“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it”
Hubert H. Humphrey
Humans are social animals and as such close interpersonal relationships are important to our well being. Much research has been conducted into the importance of friendships and it has been well documented that close relationships can have a positive effect on both your physical and mental health.
In fairly recent social history, people tended to meet and marry others from a small geographical area and then settle close to their relatives, therefore maintaining that close family bond. However as travel to other locations and countries has become accessible to more people, it can be argued that the family structure has weakened geographically speaking. It is now common for families to be spread over countries and continents often not seeing each other for vast periods of time.
As such I wonder if close friendship groups and the emotional and often physical support that you receive from them has replaced the family unit in many circumstances. It is not uncommon now to see friends sharing childcare, replacing what many parents used to rely on grandparents to provide; assisting with moving house, taking your newborn for a walk so you can get an hour’s uninterrupted sleep and being there in the middle of the night to discuss why your newest boyfriend hasn’t text you for a day.
A study by Oswald and Clark (2003), found that sharing private thoughts, being cheerful and upbeat when together and being in regular contact helped to maintain the strength of friendships, preventing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
My own friends are like a family to me and I can’t imagine a time when I do not have them in my life. They have been there for me through various stages in my life, offering advice, being a shoulder to cry on and celebrating many important events with me. I know that I can rely on them and that they will always be fighting in my corner.
As such I am grateful and proud to have such fantastic friends who support my every venture, share my disappointments with me and never fail to make me feel better when I’m down. My friends are my family and I love them dearly, I look forward to the next thirty years when our conversations will turn to our arthritis, grey hair and grandchildren, knowing that we will be as close then as we are now.
Oswald, D.L. and Clark, E.M. (2003). ‘Best Friends Forever?: High School Best Friendships and the Transition to College’. Personal Relationships. 10. pp187 – 196.