Friendship Friendship: The Gist The Benefits of Friendship Friendship Myths Types of Friends Connection Reflection Looking Inward Nurture Exiting Friendships New Friendships Social Skills Understanding Community Building Community Friendship Practice and Exercises Friendship Resources


The Definition of Friendship and Community

“Much like romance, if you’ve ever tried to make a new friend and things just didn’t click, it’s likely because one of the basic components of friendship simply wasn’t there.”

Plato’s definition of friendship: friendship, as understood here, is a distinctively personal relationship that is grounded in a concern on the part of each friend for the welfare of the other, for the other’s sake, and that involves some degree of intimacy.

FaithAction has been researching the core ‘ingredients’ that make a community. We undertook case studies of ten community ‘hubs’, with backgrounds in a variety of faiths and no faith, and analyzed them to identify the core themes that make up community.

“Community” has a definition problem. Community = a group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together. A group of people caring about the same goal doesn’t necessarily mean community.

The Psychology and Science of Friendship

The following articles explore studies and research that show why friendship is important according to science.

“The drive to join is deeply ingrained, a result of a complicated evolution that has led our species to a condition that biologists call eusociality.”

“Many studies over the years have found that people generally live longer, happier, healthier lives if they have a strong network of support from friends and family.”

“Research has shown that social support wards off the effects of stress on depression, anxiety and other health problems.1 Do you need to be more connected to others? Here are some tips to help you create a plan to make, keep and strengthen connections in your life.”

Blue Zones researchers cite studies that find people over the age of 80 benefit from social interaction

In the real world, scientific and anecdotal research suggests many men struggle to maintain friendships compared to their female counterparts, especially as they age past their school days.

A new report finds that good co-worker relationships are linked to decreased loneliness.

Even small social changes can have a large impact. Striking up post-meeting conversations with co-workers, or even engaging in micro-interactions with strangers, can make your social life feel more rewarding.

The Evolution and History of Friendship

Where did friends come from in the first place?

Cooperation made Homo sapiens the last human species standing.

Healthy friendships offer far more than a reliable person to share a beer with. Research shows they can make us healthier, wealthier, happier and overall more successful. Here’s how.

Friendship and Happiness

“Heaps of research suggest that social connections make people happier. Satisfying relationships not only make people happy, but they also associated with better health and even longer life.”

What if friends, not marriage, was at the center of life? Centered around a few stories of close intimate friendships, Cohen explores the bonds shared between friends who stick with each other through all of life’s (and romance’s) ups and downs.

Tips on Social Skills

Having a solid set of social skills allows you to communicate, relate to, and connect with other people.

“It has been suggested that body language may account for between 60 to 65% of all communication.”

Article from The New York Times details the social skills that help us connect, and integrates research alongside advice from experts.

“We have “approach anxiety” so deeply rooted that no one else can help us conquer it.”

People commonly underestimate how much others like them. The liking gap exists because we can’t just ask people how much they like us after a conversation ends. We’re left to venture our own guesses, running back conversations and re-evaluating everything we said, wondering how they sounded to a person whose values and personality quirks we don’t yet know.

Scientific studies show how asking someone questions about themselves can increase liking in interactions.

When you’re alone, you start to lose your sense of who you are

Conversation Skills

Strike up a brief conversation with a stranger to feel happier.

“Get curious about your loved ones, their thoughts and dreams, their perspectives on the world and life. Ask these questions tonight at dinner or tomorrow at lunch. Ask them during a date with your partner.”

“Truly good conversations come along very rarely; largely because our societies fall for the Romantic myth that knowing how to talk to other people is something we are born knowing how to do, rather than an art dependent on a little planning and a few skills.”

So We Can Finally Measure How Deep Our Deep Conversations REALLY Are

“ah, this may be the holy grail of people skills…​”

Author of the book The Power of Strangers explains strategies for using small talk as a door to deeper connection and commonality.

Be brave enough to share, kind enough to listen, and you can escape the shallows of small talk to dive deep with another

Where to Meet People

“If you are looking for the best ways to meet new friends in a new city, first think about the hobbies and activities that are enjoyable for you. Need some good ideas first? Take a look at our list of fun ways to meet new friends in a new city, as well as ways to meet friends online.”

“Especially for introverts, making friends in a new city takes a lot of emotional energy and effort. But you can’t belly up and remain a hermit forever. You have to find places to meet new people.”

A list of ideas for places to meet new people and get out into your community.

Making New Friends

“Whether you’re a recent transplant to a new town, or you’re interested in adding a few fresh faces to your inner circle, there are some practical things you can do to make (and keep) friends as an adult. First step, put yourself out there.”

Friendships don’t just appear — you have to be intentional about making them. Here are three concrete ways one woman is making the effort.

“When you’re an adult, friendship doesn’t happen organically because you aren’t in many spaces with continual unplanned interaction and shared vulnerability. If you’re passive about making friends, you won’t make any. You need to make a deliberate effort to meet new people.”

The secret to making new friends is as simple as being open to it. Here are things you can do to fill your calendar.

If you are stuck in a holding pattern, you may not be able to make connections easily. Discovering any of these obstacles will help you change your mindset.

From fitness classes to social media, there are plenty of ways to meet people in a new area – especially if you assume you’re naturally likable

Nurturing Friendships

Whether you are starting a new friendship or trying to bring more intimacy into an existing relationship, all friendships need to be nurtured to grow.

A present-day primer on nurturing, savoring, and decoding your relationships with your best pals.

Advice from 7 TED speakers on creating better connections.

“When the going gets tough, don’t go at it alone.”

Types of Friends

There are several ways to categorize the friends we hold in life. These articles outline a few ways.

A quick summary of Geoffrey Greif’s book Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, and the 4 types of friends he outlines in his book: Must Friends, Trust Friends, Just Friends, and Rust Friends.

Philosopher Aristotle identified three types of friendships: Ones based on utility or pleasure, and one on mutual appreciation of each other’s values.

“In life there are many different “flavors” of friends, just as there are many different flavors of ice cream”

Entrepreneur and author James Altucher writes on how to identify friends who are bad and good for you and how to use or lose relationships to change your life.

Unfortunately, social ease doesn’t last forever. We grow up and get more nuanced about our relationships. We collect emotional baggage and we get constrained by expectations of others. Today, the word “friend” has taken on new meaning

What is Community?

10 characteristics that all positive communities share. “Positive communities are groups that inspire their members in ways that promote a sense of self-discovery and group connection, encouraging members to express their beliefs and values, as well as build relationships with others.” Stephanie Caldow, B.A., is a certified positive psychology practitioner with a specialization in HRM.

The results of a Pew Research Center survey in 2018 show the statistics of neighborly relationships in the United States. Only about half of Americans say they know some of their neighbors.

“We all want to be a part of something. A community where we matter. Where we’re not only immediately recognized but enthusiastically welcomed. A place where our presence and participation are intimately entwined with the lives of others and we know for certain we’re among friends.

Most Americans say they know at least some of their neighbors, but only about three-in-ten say they know all or most of them.  Despite being more isolated, rural residents are more likely to know their neighbors.

Information on Intentional Communities and Co-Housing

Why Americans of all ages are coming together in ‘Intentional Communities’

“We asked psychologist Susan Pinker, author of The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter, to explain the benefits of living in a community of about 150 people, the average population of traditional villages throughout history around the world.”

Cohousing expert Grace Kim shares plans for how to build a common house.

Amid widening gaps in politics and demographics, Americans in urban, suburban and rural areas share many aspects of community life

The Science of Loneliness

Psychologists and doctors alike are concerned about the loneliness epidemic in the US. These articles explain the science of what makes loneliness so bad.

Former Surgeon General of the United States explains why reducing isolation at work is good for business.

“The absence of social connection triggers the same, primal alarm bells as hunger, thirst and physical pain.”

Striking up friendships can be tricky – and studies show millions of us are lonely. Here, four people who forged new connections explain how they did it. Plus: psychologist Linda Blair gives her tips.

As friendship brings health benefits, the opposite is true for loneliness.

Governments in countries from Australia and Denmark to Japan and the UK are starting to take measures against loneliness as it is now seen as a serious health risk.

The BBC Loneliness Experiment was a national survey and the largest ever study of loneliness. 55,000 people in the UK were surveyed on the experience and effects of loneliness.

A selection of stories of loneliness sent in by readers.

Additional Articles

“When self-care is the order of the day, does distancing yourself from the darkness make you a wellness warrior or a bad friend? Below, experts discuss how to deal with friendship rough patches and knowing when to call it quits.”

People born in the late 1970s are the last to have grown up without the internet. Social scientists call them the Last of the Innocents. Leah McLaren ponders a time when our attention was allowed to wander

“Many leaders reach midlife and discover that intimacy has been squeezed out of their marriage, family and friendships.”

Comprehensive retirement planning, that is longevity planning, is about more than financial security, it is about ensuring your true “social” security. So what is the balance and status of your social portfolio?

The pandemic reoriented our economy of attention, redefining the limits of who and what we could care about.

The TV show sold us an idealized vision of these relationships. For young adults, the real thing is far harder to find.

Putting our phones away allows us to inhabit moments that otherwise become lost in the noise of social media – moments we get to experience only once.


As it turns out, having friends is not only good for your soul but it’s good for your body, too.

We found some incredible statistics that prove that having a good group of friends at work is not only a nice-to-have, but it can make everyone work better.

Look at our 10 reasons why friendships are so important!

A short infographic guide to social skills

Illustrations of stereotypical friends you may meet in life.

A humorous take on the “friends” you have on facebook from highschool.

Barna explores new data about the care and keeping of friends.

Friendship Friendship: The Gist The Benefits of Friendship Friendship Myths Types of Friends Connection Reflection Looking Inward Nurture Exiting Friendships New Friendships Social Skills Understanding Community Building Community Friendship Practice and Exercises Friendship Resources