Why do we need friends?

Friendship is one of the most important things in the world to me. In my opinion, it’s more important to have strong friendships than it is to have a romantic relationship with someone. Maybe that’s just me. But I’ve recently been thinking, why do we go about creating these bonds with seemingly random people who we are neither related to nor do we wish to reproduce with them?

Well, it turns out that us humans aren’t the only animals on the planet who do this. Being around our friends releases all those sweet, sweet chemicals in our brain such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – this is the same for other animal species as well as just us humans. What happens in our brains when we interact with other humans can actually extend our life expectancy and lower the risk of heart disease. The release of these chemicals also causes us to behave in a certain way, motivating us to do the things that are good for us, relieving our stress and making us want to be friendlier more often. In short, friends make us less of an arse – both to ourselves and others.

Like with most things, I guess it started with evolution. We needed that bond with other members of the pack who weren’t our relatives because we needed that support from others when it came to confrontation, hunting etc. This translates into our modern day selves, as we often use our friends as a support system, although this is now more so for emotional needs rather than protection or to back you up in a fight; I guess it depends on what kind of nights out you have.

Our friends, along with family and others we invite into our lives (and some who we might prefer to stay out), make us who we are. They help us to learn valuable skills and life lessons all throughout our early childhood stages into adulthood. They help us to understand who we are as individuals, aiding us in defining our priorities in life. They make us laugh when we need it most, but also in the most inappropriate situations. They sometimes make us cry, but this teaches forgiveness and we learn how to move on and strengthen the bond. They’re someone to reach out to for help, and in turn we learn how to be there for someone other than ourselves. They are people we can trust to be a part of us. They give us a reality check when needed. They give us somewhere to go when everywhere else seems too much.

Without friendship, we would suffer both mentally and physically. We would be lonely. Friends give us safety and happiness and companionship. I hope that everyone reading this has at least one good friend in their life, because you don’t just deserve it – you need it.

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