A conclusion was reached, through 300,000 participants, that people who had strong friendships lived 7.5 years longer than those with weak or few social ties. Brigham Young University reported the conclusion that friendship extends life. Other research by Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore, indicated that having long-term friends was emotionally and physically protective. Paul indicated that people with solid friends sleep better but it requires a concerted effort and an investment of time to keep a friendship pulsating, fresh and dynamic. “You can’t take the friendship for granted. You have to show a friend you value him or her, make time for him or her, pay attention and be there when there’s a crisis to show emotional support via a dinner or a note,” Paul said. Additional information on the subject of friendship comes from Tasha Howe, head of the psychology department at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Howe noted that maintaining friendship is a lot to ask when you are constantly changing and developing new interests and habits. “Sometimes you realize that person isn’t just right for the new version of you.”
Many friendships do end, even the long-term ones. People change, their interests change; they may relocate. In some cases, long-term friendships reach a logical ending and terminate. Sometimes the friendship takes an un-predictable turn such as when getting together feels like an obligation or a friend does something hurtful that feels like a betrayal. A separation or divorce can upset the balance of the friendship as can a chronic or catastrophic illness; circumstances change and major life changes can affect the friendship.
Decisions have to be made if you still value the friendship. Can it be repaired and/or do you want to keep it going? If so, Tasha Howe suggests an honest face-to-face dialogue, explaining what you’re feeling to your long-term friend while avoiding blame and talking it out together. A diagnosis of the relationship is necessary as to why it is faltering and what could be done to put it back on target. If you no longer value the relationship it may be time to call it quits and that conclusion shows that simply sharing a history does not legitimize continuing the relationship. It is important to take steps to preserve a friendship or ultimately to know when to let go.