Friendships play a fundamental role in our lives. We all want to have friendships that are emotionally special and with people we can trust. For a good development and a joyful life we need other people. What exactly is friendship? What are these friendships we form over the course of our lives? In this article we are talking about the development of friendships.
According to Sternberg’s theory, friendship is an emotional relationship based on trust and commitment. However, what each individual thinks about friendships can differ in many ways. This is a result of the constructive factors that exist over this understanding. The subjectivity of each person has an important influence. It changes the terms that define the friendship.
Adults generally believe that friendship is not a one-way relationship. Most adults assume that it has to come from two directions. Friendship involves mutual psychological satisfaction. We determine this satisfaction based on the feelings and thoughts of both parties. In the rest of the article, we’ll talk about how friendships develop over the course of our lives.
The development of friendships
According to Damon and Fuentes, there are different stages in the development of friendships. Each phase has specific characteristics.
Early childhood friendship
We refer here to the period between the ages of 0 and 2 years. During this phase we can hardly speak of friendship in the strict sense of the word. However, here we make the first overtures that are part of a social life. Studies show that small children start developing and maintaining interactions more with people they know than with people they don’t know. This preference implies that children trust the people they can recognize.
In addition, children prefer to associate with people who are similar to those with whom they have positive experiences. If they have negative experiences with someone, they also avoid others who are similar to that person. So we can talk about the beginning of friendships. The child chooses who to play with and who to show affection to.
Friendship during the preschool years
The preschool stage is between 2 and 6 years old, just before children start primary school. At this age, children understand and analyze friendships from an egocentric point of view. They do not distinguish between their own perspective and that of others. That’s because they haven’t developed a theory of mind yet (they can’t understand the other person’s perspective yet).
As a result, these friendships are characterized by unstable encounters. Interpersonal conflicts are also common. Moreover, they can easily lead to the end of the friendship. Children are usually friends with those children who live close to them or with their classmates. In summary, they are unstable relationships based on proximity. In general, it is the parents and caregivers who control and direct the children’s friendships at this age.
Friendships in school going children
This stage starts when children start school and ends when they reach adolescence. So it is the period between the ages of 6 and 12 years. The hallmark of these friendships is to maintain a relationship of cooperation and mutual aid.
At this age, children begin to understand others. They give up their self-centered view of friendship. Now they choose friends who show affection and concern for their needs and questions.
At this stage, the concept of friendship is very similar to what most adults consider friendship. These relationships also tend to last a long time. If friends continue their friendships from this stage through adolescence, they can have a close and very emotional bond.
Friendships during adolescence
This stage starts around age 12 and lasts until age 18. Adolescents have the same understanding of friendship as adults. They view friendship as a lasting relationship based on mutual understanding. Affection and emotions play a fundamental role.
At this stage of friendship development, these relationships also become much more profound. Friends begin by expressing loyalty, trust, intimacy, and sincerity. Friends choose each other based on psychological characteristics and similar interests or hobbies.
From adolescence, friendship is enriched by many different experiences. Distance and casual conflict are no longer a barrier that stops friends from enjoying their emotional bond.
According to this overview, friendships change over time. The evolutionary development of the individual influences the development of friendships. We should also not forget that friendship is a subjective concept. Each person has their own idea of what friendship is. That idea has to do with many variables. It is important that you understand what friendship means to you. You can then interact with other people in an appropriate and satisfying way.