The role of positive friendships in the journey to adulthood

The MIND 24-7 Team | May 8, 2024

From childhood into adulthood, a person’s sense of identity, their beliefs and their experiences all are influenced by the positive friendships they have—especially their teenage friendships. These relationships have a big impact on personal growth and can affect how people deal with the complications life presents. 

Friendship connections also affect the way people view the world around them. These relationships play a crucial role in shaping overall well-being. Positive youth friendships provide support and companionship at a key time in development, teaching important life lessons as people mature.

Friendships made in the teenage years and early adulthood are unique because they are built on shared personal experiences and a deep understanding of each other. They often involve meaningful and memorable moments, such as rites of passage, shared secrets or significant “firsts.” These connections are important because they provide a safe space to be authentic and try out new experiences. Confiding in a trusted friend, celebrating together and enjoying each other’s company create a sense of belonging and acceptance, both of which are important for emotional well-being.

Friendships foster personal growth

One of the most important aspects of positive friendships is their role in personal growth and development. Interacting with friends teaches important social skills, such as communication, empathy and conflict resolution. Friends help people see their own strengths, weaknesses and values more clearly—opening their eyes to things about themselves they may not have noticed before. 

Young adults learn how to navigate tricky human interactions in relationships. This helps them understand how to build healthy relationships in the future.

Moreover, positive friendships provide a support system during times of difficulty and transition. Having supportive friends can help teens feel better and stronger when facing school problems or family issues. Leaning on supportive friends as a young adult can help make choosing a job or making other life decisions less stressful. 

Friends stand by your side when things get tough. They listen, give advice and offer emotional support. This can make people feel less lonely and isolated. Studies have found that having good friends is important for both mental and physical health.

Friendships expand understanding

Beyond individual well-being, positive friendships also contribute to making society as a whole better. They help people learn and practice empathy, cooperation and tolerance. It is important to form connections with people from different backgrounds in today’s world. This helps create inclusive communities and social harmony. Young adults learn to value variety and gain the skills they need to live in a multicultural world by making friends with people who have different views and life experiences.

Not all friendships are beneficial

It’s crucial to recognize that not all friendships are healthy or beneficial. Toxic relationships, marked by traits such as control, jealousy or disrespect, can have serious negative impacts on a person’s emotional and psychological health. These toxic friendships can lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem and even depression. They also can hinder personal growth and prevent people from reaching their full potential. 

It is important to be aware of the signs of a toxic friendship and for people to prioritize their own well-being by setting boundaries and seeking support from trusted individuals. Ultimately, surrounding oneself with positive and supportive friendships is essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling social life. 

As people age, they may discover more about themselves. This can lead them to re-evaluate their friendships. They may choose to focus on new relationships that align with their beliefs and goals, even if that means breaking off connections with old friends.

To summarize, positive friendships play an important part in a person’s transition to maturity, providing companionship, support and possibilities for personal growth. As young adults navigate through life, the bonds they form with friends provide stability and joy. By nurturing positive relationships built on mutual respect, empathy and trust, individuals not only improve their own lives but also contribute to creating a more compassionate and interconnected world.

If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to make friends, know you are not alone. A mental health provider can help you address the emotional, psychological and social challenges that may be impacting them. MIND 24-7 is here for you and your family. We offer walk-in treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns—24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. All adults and youth are welcome. We accept most insurance, Medicare and AHCCCS. If you or a loved one needs mental health care, visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247.