Centering Friendship and Mental Health

Traditionally, the premise that partners are prioritized over friends has been the theme of many a movie, blog, and book. Recently, the idea that friendships may transcend and certainly equal romantic or marital relationships has received research attention in the psychology literature.

Some intriguing conclusions from these studies:

1. A substitution for assisted-living or elder care may be group communal living for friends who support each other as they age. Addressing and communicating the strengths and needs of each person entering such an agreement as an intentional living community is of course crucial, but it’s a fascinating premise. Early studies show a higher level of social support, mental engagement, decreased depression, and reduced perception of physical pain. Read: Goodbye Nursing Homes, New Trend is Senior Co-Housing With Friends.

2. Replacing the traditional model of a marital/monogamous/romantic relationship by centering friendships as equally or more important as a priority also shows indicators of positive adjustment and mental health. Read: What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was At The Center of Life?

3. The literature on loss shows that friendship break-ups are as painful as loss of an intimate partner. The emotional impact of friendship is unequivocal.

4. The responsibilities of child rearing, housework, and the burdens and joys of everyday life can be successfully split among a community of friends, rather than a nuclear family.  It may indeed take a village.  Read more: The Ingredients of Friendship.

 

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Embolden Psychology
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