Friendship

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In a comparison of personal relationships, friendship is considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association can be thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

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Cultural variations

Ancient Rome

Cicero had his own beliefs on friendship. Cicero believed that in order to have a true friendship with someone one must have complete honesty, truth and trust. Also, friends do things for each other without expectation of repayment. If a friend is about to do something wrong, one should not compromise one's morals. One should explain what is wrong about the action, and help one's friend understand what is right, because Cicero believed that ignorance is the cause of evil. Finally, friendships come to an end because one person in the friendship becomes evil. (On Friendship, Cicero)

Russia

The relationship is constructed differently in different cultures. In Russia, for example, one typically accords very few people the status of "friend". These friendships, however, make up in intensity what they lack in number.[citation needed] Friends are entitled to call each other by their first names alone, and to use diminutives. A norm of polite behaviour is addressing "acquaintances" by full first name plus patronymic.[1] These could include relationships which elsewhere would be qualified as real friendships, such as workplace relationships of long standing, neighbors with whom one shares an occasional meal and visit, and so on.

Asia

In the Middle East and Central Asia, male friendships, while less restricted than in Russia, tend also to be reserved and respectable in nature. They may use nick names and diminutive forms of their first names. In countries like India, it is believed in some parts that friendship is a form of respect, not born out of fear or superiority. Friends are people who are equal in most standards, but still respect each other irrespective of their attributes or shortcomings.

Modern west

In the Western world, intimate physical contact has been sexualized in the public mind over the last one hundred years and is considered almost taboo in friendship, especially between two males. However, stylized hugging or kissing may be considered acceptable, depending on the context (see, for example, the kiss the tramp gives the kid in The Kid). In Spain and other Mediterranean countries, men may embrace each other in public and kiss each other on the cheek. This is not limited solely to older generations but rather is present throughout all generations. In young children throughout the modern Western world, friendship, usually of a homosocial nature, typically exhibits elements of a closeness and intimacy suppressed later in life in order to conform to societal standards.

Decline of friendships in the U.S.

According to a study documented in the June 2006 issue of the journal American Sociological Review, Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985.[2][3] The study states 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and the average total number of confidants per citizen has dropped from four to two.

According to the study:

In recent times, it is postulated modern American friendships have lost the force and importance they had in antiquity. C. S. Lewis for example, in his The Four Loves, writes:

To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends'. But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceships which those who make it would describe as 'friendships', show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with that Philía which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that Amicitia on which Cicero wrote a book.[4]

Likewise, Paul Halsall claims that:

The intense emotional and affective relationships described in the past as "non-sexual" cannot be said to exist today: modern heterosexual men can be buddies, but unless drunk they cannot touch each other, or regularly sleep together. They cannot affirm that an emotional affective relationship with another man is the centrally important relationship in their lives. It is not going too far, is it, to claim that friendship – if used to translate Greek philia or Latin amicitia – hardly exists among heterosexual men in modern Western society.

Mark McLelland, writing in the Western Buddhist Review under his Buddhist name of Dharmachari Jñanavira (Article), more directly points to homophobia being at the root of a modern decline in the western tradition of friendship.[5]

Hence, in our cultural context where homosexual desire has for centuries been considered sinful, unnatural and a great evil, the experience of homoerotic desire can be very traumatic for some individuals and severely limit the potential for same-sex friendship. The Danish sociologist Henning Bech, for instance, writes of the anxiety which often accompanies developing intimacy between male friends:

"The more one has to assure oneself that one's relationship with another man is not homosexual, the more conscious one becomes that it might be, and the more necessary it becomes to protect oneself against it. The result is that friendship gradually becomes impossible.[6]

Their opinion that fear of being, or being seen as, homosexual has killed off western man's ability to form close friendships with other men is shared by Japanese psychologist Doi Takeo, who claims that male friendships in American society are fraught with homosexual anxiety and thus homophobia is a limiting factor stopping men from establishing deep friendships with other men.

The suggestion that friendship contains an ineluctable element of erotic desire is not new, but has been advanced by students of friendship ever since the time of the ancient Greeks, where it comes up in the writings of Plato. More recently, the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger claimed that:

There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it, however little accentuated it may be in the nature of the friendship, and however painful the idea of the sexual element would be. But it is enough to remember that there can be no friendship unless there has been some attraction to draw the men together. Much of the affection, protection, and nepotism between men is due to the presence of unsuspected sexual compatibility. (Sex and Character, 1903)

Recent western scholarship in gender theory and feminism concurs, as reflected in the writings of Eve Sedgwick in her The Epistemology of the Closet, and Jonathan Dollimore in his Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault.

Developmental issues

In the sequence of the emotional development of the individual, friendships come after parental bonding and before the pair bonding engaged in at the approach of maturity. In the intervening period between the end of early childhood and the onset of full adulthood, friendships are often the most important relationships in the emotional life of the adolescent, and are often more intense than relationships later in life.[7] However making friends seems to trouble lots of people; having no friends can be emotionally damaging in some cases. Friendships play a key role in suicidal thoughts of girls.[8]

A study by researchers from Purdue University found that post-secondary-education friendships (e.g. college, university) last longer than the friendships before it.[9]

Children with Asperger syndrome have some difficulty forming friendships.

Types of friendships

The following is a list of terms that are used throughout the world to describe some types of friendships.

Acquaintance: a friend, but sharing of emotional ties isn't present. An example would be a coworker with whom you enjoy eating lunch or having coffee, but would not look to for emotional support. Many "friends" that appear on social networking sites are generally acquaintances in real life.

Best friend (or close friend): a person(s) with whom someone shares extremely strong interpersonal ties with as a friend.

BFF ("Best Friend Forever"): slang used primarily in the USA by teenage and young adult women to describe a girl friend or close best friend.

Blood brother or blood sister: may refer to people related by birth, or a circle of friends who swear loyalty by mingling the blood of each member together.

Boston marriage: an American term used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to denote two women who lived together in the same household independent of male support. Relationships were not necessarily sexual. It was used to quell fears of lesbians after World War I.

Bro: In the USA, common term for best friends among men, oftentimes in high school, college or early adulthood. This term is also common in New Zealand.

Buddy: In the USA, males and sometimes females often refer to each other as "buddies", for example, introducing a male friend as their "buddy", or a circle of male friends as "buddies". Buddies are also acquaintances that you have during certain events. They could also be referred to as internet contacts, such as the AOL Buddy List.

Casual relationship or "Friends with benefits": the sexual or near-sexual and emotional relationship between two people who don't expect or demand to share a formal romantic relationship. This is also referred to an open relationship or a "hook-up".

Comrade: means "ally", "friend", or "colleague" in a military or (usually) left-wing political connotation. This is the feeling of affinity that draws people together in time of war or when people have a mutual enemy or even a common goal. Friendship can be mistaken for comradeship. Former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges wrote:

We feel in wartime comradeship. We confuse this with friendship, with love. There are those, who will insist that the comradeship of war is love – the exotic glow that makes us in war feel as one people, one entity, is real, but this is part of war's intoxication. [...] Friends are predetermined; friendship takes place between men and women who possess an intellectual and emotional affinity for each other. But comradeship – that ecstatic bliss that comes with belonging to the crowd in wartime – is within our reach. We can all have comrades.[10]

As a war ends, or a common enemy recedes, many comrades return to being strangers, who lack friendship and have little in common.

Cross-sex friendship is one that is defined by a person having a friend of the opposite sex with having little or no sexual or romantic activity: a male who has a female friend, or a female who has a male friend. Historically cross-sex friendships have been rare. This is caused by the fact that often men would labor in order to support themselves and their family, while women stayed at home and took care of the housework and children. The lack of contact led to men forming friendships exclusively with their colleagues, and women forming friendships with other stay at home mothers. However, as women attended schools more and as their presence in the workplace increased, the segregated friendship dynamic was altered, and cross-sex friendships began to increase. Cross sex friendships has once been a sign of gender deviance, but now it has been loosened because of the increase of gender equality in schools and the workplace, along with certain interests and pastimes such as sports.

However, cross-sex friendships aren't always a socially accepted norm of amity and some of those friendships could develop into romantic feelings (see romantic friendship), but the two partners must agree to pursue the next level or the friendship ends, due to the other partner has no interest in having romance.

Frenemy: a portmanteau of the words fr(iend) and enemy, the term frenemy refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but actually is an enemy---a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing in the world of friendships. This is also known as a love-hate relationship. Most people have encountered a frenemy at one time of another, either at school, at work, or lurking in their neighborhood. The term frenemy was reportedly coined by a sister of author and journalist Jessica Mitford in 1977, and popularized more than twenty years later on the third season of Sex and the City. While most research on friendship and health has focused on the positive relationship between the two, a frenemy is a potential source of irritation and stress. One study by psychologist Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad found that unpredictable love-hate relationships characterized by ambivalence can lead to elevations in blood pressure. In a previous study, the same researcher found that blood pressure is higher around friends for whom they have mixed feelings than it is when they’re around people whom they clearly dislike.[11].

Fruit flies,[12] fag hag (female),[13] or fag stag (male):[14] denotes a person (usually heterosexual) who forms deep ties or close friendships with gay men. Men (gay or straight) who have lesbian friends have been referred to lezbros or lesbros.[15] The term has often been claimed by these straight members in gay-straight friendships, however some feel that it is derogatory.[16][17]

Imaginary friend: a non-physical friend created by a child or some person who has some mental or social illness, such as schizophrenia. Imaginary friends are also created for people in desperate of social interaction but is isolated from contact with humans and pets. It may be seen as bad behavior or even taboo (some religious parents even consider their child to be possessed by an evil spirit), but is most commonly regarded as harmless, typical childhood behavior. The friend may or may not be human, and commonly serves a protective purpose.

Internet friendship: a form of friendship or romance which takes place over the Internet. Some internet friendships evolve into real life friendships. Internet friendships are in similar context to a pen pal.

Mate: In the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, blokes often refer to each other as 'mates', for example, introducing a male friend as their "mate", or a circle of male friends as "mates". In the UK, as well as Australia, this term has begun to be taken up by women as well as men.

Open relationship: a relationship, usually between two people, that agree each partner is free to have sexual intercourse with others outside the relationship. When this agreement is made between a married couple, it's called an "open marriage".

Pen pal: people who have a relationship via postal correspondence. Now pen pals has been established into internet friendship with the use of chat or social networking sites. They may or may not have met each other in person and may share either love, friendship, or simply an acquaintance between each other.

Friendship and health

The conventional wisdom is that good friendships enhance an individual's sense of happiness and overall well-being. But a number of solid studies support the notion that strong social supports improve a woman’s prospects for good health and longevity. Conversely, it has been shown that loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates. Two female researchers have even termed friendship networks a “behavioral vaccine” that protects health and mental health.[18]

While there is an impressive body of research linking friendship and health status, the precise reasons for this connection are still far from clear. Most of the studies are large prospective studies (that follow people over a period of time) and while there may be a correlation between the two variables (friendship and health status), researchers still don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect relationship, e.g. that good friendships actually improve health.

There are a number of theories that attempt to explain the link, including that: 1) Good friends encourage their friends to lead more healthy lifestyles; 2) Good friends encourage their friends to seek help and access services, when needed; 3) Good friend enhance their friend’s coping skills in dealing with illness and other health problems; and/or 4) Good friends actually affect physiological pathways that are protective of health.[19]

Love

See also: Marriage

Love is closely related to friendship in that it involves strong interpersonal ties between two or more people.

In terms of interpersonal relationships, there are two distinct types of love:

  1. Platonic love: is a deep and non-romantic connection or friendship between two individuals. It is love where the sexual element does not enter.
  2. Romance (love): considered similar to Platonic love, but involves sexual elements.

Engaging in a romantic relationship can change the dynamics of a platonic relantionship; in the event of a break-up, close friends who become romantically involved may experience difficulty in successfully resuming a comfortable friendship.

Non-personal friendships

Although the term initially described relations between individuals, it is at times used for political purposes to describe relations between states or peoples (the "Franco-German friendship", for example), indicating in this case an affinity or mutuality of purpose between the two nations.

Regarding this aspect of international relations, Lord Palmerston said:

Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.[20]

This is often paraphrased as: "Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests."

The word "friendship" can be used in political speeches as an emotive modifier. Friendship in international relationships often refers to the quality of historical, existing, or anticipated bilateral relationships.

Interspecies friendship and animal friendship

Friendship as a type of interpersonal relationship is found also among animals of higher intelligence, such as the higher mammals and some birds. Cross-species friendships are common between humans and domestic animals. Less common but noteworthy are friendships between an animal and another animal of a different species, such as a dog and cat.

See also





References

  1. ^ Russian-com.co.uk
  2. ^ Kornblum, Janet (June 22, 2006). Study: 25% of Americans have no one to confide in. USA Today.
  3. ^ McPherson, Smith-Lovin, Brashears (Volume 71, Number 3, June 2006). Asanet.org American Sociological Review.
  4. ^ Lewis, 1974, p. 69
  5. ^ Jñanavira, Dharmachari (2001). Homosexuality in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition. Western Buddhist Review. 3.
  6. ^ Bech, 1997, p. 73
  7. ^ Conger, Galambos, 1996, p. 204
  8. ^ Grabmeier, Jeff (January 6, 2004). Friendships play key role in suicidal thoughts of girls, but not boys. Ohio State University.
  9. ^ Spakrs, Glenn (August 7, 2007). Study shows what makes college buddies lifelong friends. Purdue University.
  10. ^ Hedges, Chris (May 21, 2003). "Text of the Rockford College graduation speech". Rockford Register Star. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0520-13.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  11. ^ Thefriendshipblog.com
  12. ^ Green, Jonathon (2006, page 549). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. Sterling Publishing, ISBN 0304366366. Google Books, Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  13. ^ Baker, Paul (2004). Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 140. ISBN 0826473431. Google Books, Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  14. ^ Green, Jonathon (2006). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang: A Major New Edition of the Market-leading Dictionary of Slang. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. p. 485. ISBN 0304366366. Google Books, Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  15. ^ LesBro: If You're A Boy Who Likes Girls Who Like Girls, Then You Are A Lesbro. And If You're Not, Maybe You Should Be, Joshua David Stein, Details, September 2009.
  16. ^ Ordona, Robert (2008). "State of Gay Unions: The "Fag Stag"". Planet Out Inc. Retrieved 2008-07-23 Gay.com
  17. ^ Matarazzo, Heather (2005-03-29). "Who you callin' a fag hag?". The Advocate. Findarticles.com Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  18. ^ Friendship, social support, and health. 2007 Sias, Patricia M; Bartoo, Heidi. In L'Abate, Luciano (Ed). (2007). Low-cost approaches to promote physical and mental health: Theory, research, and practice. (pp. 455-472). xxii, 526 pp. New York, NY, US: Springer Science + Business Media.
  19. ^ Social networks and health: It's time for an intervention trial. 2005. Jorm, Anthony F. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Vol 59(7) Jul 2005, 537-538.
  20. ^ Speech to the House of Commons, Hansard (March 1, 1848)

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