Added: Stafford Eatman - Date: 02.02.2022 12:20 - Views: 18604 - Clicks: 4684
Sure, lovers and children are great. But friends are more than ever the heart of happiness, of family and of love itself. At first glance, the answer is straightforward.
After all, my many research subjects all have their own answers to share. And herein lies the fundamental problem for someone who would like to find a nice straightforward answer: love is complicated.
There is no neat formula. This is at once hugely frustrating and immensely pleasing because this complexity, this unknowable aspect of love, motivates us to create great art and to repeatedly embark on the exhilarating journey that is love, despite the end point being the possibility of great pain and rejection.
And what makes human love even more awe-inspiring is that we get to experience it in so many ways. I began my research life rather predictably with a consideration of romantic love but, as I started to explore the love lives of my subjects more broadly, it became clear that, yes, there might be lovers, parents, children but there might also be a god or gods, pets, celebrities, and even holograms.
We are capable of loving so many beings both human and nonhuman and in physical and nonphysical form. When you understand how important love is to our very existence, you realise how immensely lucky we are.
Love has got our back. This blinkered view is a result of our tendency to conceive of Friends with immediate benefits hierarchy of love. The top position is occupied by parental love with dad regularly relegated to assistant parent, whether he likes it or not; parental love is usually embodied in the love between mother and.
Fail at this and you supposedly live only half a life. Following that, we have the immediate family — siblings, parents, grandparents — and maybe even the extended family. After all these, the next category comes a rather distant fourth — our friends. It is fair to say that, when considering love, we can neglect our friendships. Indeed, in carrying out interviews for my next book, I found that those based in the UK or the US were often very happy to quickly declare their love for their cat or dog, but ask them whether they loved their friends and many had to pause and think.
This dismissal is based on a misunderstanding of how foundational friends are as members of our social network — they are its largest group — and how they hold the key to our health and survival. My work has shown that our friendships can provide a level of understanding and emotional intimacy that can eclipse any we might experience with a lover. At the same time, our society has profoundly Friends with immediate benefits in the past 50 years, putting the established hierarchy of love on shaky ground.
As a consequence, within the West — although not necessarily elsewhere — romantic love has become a choice rather than a necessity. But you discard the love that exists within your friendships at your peril, because, new findings show, friends are your key to a longhappy and chilled life. Being within a supportive social network reduced the risk of mortality by 50 per cent.
More than two decades of research into the nature of human social networks, including studies carried out within my group at the University of Oxford, has led us to two important and robustly evidenced conclusions. The first is that, regardless of age, personality, gender, ethnic background or any of possible individual differences, we all interact with the members of this network in a broadly similar way. But not all is equal in the club. Many of us tend to have daily contact with this core, including our romantic partner, our children, maybe our parents or a best friend.
Next we have the 10 or so people known as our sympathy group. These are our go-to people for a break away from the immediate family or a good night out, and we interact with them weekly. These are our close friends and maybe the occasional sibling or cousin. Together, the 15 people who make up our central support clique and our sympathy group get 60 per cent of our time. The remaining 40 per cent of time is spread thinly over the remaining people who constitute the rest of our active network, and the further out you are, the less of this slim sliver of time you will receive. Way back in the knife-edge environments of our evolutionary past, having a strong social network was essential Friends with immediate benefits survival, and there are still areas of the world today where having the help and support of others is the difference between life and death.
Here in the West, where our environment is relatively benign and everything we need to survive is becoming increasingly accessible at the click of a button from our sofa, cooperation, and in particular our closest relationships, are less about survival and more just about good fun and belonging — or so it seems. But a seminal study carried out in by the psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University in Utah and her colleagues would beg to differ. For some studies, this was the size of their network, their actual or perceived access to social support, their social isolation or the extent to which they were integrated into their network.
Holt-Lunstad concluded that being within a supportive social network reduced the risk of mortality by 50 per cent. That places it on a par with quitting smoking, and of more influence than maintaining a healthy BMI measure. Since Holt-Lunstad and colleagues reported their findings, study after study has reinforced this conclusion, to the extent that we can now argue that the nature of your social network, and the strength and health of the relationships within it, is the biggest single factor influencing your health, happiness and longevity.
They are your survival. O ver the past year, as I wrote my book Why We Love: The New Science Behind Our Closest Relationships forthcoming,I conducted many interviews with people, whose comments on love are quoted throughout this piece. One such was Margaret:.
But what has all this got to do with your friendships? Why does neglecting your friends place you at considerable risk of ill health and guarantee that your life will be much less joyous and satisfying? Their friends are those key 15 people they see and rely on most. As a consequence, they are the survival-critical relationships that will have a profound influence on their health, happiness and longevity. Data from the US census has predicted that 6 per cent of the current adult population of Americans will remain single their entire lives.
And the of never-married singletons in their 40s has doubled in the UK between and In Japan, deaths can outstrip births by nearlya year, meaning that by the population might have shrunk by 30 million people. Many people will remain childless. In the US, the rate of births Friends with immediate benefits women between the ages of 20 and 29 dropped a massive 15 per cent in the five years between andwith this trend not limited to any one ethnic group. But, in many cases, women, particularly those of the millennial generation, are actively choosing to not have children. As June, another study participant, said:.
I love this quote from June about the nature of friendship love. However, in her study of female singles, Claudia Brumbaugh, a psychologist in New York, found that best friends played a crucial role for them — both because, as June points out, of the freedom to choose them, and because of the close similarity to them. In adulthood, friendships might ebb and flow as you reach life stages at different points, but they will remain a source of comfort, advice, fun and freedom.
They might even become your family. W ith such unfettered choice, what draws us to the people who ultimately become our friends? One of the first studies I carried out at Oxford was an analysis of how heterosexual people chose their romantic partners and their best friends. I asked the participants to what extent they shared a range of attributes with their lover and their best friend, including levels of physical attractiveness, creativity, intelligence, education, sense of humour, outgoingness and optimism.
What was important in each case? What I found surprised me and challenged the idea that our friends can never be as close to us as our lovers. For many heterosexual women, their same-sex best friend was someone with whom they shared more emotional intimacy than with their male lover. For many heterosexual men, their same-sex best friend represented ease of interaction and a sense of humour — someone you could truly relax with. Further, both sexes had more in common with their best friend — that is, they were more Friends with immediate benefits to them in terms of education, interests, etc — than with their lover.
These perhaps point to the inherent tension that exists at the centre of all heterosexual romantic relationships. Evidence that our friends know us that well comes from a study in which people were asked to consider their own personality, and the personalities of 10 friends, while inside a brain scanner.
These families were bound by a shared identity rather than shared blood — they were fictive kin. And the extent of these similarities between friends can stretch beyond a shared love for French avant-garde films or a shared school experience to the fundamental way in which we make sense of our world. Inthe researchers Carolyn Parkinson, Adam Kleinbaum and Thalia Wheatley recruited students — the entire cohort from one year of a graduate programme. They asked them to complete a questionnaire listing everyone in the programme they deemed to be a friend.
The researchers then set about creating a social network for the class, illustrating every link between the students. Their prediction was that the closer two people were to each other in the network, indicating a stronger bond, the more Friends with immediate benefits their neural responses would be. A subset of 42 students was used for a scanning study. Once in the scanner, everyone watched the same set of videos in the same order.
The als seen in the brains of friends — both in the unconscious and conscious brain — were more similar than those between people who were more distant in the network. They were also able to predict just how close two people were in the network simply by comparing scans. Now that is a concrete finding. Inthe Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health ICAH carried out a study exploring the role of chosen and given family in Friends with immediate benefits with adolescents about sexual identity, health and rights.
They used individual interviews, online surveys and focus groups to explore the experiences of nearly adolescents as they navigated this at times rocky and confusing stage of their development. The showed that, while there was a role for both family types, the chosen family was the first port of call when discussing these potentially tricky topics. In fact, of those interviewed, When it came to discussing sex and sexuality, But when it came to how comfortable they felt while doing this, Yet three-quarters said they could speak to their chosen family about anything.
These friend networks were especially important for transgender, gender nonconforming and genderqueer youth, who were overall more likely to speak to their chosen family 81 per cent than their given family A s our Western world becomes slowly more tolerant, the options for creating your family become broader. These are both relationships where the foundation is not of romantic but of friendship love.
In the simplest manifestation, this is how the family remains, with two parents who love each other as friends and use this as the foundation for raising their. In more complex arrangements, the parenting team can expand to include the partners of the biological mother and father, an egg or sperm donor and sometimes a surrogate.
All of these people are focused on the raising of but their ability to do this successfully is based upon a strong tie of friendship. I came across the queer platonic partnership as I explored the world of aromanticism. Often, a misunderstanding of what it means to be aromantic le others to characterise those who have this identity as incapable of loving anyone and, as a consequence, of living in a world devoid of love. But aromantics are as capable of love for their family, their children, their friends or their god as any of us. To do this, they must look beyond the conventional to the QPP, someone with whom to build a life on the basis of friendship love.
And, just as there are dating sites, so there are now areas of the internet dedicated to helping those who wish to pursue a QPP. But this means that we must decide to actively nurture and invest in them to benefit from their many rewards. Our unique ability to love many beings in many ways means that we all have the opportunity for love in our lives. We just have to lift our eyes to the horizon and broaden our perspective to see all the love that is on offer. And for many of us that will mean celebrating, treasuring and reasserting the love we have for our friends.
To about love and relationships, visit Psychea digital magazine from Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophical understanding and the arts. This Essay was made possible through the support of a grant to Aeon from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions Friends with immediate benefits in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. Funders to Aeon Magazine are not involved in editorial decision-making. Language and linguistics.
Why is English spelling so weird and unpredictable? Moral philosophy is bogus, a mere substitute for God that s ugly emotions. Here are five reasons to reject it. Childhood and adolescence. Stories and literature. Most cosmologists say dark matter must exist. A widely scorned rival theory explains why. From cradle to grave, we are soothed and rocked by attachments — our source of joy and pain, and the essence of who we are.
Treasure them Sure, lovers and children are great. Being within a supportive social network reduced the risk of mortality by 50 per cent More than two decades of research into the nature of human social networks, including studies carried out within my group at the University of Oxford, has led us to two important and robustly evidenced conclusions. One such was Margaret: There is a weird idea that you are supposed to get everything from your romantic relationship but I realise the huge amount of love I have in my life. Living in a house share with real friends makes me realise that a lot of what I thought I wanted from a relationship was really a close, daily friendship.
As June, another study participant, said: I love my friends. It is different because it is a love that is chosen and quite special. People talk about unconditional love but I think there is something special about conditional love because you are always opting into it. It is an obligation but there is something special about day by day by day you are choosing to stay in those relationships.
These families were bound by a shared identity rather than shared blood — they were fictive kin And the extent of these similarities between friends can stretch beyond a shared love for French avant-garde films or a shared school experience to the fundamental way in which we make sense of our world.Friends with immediate benefits
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