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Confront the Discomfort

Louise and Andie the Art of Friendship | pipsqueakshoppe

The first and lowest type are friendships of utility, wherein people associate for the sake of some external or material benefit. The second type are friendships of pleasure.

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Between them exists mutual admiration. Such friends move side-by-side towards a common noble aim. They inspire each other to be better, and together tackle pursuits that make them such. Friendships of utility and pleasure are not bad, per se; indeed, Aristotle says that both dynamics are included in friendships of the Good, and that delight and affection are particularly paramount in a relationship.

Louise And Andie: The Art Of Friendship

But friendships based on utility or pleasure alone are incomplete. As I recently wrote for New York Magazine, so many of the digital devices that supposedly connect us are leaving many of us, myself included, feeling a bit lonely. But although they may offer the illusion of doing so, online relationships simply cannot replace real, live, in-person connection.

The scientific literature offers plenty of insight on what close friends do for us.

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They give us confidence and bolster our sense of self , especially during tough times. They increase our sense of purpose and belonging. And they significantly influence some of our most important behaviors. Studies have found that if you have a friend who becomes obese you are 57 percent more likely to become obese; if you have a friend who quits smoking you become 36 percent less likely to start lighting up.

The flip side of this is also true: when your friends adopt healthy behaviors, like regular exercise, you become much more likely to do the same. In other words, the people with whom you surround yourself have an enormous impact on your life.

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In many ways, they shape it. Simply being in the flesh with someone does not make a lasting, meaningful relationship.

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Which got me thinking: what, exactly, does? The people with whom you surround yourself have an enormous impact on your life. It is a rare blessing to connect with someone on this deeper level. Ask yourself: in which categories do your relationships fall?