Let’s play a short game of Jeopardy! for a moment. The category you’ve selected is Science, and the answer is:
According to a recent study, its common themes are: pleasure, reciprocity, commitment, voluntary, and mutual respect
Sounds very relationship oriented, doesn’t it? And, since you are reading this under the banner of Project BFF, you know that the relationships we’re speaking of are the friendships in our lives.
The author of the article Friendology: The Science of Friendship, Suzanne Degges-White, PhD is a blogger, therapist and author of three books on helping build better relationships and develop enduring, lifetime connections.
As you read these, see if you recognize the themes in both your friendships that have flourished and withstood the test of time, as well as those that just didn’t go the long haul.
Here is how Suzanne describes the Friendship Themes:
- Friendships exist when pleasure is taken in the company of another, rather than being with someone as a duty.
- Friendship implies there is reciprocity and give-and-take.
- Levels of commitment to a friendship vary over time, depending on the energy required by family or other commitments.
- We form friendships on a voluntary basis and recognize that our friends are also making the choice to be in the friendship.
- And the most important theme — genuine friendships will flourish only if mutual respect exists between friends.
It’s also interesting to learn that the study identified two main factors influencing our choice of friends:
- Individual factors, which includes influences such as approachability, social skills, self-disclosure, similarity and closeness
- Environmental factors, including proximity, geography, activities and life events.
Lastly, the study also supported our preferences for friends who we believe to be similar to ourselves and who have personalities that we enjoy being around; choosing friends such as these decreases the possibility of interpersonal conflict.
In considering these themes and factors around friendship, we might be tempted to write them off as plain old common sense when it comes to making friends. But, common sense isn’t always so common. The truth is that we’ve been able to identify some of the friendships in our lives, both past and present, that lacked these traits and eventually phased out. Do you have a few as well?