and isolated have more online-only Facebook friends than those who don’t feel lonely. Our “cyber bonds” are usually meaningless and can never replace the intimacy and closeness of face-to-face interactions.
In his book “Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without”, Tom Rath conducted a comprehensive study on friendships, alongside some other leading researches. Their research resulted in astonishing statistics: our friendships affect our health, our habits, marriage, and professional life. People who have friends that eat healthy, are five times more likely to have a healthy diet themselves. Furthermore, married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical closeness in their marriage. Similarly, people who have a close friend at work are seven times more likely to feel engaged in their job.
Rath states that if you ask people why their marriage failed or why they became homeless, they often find the reason in the poor quality or lack of friendships.
Friends have a significant contribution in making us who we are as individuals. Close friendships can:
- Pull us away from loneliness
- Keep our little and large secrets
- Boost our self-esteem and self-worth
- Increase our mood and optimism
- Provide acceptance and support
In addition, your best friend will always be there for you as a listener who doesn’t judge your nonsense. He or she knows you inside out and accept and loves you for who you are.
Having positive relationships with close friends enhances our social functioning, boosts our life joy, and promotes overall well-being. To keep up your healthy friendships, you need to nurture them and invest in them. strengthening your friendships will pay off in better health and a greater life satisfaction.