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Article. Published on August 19, 2018.

How Well Do You Know Your Friendship?

Friends

Most of us claim to know our friends well, and our best friends even better, but how many of us understand our ‘friendships’ with them? Do we know, how different types of friendships can co-exist in a single relationship? Do we know, that the nature of our friendship with an individual, can affect our mental well-being?

Studies suggest that as we grow older, our close relationships tend to determine our level of happiness, our lifestyle and even our mortality. Friendships even play a role in building our confidence and ensuring our mental well-being. Drawing from studies and expert knowledge, we can understand that there are not one, but several types of friendships that you can experience in a lifetime. Poor friendships render a negative impact on our mental health largely because we get confused in our emotions and tend to rely on the wrong friend.


Types of Friendships

So, here is a list of the types of friendships that you probably cherish or succumb to, but should necessarily be wary of, in order to pay attention to your mental wellness.
Intimate Friendships

Intimate Friendships

Intimate friendships are non-judgmental, empathetic, and promote a healthy lifestyle. These are the closest people that you would reach out to, on a day-to-day basis. This friendship is usually unconditional and the friends stay supportive in good or bad times. Overtime, with intimacy, openness becomes an important component in the relationship, which becomes an added advantage. In most cases these are the friends who we call our ‘best buddies’. Generally, these friends tend to have a high stake in our mental well-being.
Toxic Friendship

Toxic Friendships

A number of studies have proven that social support systems can have a positive impact on our physical health. But how do negative or toxic friendships affect our mental health? Friendships go through several highs and lows as they grow. These fluctuation cycles can make a person feel persecutory, victimized or impact their self-esteem. This can be due to lifestyle changes, wherein the more the giving person feels depleted, the other feels needy and dissatisfied. These factors are common signs that both the individuals in the relationship are enabling negative behaviours in the other. Such relationships exhibit symptoms of gaslighting. Gaslighting is essentially when an abuser makes you feel like you are losing your mind or memory.
Toxic friendships can have a negative impact both on the friendship and on our mental wellness. If you are in such a friendship, we suggest you to recheck your friendship.
Acquaintances

Acquaintances

Acquaintances are those people who we have met, know or engage with, however we do not know the person in a deeper sense. For example, we might know them through social media or by networking. Research shows that a considerable amount of interpersonal transactions is required to foster ‘real’ friendships that are based on intimacy and open communication. However, we tend to believe that most of our social networking friends are real friends and are involved in our lives.
In most cases, these friends tend to merge with the endless virtual world. Expecting emotional support from such friendships is both unreasonable and risky. Social friendships solely developed through virtual mediums, tend to lack intimacy and a personal touch, which are important in cases where a person is feeling distressed. Your social network may rush to help you when you are in need but expecting more from this equation can lead to disappointment in most cases.
Cheerleading Friendships

Cheerleading Friendships

According to a study, humour often correlates with emotional intelligence and social competence. When friendships involve humour, cheerfulness and enthusiasm, it naturally increases longevity. Have you ever had a friend who motivated you into trying a new experience, for example, to learn a new language? Or go swimming? How was the experience?
Most often such friendships are supportive and motivating for both parties. This makes the experience of being friends with them more fun, spontaneous and exciting. They might not necessarily lend a shoulder for you to lean on, but they will definitely cheer you up and motivate you to explore the world, be adventurous and be introduced to new ideas, people, cultures and experiences. This kind of friendship promotes mental well-being, yet it is necessary to acknowledge the emotional limitations of such a relationship.
Spiritual Friendships

Spiritual Friendships

Ever had a mentor, a philosopher or a guide whom you turn towards when life is getting blurry? Or simply when everything seems overwhelming or clueless? These friendships have a big impact on your mental health as these people often play a stronger role in the important decisions of your life.
They may not be available for coffee every day, but they would go that extra mile to guide and support you. They possess a great deal of patience and interest in your life from a mentoring position, and more often than not they try to guide you to the right direction in life. These friendships are crucial, as long as you understand that these are inspiring friends but your life at the end of the day, must be completely crafted by your wishes and not merely a reflection of such figures.
It is vital to ensure that no matter what kind of friendship you practice, always check if you’re feeling supported, cared, and mentally well. This way, you too can make and be a friend, who is mindful and empathetic at all times.
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