Friendship… What’s it all about?

It’s said that friends are the family we choose, which shows their importance in our lives. From the first buddies we made in infant school, who helped ease us into our independent lives, to the college friends who know too many drunken stories about us, friends are such an integral part of our life experiences that they often know us better than anyone else. As September is the month of friendship, we wanted to find out where the word ‘friend’ originated and to take a look at how important it is for us to nurture our friendships. 

What's in a word?

In the first evolution of man, friendships were developed for physical survival, offering protection in numbers and bringing together complementary skill sets. This value has evolved in modern day to be more about psychological than physical support.

The word friendship is a variation of the old English freondscipe, meaning ‘mutual liking and regard’. This is a simple and clear description, but it doesn’t even touch on the layers of the meaning of the word. 

So, what does friendship mean to us?

Friendship comes in so many different forms that it’s difficult to give just one definition, but at its core is a sense of joy to be in each other’s company, and the desire to do things unconditionally for one another. Whether we’re talking about life-long friends we’ve grown up with, work friends who keep us sane under stress, or the parents we’ve met at the school gates, bonding over our messy buns and chaotic mornings, we encounter lots of different friendships throughout our lives. And did you know that it’s been proven that having closeness with friends actually improves our lives? It aids our skills to communicate as well as our ability to commit to things and people, and this can be reflected in how we perform practical tasks, such as working in teams and maintaining jobs and relationships. Check out the facts here: In short, friendship can help to make us better able to deal with life!

We have more friends than ever, but still only a few we would rely on

A survey of 10,000 people in the UK carried out by Microsoft’s MSN Messenger* found that we have around 400 friends in our lifetime, but only a small number of these will stand the test of time.

Analysis of the research suggests that we have more ‘friends’ than generations before us, which may be due to the fact that we are so much more mobile so are likely to have moved away from our home towns and made new friendships groups. We’re also unlikely to be in jobs for life so move to new companies more frequently and meet more people through work. Social media also enables us to connect with groups of like-minded people much more easily, especially for new mums, so friendships blossom in new ways.

The survey found that 58% of responders say friends are the most important thing in their lives, above money, career and even family. However, the findings suggest that although we have a greater number of friends as a whole we don’t have any more close friends who we would trust with anything. This number has not changed across the generations and according to research undertaken by beauty brand, Nivea, this number is around 3.

Friends and mental health

According to this Huffington post feature, friendship originated to aid the survival of primitive man, and now modern man might rely on friendship for ‘survival’ in work, life and love. Although we may not need friends to survive physically anymore, the emotional support that friendship brings can contribute to good mental health.

Thankfully, as a society we are becoming more and more open about and aware of mental health and the importance of maintaining a healthy mind. Something as simple as spending time with friends can lift our mood and change our outlook. No man is an island, as the old adage goes, and friends can be the lifeboats that pick us up when we feel choppy water surrounding us.  

Research has also proven that the more friends we have, the longer we will live!! Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging that started in 1992 showed that of the 1,500 people followed over a 10 year period, those with a larger number of friends outlived those with fewer friends. Pretty compelling stuff!! So, get on the phone to your friends and show them a little bit of love because you might have a good few extra years to enjoy just from having them in your lives!

Print My Smile are celebrating the month of friendship

To celebrate the month of friendship, we are offering 10% discount on anything in our range of personalised gifts when you use promotion code FRIENDS at checkout. Show a random act of kindness towards your friend to show how much they mean to you!