Research reveals great friends lead to good health, but that’s just a byproduct
Numerous scientific studies show that developing friendships is an essential ingredient to a healthy life.
But few people are intentionally trying to avoid heart disease or improve their blood pressure when they seek out, or stumble into, new friendships. Instead, they just want someone to hang out with, confide in or trust in times of trouble, says Darlene Quinn, an author whose latest novel, “Conflicting Webs” (www.darlenequinn.net), uses friendship as an underlying theme.
“Friends can start out from a variety of places, but still share the same incredible bond,” Quinn says “Sometimes that bond can span a lifetime. Other times, the bond is just for a short period. Either way, friendships are a vital part of life.”
As she researched her novel, Quinn became fascinated by the motivations behind friendships. Not all friendships are equal and, over the long haul, not all turn out the way people might like.
“Having a mutually beneficial relationship is crucial,” Quinn says. “If only one person is willing to put in time and effort, that friendship won’t work.
“We tend to intuitively know who real friends are and which friendships are worth our time and energy.”
Quinn said she found at least six factors that can lead to great friendships – three that bring people together and three that keep them together:
- Similarity. The phrase “birds of a feather flock together” has been around at least since the 16th century, and it’s no wonder it became such a well-worn cliché, Quinn says. It happens to be true. “We surround ourselves with people whose style, attitudes, personalities, likes, dislikes and mannerisms are similar to ours,” she says. “Those similarities help to build an instant bond. We feel comfortable around those people and easily slide into conversations about topics that interest both of us or schedule activities we both enjoy.”
- Intrigue. Sometimes people are so fascinating that we can’t help but be drawn to them, Quinn says. “We can build a great bond of friendship with someone when we are genuinely curious about their stories, their lifestyle or their backgrounds,” she says.
- History. Growing up together, or going through the same or similar experiences, can lead to a lasting connection between two people. “Other people may not be able to have a good understanding of, or empathy for, a situation you went through,” Quinn says. “But this person understands you because they went through it, too. Sharing a past with someone definitely can create a special bond.”
- Positive influence. A great friend will be someone who is a good influence and will support you and your goals, Quinn says. “They should inspire you to live up to your highest potential so you can be your best self.” The world has enough negativity, she says. You don’t need that in a friend.
- Your happiness. True friends want to see you happy. “The best kinds of friends are the ones who have your best interests at heart, even to a fault,” Quinn says. “They may tell you something you don’t want to hear at the risk of fracturing the friendship, just because they know it is in your best interest. At the same time, a true friend will never ask you to compromise or jeopardize any part of yourself in order to be their friend.”
- Loyalty. A loyal friend will have your back no matter what, Quinn says. “They will stand up for you and with you when the need arises,” she says. “They won’t speak ill of you to others and they don’t let others speak bad about you either.” Loyalty is not an easy trait to find, but it’s essential to any really good relationship, Quinn says.
“As years go by, I think most of us start to realize that it is no longer the quantity of friends that matter, but the quality,” Quinn says. “You just build a great bond with some people and you can call on each other in times of trouble. Good friends are hard to find, but impossible to forget.”
Darlene Quinn (www.darlenequinn.net) is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years working in management with Bullocks Wilshire Specialty department stores. Her latest is “Conflicting Webs,” the fifth book in her epic Web series. Previous titles in the series have been “Webs of Fate,” “Webs of Power,” “Twisted Webs” and “Unpredictable Webs.”