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10 reasons why friendship is so important in life

May 31, 2022 - 13 min read

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Why is friendship important?

10 benefits of friendship

3 common obstacles to making friends and how to overcome them

Social media and friendship

5 tips to strengthen your friendships

How to know when it's time to let a friendship go

Making friends is hard, especially in adulthood.

First, there are less structured ways to make friends. Adults don’t have many of the same opportunities to build friendships (like school, athletics, or extracurricular settings) like children do. 

COVID-19 has also impacted how (and where) adults make friends. In this pandemic era, people’s behaviors, habits, and priorities have changed. All of this can lead to challenges when making friends as an adult. 

According to a 2021 survey, Americans report having fewer friendships than they once did. And the more traditional ways of making friends (like school, church, or through existing friends) are on the decline. Americans are more likely to make new friends at work than any other avenue.

Making friends and keeping those healthy relationships isn't always a walk in the park. It can be hard to recognize why friendship is important, too. But sometimes we need to evaluate how many friendships we have, what we can actively do to strengthen them, and when to let them go.

 

Why is friendship important?

Friendship is important because it helps us build connections with people who share our values or interests. Friends help us prevent loneliness or isolation and are supportive companions as we work toward living purposeful lives. They can also encourage us to pursue our passions and dreams and offer support or advice in hard times.

Our friendships help our mental health and overall happiness. We build human connections in our professional lives and personal lives. And over time, those connections may grow. We might make friends with people temporarily, depending on where we go to school or work. Some friendships last for life, though, regardless of where you meet these people.

They connect us to our core values at work, when facing challenges, or during our daily life. The emotional support we receive from our close friends helps inspire us when life feels dull and provides encouragement to overcome challenges. 

When we’re faced with uncertainty, our friends are there to provide the positive encouragement that we need to embrace new journeys or face tough times. Our good friends can also notice and let us know that we’re becoming consumed with work or another problem in our lives and need to take a break.

Our social support is right beside us throughout the different stages of our lives. Friends keep us grounded and help us remember what we value and want to achieve in life — even when things get tricky. True friends stand by us when we're adjusting to a new change. They remind us of our potential, relieve stress, recognize our comfort zones, and prevent us from feeling lonely.

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10 benefits of friendship

Besides being important, what is the point of having friends? It turns out that friendship can prevent health issues alongside various other emotional or mental health benefits. Take a read through these 10 benefits of friendship:

  1. Gives us a sense of belonging
  2. Builds our confidence and self-esteem
  3. Helps prevent health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease
  4. Combats social isolation and loneliness
  5. Teaches us new things and grows our perspectives
  6. Helps us grieve the loss of loved ones and family members
  7. Provides emotional support when romantic relationships don't work out
  8. Motivates us to reach our goals and try new things
  9. Brings humor to our lives
  10. Helps us leave unhealthy habits behind 

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At BetterUp, we’ve seen the positive impact of social connections. With opportunity to connect with other Members, BetterUp Members reported an increase in social connections. Those high in social connection have 25% higher life satisfaction, 18% higher job satisfaction, and feel 17% more meaning and purpose in their work.

3 common obstacles to making friends and how to overcome them

Finding common ground and sustaining friendships isn't easy. Life happens, and sometimes we grow busy or something holds us back from developing strong relationships.

Read through these three common obstacles to forming friendships, and if they pertain to you, pay extra attention to how you can overcome them:

1. If you always forget things

Write your engagements down somewhere where you'll see them easily if you forget about them. We all forget things, but you won't see any improvement in your social skills if you can't remember to take those leaps and get out to meet people. Use your physical or virtual calendar, sticky notes, or a message board in your house. 

2. If you have lots to do

If you have errands to run or things to do, call a friend and invite them along. You can go to the gym, go grocery shopping, and work from home together.

While you're at it, see if your friend has anything to check off on their to-do list that you share and can accomplish together. Spending time together can be easy.

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3. If you're afraid of rejection

Being betrayed or abused in the past can prevent us from building social connections again. Rather than see them as things that will eventually fail and hurt you, think of the benefits of social support. Try talking to a therapist to find ways to build a healthy attitude towards making friends.

We all have obstacles that limit us. With BetterUp, a coach can provide the perspective you need to build up your self-confidence and develop skills to put yourself out there and make the solid friendships you deserve.

Social media and friendship

Social media presents us an enormous world. Social media helps us stay connected with those we can't see in person, whether it's because of the COVID-19 pandemic or we live far apart. It also allows us to make new friends online and expand our social network.

But there are some cons to social media in terms of friendship. While it can be a great tool, it can also get in the way. Social media and mental health have a tricky relationship. While it brings benefits, it’s also be proven to have some negative mental health impacts.

If we spend too much time idolizing social media figures or consuming content, it can distract us from opportunities in front of us. We could miss out on friends who live close by and people with whom we could have deeper connections while negatively impacting our self-esteem.

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5 tips to strengthen your friendships

Friendships change and evolve. In adulthood, people experience life at different paces — like being the only friend who isn't married or the only one with children.

Regardless of your differences and the potential obstacles to your relationships, here are five tips to consider to strengthen friendships:

  1. Be a good listener when your friends are talking —especially if you haven’t seen them in awhile
  2. Make an effort to keep a positive attitude
  3. Be consistent with your communication if there’s distance between you
  4. Open up and be vulnerable with your friends
  5. Show that you're reliable and trustworthy, even if you have a busy schedule — your friends deserve to be prioritized

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How to know when it's time to let a friendship go

Learning the importance of friendship is a lesson that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Your self-worth will grow, and so will your well-being. Understanding that friendship is more than a fleeting connection helps us see the value in what our friends can do for us. They help our mental health, keep our physical health in line, and make life more enjoyable.

But sometimes, we must realize that some friendships aren't healthy

To finish off this lesson in friendship, here are five tips to know when it's time to let unhealthy friendships go and move on to meet new people:

  1. Your friend has overstepped the boundaries you've set
  2. They try to change or influence you to be someone you're not
  3. There's a lack of interest or effort put into the friendship 
  4. They lie and share your secrets behind your back
  5. They never apologize when they've hurt you or done something wrong

Finding objective support from someone outside of your circle of friends makes a world of difference. With BetterUp, a coach can provide the guidance you need to help you set your boundaries and make connections with people who will support you for the long haul.

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Published May 31, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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