Why is Having Friends Important?

Having friends can be both a good and bad thing. It depends on how you look at it and what you want out of life, or more specifically, what you expect out of your friends. Sometimes friends can really help you out when you need them, but other times they can let you down and hurt you or make you lose trust in people.

But if you ask most people about whether they would have friends or be a loner, majority would say they'd rather have friends. Humans are social animals by nature, though that description obviously doesn't apply to all of us since some do prefer to be alone and others are introverts and keep their amount of close friends down to only a select few. But most people do feel that friends are important even though they may not always be able to elaborate or explain why they believe that.

Even though friends are not always good friends and can sometimes be a bad thing, the benefits of having friends will usually, but not always, outweigh the negatives of having no friends. So if you're thinking about becoming a loner or just wondering the classic question "why is having friends important?", here's a few common reasons why they matter.

Probably the biggest plus of having friends is that they help your mental growth as a person. Some of them can really cause depression and pain and you may grow to be more distrustful of people because of them, but if you choose your friends carefully and try to choose friends that you think are upstanding and trustworthy people, then the benefits on your mental well-being are invaluable. Imagine if you had no friends for your entire life and try to picture what your view might be.

You may actually start to think like a caveman or a person in a world where very few humans are left such as characters in post-apocalyptic movies (Denzel Washington's character in Book of Eli for example). I've personally gone through many phases in life where I had no contact with any of my friends and was a loner for many years.

This isn't a healthy way to live because it makes you distrustful and apprehensive when it comes to most people you encounter. It can cause mental problems where you have nobody to talk to and you can lose social skills or develop depression when there's nobody around to keep you from thinking these things.

Social skills can be lost and sometimes once you lose them they are often hard to develop again and social anxiety can develop because of this. Friends can help you have a positive outlook on life and keep your social skills sharp.

They can also boost your confidence by making you feel good about yourself, or in the words of the late Tupac Shakur "real homies make you feel good".

Sometimes traveling, going to festivals, or just simply doing anything in life is more fun when you have a friend to do it with. If you have no friends and don't have anyone to do these things with, it may cause you to go out less or be less active in life, or you may do these things and see other people having fun with their friends and wish you had someone to experience these things with. This can cause you to feel sad and possibly depressed.

Problem Solving
Your buddies can even help you solve problems in life that you may not be able to solve on your own. If you need advice on your marriage or relationships, they can be there to give you their opinions or try to keep you from making a bad decision.

If you need someone to help you get out of a sticky situation such as going to jail they may be able to bail you out.

When I was homeless and needed somewhere to stay, even some of my own family members didn't offer me any help, but I had one good friend that did. He offered me a place to stay but he was too far for me to travel to, and instead he ended up sending me money so I could buy a tent and a blanket and I later paid him back for this when he needed the money. So that's one of the defining characteristics of a friendship, helping each other out.

However, sometimes friends take advantage of this and may abuse this bond between friends. They may ask for money and never pay it back, which can cause stress, distrust, or other problems for the friend who loaned it to them.

In this type of situation the system that's in place between friends is actually reversed when one friend asks for help and is then inconsiderate of the other friend who is being considerate of them. It's as if the friend who needed money now passed their problems on to the friend who gave the money, and they don't return the favor by paying that friend back.

So real friends can help you solve problems, while fake friends can often do the opposite and cause problems when you try to solve theirs.

Friends can even help you stay physically healthy. If you're sick in the hospital or need someone to drive you to the doctor's office when you don't have enough money for a taxi cab, then a friend can really come through for you.

They may help take care of you day to day when you need it or help you pay doctor or hospital bills if it's absolutely necessary for your physical wellbeing. In addition to this, friends can also keep people from causing physical harm to you.

When I was a teenager I had many bullies who would beat me up and basically hurt me as much as they could at school and at the bus stop after school. I didn't have many friends at the time but one day a friend of mine happened to be there when a bully was trying to beat me up and he defended me and kept the bully from hurting me.

Later in life, when I was older and had grown braver from these types of incidents as a kid, I was homeless and a friend of mine who I had met at the shelter had a problem with another homeless man. This homeless man was trying to pick a fight with my friend and was known to be a bit crazy and carry weapons in his pockets.

I stood up for my friend and made sure the guy didn't attack him. So both this situation and my situation as a kid prove that having friends can actually help you stay physically healthy as well. Either one of us could have been hurt badly or possibly even lost our lives over these situations.

But as always, there's always a negative side to having friends and if you want to view it like that, then one could argue that having friends can put you in danger when you feel obligated to defend them and get hurt yourself in the process. Though I think in most situations this wouldn't happen and the benefits of having a friend to defend you far outweigh the negatives of putting yourself in danger to help a friend.

Social Life
Having friends can greatly boost your social life by introducing you to plenty of new people. This benefit can start when you meet your first friend and can actually continue throughout your entire life.

So it's a benefit that actually keeps on giving over the years in most cases. This is what I refer to as a "web of friends", and for good reason.

Let's say you meet a person named Joe when you're 15 years old. Joe introduces you to some of his other friends when you all go out to the movies one night. Now you've met 5 new people through Joe.

Now let's say you make good friends with one of these people in Joe's group of friends, Jessica, and you and Jessica continue to talk over the years. Jessica goes off to college after High School and you go to visit her in her new town and there you meet her roommate Jill and you hit it off real well with Jill.

Now through Jill you may meet all different types of new people and one of them may get you a job working for the company they work at. At this job you meet hundreds or even thousands of new people. If you think about it, all of this happened because you met one friend when you were 15 (Joe).

From your friendship with Joe, grew a web of new friends that continued to grow every year. So it's quite obvious that making friends with people and keeping friends, even if it's just a few, can greatly improve your social life, can keep it healthy, and can contribute to your list of contacts for social or business reasons.

Having friends can also be a good thing when it comes to your financial success in life. Having a social life often means you meet new people, and when you know people your options in life can expand.

You may be looking for work and if you have lots of friends who own businesses or who manage or work for different companies, then these types of friends can obviously come in handy and maybe one of them can get you a job at their company.

Another friend may be starting a business venture and needs a partner to help them and they may ask you to join them in their venture, and this could lead to wealth and success, depending on the idea. Many companies such as Google and Apple may not have ever worked if the two co-founders in these companies weren't friends and didn't get along so well. Friends also have other friends that you may not already know.

So let's say you have a friend named Alex and Alex knows someone named Paul. You don't know Paul, but Paul is looking to invest in a startup company and you just happen to have a startup company that you're trying to get off the ground. So Alex says "hey I know this guy named Paul and he's looking to invest in a company".

This can help you get your business off the ground once Alex introduces you to Paul, assuming Paul likes your concept or business strategy.

So who knows, you probably never would have met Paul if you hadn't already been friends with Alex.

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