When we talk about relationship therapy, most people think this pertains only to romantic, and maybe family related connections. But we’re here to spread the news that friendships take work too!

Friendships can be some of the most important bonds we have in life, yet they tend not to get the kind of attention they deserve.

Here at Kennedy Counseling Collective, we’ve been reading “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make – and Keep – Friends” by Marisa G. Franco. This book is an insightful resource that illustrates the inner-workings of friendships through both anecdotes and science. 

So, without further adieu, let’s cover some common topics around friendship that arise in this wonderful book.

Friends Increase Your Lifespan

Did you know that having a fulfilling social life can reduce mortality by 45%?

That’s right, in fact, friendship actually statistically has double the impact of exercise on longevity!

Making and keeping friends can be tough sometimes, but your life might literally depend on it.

So, reach out to a friend today. Reconnect with an old friend, tell your best friend how grateful you are for them, or put yourself out there with someone new! 

Transparency & Communication

Why do we feel pressure to have the difficult conversations in romantic relationships, but it can almost feel like a social no-no to bring up conflict in friendships? 

Many factors can play into communication styles in friendships, just like in any relationship, such as family of origin, cultural background, attachment style, etc. We often bring patterns of communication into all our relationships, as do our friends. What do you notice about your patterns and how they play out in your friendships?

Oftentimes, having the hard conversations can bring more closeness and stability into a friendship. No matter what is going on – if your feelings have been hurt, a line has been crossed, or you just need to get something off your chest – it’s usually best to be honest. 

But it makes sense if you think about it: friendship thrives on transparency and communication, like any solid long-term relationship. Being transparent with your friends can help avoid resentments from building up over unspoken feelings.

If you have something that’s been weighing on you, maybe it’s time to call up your friend and talk through it. Going into it with the goal of strengthening the friendship and openness to their point of view will only help.

Enlightened Self-Interest

Have you ever heard of enlightened self interest? 

It’s time to rethink our concept of ‘selfless’ giving. Studies show that embracing the joy of giving actually leads to more giving.

Helping others doesn’t have to be a selfless act, in fact, embracing the self-interest component means more joy, all around.

As Marisa Franco points out, helping a friend at your own cost can actually lead to resentment and less willingness to support down the line. 

Make sure to set your boundaries, and to look for the joy in giving.

Communal Boundaries

Have you ever heard of boundaries?

“Communal boundaries stop the car to refuel so it can keep driving, whereas individualistic boundaries stop the car to park it in the driveway” — Marisa Franco

Communal boundaries means establishing boundaries for the well-being of the friendship, not just of the self. Instead of ‘I can’t hang out on weeknights because I need to de-stress’, try ‘I can’t hang out on week nights because I bring a better version of myself when I’m not coming straight from the office.’

Here’s another good quote to clarify the mutual benefit of boundaries: “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me at the same time.’’ —  Prentis Hemphill 

What kind of boundaries do you and your friendships benefit from having?

Friendship Therapy

Friends need therapy too. Relationship therapy is not just for families or partners. Our friendships are some of the most valuable relationships in life, and they deserve to be taken care of the same way we care for our other relationships. If you’re interested in friendship therapy, Kennedy Counseling Collective is here for you. You can schedule a pressure-free appointment here.