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Good Friends Are Good for You

They might get on your nerves at times, but good friends have bigger benefits than you may realize.

How Women's Friendships Are Different From Men's

In general, women are better at maintaining friendships than men. Women "tend and befriend," says Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, a psychology professor at UCLA. They respond to stress by protecting and nurturing others ("tending"), and by seeking support from others ("befriending"). This pattern regulates the seeking, giving, and receipt of social support, Taylor says. It produces health benefits by reducing psychological and biological stress.

And Margaret Gibbs, PhD, a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, found that men and women relate to others differently throughout life.

"We found that women seemed more geared to empathy, while male friendships are more geared to companionship and altruism," she tells WebMD. "Male friendships are more about helping each other -- mending the lawn mower, that sort of thing. Women's friendships tend to have a more emotional content -- listening to friends' stories and coming up with helpful solutions."

 

Published January 2007.

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Reviewed on June 29, 2010

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