Friendshifts: Keeping Close Through Life's Changes

If you do have a mate or romantic partner, it is ideal to be best friends with your mate as well as lovers. However, even when you attain that ideal, you need platonic friends where shared income, living arrangements, or the roles of spouse or parent are less likely to complicate the relationship.

Furthermore, even if you are fortunate enough to have the most sympathetic opposite-sex relationships--spouse or friends---certain gender-specific experiences, such as the onset of menses, the physical act of childbearing, becoming a father, or menopause, can only be shared vicariously. Same-sex friends add a commonality of experience that enriches your life. Friendship can determine where you live and how you live. A survey by the Roper Organization reported by Diane Crispell in The Wall Street Journal discovered that Americans chose friends as saying the most about them (39%)---way ahead of their homes (26%), their jobs (12%), or their clothes (12%).

Consider these additional facts about friendship:

  • Children with friends do better in school.
  • Medical researchers found that those with friends are more likely to survive a heart attack or major surgery and less likely to get respiratory infections or cancer.
  • Friends offer a continuous relationship to singles, according them the high status once given only to family.
  • A nine-year study of thousands of Californians by Berkman and Syme discovered that those with friends live longer.
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