The friends you choose matter

As it turns out, things start to get really complicated when you have more than a few friends. When the numbers of friends increase, so do the number of issues. Though there are advantages to having a diverse group of friends and acquaintances, maintaining those relationships is hard work.

In a study done by the Centre for Aging Studies at Flinders University, researchers kept tabs on 1,500 subjects only to find that those with more friends outlived those who had fewer friends by 22 percent. But there is a heavier burden when you have to deal with more individuals. There is more of a pressure to work around their personalities and treat everyone the same and if you allow yourself to become close to many people, eventually someone’s going to get neglected.

People often forget that friendships are a lot like romantic relationships in some ways; you have to work to keep them. You can’t walk all over them and expect them to still be there for you cheering you on. If you want to keep your friendships in tact, then pay attention.

Friends are the family you choose and the cool thing, besides them understanding your complexities, is that they actually help you live longer whereas actual family members don’t, according to researcher Lynne C. Giles. Good friends help you in times of turmoil and duress and can help you find a way out of trouble when you can’t figure things out for yourself.

Though they aren’t without flaws, it’s important that you know when to rely on them and when to let them lean on you. According to the Mayo Clinic, having friends helps “improve your self-confidence and self-worth” and “encourages you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking” but the key to those benefits is having good friends, not friends who are going to make you feel small and inadequate.

According to Today, negative social interaction is detrimental to your health. It can cause chronic inflammation, which can lead to depression, hypertension and even coronary heart failure. Sure there are a lot of steps between making a few bad friends and dying but life is stressful enough, if you can avoid heartache and stress, then by all means do so.

But so many people are so lonely and desperate that they will put up with anything for a taste of what it’s like to have these sorts of bonds with others, regardless of the fact that those people might be making things worse for them.

If you feel like you constantly have to put up a front around them, they’re ignoring you or you’re not being appreciated, it might be time to have a talk with your friends and let them know you don’t feel valued but only if you think those relationships are worth salvaging. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to fix it and you have to let go no matter how long you’ve known each other.

If you want to keep people in your life, you’re going to have to lean how to listen and then learn how to work through problems without being defensive. Be assertive and don’t let the ones you love take advantage of your kindness. You will also have to learn that people have other friends, ones that you might not get along with as well but you’ve got to be patient and accepting. It goes both ways. Chances are if you work on your own flaws, you’ll be strengthening your bonds in the process. It’s hard, but it’s better than being miserable.