We live in a society in which we are more and more independent and in which we pay more attention to how many likes a post of ours on Facebook has or how many virtual friends we have, than to spend time having a coffee and talking with a friend. Friendship is really more than just a like on a social network.
It seems that friendship has become more volatile, easier to make and break. If I don’t like someone or suddenly I don’t like them, I block them on Facebook or WhatsApp and forget about it. We tend to have fewer and fewer lifelong friends and to have friends linked to a topic or an activity (work, sport …). The reality is that, of real friendships, of flesh and blood, we keep very few.
“Friendship is like music: two strings of the same pitch will vibrate at the same time even if only one is struck.”
It is true that the concept of friendship has changed with new technologies, because we can call someone we do not know a friend. Internet, mobile phones and all the applications that exist have created a new way of relating and a new concept of friendship.
How we choose friends
A study carried out by scientists at the University of California, San Diego (United States), has shown that not only do we have genetic similarities with our relatives, but we also choose our friends based on DNA.
The study leaders analyzed genetic similarities and connections between different people using two independent health studies. These studies contained detailed information on various genome sequences of the individuals and also on their social networks.
“Being honest can’t make you get a ton of friends, but it always makes you get the right ones.”
Specific genetic markers were chosen within an individual’s social relationships, and it was found that humans form friendships with people with whom we share two of the six markers evaluated.
Another interesting aspect of the study is that it was concluded that we are looking for people, both friends and partners, who are our complement. That is, we are also attracted to people who possess genes that mark characteristics that we lack.
Truths about friendship
We have many ideas about friendship, such as that there is a special connection with our friends, women and men cannot be friends, having a partner displaces friends, friendship favors health …
That is, throughout our lives we assume a series of beliefs about friendship that may or may not be true. Here are some scientific truths about friendship that are directly related to the beliefs we have:
Men and women cannot be friends
We all remember the famous scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” in which the protagonist maintains that men and women can never be friends because sex always gets in the way.
A study conducted in 2012 and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, led by April Bleske-Rechek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, concluded that men overestimate romantic possibilities more often than women.
The study also concluded that the men tended to be sexually or romantically equally interested in their friends, regardless of whether they had a partner or not. Attraction is considered an impulse, although over the years it tends to fade.
“There is between us something better than love: a complicity.”
Having a partner takes us away from our friends
A study by Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford, on the effect of having a partner on friends, concluded that people who start a relationship, rather than having a circle of close friends made up of five people as usual, they have four and one of them is the couple.
Therefore, this means that attention is focused on the person who is our partner, to whom more time and attention is devoted, and two people in our life are displaced, usually a friend and a family member.
Love takes time away from us and every time we share more moments with our partner so inevitably if the affective bond with our friends is not taken care of, maintaining contact, staying to see each other, in the end it deteriorates.
Friendship is good for your health
A longevity study of people over 70, conducted by the Center for Aging Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, concluded that a network of good friends is more likely to increase longevity than relationships relatives.
Having friends is good not only for our mood but also for our health, in fact, people who have a wide circle of friends have the lowest blood pressure, suffer less stress, their defenses are stronger and live longer. Friends help overcome illnesses and above all produce satisfaction and happiness.