N4L 129: "Friendship" by Lydia Denworth


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


Celebrated science journalist Lydia Denworth coalesces decades of research to bring us her book, FRIENDSHIP: THE EVOLUTION, BIOLOGY, AND EXTRAORDINARY POWER OF LIFE’S FUNDAMENTAL BOND. Studies in history, biology, neuroscience, genetics, sociology, and epidemiology confirm we humans are deeply wired to connect with others. Furthermore, we now know making and keeping those connections is critical to our health.


  • Friendship is a biological imperative. We must invest in it accordingly.
  • Like diet and exercise, friendship is equally essential to staying healthy.
  • Three qualities marking a friendship: long-lasting, positive, and cooperation/reciprocity
  • Gift-giving – often a sign of true friendship
  • Friendship styles – discerning, independent, acquisitive (selectively and unconditionally)
  • Loneliness – the opposite of friendship (increases mortality and depression, blood pressure, aggressiveness, stress and decreases sleep quality)
  • Kids do better in school when they collaborate with friends.
  • Social buffering – the protective, positive effect of one individual on another; the power of one person to reduce another’s stress
  • After puberty, parents no longer buffer stress for children; friends can take their place.
  • The strength of relationships at 50 predicts health at 80.


  • “The need to belong and the desire to connect really does unite us all.”
  • “Learning to be a good friend and make a good friend is one of the most important skills [for kids] as they get older.”
  • “At its best, friendship makes you feel valued and supported.”
  • “A friendship’s rewards should outweigh its costs.”
  • “Women…are more likely to expect their closest friends to offer emotional nourishment and support.”
  • “We must make friendship a priority and factor it in to the way we plan our time—and our children’s time. Yes, you can choose your friends, but you must also more generally choose friendship—embrace it, invest in it, work at it.”
  • “People vary in their appetite for friendship.”
  • “Put time and attention into building quality relationships. Be mindful of your social convoy. You cannot afford not to.”
  • “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.”
  • “Shared interest and purpose are some of the best ways to connect with people.”

BUY Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond


Watch the short YouTube video from “The Loneliness Project” in Britain. (#endloneliness)

Listen to author Mary Pipher discuss friendship, marriage, and aging and her book WOMEN ROWING NORTH (Episode 75 of Nonfiction4Life).

BUY Still Connected: Family and Friends in America Since 1970

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