Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Secret of Friendships that Last

What makes people become friends? And why do some friendships last and others do not?

   An article in  the site Psychology Today gathered some studies that bring good explanations about the topic.
The well practical, main points are listed below:

Conditions to start a friendship

    Besides some basic factors, such as having contact with a person on a regular basis (after all, we have more chances to know someone better and further develop our bond) and having some common interests, these two aspects are important for becoming friends with someone.

1. Willingness to open up  

    According to Beverley Fehr, a researcher at the University of Winnipeg and author of "Friendship Processes" what determines that we move from acquaintances to friends is the willingness to open up and reveal more personal things to each other – and this needs to come from both sides. 

"In the early stages of friendship, this tends to be a gradual process. A person accepts the risk of revealing personal information and 'tests' if the other does the same "she says.

Here, reciprocity is essential for it to work, because it leads to another important condition:

2. Intimacy

According to Fehr's research, people with good friendships involving the same sex have a good understanding of what intimacy involves:
     They know how to open up and express their emotions, know what to say when the friend tells you something and respect the limits - understand, for example, sincerity does not mean talking all that comes to mind, especially with regard to opinions on life and tastes.

Especially because other conditions were pointed out: Acceptance, loyalty and trust. These qualities were considered more important than practical aids such as lending money.

Then, Why do some friendships last and others do not?

Ok, we understand what gives the friendships that initial kick forward. But there is another important factor, discovered by social psychologists Carolyn Weisz and Lisa F. Wood, from University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington, which is essential to make relationships last:

...The support to our social identity.
   In other words, looking for friends who understand and validate the idea that we have about ourselves and about our role in society or group to which we belong – which can be linked to religion, ethnicity, profession or even participating in some club or subculture.

    To reach this conclusion, they followed a group of college students for years throughout their graduation, asking them to describe levels of proximity, contact, general support and support for social identity that felt about friends.
The conclusion was that all these factors helped to predict whether the friendship would be maintained or not.

     But a single factor can predict who would be elevated to the position of BEST FRIEND: the person in these cases was part of the same group (fraternity, team, etc.) or at least supported and reaffirmed the role of the friend within that group. 
    A Christian could have a best friend as someone who had different beliefs, as long as this friend would support his identity as a Christian. And, as we have various roles in life, it is more likely that our best friend is on the role that is most important to us, that best represents our identity or part of it.

Why do we chose friends?

     According to the study, it is related to higher levels of intimacy and understanding also involving increased self-esteem.
This sense of identity even influences the behavior of drug addicts. In another study Weisz concluded that people were more likely to get rid of their addictions after three months when they felt that their social roles and sense of identity conflicted with drug use.

"Our social identities are so important to us that we are willing to stay with people who support our social identity and getting away from those who do not. We can even change friends when the former did not support our current view of ourselves ", states an article of Psychology Today. "Conventional wisdom says that we choose friends because of who they are. But it turns out we really love them because of how they support who we are."

How to maintain a friendship

   According to Debra Oswald, a psychologist at Marquette University (Wisconsin, USA), who studied the relationship between volunteers who were in high school and their best friends, there are four basic behaviors needed to maintain this "link" – that are valid to everyone, no matter if you have 15 or 70 years.

   The first two points are fairly explored so far: take the initiative to open up and supporting our friends. The third point is INTERACTION. No matter if your friend is your neighbor or is living on another continent: you need to be in contact with him, either writing, chatting on the phone, visiting. Fortunately, with the internet, physical proximity has little effect on our ability to maintain a friendship or any type of relationship.

    Finally, it is important to be positive. We need to open ourselves to our friends, but that does not mean it's okay to stay whimpering for hours and only see the negative side of everything.
     Of course, part of being a friend is to help during the hassles of our friend's life but, in the end, the intimacy that makes a friendship thrive must be something nice and do good for both sides.

   I really enjoyed writing his article because it really made me understand why I have lost some great friendships, because some of this conditions were not worked enough by me, or by the people who no longer are important to me as friends.

But not everything is lost, some friends are worth it and some friendships can be repaired.

Comment bellow!    


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