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“I’ll be there for you
When the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you
'Cause you're there for me too.”
— Theme from TV series FRIENDS “I’ll Be There For You”, by The Rembrandts
We love our families. We are, after all connected by blood and DNA. But often, it is the friends that we choose throughout our lifetime that best defines us. Our “family of choice” from childhood to old age determines who we are and what we become. The truth is, everyone needs friends.
So many of those memorable moments that bring you joy include a person or a group of people that could be called your friends. Most of us have a cast of characters. We have spent time surrounded by these people. Whether we were laughing, playing, learning from them or staying strong together, they are our “go to” people.
Sometimes we change who our friends are in the course of growing up and moving into the adult phase. There may also be that very best friend that stays in your heart and your life, no matter what the geography.
Friends are vital. They help to make us who we are. Sometimes they substitute for family. Even the friendships that don’t withstand the test of time contribute to your life in many ways.
Here are 5 important reasons that everyone needs friends:
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1. For Acceptance.
They know us better than anyone. They understand our weaknesses and fears. Sometimes we have even confessed to some hard truths and indiscretions that none else knows. They love us regardless. They are still offering friendship and acceptance.
A friend understands how we think, what we dream and what we like. They don’t judge. They don’t want to change you. They choose to remain in your life.
Our most solid friendships are with people with whom we share common ground. Acceptance is easy among true peers. If your friends accept you unconditionally, it becomes so much easier for you to accept yourself, and forgive yourself for that matter.
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2. To Keep Us From Being Lonely
Not only do our friends know the worst; they don’t care. The comfort level is amazing. You don’t have to dress up to hang out with them. They want to spend time with you and you with them.
In short, you don’t have to be alone. And even though there are times when you need solitude, you will never be completely alone when you have friends.
They say that loneliness is a killer. It leads to depression and despair. Don’t isolate yourself too much. Consider that the cure for being lonely is to cultivate new friends or re-engage with old friends. Don’t isolate yourself. Gravitate to other people.
Put energy into having and being a friend. Increase your social activities. If it’s difficult to find people around you, reach out online to reconnect or find new friends. You don’t need a crowd of people. One or two good friends are essential. You can develop friends by being friendly! The quality of your life depends on it.
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3. To Help You Develop and Grow
You may think of your friends as secret weapons. You always have someone to share the highlights and the worries. There are common memories, shared feelings, and ideas. Life gets less complicated with fewer secrets.
When we doubt ourselves, our friends may give us support. Our life skills and abilities flourish when surrounded by the right friendships. When someone believes in you and loves you unconditionally, it’s contagious. This is how we can learn to believe in ourselves.
Childhood friendships are key as we develop into social kids through the interaction and activities. As we grow into teenagers, our peer group teaches us how to live in a larger world. Wise parents make sure that their children are exposed to plenty of other kids.
Friendships help keep us sharp, inspired and healthier. Adults may network with their circle of friends to advance a career, meet a romantic partner, share a garden or socialize at all sorts of events.
Even the friends that don’t last teach us something. Friendships can end up being disappointing (any relationship can get toxic). If you are betrayed or harmed by a friend, don’t be afraid to move on.
Maybe you’ve just grown apart. But it gives you an opportunity to widen your circle of friends. You need to have friends nearby that share your current interests.
Friend “therapy” at different stages of our lives may require different friends. Just an example: many of the wild partying drinking buddies of your 20’s may not be around in your 30’s.
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4. To Keep Us Laughing
Having friends helps us to experience more laughter and joy. By sharing embarrassing moments, stories and jokes, we get to develop a sense of humor.
Friends lighten the load and the mood.
It’s easier to push boundaries, break rules and just have fun in the context of friendship. From childhood pranks, teenage memories and shared experiences, friends make life bearable.
When you have someone to laugh with and cry with, it’s easier to chart a new course. Bad, stressful moments can turn into good times. Shifting your emotional direction can change everything. After all, taking things too seriously may be part of the problem.
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5. They Need You Too
It does work both ways! There are many benefits to having close friends, not the least of which is that you get to be a friend.
In the friend relationship, we learn how to give and receive unconditional love. You influence, support and affect your friends. They do the same in your life.
It’s reciprocal and mutually beneficial. So be grateful for your friendships. And don’t forget to tell them that you will be there for them. You love your friends and appreciate having them in your life. Just keep in mind that they need you too.
- Fifteen Reasons We Need Friends; Why and how friends can shape your life, By Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. Posted March 26, 2013