What is Friendship?

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.
Eleanor Roosevelt

What is Friendship?

Did you know that people without friends are more likely to die an early death? It is a scientific fact! Research has shown that people with good friends often feel happier, less stressed, and more like they belong than those without.

"No Man Is an Island" has been a viral expression when talking about people's connection to one another. Indeed, there is nobody who can live alone on this planet, at least not happily. Friendship is one of the most significant forms of relationship that anyone will surely want to have.

To be able to understand what friendship is, you must look at its definition and reasons for its importance. For this, we will refer to the great and famous philosopher Aristotle. He has put great emphasis on the reasons why friendship is essential. According to him, no one ought to live without friends.

"Friendship is as important as life itself," is a bold statement given by Aristotle. Friendship covers young and old, poor, and rich. It covers the breadth of the kinds of people you find within society. Friendship improves your quality of life because it makes you a happier individual. For instance, there is no better feeling than helping a friend or giving them something they need or desire. In serving your friends, you always benefit yourself.

We need to have intimate, enduring bonds; we need to be able to confide; we need to feel that we belong; we need to be able to get support, and just as crucial for happiness, to give support.

The Impact

Just about every individual is aware that your friends affect your life in one way or another. However, most people are not aware of just how much of an influence their friends have. Your friends do not only influence you when making your decisions, but they can also change how you view the world, alter your insight, and change you into a different person for better or worse

Your friends can influence you, so you should know how. Friends can alter your beliefs about things. Beliefs and values can be changed when they are challenged continuously or when new beliefs are repeated continually.

For instance, if you have a circle of friends who have a negative view of the employment market, it can also affect you. Such a pessimistic view probably came from what they heard from other people repeating again and again, "it is tough to find a job nowadays."

Your friends can also affect your self-confidence. Friends can change the perception of one another. When the majority of your group thinks that a particular person is snobbish and arrogant, this belief may be transferred to the entire group.

While believing that a person is unfavorably treating you, you might interpret it as being a sign that you're not worthy. Such a belief may affect the level of your self-confidence.

Your friends can also affect the way you behave, especially in close friendships. For instance, if you see that your friend is polite to everyone, you may be influenced to act in the same manner.

In addition to affecting your beliefs and behavior, your friends can also affect how you react to things. For instance, maybe you are not particularly afraid of snakes, yet after you see how it affects your friend who was bitten by one, your point view and behavior may also change should you see one. This is how influential friendship could be.

Your friends can stir you with good and bad emotions. Depending on the type of friends you are with, your feelings can be significantly affected by them. If you have friends who are positive most of the time, you will also tend to be more positive.

This is how friendship can affect you, and it much depends on you if you let them rule on how you feel, think, and believe.

Types of Friendship

Friendships are relationships that involve two critical dimensions – interdependence and voluntary participation. Real friendships are characterized by each member's desire to engage with the other – it's about a mutual interest in one another's experiences and thoughts, as well as a sense of belongingness and connection. Friendships require reciprocity – of admiration, respect, trust, and emotional and implemental support.

Friendship is not always easy, though. It demands time and effort, and it requires that people put someone other than themselves first sometimes. But in exchange for that work, a friend can provide an immense amount of support and comfort in good times and in bad.

Friendship takes time; they develop as each person reveals a little bit more about herself. It's how trust is built between people – through mutual sharing of increasingly private or personal information. Research has shown that it takes about 50 hours' worth of face time for a mere acquaintance to become a casual friend, then 90 hours to upgrade to the status of a standard friend. Then, it takes about 200 additional hours of interaction for a "close friendship" to develop!

According to Degges-White, there are four core types of friendship: acquaintance, friend, a close friend, and best friend. "The level of friendship deepens as the level of reciprocity, and mutual respect and affection grow," she says.

Best friend: a best friend, a member of your inner circle, a person you count on when something big happens in your life, the one you share your secrets and dreams with.

Close friend: a friend who shows integrity, someone you feel comfortable with, that you're always glad to see, but not in your innermost circle; perhaps someone you'd like to be closer to if you had the time or opportunity.

Just friend: a person you've know for awhile, or people that are your 'crowd' and the ones that you tend to socialize with regularly but don't know really well.

Acquaintance: a person you see — at work, at your child's school — who is enjoyable company, but you have no desire to socialize outside a specific context or to get to know that person better.

I think it's helpful to think about the different types of friends. Even if you wouldn't invite some people to your wedding, they can still add a sense of warmth and richness to your life. Furthermore, these friends hold power to teach us about who we are and what we seek in others.

No matter what type of friendship you have, this is what is true:

A friend is kind. It is a person that you can laugh with and be yourself around. They are the ones that like you for who you are and accept you despite your faults. They are forgiving and caring. They bring out the best in you, and they are loyal.

What about you, do you have friends in each category?