Is it worth rebuilding a lost friendship

The secret to real friendship: what endangers it and how it lasts a lifetime

Good friends stand by us, they know us with all our quirks and flaws and still like us. In friendship, we honestly speak up when we have to, and yet we would never hurt each other. There are friendships that have been with us since the sandpit. Others broke on the way. We only made other friendships as adults. And with some people, despite all the sympathy, we fail to build a real friendship.

Accordingly, we learn the ability to have friendships at an early age. "The learning process begins when a child meets their peers for the first time", says the psychologist Dr. Horst Heidbrink from the Fernuni Hagen. While the parents do not let the offspring win over at Mensch-anger-dich-dich, the toddler will encounter resistance from other children - a relationship on equal terms.

"Children have the gift of blindly trusting one another. Friendships are made in moments. This friendship is terminated just as quickly if disappointment or a dispute arises at short notice."The essence of friendship and the ability to maintain it even in difficult situations must first be trained.

Then, as teenagers, we learn another lesson, which is: Friendships are not exclusive relationships. "Young girls in particular tend to want their best friend all to themselves. Sometimes jealousy scenes occur when the girlfriend suddenly has other friends as well. "A friendship differs in precisely this point from the exclusivity of the parent and also the later couple relationship.

The three pillars of friendship

Good friends are worth gold. But not everyone becomes our good friend. How it is decided who we want to be friends with and with whom it is only enough for a casual acquaintance, even scientists have racked their brains. They say: A friendship is based on the following three pillars:

Voluntariness - Sounds logical: you can only be friends with someone who also wants to be friends. So it is not enough just to be sympathetic to each other. Both must also want friendship.

Equality - The second basic requirement of friendship: equality. This means that both have to meet on an equal footing. "As friends, we usually choose people who are similar to ourselves, i.e.: similar social background, similar age, similar level of education. This similarity guarantees the presence of common themes, which is very important for friendship"says the psychologist.

The aspect of equality also explains why real friendship between hierarchically different people, such as boss and employee, is difficult. "Egel how uncomplicated the relationship on the surface is, ultimately there is a dependency relationship. Indeed, there is neither voluntariness nor equality."

Give and take - That means: Both sides have to do something to preserve the friendship and cultivate the friendship. "Basically we are all economically thinking beings, also in social relationships. If we feel that we are being exploited in a relationship, whether emotionally or financially, we soon no longer have any interest in that friendship."

The principle also applies the other way around: If we feel that we are taking undue advantage of the friendship, at some point we will feel uncomfortable with it. Consequence: The friendship only becomes more distant, finally it ends in only a loose acquaintance in which the relationships are balanced again.

Cultivate friendship: Dangers lurk here

Sometimes a friendship that arose in school lasts a lifetime. We lost contact with many other friends at some point over the years. How do you decide whether a friendship will last a lifetime?

"If the friends are still in similar social situations years later, the chances are good that the friendship will last. If not, it will be difficult", says the expert. Many of us know this: If your best friend suddenly gets married and possibly has the first baby, while you still don't miss a party looking for Mr. Right, you suddenly have fewer issues in common. "Because of this, the friendship is not terminated immediately, but it is definitely more distant."

There are also the so-called "friends of the past". These are people with whom we once had an intense, good friendship, but with whom we now hardly have anything in common. The friendship will only be maintained for the sake of the old days.

"In both cases the friendship can be reactivated as soon as the life situations are more similar again. So you should weigh carefully before finally ending a friendship that once worked well."

It looks different if the friendship has been fundamentally disturbed by a specific trigger, for example in the event of a serious abuse of trust. Then the friendship can quickly be history.

Maintaining friendship: this is how relationships change

Empirical research shows that the number of friends decreases proportionally with age. Instead of a large, loosely connected circle of friends, many people suddenly only have a handful of selected friends. This development usually begins between the ages of 30 and 40 - the phase in which job and family suddenly take up more space and thus shift priorities. In old age, by the way, many people state that their closest friends are even closer to them than their own relatives.

Male friendships vs. female friendships

We have always suspected it: men and women just think differently. So also with the topic of friendship. The psychologist: "Men have a fundamentally different friendship than women. While women tend to have 'face to face' friendships, i.e. are interested in exchanging ideas and cultivating relationships, men above all want a good buddy with whom they can experience adventures and have fun - i.e. 'side by side'."

By the way: When asked about their best friend, married men often name their own wife. Women, on the other hand, clearly distinguish between the relationship with their partner and that with their best friend. Even if they are married and have a family, women’s best friend remains an important caregiver with whom things are discussed that are not necessarily entrusted to the partner.

More than stealing horses: the best sayings about friendship

Video by Jutta Eliks

Even more topics related to friendship:

Best friend: 8 things she should definitely be able to do

12 reasons your best friend really is the very best

Frollegen: Is it really that dangerous to be friends with female colleagues?

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