Ultimately, friendships are meant to be healthy, soul-feeding relationships that help us to feel loved, supported, and in vital community—an important part of well-rounded health. Spending time with people that you also love and support gives satisfaction in return—think purpose and intention. Studies show that good friendships are imperative to cognitive health and a joyful life. So why shouldn’t we choose them as carefully as we would a romantic partner?
We know that romantic partnerships seem more final—we can have infinite friends, in theory, but we can only have one (OK, maybe a few more, depending on your preference) romantic partner, so the pressure is on. In reality, while we can have many acquaintance-friendships, we only have the emotional and physical bandwidth to be in close, loving, intentional relations with a handful of others.
These intimate friends are the people who influence you the most, who will be there when you are in trouble or need, who support your growth and won’t suddenly disappear when you’re down on your luck financially, not wearing the coolest trends, fall sick, or fail to agree with their every thought. Look for these factors when letting people into your inner circle.
How do you feel around them or after spending time together?
Can you spend time with them in multiple settings?
Can you be yourself?
Are you supporting each other’s growth, or competing?
Is the emotional labor balanced?
When it comes down to it, a lot of these factors do also apply to romantic relationships. That’s because close, intimate relationships of all kinds require unconditional love, mutual respect, and maintenance. Keeping a close circle of people around you that serve your highest good with support you can reciprocate is what creates growth. And it’s ultimately a pillar of a life of love and wellness.