When it comes to relationships, romance often grabs the spotlight. A simple glance in the self-help aisle of any bookstore reveals a thousand ways to Get a Mate/Keep a Mate/Dump a Mate/Get Over a Mate—perhaps there are even tips on how to Moisturize A Mate—and yet so few words written on friendship, which is one reason I wrote my book The Friendship Fix.
In my years of practice and research as a clinical psychologist, I’ve learned something that comes as a surprise to many: It’s friend relationships that often make up the highs and lows of our lives, and in some ways, they affect our daily well-being even more than our family does.
For better or for worse, friend relationships, or the lack thereof, can largely determine our happiness. They help us develop the rhythm of our days and can even shape our goals and our dreams, encouraging us to become who we want to be. Despite their vital importance, though, true friendships in adulthood can be much harder to make and maintain than they were during the golden days of lunchboxes or the late-night camaraderie of dorm rooms.
Take heart: If you’re willing to set your mind to it, you too can develop outstanding friendships that help you thrive in ways you never thought possible.