Defining and Classifying Friends
Friendships are voluntary interpersonal relationships between two people who are usually equals and who mutually influence one another.William K.
Rawlins, Friendship Matters: Communication, Dialectics, and the Life
Course (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1992), 11–12. Friendships are distinct from romantic relationships, family relationships, and acquaintances and are often described as more vulnerable relationships than others due to their voluntary nature, the availability of other friends, and the fact that they lack the social and institutional support of other relationships. The lack of official support for friendships is not universal, though. In rural parts of Thailand, for example, special friendships are recognized by a ceremony in which both parties swear devotion and loyalty to each other.Rosemary Bleiszner and Rebecca G.
Adams, Adult Friendship (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992), 2.Even though we do not have a formal ritual to recognize friendship in the United States, in general, research shows that people have three main expectations for close friendships. A friend is someone you can talk to, someone you can depend on for help and emotional support, and someone you can participate in activities and have fun with.William K. Rawlins, Friendship Matters: Communication, Dialectics, and the Life Course (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1992), 271.
Although friendships vary across the life span, three types of friendships are common in adulthood: reciprocal, associative, and receptive.Adapted from C. Arthur VanLear, Ascan Koerner, and Donna M. Allen, “Relationship Typologies,” in The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships, eds. Anita L. Vangelisti and Daniel Perlman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006),
103. Reciprocal friendships are solid interpersonal relationships between people who are equals with a shared sense of loyalty and commitment. These friendships are likely to develop over time and can withstand external changes such as geographic separation or fluctuations in other commitments such as work and