What Makes A Good Friendship Essay Topics

What Makes A Good Friend? Essay

It's common to say that a good friend should be loyal or respectful because those are the first things that come to mind. Are you thinking of those qualities in terms of the friends you have now or because that is what society states makes a good friend. You'll read it in almost any magazine or newspaper article on the subject. Not too many people actually take time to consider the qualities of their friends. The friendship just sort of happens and either lives or dies. Looking at the diversity of people in the world you'll come to realize that in fact it is quite impossible to measure what qualities make a good friend. The peers you choose are there to answer an inadequacy in your life or validate a personality or belief.

Some people enjoy crowding themselves with copious amounts of friends. I grew up with this girl named Diana and became very close to her. After elementary school I moved to another district while Diana stayed behind. When I came back to visit I noticed that Diana had lots of friends; most of which were not even loyal or caring towards her. They made fun of her sometimes but she loved them anyway. Diana had very low self esteem coupled with a very poor relationship with her parents. I realized that Diana didn't choose these friends for their qualities; she chose them because she needed them to fill the emotional void in her life. She needed them because she wanted to feel a part of something. This is just one of many cases where I have seen people crowding themselves with friends due to emotional inadequacies. To allow for some diversity I'd like to take a look at people who choose to have only one friend in their life.

My mother is one of those people. She regards the word "friend" as a sacred term. She has one...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

What Makes a Good Leader? Essay

3220 words - 13 pages What makes a good leader? It depends. Most organizations look for individuals that have something to offer when they look at credentials or a great interview but looks can be deceiving does a good manager necessarily mean that a good leader I do not think so. Leadership is a topic that will have to be address by every organization .In my opinion no organization will be able to prosper without good leadership. Even though no two...

Expository Essay- what makes a good restaurant?

741 words - 3 pages We have all visited restaurants before, hungry with anticipation of consuming a good meal in return for our precious and cautiously spent money. Eating out is an expensive business and you really want to be sure you get a good experience. Sadly, this doesn't always happen. Who or what is to blame for this?Successful restaurants offer a seamless...

What makes the film a good one?

802 words - 3 pages Up to now, there have been lots of films, which are made for effecting people. Directors aimed to make films, which make people smitten. Of course, these efforts gave birth of competition in the movie sector. Therefore, film companies and directors act fastidious while making a film. They have started to examine their film deeply, choose its applications carefully....

What Makes Good Writing?

604 words - 2 pages This for me was a very hard question to answer due to the fact that its an opinion, and there are very many types of writing. Different structures, ideas, metaphors, and concepts. You have to remember to ask, whether the writing in itself is good in my point of view or not, has to answer to my specific guidelines which in your case might not be the same. The first and foremost of the many guidelines is how the author set's up the introductory...

What is a Friend?

615 words - 2 pages What is a friend? A friend is someone who supports you, sympathizes with you, or patronizes a group. An easily definition of that would be a person you know, like and trust. In these tough times we count on friend to help us get through. I like to think of friendship as everlasting, but is friendship truly forever? Can miles drive you away from friends you made after graduating from places like high school or college? Just imagine walking across...

Characteristics of a Good Friend

695 words - 3 pages WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTCIS OF A GOOD FRIENDTrue wealth in this world cannot be found in a person's bank account. It can only be found in those you call your good friend. Friendships are considered precious; we pass by numbers of friends as we move on with our lives. Good friends however are really hard to come by. In this world there are friends...

What Makes A Hero?

2158 words - 9 pages What is a hero? Is it superman? Is it your mom or dad? Is it your teacher? There are many people that are considered heroes. Some are just every day people, and some are super-human. Characteristics of heroes vary from era to era. Now people who are just simply a good person are considered a hero. But, back in ancient times to become a hero took much more. It took honesty, wisdom, and in some cases, wealth and superhuman abilities. With...

What Makes A Leader

1157 words - 5 pages What makes a good Leader? Brad Carlson March 25,2001 What makes a leader? This question has been posed in many areas within our everyday lives. This question is asked in the business, religious, social, and most often in the political world.Throughout our world's history, even if you look back to the beginning of man, you will see that there have always been...

What Makes a Superhero?

1172 words - 5 pages Superheroes have always been very popular since they first originated. They use their superpower or super-gadgets to serve a purpose. Superheroes protect innocent people and help fight crime, which is why they tend to live a complete meaningful life. They also use their strengths as confidence booster to keep on saving lives and defeating villains. To be a superhero there are some element s someone need to have to call himself a superhero. Most...

What Makes a Hero

2700 words - 11 pages What Makes a Hero When most people think of a hero, they think of some extraordinary, not an ordinary person with a heart. Oskar Schindler was one such person. The movie Schindler's List, directed by Steven Spielberg, is the story of how one man, Schindler, saved over 1,000 lives, and is a cinematic masterpiece. Spielberg truly brings Schindler to life, with all his good and bad points intact; the movie is very true to life, and gives...

what makes a leader?

1404 words - 6 pages Al Joseph DubouzetTopics in Women and SocietyMarch 3, 2014What Makes a Leader?In my Topics in Women and Society class, we touched upon the topic of what makes a leader? Specifically, referring to women leaders. According to How Remarkable Women Lead, it said a female leader was "taller, more beautiful, more accomplished, had more sparkle" and even the author did not have these...

Think of a time when you sat across from a friend and felt truly understood. Deeply known. Maybe you sensed how she was bringing out your ‘best self’, your cleverest observations and wittiest jokes. She encouraged you. She listened, articulated one of your patterns, and then gently suggested how you might shift it for the better. The two of you gossiped about your mutual friends, skipped between shared memories, and delved into cherished subjects in a seamlessly scripted exchange full of shorthand and punctuated with knowing expressions. Perhaps you felt a warm swell of admiration for her, and a simultaneous sense of pride in your similarity to her. You felt deep satisfaction to be valued by someone you held in such high regard: happy, nourished and energised through it all. 

These are the friendships that fill our souls, and bolster and shape our identities and life paths. They have also been squeezed into social science labs enough times for us to know that they keep us mentally and physically healthy: good friends improve immunity, spark creativity, drop our bloodpressure, ward off dementia among the elderly, and even decrease our chances of dying at any given time. If you feel you can’t live without your friends, you’re not being melodramatic.

But even our easiest and richest friendships can be laced with tensions and conflicts, as are most human relationships. They can lose a bit of their magic and fail to regain it, or even fade out altogether for tragic reasons, or no reason at all. Then there are the not-so-easy friendships; increasingly difficult friendships; and bad, gut-wrenching, toxic friendships. The pleasures and benefits of good friends are abundant, but they come with a price. Friendship, looked at through a clear and wide lens, is far messier and more lopsided than it is often portrayed.

The first cold splash on an idealised notion of friendship is the data showing that only about half of friendships are reciprocal. This is shocking to people, since research confirms that we actually assume nearly all our friendships are reciprocal. Can you guess who on your list of friends wouldn’t list you?

One explanation for imbalance is that many friendships are aspirational: a study of teens shows that people want to be friends with popular people, but those higher up the social hierarchy have their pick (and skew the average). A corroborating piece of evidence, which was highlighted by Steven Strogatz in a 2012 article in The New York Times, is the finding that your Facebook ‘friends’ always have, on average, more ‘friends’ than you do. So much for friendship being an oasis from our status-obsessed world.

‘Ambivalent’ relationships, in social science parlance, are characterised by interdependence and conflict. You have many positive and negative feelings toward these people. You might think twice about picking up when they call. These relationships turn out to be common, too. Close to half of one’s important social network members are identified as ambivalent. Granted, more of those are family members (whom we’re stuck with) than friends, but still, for friendship, it’s another push off the pedestal.

Friends who are loyal, reliable, interesting companions – good! – can also be bad for you, should they have other qualities that are less desirable. We know through social network research that depressed friends make it more likely you’ll be depressed, obese friends make it more likely you’ll become obese, and friends who smoke or drink a lot make it more likely you’ll smoke and drink more.

Other ‘good’ friends might have, or start to have, goals, values or habits that misalign with your current or emerging ones. They certainly haven’t ‘done’ anything to you. But they aren’t a group that validates who you are, or that will effortlessly lift you up toward your aims over time. Stay with them, and you’ll be walking against the wind.

In addition to annoying us, these mixed-bag friendships harm our health. A 2003 study by Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University and Bert Uchino from the University of Utah asked people to wear blood-pressure monitors and write down interactions with various people. Blood pressure was higher with ambivalent relationships than it was with friends or outright enemies. This is probably due to the unpredictability of these relationships, which leads us to be vigilant: Will Jen ruin Christmas this year? Ambivalent relationships have also been associated with increased cardiovascular reactivity, greater cellular ageing, lowered resistance to stress, and a decreased sense of wellbeing.

One research team, though, found that ambivalent friendships might have benefits in the workplace. They showed that in these pairings workers are more likely to put themselves in the other’s shoes, in part because they are trying to figure out what the relationship means and what it is. Also, because ambivalent friendships make you feel uncertain about where you stand, they can push you to work harder to establish your position.

‘Frenemies’ are perhaps a separate variety in that they are neatly multi-layered – friendliness atop rivalry or dislike – as opposed to the ambivalent relationship’s admixture of love, hate, annoyance, pity, devotion and tenderness. Plenty of people have attested to the motivating force of a frenemy at work, as well as in the realms of romance and parenting.

Subscribe to Aeon’s Newsletter

As with unhappy families, there are countless ways a friend can be full-on ‘bad’, no ambivalence about it. Susan Heitler, a clinical psychologist in Denver, and Sharon Livingston, a psychologist and marketing consultant in New York, have studied the issue, and found some typical qualities: a bad friend makes you feel competitive with her other friends; she talks much more about herself than you do about yourself; she criticises you in a self-righteous way but is defensive when you criticise her; she makes you feel you’re walking on eggshells and might easily spark her anger or disapproval; she has you on an emotional rollercoaster where one day she’s responsive and complimentary and the next she freezes you out.

In 2014, a team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that, as the amount of negativity in relationships increased for healthy women aged over 50, so did their risk of developing hypertension. Negative social interactions – incidents including excessive demands, criticism, disappointment and disagreeable exchanges – were related to a 38 per cent increased risk. For men, there was no link between bad relationships and high blood pressure. This is likely because women care more about, and are socialised to pay more attention to, relationships.

Negative interactions can lead to inflammation, too, in both men and women. Jessica Chiang, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who conducted a study showing as much, has said that an accumulation of social stressors could cause physical damage, just like an actual toxin.  

Some of our most hurtful friendships start out good, but then became bad. Among teens, for example, the rates of cyber aggression are 4.3 times higher between friends than between friends of friends. Or as Diane de Poitiers, the 16th-century mistress of King Henry II of France, said: ‘To have a good enemy, choose a friend: he knows where to strike.’

The writer Robert Greene addresses the slippery slope in his book The48 Laws of Power (1998). Bringing friends into your professional endeavours can aid the gradual crossover from ‘good’ to ‘bad’, he warns, in part because of how we react to grand favours:

Strangely enough, it is your act of kindness that unbalances everything. People want to feel they deserve their good fortune. The receipt of a favour can become oppressive: it means you have been chosen because you are a friend, not necessarily because you are deserving. There is almost a touch of condescension in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them. The injury will come out slowly: a little more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades.

Ah – so too much giving and ‘a little more honesty’ are friendship-disrupters? That conclusion, which runs counter to the ethos of total openness and unlimited generosity between friends, provides a clue as to why there are so many ‘bad’, ‘good and bad’, and ‘good, then bad’ friends. In his paper ‘The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism’ (1971), the evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers concludes that ‘each individual human is seen as possessing altruistic and cheating tendencies’, where cheating means giving at least a bit less (or taking at least a bit more) than a friend would give or take from us.

Good people do attract more friends (though being a high-status good person helps)

Trivers goes on to explain that we have evolved to be subtle cheaters, with complex mechanisms for regulating bigger cheaters and also ‘too much’ altruism. He writes:

In gross cheating, the cheater fails to reciprocate at all, and the altruist suffers the costs of whatever altruism he has dispensed without any compensating benefit… clearly, selection will strongly favour prompt discrimination against the gross cheater. Subtle cheating, by contrast, involves reciprocating, but always attempting to give less than one was given, or more precisely, to give less than the partner would give if the situation were reversed.

The rewarding emotion of ‘liking’ someone is also a part of this psychological regulation system, and selection will favour liking those who are altruistic: good people do attract more friends (though being a high-status good person helps). But the issue is not whether we are cheaters or altruists, good or bad, but to what degree are we each of those things in different contexts and relationships.

Perhaps this seesaw between cheating and altruism, which settles to a midpoint of 50/50, explains why 50 per cent keeps coming up in research on friends and relationships. Recall that half of our friendships are non-reciprocal, half of our social network consists of ambivalent relationships, and – to dip into the adjacent field of lie detection – the average person detects lies right around 50 per cent of the time. We evolved to be able to detect enough lies to not be totally swindled, but not enough to wither under the harsh truths of (white-lie-free) social interactions. Likewise, we’ve evolved to detect some cheating behaviours in friends, but not enough to prohibit our ability to be friends with people at all. As the seesaw wobbles, so do our friendships.

Should this sound like a complicated business to you, Trivers agrees, and in fact speculates that the development of this system for regulating altruism among non-kin members is what made our brains grow so big in the Pleistocene. Many neuroscientists agree with his conclusion: humans are smart so that we can navigate friendship.

The psychologist Jan Yager, author of When Friendship Hurts (2002), found that 68 per cent of survey respondents had been betrayed by a friend. Who are these betrayers? At such high numbers, could ‘they’ be us?

We somehow expect friendships to be forever. Friendship break-ups challenge our vision of who we are

That scary thought leads me to ask: are we really striving to forgive small sins? To air our grievances before they accumulate and blow up our friendships? To make the effort to get together? To give others the benefit of the doubt? Are we giving what we can, or keeping score? Are we unfairly expecting friends to think and believe the exact same things we do? Are we really doing the best we can? Well, maybe that’s what most of our friends think they are doing, too. And if they aren’t being a good friend, or if they have drifted away from us, or we from them, maybe we can accept these common rifts, without giving into a guilt so overwhelming that it pushes us to slap a label on those we no longer want for friends: toxic.

When a friend breaks up with us, or disappears without explanation, it can be devastating. Even though the churning and pruning of social networks is common over time, we still somehow expect friendships to be forever. Friendship break-ups challenge our vision of who we are, especially if we’ve been intertwined with a friend for many years. Pulsing with hurt in the wake of a friend break-up, we hurl him or her into the ‘bad friends’ basket.

But, sometimes, we have to drop a friend to become ourselves. In Connecting in College (2016), the sociologist Janice McCabe argues that ending friendships in young adulthood is a way of advancing our identities. We construct our self-images and personalities against our friends, in both positive and negative ways.

As much as we need to take responsibility for being better friends and for our part in relationship conflict and break-ups, quite a few factors surrounding friendship are out of our control. Social network embeddedness, where you and another person have many friends in common, for instance, is a big challenge. Let’s say someone crosses a line, but you don’t want to disturb the group, so you don’t declare that you no longer think of him as a friend. You pull back from him, but not so much that it will spark a direct confrontation, whereby people would then be forced to invite only one of you, but not both, to events. Sometimes we are yoked to bad friends.

The forces that dictate whom we stay close to and whom we let go can be mysterious even to ourselves. Aren’t there people you like very much whom you haven’t contacted in a long time? And others you don’t connect with as well whom you see more often? The former group might be pencilling you into their ‘bad friend’ column right now.

Dealing with bad friends, getting dumped by them, and feeling disappointed with them is a stressful part of life, and it can harm your body and mind. Yet having no friends at all is a far worse fate. Imagine a child’s desperation for a playmate, a teenager’s deep longing for someone who ‘gets’ her, or an adult’s realisation that there is no one with whom he can share a failure or even a success. Loneliness is as painful as extreme thirst or hunger. John Cacioppo, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, has found associations between loneliness and depression, obesity, alcoholism, cardiovascular problems, sleep dysfunction, high blood pressure, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, cynical world views and suicidal thoughts. But if you have friend problems, you have friends – and that means you’re pretty lucky.

Syndicate this Essay

Love & FriendshipWellbeingMeaning & the Good LifeAll topics →

Carlin Flora

is a journalist and former features editor at Psychology Today. Her work has appeared in Discover and Scientific American Mind, among others. She is the author of Friendfluence (2013).

aeon.co

0 Replies to “What Makes A Good Friendship Essay Topics”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *