Friendship is co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them.Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis: * the tendency to desire what is best for the other, * sympathy and empathy, * honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one's counterpart, * mutual understanding.In a comparison of personal relationships, friendship is considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association can be thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social psychology, social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. See Interpersonal relationshipsFriendship in historyFriendship is considered one of the central human experiences, and has been sanctified by all major religions. The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Babylonian poem that is among the earliest known literary works in history, chronicles in great depth the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The Greco-Roman had, as paramount examples, the friendship of Orestes and Pylades, and, in Virgil's Aeneid, the friendship of Euryalus and Nisus, and lastly Robert and Aimee. The Abrahamic faiths have the story of David and Jonathan. Friendship played an important role in German Romanticism. A good example for this is Schiller's Die Bürgschaft. The Christian Gospels state that Jesus Christ declared, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."(John 15:13).In philosophy, Aristotle is known for his discussion (in the Nicomachean Ethics) of philia, which is usually (somewhat misleadingly) translated as "friendship," and certainly includes friendship, though is a much broader concept.Aristotle's conception of friendship conceived of three distinct categories or 'tiers' thereof. As Professor Bill Mullen (of Bard College) lectured: "first, there are your 'business partners,' those who benefit financially from their 'friends' (contemporary theorists and poets reject this definition (c.f. Paul Shepard, who dismisses this relationship as "worship of Mammon.")) second, there are your 'drinking buddies' -- people you have fun with. And, third, people with whom you pursue virtue, or 'Arete.'"A group of friends consists of two or more people who are in a mutually pleasing relationship engendering a sentiment of camaraderie, exclusivity, and mutual trust. There are varying degrees of "closeness" between friends. Hence, some people choose to differentiate and categorize friendships based on this sentiment. RomeCicero had his own beliefs on friendship. Cicero believed that in order to have a true friendship with someone there must be all honesty and truth. If there isn’t, then this isn’t a true friendship. In that case, friends must be one hundred percent honest with each other and put one hundred percent of their trust in the other person. Cicero also believed that for people to be friends with another person, they must do things without the expectation that their friend will have to repay them. He also believes that if a friend is about to do something wrong, and something that goes against your morals, you shouldn’t compromise your morals. You must explain why what they are going to do is wrong, and help them to see what the right thing to do is, because Cicero believes that ignorance is the cause of evil. Finally the last thing that Cicero believed was that the reason that a friendship comes to an end is because one person in that friendship has become bad. (On Friendship, Cicero) RussiaThe relationship is constructed differently in different cultures. In Russia, for example, one typically accords very few people the status of "friend". These friendships, however, make up in intensity what they lack in number. Friends are entitled to call each other by their first names alone, and to use diminutives. A norm of polite behaviour is addressing "acquaintances" by full first name plus patronymic. These could include relationships which elsewhere would be qualified as real friendships, such as workplace relationships of long standing, neighbors with whom one shares an occasional meal and visit, and so on. Physical contact between friends was expected, and friends, whether or not of the same sex, would embrace, sometimes kiss and walk in public with their arms around each other, or arm-in-arm, or hand-in-hand. AsiaIn the Middle East and Central Asia, male friendships, while less restricted than in Russia, tend also to be reserved and respectable in nature. They may use nick names and diminutive forms of their first names. Modern westIn the Western world, intimate physical contact has been sexualized in the public mind over the last one hundred years and is considered almost taboo in friendship, especially between two males. However, stylized hugging or kissing may be considered acceptable, depending on the context (see, for example, the kiss the tramp gives the kid in The Kid). In Spain and other Mediterranean countries, men may embrace each other in public and kiss each other on the cheek. This is not limited solely to older generations but rather is present throughout all generations. In young children throughout the modern Western world, friendship, usually of a homosocial nature, typically exhibits elements of a closeness and intimacy suppressed later in life in order to conform to societal standards. Decline of friendships in the U.S.According to a 2006 study documented in the journal the American Sociological Review, Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985. The study states 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and the average total number of confidants per citizen has dropped from four to two.According to the study: * Americans' dependence on family as a safety net went up from 57% to 80% * Americans' dependence on a partner or spouse went up from 5% to 9% * Research has found a link between fewer friendships (especially in quality) and psychological and physiological regressionIn recent times, it is postulated modern American friendships have lost the force and importance they had in antiquity. C. S. Lewis for example, in his The Four Loves, writes:“ To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends'. But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceships which those who make it would describe as 'friendships', show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with that Philía which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that Amicitia on which Cicero wrote a book. ”Likewise, Paul Halsall claims that:“ The intense emotional and affective relationships described in the past as "non-sexual" cannot be said to exist today: modern heterosexual men can be buddies, but unless drunk they cannot touch each other, or regularly sleep together. They cannot affirm that an emotional affective relationship with another man is the centrally important relationship in their lives. It is not going too far, is it, to claim that friendship – if used to translate Greek philia or Latin amicitia – hardly exists among heterosexual men in modern Western society. ”Mark McLelland, writing in the Western Buddhist Review under his Buddhist name of Dharmachari Jñanavira (Article), more directly points to homophobia being at the root of a modern decline in the western tradition of friendship:Hence, in our cultural context where homosexual desire has for centuries been considered sinful, unnatural and a great evil, the experience of homoerotic desire can be very traumatic for some individuals and severely limit the potential for same-sex friendship. The Danish sociologist Henning Bech, for instance, writes of the anxiety which often accompanies developing intimacy between male friends:“ "The more one has to assure oneself that one's relationship with another man is not homosexual, the more conscious one becomes that it might be, and the more necessary it becomes to protect oneself against it. The result is that friendship gradually becomes impossible. ”Their opinion that fear of being, or being seen as, homosexual has killed off western man's ability to form close friendships with other men is shared by Japanese psychologist Doi Takeo, who claims that male friendships in American society are fraught with homosexual anxiety and thus homophobia is a limiting factor stopping men from establishing deep friendships with other men.The suggestion that friendship contains an ineluctable element of erotic desire is not new, but has been advanced by students of friendship ever since the time of the ancient Greeks, where it comes up in the writings of Plato. More recently, the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger claimed that:“ There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it, however little accentuated it may be in the nature of the friendship, and however painful the idea of the sexual element would be. But it is enough to remember that there can be no friendship unless there has been some attraction to draw the men together. Much of the affection, protection, and nepotism between men is due to the presence of unsuspected sexual compatibility. (Sex and Character, 1903) ”Recent western scholarship in gender theory and feminism concurs, as reflected in the writings of Eve Sedgwick in her The Epistemology of the Closet, and Jonathan Dollimore in his Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault. Developmental issuesIn the sequence of the emotional development of the individual, friendships come after parental bonding and before the pair bonding engaged in at the approach of maturity. In the intervening period between the end of early childhood and the onset of full adulthood, friendships are often the most important relationships in the emotional life of the adolescent, and are often more intense than relationships later in life. However making friends seems to trouble lots of people; having no friends can be emotionally damaging in some cases. Sometimes going years without a single friend can lead to suicide, however, this affects men more then women. Friendships do not play key role in suicidal thoughts of boys. A long time of friendship may also result in marriage; too much friendship is followed by a compromise.A study by researchers from Purdue University found that post secondary education (e.g. university) friendships last longer than the friendships before it. Types of friendshipsBest friend (or close friend): a person(s) with whom someone shares extremely strong interpersonal ties with as a friend.Acquaintance: a friend, but sharing of emotional ties isn't present. An example would be a coworker with whom you enjoy eating lunch, but would not look to for emotional support.Soulmate: the name given to someone who is considered the ultimate, true, and eternal half of the other's soul, in which the two are now and forever meant to be together.Pen pal: people who have a relationship via postal correspondence. They may or may not have met each other in person and may share either love, friendship, or simply an acquaintance between each other.Internet friendship: a form of friendship or romance which takes place over the Internet.Comrade: means "ally", "friend", or "colleague" in a military or (usually) left-wing political connotation. This is the feeling of affinity that draws people together in time of war or when people have a mutual enemy or even a common goal. Friendship can be mistaken for comradeship. Former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges wrote:“ We feel in wartime comradeship. We confuse this with friendship, with love. There are those, who will insist that the comradeship of war is love — the exotic glow that makes us in war feel as one people, one entity, is real, but this is part of war's intoxication. [...] Friends are predetermined; friendship takes place between men and women who possess an intellectual and emotional affinity for each other. But comradeship – that ecstatic bliss that comes with belonging to the crowd in wartime – is within our reach. We can all have comrades. ”As a war ends, or a common enemy recedes, many comrades return to being strangers, who lack friendship and have little in common.Casual relationship or "Friends with benefits": the sexual or near-sexual and emotional relationship between two people who don't expect or demand to share a formal romantic relationship. In the U.S., this is considered "a fling".Boston marriage: an American term used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to denote two women that lived together in the same household independent of male support. Relationships were not necessarily sexual. It was used to quell fears of lesbians after World War I.Blood brother or blood sister: may refer to people related by birth, or a circle of friends who swear loyalty by mingling the blood of each member together.Open relationship: a relationship, usually between two people, that agree each partner is free to have sexual intercourse with others outside the relationship. When this agreement is made between a married couple, it's called an open marriage.Roommate: a person who shares a room or apartment (flat) with another person and do not share a familial or romantic relationship.Imaginary friend: a non-physical friend created by a child. It may be seen as bad behavior or even taboo (some religious parents even consider their child to be possessed by an evil spirit), but is most commonly regarded as harmless, typical childhood behavior. The friend may or may not be human, and commonly serves a protective purpose.Spiritual friendship: the buddhist ideal of kalyana-mitra, that is a relationship between friends with a common interest, though one person may have more knowledge and experience than the other. The relationship is the responsibility of both friends and both bring something to it.