Home/Samples/The Evolution and Impact of Friendship in Adulthood

The Evolution and Impact of Friendship in Adulthood


The role of friendships in adulthood is essential for personal development and social functioning. Unlike kinships or formal engagements, friendships provide distinctive emotional benefits, psychological support, and social advantages. The nature of adult friendships changes dramatically as people move from early adulthood into later life stages. Friendships during early adulthood form randomly, as people are drawn together based on common interests or education and work. These relationships are typically exploratory and expansive, reflecting a phase of identity formation or social exploration. As people grow into middle adulthood, these bonds of friendship become more selective and deep. The focus changes from quantity to quality, with more significant stress on the preservation of long-standing relationships where one can find emotional depth rather than breadth and stability. In later adulthood, the emphasis is usually placed on maintaining emotionally satisfying and reliable relationships. These friendships offer not only companionship but also an essential lifeline in times of need, including health problems, retirement, and even during loss. The evolution of friendships is indicative of the changes in personal needs, priorities, and life circumstances that reflect the adaptable nature of social relationships throughout a human lifespan.

The Changing Face of Adult Friendships

Alegre & Benson’s 2019 study offers a more complex and comprehensive insight into the developmental process of adult friendships. When we are young adults, friendships often develop spontaneously, and they tend to be primarily due to everyday environments like schools or workplaces. These are exploratory relationships, where individuals are open to a wide variety of acquaintances as they try to develop their identity and social circle. During this transition phase, friendships are primarily due to shared interests in activities that are often close by and too broad a network of social relationships.

As people move into the stage of middle adulthood, there is a marked change in these types of friendships. The focus changes from quantity to quality, with the shift in focus on more substantial and meaningful connections. Often, this is a period when people reevaluate their friendships and get more selective about whom they devote time to, as well as emotional energy. Friendships that last are usually those based on mutual understanding, emotional support, and shared values. These relationships come in handy when dealing with the intricacies of life, such as job changes, family setups, and personal problems.

Friendships play a more significant role during the later years of adulthood. People often rely on friends when circumstances arise that involve a shift or even reduction of other social roles, such as retirement or the passing away of close family members. Again, these relationships offer a feeling of continuity and belonging that helps the persons who experience this phase of life, in which isolation can be pretty high. Many changes might happen to people’s lives. These long-lasting friendships reflect the importance that they have played in offering stability, comfort, and a sense of identity at all stages of adult life.

Impact on Well-Being

Kim et al. (2023) point out the immense effect of friendships on physical, behavioral, and psychosocial health in older adults. Friendships serve as a buffer for life’s stressors and play significant roles in improving mental health outcomes. Friends will offer emotional support, understanding, and practical aid, which is quite helpful in times of crisis or stress to ease the effects of it and foster resiliency. This support network assists people in overcoming obstacles, providing consolation and protection. Also, the high level of friendships is associated with lower depression and anxiety. Socializing with friends can improve the mood, offer viewpoints that counteract negative thoughts, and create a sense of belonging. These positive emotional interactions raise spirits but also serve to shield from mental health problems, thereby highlighting the healing nature of friendship when it comes to the preservation of psychological harmony.

Alegre & Benson 2019 faculty demonstrate how friends have a crucial role in forming self-image and influencing vital social skills that determine a healthy life. Friendships are like a mirror where people see their reflections in the eyes of something else under others, which gives feedback and is vital to developing awareness and self-esteem using yourself. These social interactions become ways for people to know what they are good or bad at, which leads them to have a closer-to-the-truth and more positive self-perception of themselves. Also, friends provide a safe environment where social skills can be developed and practiced. Interaction with friends enables people to communicate effectively, understand how others feel, and find ways of resolving conflicts or understanding the norms and cues in human interactions. These skills are not only crucial for maintaining healthy relationships but also go across other areas of life, such as professional settings and community involvement. With that in mind, friendships contribute not only to emotional support and rest. Still, they are used as a platform for acquiring essential social skills necessary to cope with the vicissitudes of adult life. As the research by Alegre & Benson informs, social connections and personal being are closely connected.

Friendships Across Gender and Culture

Friendship relationships are markedly shaped by gender and cultural background. Chan et al. (2022) note that friendships are vastly different for men and women, with the latter more likely to have emotionally intimate and supportive relationships where most of their interactions revolve around everyday activities or interests. Cultural factors play a significant role in how friendships are made and sustained because each culture has its views not only on the part that friendship plays but also on whether having such relationships is essential or not. For instance, in many collectivist societies, there is a stronger emphasis on communal and familial ties. Relationships within the family or community often take precedence over individual friendships. These cultures may emphasize group harmony and interdependence — friendships in such endeavors are often tied closely to familial or community duties.

On the other hand, in more individualistic cultures, friendships might be established and maintained as a result of personal affinity or common interests where there is an emphasis on individual choice and satisfaction. In such situations, friendships can be regarded as an indication of personal identity and independence. Indeed, the cultural background will influence not only how friends are made but also what form they take on in a person’s life and network.

Technology and Social Media

Technology and social media have changed the landscape of adult friendships. Online platforms have allowed people to keep in contact with distant friends and referrals from the past. The digitalization of connectivity, enabling more efficient and frequent communication, also entails notable challenges. A critical issue is that these relationships could be superficial. Online platforms frequently prompt succinct, low-effort communication that needs more depth and emotional profundity than face-to-face contact. This can result in relationships that feel more casual and less rewarding. Secondly, the effect of digital communication on face-to-face social skills could be another consideration. The subtlety of non-verbal cues like body language and tone, so crucial in face-to-face encounters online, are absent. Increased use of digital communication reduces the capacity to read and respond in a non-verbal way, leading to adverse effects on human interactions. During personal communication, various nuances of moves and benefactions or certain tones are essential actors. However, with digital platforms, these subtle elements are often removed, and this may lead to a reduction in the capability of understanding such critical social cues. This decrease in non-verbal communication abilities can lead to misinterpretations and shallow interactions.

It may stunt the growth of sympathy as understanding and feeling others’ emotions is sometimes achieved only by noticing these small details. An over-dependence on digital communication can result in being relatively shallow as it does not adequately capture or understand the richness and complexity of human emotions. It is not that this change only affects people’s relationships with each other. Still, it could also impact the more significant aspects of sympathy and emotional intelligence in society as a whole. The ability to connect deeply and empathize becomes questioned when living more digitally nowadays.


In closing, the studies of adult friendships are full of a broad spectrum of human interactions necessary for our society and personal growth. Friendship in adulthood is a dynamic and evolving process, with each life stage reflecting the changing needs, priorities, and circumstances of people at that particular time. These are emotional support and social interaction, a cornerstone of relationships going from early adulthood to more selective bonds in later years.

Friendships have a profound and far-reaching impact on well-being. They are essential buffers against stressors in life, providing relief and solace at difficult times while reducing rates of depression and anxiety. The comforting support of friends at the emotional, psychological, and practical level is not only a source of relief but also an essential component in being able to rebuild resilience and coping strategies.

Friends are not made or sustained in a vacuum. These relationships are significantly shaped by cultural, gender, and technological factors. Some cultures focus on communal relationships and familial bonds, while others prefer individual connections and personal choices. The emergence of digital technology has transformed the world of friendships, provided a platform for maintaining long-distance relationships, and also caused challenges such as superficial interactions and even affected face-to-face social skills.

The intricacies of friendly relationships between adults are vital not only for growth and personal maturity but also for comprehending larger societal patterns. These relationships reflect our growth, adaptability, and changing patterns of human connection in an interconnected globe. Through the different periods of life, friendships persist, reflecting our shared road as people and the common human need for relationships and belonging to a group in order to feel accepted.


Kail_HumDev_9e_PPT_CH11 (1).pptx

Alegre, A., & Benson, M. J. (2019). Family warmth, self-perception, social competence, and friendships in emerging adulthood. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist36(2), 75–81. https://doi.org/10.1017/edp.2019.10

‌ Chan, D. V., Doran, J. D., & Galobardi, O. D. (2022). Beyond Friendship: The Spectrum of Social Participation of Autistic Adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders53(1), 424–437. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-022-05441-1

‌ Kim, E. S., Chopik, W. J., Chen, Y., Wilkinson, R. B., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2023). United We Thrive: friendship and Subsequent Physical, behavioral and Psychosocial Health in Older Adults (an outcome-wide longitudinal Approach). Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences32. https://doi.org/10.1017/s204579602300077x

Writer: Bianca Spriggs
Did You Like This Essay?
If you liked this essay, we can write a similar custom one just for you. Let our professional writers craft a high-quality essay tailored to your needs. Place your order today and experience the excellence of EssayWriter.pro!
Order now