Friendships can be an incredible way to connect with other humans. Friends can spend time together, get to know each other profoundly, and be there for each other in difficult moments. However, some friendships may be unhealthy, which can lead to mental health challenges. In modern times, it can be difficult to discern who is a friend, an acquaintance, or a toxic person who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
The following articles discuss the definition of friendship and what traits to expect from a friend. You’ll learn to identify an unhealthy friendship, make positive friends, and distance yourself from a friend you no longer want to associate with.
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Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Some consider friendship an integral part of life. When you meet someone and form a platonic bond with them, you might consider them a friend. Some friends can last an entire lifetime, whereas others may teach you crucial lessons about yourself at different times. Friends allow people to examine the best parts of themselves in others. A positive friend may help you notice when you’re acting destructively and may guide you in finding a productive way to change it.
Friendships may reduce loneliness and help you believe you are cared about and loveable. When you’re young, friendships can help you find your place of belonging in the world. However, it can be harder to form new friendships as an adult than as a child. If you become a parent, it can be even more difficult. For this reason, knowing how to build friendships and find support can be essential.
The Role Of Childhood Friendships
As a child, you may have been put in environments that allowed you to make friends organically. For example, when you go to school for the first time as a child, you’re put in classrooms with other children your age, who you may remain with for years if you stay in the same town and district.
People often form friendships with those who have common interests. However, opposites can attract. For example, if you’re shy, you might seek out a friendship with someone who is outgoing because you admire their pleasant nature. Friends are an integral part of childhood, and you may retain memories of your childhood friends for the rest of your life. Some people may remain friends with these people for decades.
Difficulty Making Friends
If you’re shy, it can be challenging to make friends. Some people might doubt themselves and believe that others won’t want to be their friend. These thoughts can make reaching out for social interaction difficult.
Kids who experience social challenges might find it difficult to understand social cues, know when it’s their turn to speak, decipher what is appropriate to say, and know when someone doesn’t like them. If an individual has trouble making friends, they may be targeted by bullying, which can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses in some children and adults.
Making Friends As An Adult
As an adult, you’re less likely to be in an environment where you can organically make friends. Adults can also face social ostracization when they struggle to make friends, which may cause them to retreat due to loneliness. You might benefit from speaking to a therapist about strategies for improving your social skills in these cases. You can also try meeting new people through options like support groups, clubs, or meet-up groups in your area.
Some people form friendships at work because so much time is spent together. Making friends as an adult requires more effort, but it is possible. One way to build friendships as an adult is to engage in social situations focused on hobbies you’re interested in. For example, if you like yoga or art, you might take a yoga or art class.
If you’re struggling to make new friends, you’re not alone. Some people may benefit from talking to a mental health professional to develop new social skills. To get started, you might consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, which allows you to connect with a therapist from home.
Online therapy platforms are often more accessible because they don’t require a commute. In addition, if you have social anxiety, meeting with a therapist in person can be overwhelming. You can choose between phone, video, or chat sessions with your provider, giving you control over your comfort levels online.
Studies also back up the effectiveness of internet interventions in treating social anxiety and other challenges related to difficulty socializing. One study found that clients who participated in online therapy reported higher anxiety reduction and quality of life after treatment, reporting more cost-effectiveness.
Making friends can be challenging, but you’re not alone if you struggle to do so. The above articles discuss friendship challenges, socialization, and social challenges. Consider reading through to find a topic that applies to you. You can also contact a therapist online or in your area for further support.