Friendship: Three Types of Connection

Friendship: Three Types of Connection

The Dichotomy of Friendship

Friendship can be simple and straight forward but it can also be chaotic… Sometimes it depends how you look at it. The dichotomy of friendship can present both challenges and rewards.

Our friendships are among the most valuable relationships we have. We gain in various ways from different friendships. We may talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t discuss with our families. Our friends may annoy us, but they can also keep us going.

Either way, friendship is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. We need to talk to our friends and we want to listen when our friends want to talk to us. Our friends can keep us grounded and can help us get things in perspective. It is worth putting effort into maintaining our friendships and making new friends. Friends form one of the foundations of our ability to cope with the problems that life throws at us.

The photo above was snapped at the North Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club launching the club’s peer support program and iyarn’s mental health initiative. iyarn not only connects people with themselves, but it connects people with their friends.

Busy lives = less time to relax

There are times when we might feel adrift, surrounded by people yet disconnected from the world around us. Sometimes all it takes is reaching out to the people around you to re-anchor yourself in your community.

That’s why friends and family are so important. Mates get your jokes. Co-workers offer support. Your spouse hugs you hello. They all help you bust stress and boost well-being. In fact, Mental Health America found that 71 percent of people surveyed turned to friends or family in times of stress.

Friends are not only are our rocks…. They are vital to our wellbeing, so it’s really important to connect with them. We all live busy lives and things don’t seem to be slowing down, right? So it’s more important than ever to connect with people who matter and keep our community of friends tight.

Three kinds of connection

Did you know? There are three kinds of connections that you can have with people.

  1. Intimate connections – with people who love and care for you, such as family and friends
  2. Relational connections – with people who you see regularly and share an interest with, such as workmates or those who serve your morning coffee
  3. Collective connections – with people who share a group membership or an affiliation with you, such as people who vote like you do, or people who have the same faith.

Our friendships are among the most valuable relationships we have. We gain in various ways from different friendships. We may talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t discuss with our families. Our friends may annoy us, but they can also keep us going.

Friendship & Health

The reality is, having a community and strong friendships that you can rely on when times get tough is crucial to mental and physical health.

Navigating life can be challenging – and those we rely upon in times of stress, happiness and everything in between become our support.

A study done on millennials found that we are likely to live without a romantic partner. 2017 Pew research found that roughly 60 percent of adults younger than 35 don’t live with a spouse or S.O. Researchers are finding that friendship is imperative is to mental health. It makes sense: The lack of a committed life partner can point to a lack of support in life.

“One recent study found that having close friends was a stronger predictor of health than having close family members,” says psychologist Beverley Fehr, PhD, whose research specialty is close relationships.

Good friendships can benefit our mental health in so many ways: Friends reduce stress, make us laugh, help us feel known and understood, motivate us to take care of ourselves and reach higher, and fulfill the basic need of belonging.

In a number of studies, friendship and social support have been linked to better physical health outcomes too, like lower rates of heart disease. On the other hand, loneliness has been linked to health-risk factors such as high blood pressure and cardiac disease.

One such study (published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine in 2007) revealed that young men and women who discussed difficult parts of their lives had a lower pulse and blood pressure when a supportive friend accompanied them. So if you’re going through something hard and could use a yarn do it with a mate and keep that blood pressure down.

Friendship takes time

This brings to mind another saying:

“best friends grow on you like mould”

We can all agree Aristotle’s version is much more eloquent, but the sentiment remains the same. Being a good friend is a lengthy endeavour and not without its challenges, but like most things in life – it only get better with time. Deepening friendships require effort, patience and understanding – qualities that thrive with mutual respect and love.

So who’s next on your to-yarn with list? A mate, a work mate, a romantic mate or… you tell us.

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