Last update: 10 September, 2022
We live in a society that sees us increasingly independent and in which we spend more time counting the likes received on Facebook or the number of our virtual friends, than with a friend chatting or drinking a coffee. True friendship is much more than a like on a social network.
It almost seems that friendship has become more fragile, easier to establish and to destroy. If we don't like someone or suddenly we don't like them, we block them on Facebook or WhatsApp, and we forget about them. The number of lifelong friends continues to decrease, our friendships are linked to an activity or a specific area of our life (work, sport…). The truth is that of real friendships, of those in flesh and blood, there are very few left.
"Friendship is like music: two equally tuned strings will vibrate together, even if you only touch one."
The concept of friendship has undoubtedly changed with the advent of technology, since we can come to define anyone as a friend, even without knowing him. Internet, smartphones and all the existing applications on the market have led to the development of a new way of relating and a new concept of friendship.
How we choose friends
A study carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (USA), has shown that the genetic similarities of humans do not concern only their family members, but that friendships are also chosen on the basis of DNA.
Scholars they analyzed the genetic similarities and the connection between some individuals, referring to two independent health studies, containing detailed information relating to some sequences of the genome of the individuals involved and their social networks.
"Being honest may not get you many friends, but it will get you the right ones."
Some specific genetic markers have been identified in an individual's social relationships, thus discovering that the man forms friendships with the people with whom he shares two of the six markers evaluated.
Another interesting aspect of the research is the fact that we tend to choose as friends or partners people who are complementary to us. In other words, we also feel attracted to people with genes that mark characteristics that we lack.
Truth about friendship
There are many commonly held beliefs about friendship, such as the existence of a special connection with our friends, the fact that there is no friendship between man and woman, that couple relationships lead to neglect of friends, that friendship is good for health ...
In other words, we are used to believing a variety of beliefs about friendship that may or may not be true. Here are some scientific truths about friendship directly related to these beliefs.
Friendship between man and woman does not exist
You will all remember the famous scene from the movie "When Harry Met Sally" in which the protagonist argues that friendship between men and women cannot exist, because sex always gets in the way sooner or later.
A study carried out in 2012 and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, directed by April Bleske-Rechek, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, concluded that men more easily overestimate the possibilities of the romantic evolution of the relationship than women.
The study also proved that men tend to be sexually or romantically interested in their friends, regardless of whether they have a partner or not. Attraction is considered an impulse, although it tends to fade over the years.
"There is something between us that is better than love: it is complicity."
Having a partner distances us from our friends
A study on the effect that couple relationships have on friends, carried out by Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford, showed that the group of close friends of those who start a relationship, rather than being composed of four people (as is usual), it is made up of four elements - one of which is the partner.
This therefore means that the center of attention becomes the partner, to whom more time and dedication is dedicated, setting aside two people, usually a friend and family member.
Love takes time away from us and leads us to spend an increasing number of moments with our partner, and when the emotional bond with friends is neglected, contacts are not maintained and we do not see each other, this inevitably ends up deteriorating.
Friendship is good for health
Longevity research conducted at Flinders University's Center for Aging Studies in Adelaide, Australia, involving people over the age of 70, led to the conclusion that relationships with a good group of friends increase longevity compared to family relationships.
Having friends is not only good for our mood, but also for our body. In fact, people with a large circle of friends enjoy lower blood pressure, suffer less from stress, have stronger defenses and live longer. Friends help overcome illnesses and, most importantly, bring satisfaction and happiness.