Ten Things you need to know about Friendships

If you showed up unannounced, who would put you up for the night?

Posted Aug 10, 2016

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Source: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

A recent study reveals that most of us lack insight into who our true friends really are. With the growing trend of "following," "friending," or "connecting" via social media, it seems that our ability to accurately assess the strength of our real-world relationships may have grown rusty.

In reflecting on this research, and the time actually available for us to devote to true, deep friendships, I realized the following ten truths:

  1. Friendships are among the most essential and supportive types of relationships you will ever establish, because while family relationships are (typically) non-negotiable, friendship is a voluntary institution.
  2. The voluntary nature of friendships, and our mutual commitment to the relationships are the hallmarks of any friendship’s very existence. Unless two people consider their relationship a friendship, it simply doesn’t exist.
  3. Unfortunately, recent research indicates that most people are unable to accurately identify those who have truly earned a place in their friendship network. In fact, according to the research, only about half of the relationships that we perceive as friendships actually are friendships.
  4. In our culture, more is always assumed to be better. But the real measure of your relationships might be found in asking yourself how many of your social media friends or followers would be willing to lend you cab fare or offer you a place to sleep if you turned up unexpectedly. That’s the kind of investment in a relationship that true friendship warrants and that true friends provide.
  5. Is there a downside to moving through life thinking more people are our friends than actually are? It depends on expectations: If you don’t expect a lot from a friend, it probably doesn’t hurt to assume each likes you as much as you like them. Following the old adage to treat others the way you would like to be treated isn’t a bad idea.
  6. Treating everyone like they are a good friend may make your path through life a little easier. Being kind, providing favors, and helping others can actually make you feel better about yourself and life.
  7. Friendship can offer an enduring lifelong bond and become an unrivaled source of mutual support, both emotional and instrumental—but it is important to recognize that a friendship untended can quickly become a friendship ended.
  8. Genuine friendships take more than a post on a network to keep them strong, although no one could argue that those are convenient places for friendships to begin. Shared interests and proximity—real or virtual—are the fastest paths to finding friends, and if that intersection of two lives begins online, it can yet develop into its own type of relationship over time.
  9. Remember: Not every friendship is going to be a “friends forever” type of relationship; sometimes, it is about “friends of convenience” and those we need most in a situation. And if things grow less convenient, and that individual isn’t available in the way that he or she once used to be, that’s actually quite allright.
  10. Studies show that most adults have only one or two close friends beyond their significant others. That is not a poor reflection on people, either: Would you really want to feel obligated to lend the shirt off your back (or $10) to the 873 “friends” following you on Instagram or Twitter?


Almaatouq, A., Radaelli, L., Pentland, A., & Shmueli, E. (2016). Are you your friends’ friend? Poor perception of friends ties that limits the ability to promote behavioral change. PLoS ONE, 11(3). E0151588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151588