Friendship Fundamentals

Boys running in an open field.

Quotes on friendship are spread all over the internet. Whereas some quotes are profound and multi-layered, most of them are short and easy to understand. As word-finesses, they try to get to the heart of the term friendship in shortly arranged letters. Nevertheless, most of them leave one important question unanswered: What are fundamentals of a true friendship?

Everyone is coming up with different thoughts here. “Spending a lot of time together defines friendship”. “Meeting the same people regularly is the most important”. “Being in the same sports team, that’s it!”. Apparently, the scale of what can be regarded as fundamental for a friendship is diverse. By looking at different aspects, it should be possible to find a common thread in the opinions on friendship’s fundamentals. Let’s see, what’ll find.

Does everyone have different claims for friendship?

Many people don’t claim high standards from people they surround themselves with. A lot of them just don’t want to be alone without wasting much thought on those they spend their time with. In contrast, introverted and reflective people often have a hard time irrigating and keeping a friendship alive. While small talk is normal for the many, it’s debilitating for them.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t constitute a reason for them to give up on a friendship. Often, especially the introverted persons are those who care the most about close friends. Simply, because they often have a high degree of empathy. But frequently, a problem arises. They often expect their own “standards” from other persons as well. No matter what the parameters are, some amicable reciprocities simply go with the term friendship.

But at which point can someone decide whether his or her own benchmark is too high for others? What should be self-explicably and fundamental in a friendship and what’s the own preference only?

Friendship as an evolutionary concept

According to Psychology Today, a long-term friendship has to be positive and should come with the cooperation of both parties included. To count on someone in times of crisis is – historically seen – a main reason for the creation of friendships. Studies have shown that animals with the strongest social network live longest and have greater success in reproduction. We as descendants of apes create amicable groups as a security net for dangers and other stressors.

This has resulted in some major cornerstones which form the fundament of a healthy friendship. Firstly, an obvious factor is to spend time together. The more time we spend with someone, the tighter the relationship gets. No wonder, since we increasingly see the other person as an inherent part of our lives.

While laughing, dancing or exchanging stories, neurotransmitters are triggered in the brain which elicits positive emotions. These components are highly important for health and therefore also support a strong friendship.

Finally, the willingness to help is another key factor in every friendship. Who is always there for the other fulfils his instinctive expectation on the relationship while strengthening the bond.

The basics of friendship

Obviously, there are quite some aspects which are fundamental in a friendship – even without forcing the own benchmarks upon fellow beings. Societal-historically, those basics have been established as norms and have a certain amount of validity. No matter if two parties have known each other for 15 years of five months or if they spend much or comparably little time together. As soon someone is described as a “friend”, some rules have validity. That means, not putting someone in a bad light in front of others. Defending a friend and keeping secrets. What seems clear for most people is often neglected, nevertheless.

Based on experience, a paradox emerges from this. Namely, that people who are fulfilling the basics “less” than oneself are preferred. It seems that the perception of friendship is distorted, even wrong. The individual tends to think “Why does this person not spending time with me? After all, I’m the best friend he/she has”. Where is this coming from?

For one part, I trace it back to the fact that every human being has different beliefs on how friendship should be formed. Many people simply don’t demand warmth, thoughtful communication or physical consolation. Others need that kind of interpersonal behaviour.

Although a friendship exists, this leads to a conflict of interest. People search for friends who fulfil their criteria best. Those criteria were determined by them subconsciously. For that reason, even the best friend of the world falls by the wayside.

A group of friends standing in the sunlight.
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels.

How many friends do I need then?

Studies have shown that most of us have five people in our lives which cover the named criteria. They’re the ones counting as our closest friends. Surely, the criteria are fulfilled differently balanced in general. Still, they serve as a good starting point for a good and healthy friendship. Sharing the same ideas with others is crucial. In the end, the fundamentals of a friendship will always remain something that everyone must define on his own.

Feature image from pixabay.

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