Friendship: How Important is our Need to Connect?

One of the first chapter books I remember reading was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The value of a true friend was etched in my mind as I witness the friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur developed. The love and sacrifice between these two characters taught me about the importance of our need to connect.

Why did you do all this for me?” Wilber asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

Friendship is a tremendous thing. I see it all over social media – the need for friends. Some voice it as loneliness while others try to compensate by putting up a facade — but the truth remains — we all need friends.

The Science of Friendship

Scientific studies reinforce what our gut already knows to be true — friendship improves our overall sense of well being and protects us from the hardships of life. Social isolation and loneliness increase our chances of premature death. Lack of a strong social connection is proving to have more effect on our health than smoking. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND! I am in no way endorsing the use of cigarettes, but this crazy bit of data goes to prove how important human connection is to our health.  

Physically connecting with other people alters our cortisol or stress hormone levels, helps us maintain healthy eating and exercise routines while curbing negative behaviors like too much TV.” –Dr. Nasreen Khatri

When our children were younger, we always stressed the importance of choosing good friends. These research studies add a whole new dimension as to why good friends are so important.

Lessons in Friendship

Long before I ever set foot in school, before I had any idea of what I wanted in a friend − I got the default. I played with who my mom paired me up with. Sometimes it was the daughter of my mom’s friend, but more often it ended up being one of the neighbor kids. I learned important skills like sharing my toys and playing nice, but the idea of choosing who I spent my time with seemed a little foreign.

In elementary school my education went beyond the academic, I learned there were different kinds of friends. Some were more amiable than others and I felt a gravitational pull to friends I had common bonds with.

Before we knew it I was dealing with the social scene, drama, and constant comparison of high school. True, there are a few great memories, but I most associate those years with a sense of inadequacy and comparison. My insecurities were at an all-time high. I felt surrounded by girls who were backbiting and bitter instead of offering the type of friendship I needed most. Those years taught me my insecurities were valid and appearance was everything. I built walls to protect my vulnerabilities because one thing was certain: being vulnerable was a sign of weakness.

Learning from Fear and Vulnerability

Time passed and I matured with marriage and motherhood. At some point, I realized I was different from the girl in high school. Maybe it was more of a discovery of who I was. I had taken off my mask and distanced myself from superficial friends. I chose to surround myself with people who could be real without competition or comparison.

Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.” – Brené Brown

I naturally feared being judged, compared, and rejected. I was afraid of appearing vulnerable. Sharing our most insecure thoughts and feelings is one of the hardest things to do, yet it is what makes real and genuine connections.

While I have had some truly connected friendships, I’ve also had my share of painful ones. Pain is a natural builder of walls. We build them to protect us from future pain.  The problem is, they also keep us from experiencing the joy of those rare friendships.

Too often we skirt around sharing our vulnerabilities, determined to maintain the facade of perfection. All the while, yearning for real, deep friendship – someone with whom we can share our burdens.

We choose our friends because of who they are, we love them because of how they support who we are.

We choose our friends because of who they are, we love them because of how they support who we are.”

Sharing our “truths” with each other creates a bond. While it can be refreshing and freeing, real genuine connections are not always easy to develop. I still run into a woman here and there who stirs up all the old feelings of inadequacy from high school.  I’ve had to learn to let the emotions go and accept this person isn’t ready for real yet. I don’t need to compete with the insecurities or allow myself to be offended. We aren’t all on the same journey to discovery, and that’s okay.

Friends are Blessings from God

I truly believe God sends friends into our life so we can connect, relate, and grow. Sometimes it is a friend who knows the best way to help you celebrate a win as well as a loss.

For years I struggled with the grief of a wandering child. It was a burden I dared not share because of my fear of how it would reflect on me as a parent. It was such a welcome relief to finally unload my pain with some dear friends who didn’t judge but encouraged and loved me through my trial.

God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. -Spencer W. Kimball

God sends people into our lives to take care of us, to meet our needs. As women, we crave connection with other people. It is a part of the way God hardwired our DNA. He wants us to walk with each other in life, encourage one another and share in the burdens we carry.


Being physically present with another human being offers irreplaceable benefits. Our need to connect reaches beyond the basics of being nice. Real friendship is asking the hard questions, sharing the fear and pain of our struggles, and rejoicing in our successes.

When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life. ~Shauna Niequist

Don’t choose perfection and loneliness.  Choose to share the real you — your highs and lows.  Glean the amazing blessing of a real connected friendship. How you decide to live your life is your choice. Be the kind of friend you are hoping for.

How has friendship changed your life?

Friendship: How Important is our Need to Connect? 1

Additional Resources:

Friendship: How Important is our Need to Connect? 2

Friendship: How Important is Our Need to Connect?

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14 thoughts on “Friendship: How Important is our Need to Connect?”

  1. I am working with my daughter on her friendships and choices in elementary school right now. It has made me think about all the relationships I have – close and distant, and the importance of both for me. I hope I can convey to her as well as you did here!

    1. Thanks, Sheree! Teaching our kids about Choosing good friends is so important. And if, in the process, we can help boost their self esteem we are doing well!

  2. This post is so wonderful! I was just talking to my sister about friendships and relationships last night and we were both having a hard time expressing what we meant in relevant words. You nailed it! I send this post right over to her so we could reconvene on this topic and relish in your eloquent words.

    Thanks for joining #WanderingWednesday #linkup with Confessions of Parenting! ?

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Michelle! I’m glad you found something that resonated with you! Enjoy your discussion with your sister and enjoy those friendships!

  3. I love that statistic on the effect of close relationships on our health. It can be hard to believe until we take the time to realize just how miserable we can be without those relationships. I have similar memories of superficial relationships as a teen, I wish I could shout from the rooftops to teens everywhere that the best friendships are yet to come. This post is such a good reminder to take the time to nurture relationships. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Alicia! I hear you! I wish there were a way to shout it from the rooftops, but I guess that would keep them from learning from the process! I’m glad you enjoyed!

  4. What great thoughts. I pinned and tweeted as I read. As you might guess, fellow-INFJ, I have a deep need to connect but I really only devote time and trust to people I can connect with deeply. It’s a small handful, and it’s always been that way for me. A few high-quality, trustworthy, compassionate, understanding people are enough for me. I find the older I get the less time I’m willing to give to superficial (or surface) relationships. I crave the depth. I know exactly what you mean about feeling stuck when you didn’t know whom you could talk to about the wandering child–but finding that support is crucial. I struggled with that myself. That quote by President Kimball is one of my favorites! #wanderingwednesday

  5. This is a beautiful essay, and I agree with so much of it.

    I have found that as I have committed to my marriage, that level of love and commitment has extended out to friendships.

    It is really all about giving freely and receiving openly isn’t it?

  6. I think you are spot on about why we crave friendships – because God created us that way, to encourage each other and share our burdens. Thanks for sharing this perspective!

    I joined the #WanderingWednesday link up today for the first time, hoping to find and build friendships with other bloggers in my niche. And the first link I saw was to your post on friendship! ❤

  7. I’m finding that I’m less inclined to keep participating in friendships that are very surface level, and I’m having a great time with my friends who I can really be myself with. Makes life so much more fulfilling!

    1. It’s so true. I withdraw from friendships that are surface level too. So much more fulfilling to be with friends you can be yourself with! Thanks for stopping by Megan!

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