6 Benefits of Friendship According to Science

Developing friendships can reduce stress, stimulate personal development, and even prolong your life. Discover other benefits of friendship.
6 Benefits of Friendship According to Science

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 16 December, 2022

Are you aware of the benefits of friendship? Friendships can arise in various contexts and at all ages. There are those who have a very varied range of friends, or on the contrary, others can count their true friends on the fingers of one hand. Some may even tell you they have only one or two real friends.

The important thing about having friends isn’t the quantity but the quality of them. Face-to-face social interaction releases numerous neurotransmitters capable of producing satisfaction.

Similarly, a simple high-five between friends as a sign of “complicity” can release, among other things, oxytocin, in addition to increasing your confidence level and reducing cortisol, which translates into a decrease in stress. Discover other benefits of having a quality friendship according to science in the following article.

The benefits of friendship according to science

Oddly enough, friendship transcends fun, companionship, or emotional health. A good friend can contribute to the improvement of physical health and to the materialization of certain personal achievements.

Keep in mind that this type of affective bond is associated with positive feelings of affection, sincerity, loyalty, unconditionally, and commitment, for example. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable for this type of relationship to occur between a person and their pet. Let’s see in detail what the benefits of friendship are according to science.

1. Friends offer good company

Good friends often provide you with good company in different settings in life. This differs from that company that co-workers, classmates, or neighbors have to offer. Perhaps with the latter, even though they’re present, you have the feeling of being alone, even though you’re surrounded by people.

Due to the affinity that usually exists in a friendship, moments together are pleasant and, in difficult situations, their presence is truly palliative. Many categorize these relationships as quality, due to the intrinsic level of trust.

Friends toasting with champaign glasses.
Performance in various aspects of life, including work, can be improved by having good friends.

2. Reduced stress

It’s common, at some point in life, for you to go through episodes of emotional stress, and in this situation, a good friend is ideal in order to reduce these tensions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have their physical presence, a phone call is sometimes enough to mitigate anxiety and depression levels.

A solid friendship in which there’s trust and a shared background serves as an escape valve in difficult situations. Keep in mind that by controlling stress levels, you reduce the risk of developing certain disorders and difficulties such as the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Arterial hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Heart and digestive disorders
  • Illnesses related to prolonged emotional stress

A study published in the journal Genus showed that stressors can be minimized by having good friends. Knowing that there’s someone who can help you solve or cope with certain situations can be very beneficial.

3. Emotional support

A plus that great friends always provide is emotional support. Even when they’re introverted or grumpy, most of the time, they’re good at listening to our problems.

These types of relationships develop empathy that favors emotional validation between the parties to the point of doing things for one another, such as engineering conversations to distract them when they’re sad or upset.

Likewise, it’s believed that having friendships other than your partner can contribute to good emotional health for you, as well as contribute to the well-being of the relationship.

Friends are a good option to spend time apart from your partner, which helps you not to lose your sense of self.

4. Friendships encourage personal development

If you have a personal goal, like ending a bad habit or improving your lifestyle, friends can help you stay focused and determined. This is one of the many reasons why good friendships can increase your longevity.

Keep in mind that in many cases, friends influence you by example, and not in an explicit way. Their actions end up increasing your security, which leads to a high probability of achieving your objectives.

A woman raising her hands in the air and giving thumbs up as she looks out at the ocean at sunset.
Self-esteem can be improved by acquiring strong and lasting friendships.

5. Friendship offers us a greater sense of belonging

Feeling like you’re part of a social group or, at the very least, having someone other than your partner to count on satisfies the need for a sense of belonging. The human being, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after satisfying food and shelter, strives to belong to a group.

Having a circle of true friends, even if it’s small, makes the people who are part of it develop a sense of security and belonging. That connection and support that friends provide end up raising your self-esteem.

6. Friends provide support when challenges arise

No one’s exempt from facing the difficulties of life and, to be honest, many times, they become difficult, horrible, and traumatic. The most common cases in this context are divorce, the death of a loved one or a pet, pandemics, family problems, or losing your job.

Sometimes going through these situations can affect long-term mental health. Hence, having good friendships is a pillar of support and helps us to manage difficulties, as stated in research published by Psychological Medicine.

This study, conducted on adolescents, revealed that friendships promote resilience, which makes their ability to recover from a traumatic experience greater than if they had no friends. The study also found that friendship provides greater long-term resilience than family ties.

Similarly, research published in Depression and Anxiety found that friendship helps you manage the anguish and trauma associated with abuse and family neglect.

How to identify a good friendship?

Friendships are beautiful and valuable, however, we can’t deny that there are relationships under the veil of friendship that aren’t so good. How do you know if you have a good friend?

  • An essential requirement is that there’s open communication. These friends have the strength to tell the truth even though it may hurt, and despite disagreements, they recognize and respect their limits.
  • They’re accepted as they are, although they seek to improve if they require it.
  • Unconditional support, even though all one can offer is an attentive ear.

Friendly relationships must be cultivated. Achieving a good friendship can be difficult because they must mesh with each other so that the relationship can be maintained in the long term. A good friend will always be there in the worst moments and, of course, in the best as well.

What’s the best age to cultivate a good friendship?

Most people, with the passing of time, add at least one close friend to their lives. This is because friendships are key to contributing emotion and intensity to everyday life as well as being a source of support in vulnerable situations.

And it’s because of what has been described above that, according to experts, it’s during adolescence that strong ties develop between young people with similar visions and characteristics. These relationships often endure despite physical distance.

What to keep in mind about the benefits of friendship?

  • Developing healthy friendships with other people, whether they’re blood relatives or not, can bring benefits to physical and emotional health.
  • The strongest friendships tend to develop at an early age, generally, the strongest and most unconditional friends are those found in high school or college.
  • Good friendships are those that bring positive factors to your life, are willing to listen to you, and usually validate you emotionally.

It’s time to collect all these tips and apply them in your day to day. Any time is perfect to regain an old friendship and have a quiet conversation in a cafe or bar. Take advantage of the benefits that a good friend can give you!

  • Amati, V., Meggiolaro, S., Rivellini, G., & Zaccarin, S. (2018). Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friends. Genus, 74(1), 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-018-0032-z
  • Giles, L. C., Glonek, G. F., Luszcz, M. A., & Andrews, G. R. (2005). Effect of social networks on 10 year survival in very old Australians: the Australian longitudinal study of aging. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 59(7), 574–579. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2004.025429
  • Hanley, S. J., & Abell, S. C. (2002). Maslow and Relatedness: Creating an Interpersonal Model of Self-Actualization. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(4), 37–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/002216702237123
  • Van Harmelen, A., Kievit, R., Ioannidis, K., Neufeld, S., Jones, P., Bullmore, E., . . . Goodyer, I. (2017). Adolescent friendships predict later resilient functioning across psychosocial domains in a healthy community cohort. Psychological Medicine, 47(13), 2312-2322. doi:10.1017/S0033291717000836
  • Powers, A., Ressler, K. J., & Bradley, R. G. (2009). The protective role of friendship on the effects of childhood abuse and depression. Depression and anxiety, 26(1), 46–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20534
  • Narr, R. K., Allen, J. P., Tan, J. S., & Loeb, E. L. (2019). Close Friendship Strength and Broader Peer Group Desirability as Differential Predictors of Adult Mental Health. Child development, 90(1), 298–313. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12905

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