Jonathan Reed in the Afternoons on 104.7 WNOK in Columbia, SC


Friends = Living Longer

A friend of mine once asked, "is this your 'friend' or an 'acquaintance?'" Because I would refer to almost anyone I knew as a 'friend.' It was eye-opening as I found out who my friends were and those who were just an acquaintance. I don't know where I would be right now without my friends. I have been going through challenges in the past few months and my friends have not only revealed themselves but has also become my lifesavers... literally.

Lydia Denworth has a book out called, “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond” (W.W. Norton)

The average American claims to have about four close friends, and the great majority of us have between two and six. Only 5 percent of those studied had more than eight, while 5 percent had no close friends.

Surprisingly, Denworth argues that social media is actually good for friendships, especially for older people who receive more support from their community on the Web. Strong social networks even seemed to protect against dementia!

Now how long does it take to form these friendships? According to the book, it takes between 40 and 60 hours to create a casual friendship and over 200 hours to become a “best friend.”

A meta-analysis of 308,000 people in 2010 concluded that there is a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival for those with stronger social relationships.

Now back to those people who shared they had no close friends, this can negatively affect your health as well. Loneliness can lead to depression, lower sleep quality, elevated blood pressure and increased aggressiveness and stress. There is also evidence that lonelier people tend to have higher levels of inflammation in the body, which as Denworth writes, “is like generic fertilizer for just about every disease that afflicts us.”

Another note, at times when you open yourself up and communicate to the right people to show that you are vulnerable, the type of new friends that we can gain. The 'realness' from you and the empathy from them can make a combination for building a great friendship.


Photo: Getty Images

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