A close friendship is characterized by mutual trust, respect, and emotional intimacy, according to clinical psychologist Annia Raja, Ph.D. “It’s a relationship where you can feel comfortable being yourself and sharing your innermost thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or rejection,” she tells mbg. “Research has shown that people with strong friendships are happier, healthier, and more resilient to stress.”
According to Shani Gardner, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and the owner of Soulful Grace Therapy, close friendships also involve honesty, support, and understanding. “Close friends provide safety, comfort, and a deep sense of alignment and intimacy,” she tells mbg. “Close friendships are important because we are social beings, and we are wired for connection with others. We have a natural desire to be seen and understood; close friendships allow that desire to be satisfied.”
In that sense, the psychology of close friendships comes down to our very human nature. Jennifer Chain, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of the group therapy practice Thrive for the People, says humans have thrived as a species because of our interdependence on each other. “Therefore, having meaningful and close friendships meets one of our foundational needs for connection and belonging.”
And as Chain adds, meaningful friendships are associated with important wellness outcomes like happiness, contentment, self-esteem, improved memory, decreased loneliness, increased life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, and longevity.