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7 ways platonic relationships help you stay healthy and live longer

Platonic relationships are a unique and invaluable aspect of human connection. Unlike romantic relationships, which involve romantic feelings and attraction, platonic relationships are built on deep friendship, mutual respect, and emotional intimacy without any romantic or sexual involvement.

Having a best friend with a platonic relationship is a treasure beyond words. It’s a connection transcends romantic notions, yet it’s equally profound and meaningful. This unique bond is built on trust, respect, and understanding.

While researchers and philosophers have extensively explored love and family dynamics, friendships have often been overlooked in the spotlight.

Science journalist Lydia Denworth draws attention to this oversight in her new book, “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond.”

Denworth highlights how friendships can be undervalued, often taking a backseat to family and work obligations or romantic relationships, according to Greater Good Magazine.

However, she argues this is a mistake because research indicates that friendships greatly benefit our well-being.

According to scientific studies, friendships can provide us with a sense of purpose and meaning, contribute to our overall health, and even extend our lifespan.

The intimacy, support, equality, and emotional connections we share with friends create a unique and valuable bond.

Denworth’s book celebrates the significance of friendships formed through shared experiences like slumber parties, being there for each other in times of distress, and offering kindness without needing repayment.

She emphasizes that the science of friendship validates the importance of spending time with friends, as it is an essential aspect of our well-being and shouldn’t be seen as a mere indulgence.

Meanwhile, psychological research highlights the significant impact of stable and healthy friendships on our overall well-being and longevity, as per American Psychological Association.

Individuals with close friends and confidants experience greater life satisfaction and a lower likelihood of experiencing depression.

Moreover, having strong social connections through platonic relationships is associated with a reduced risk of death from various causes, including heart issues and chronic diseases.

So, how do platonic relationships do that?

1. They improve your physical health.

Recent research has revealed the remarkable impact of healthy relationships on our physical health. Maintaining a close circle of friends can significantly reduce the risk of various health problems, including diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.

Moreover, fostering strong social ties can profoundly affect our emotional well-being. By diminishing feelings of loneliness, these connections can contribute to a longer and more fulfilling life.

Evidence from a 2010 review suggests that individuals with robust relationships are half as likely to experience premature death from all causes.

2. They provide emotional support.

Having a friend to lean on during difficult times can ease the burden and make the transition smoother. A supportive friend can offer a listening ear, provide comfort, and help you navigate the challenges you face.

Interestingly, research confirms that happiness is contagious within friend circles. Hence, a person experiencing depression is twice as likely to recover if they have happy friends.

3. They boost your confidence.

Self-doubts and insecurities are a natural part of life experienced by everyone at some point.

However, the presence of supportive friends can significantly contribute to boosting your self-esteem and fostering a greater sense of appreciation and self-love. Friends who offer unwavering support play a vital role in building your confidence.

When you are unsure or hesitant, their praise and reassurance become a powerful source of encouragement.

These caring friends illuminate the qualities that make you truly amazing and remind you of your valuable contributions to others’ lives.

4. They help lessen stress.

Stressful events are a common part of life, but having reliable people, you can count on can alter your perception of tough times, making them less overwhelming.

Spending time with friends not only brings joy but also has a significant impact on reducing stress.

Research indicates that social connections play a crucial role in alleviating stress levels, which can otherwise adversely affect various aspects of health, including the heart’s arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.

Moreover, friends can be invaluable when it comes to coping with stress. Studies show that children who hang out with their friends during stressful situations tend to produce less cortisol, a hormone released when the body is under stress.

5. They help you deal with loss and trauma.

Friends play a crucial role in helping you navigate through loss and trauma. When faced with the death of a loved one or surviving a traumatic event, having a considerate, caring, affectionate, and patient friend can be incredibly beneficial.

They provide the much-needed emotional support to help you cope and move forward.

True friends understand precisely what to say and do to offer comfort during difficult times. Moreover, they can encourage you to express yourself and communicate openly, especially when others struggle.

6. They help you see things differently.

One of the significant advantages of having platonic relationships is having someone we respect who can offer constructive feedback on our lives.

True friends could communicate openly with us and point out when biases, prejudices, past traumas, anger, or resentment might cloud our perspectives.

They help us see things differently and encourage us to look at situations more clearly.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that good friends can be of the opposite sex as well. This brings an added dimension to friendship, as they offer a unique and enlightening perspective from the viewpoint of another gender.

Such insights can be invaluable in broadening our understanding of various situations and relationships.

7. They help you become a better version of yourself

Friends can be a positive influence and profoundly impact shaping our values and behaviors. When we surround ourselves with generous, helpful, ambitious, or family-oriented individuals, we are more likely to adopt and embody those same qualities.

The power of friends with platonic relationships lie in their ability to see and love us for our authentic selves. They provide unwavering support and motivation, propelling us to strive for self-improvement and become the best version of ourselves.

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