before the 12th century Old English freondscipe "friendship, mutual liking and regard," also "conjugal love" fr. Old English freond "one attached to another by feelings of personal regard and preference Feond ("fiend," originally "enemy") and freond often were paired alliteratively in Old English
- 1 : the state of being friends they have a long-standing friendship
- 2 : the quality or state of being friendly : friendliness the friendship shown him by his coworkers
- 3 obsolete : aid
Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association, and has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of such bonds. Such characteristics include affection; kindness, love, virtue, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, loyalty, generosity, forgiveness, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings to others, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend. Friendship is an essential aspect of relationship building skills.
Studies have found that strong social supports improve a person's prospects for good health and longevity. Conversely, loneliness and a lack of social supports have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer, as well as higher mortality rates overall. Two researchers have even termed friendship networks a "behavioral vaccine" that boosts both physical and mental health.
The dissolution of a friendship may be viewed as a personal rejection, or may be the result of natural changes over time, as friends grow more distant both physically and emotionally. The disruption of friendships has been associated with increased guilt, anger and depression, and may be highly stressful events, especially in childhood. However, potential negative effects can be mitigated if the dissolution of a friendship is replaced with another close relationship.
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