A crucial question. You might scream: “Of course my family!” Maybe morally the most appropriate answer. Yet I recently read a study, which shows a different picture: Relationships to friends are for certain people more important than those to family members. Why’s that? Let’s dive into this one and extract implications for you in an ExperienceZone manner.

The rise of friendships

In the last decades, our world got more complex and seems to be spinning faster. Reason being technical and social developments. Whilst we worship individualism, we depreciate human relationships. This can lead to social isolation and depression. Former I felt in my early twenties, when I accomplished one personal goal after another yet disregarded my family & friends. Recognition led to reanimation of relationships, which fell asleep for some years.

Egocentricity often comes with efficiency. Four interesting phenomenons:

  1. Family members are perceived as necessary evil. “Ok, I’m tied to these guys since my parents made me and my siblings are of the same breed biologically. But that doesn’t mean that we need to spend time together. I don’t owe them anything. On top of that, familiar relationships don’t add value to my life per se.” Although I’m exaggerating, the traditional family model seems to be eroding in many parts of the world. The growing number of divorces, patchwork families and single households seem to be cause and result at the same time.
  2. Friendships satisfy the natural human need for social interactions. Like-minded people we know for many years or met along our life journeys are golden for goal-getters and ordinary opportunists alike. Women value their friends to have an open ear for emotional topics and men like to share hobbies with their buddies. Best case friends lift us up when we’re down, give us open and honest feedback as well as lend their clothes if we need a new dress though can’t afford to buy one.
  3. Communication channels depend on the geographical distance. When our friends live far away, we praise Skype and WhatsApp for engaging with them digitally. In case our friends live nearby, modern technology is perceived as a curse rather than the holy grail. Let’s meet face-to-face and talk things through!
  4. Soft-opposites attract. Similar to partners, we value friends with complementary personalities. Different world-views are being perceived as enriching. Yet if you’re a republican and I’m a democrat, chances are slim that we’ll go along for a long time.

Ergo, familiar relationships and friendships are different by nature

Let’s face it: Your family members cannot replace your friends and vice versa. Why should they? Instead of playing relationship quartet, leverage the upsides of both “institutions”:

  1. Appreciate the fact that you’ve a family. Be grateful towards your parents for producing you. Also, they’ve nurtured, raised and educated you. If you admit it or not: Your father and mother do have a huge stake in who you are today. Period.
  2. Select a few good friends. Those you can trust. People who inspire or even empower you. Folks who’ve skills you admire and who can teach you something. Soft-opposites if you want. Seek for a narrow and deep rather than broad and shallow circle of friends. Guilty a charged, I need to “clean” my 700+ facebook buddy list one day.
  3. Foster the relationships to family members and friends. Apply the trust formula. Use premium fertilizer as described in the countries social network, family and friends on ExperienceZone. Give first before you expect something in return. That’s what I call intelligent egoism.