THE BEANBAG PSYCHOLOGIST 04
Matters of Friendship
Of all the relationships that we have in our lives, the one that inspires much emotional investment and kin-like intimacy is friendship. If you listen to stories about how people met their friends, many interesting themes may come to the fore. Some would have started their friendship on a point of shared interest such as an extracurricular passion, some on a give-and-take partnership, and still others purely on the point of a heady game of cricket.
Sociologists (those involved in the scientific study of society) and psychologists agree that there are three main foundations on which friendships are built: emotional support, shared interests, and simply, fun and recreation.
Why does friendship come to occupy such a pivotal role in defining our personal life and success in the social sphere?
Simply because, friendship is a relationship in which we stand to receive validation of the kind of person we are. If we ignore the minor annoyances our friends suffer due to our occasional quirks, it is easy for us to notice that we enjoy a great deal of love and affection for the unique characteristics we hold. Very few people can tolerate the snorts that punctuate your laughter other than your friends, surely! They love us for all the long and tragically non-comical anecdotes that we share with them, while at the same time allowing us to believe we are one of the funniest in the group!
Friendship is a very enriching relationship as we pretty much navigate this relationship on our own terms with very less interference from other parties. People with close and trusting friendships grow up to be highly empathic and tolerant of differences in ability, culture and background of others.
Our friends form a crucial part of our social support system, on which we can rely at times of distress and difficulty. Such a support system that provides emotional support and hope, boosts our ability to cope with adversities in a resilient and positive manner.
Having friends with whom we share a certain intellectual and emotional wavelength creates a safe space for us in which to explore our own personalities and values. In order to evolve into a person who enjoys the respect and approval of friends, we adapt certain moral and personal values by which to live and love.
Our conception of the big, strange world out there is formed by the kind of experiences we have with our friends. They form the basis on which we understand the rest of our social world.
Let us extend the spirit of friendship by being more courteous and pleasant to all the wonderful people we come across every day, from the auto drivers to the gaggling bunch of classmates!
Let us hear about how you met your best friend or group of friends! Email us or comment below on what you think is important in a friendship! :)
SANGEETHA MADHU & JYOTHI RAVICHANDRAN, THE HINDU IN SCHOOL