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date: 23 April 2024

Love and Friendship Across the Lifespanlocked

Love and Friendship Across the Lifespanlocked

  • Saeideh Heshmati, Saeideh HeshmatiClaremont Graduate Universtiy
  • Ezra Isabel Cabreros, Ezra Isabel CabrerosUniversity of California, Riverside
  • Olivia EllisOlivia EllisClaremont Graduate University
  •  and M. Betsy BlackardM. Betsy BlackardClaremont Graduate University


Humans are innately social, and this disposition motivates us to build relationships. In particular, close relationships such as romantic love relationships and friendships have a unique bidirectional influence on development. These close relationships influence individuals’ overall well-being in addition to giving purpose and meaning to people’s lives. They also have implications for the development of identity, promoting better mental health, and increasing life satisfaction. Love and friendships are unique in their voluntary and bidirectional nature, and it is this very nature that puts them into the spotlight of interest and makes them prone to change across the lifespan. In the earliest stages of life, the most significant relationships are those with caregivers, although such relationships lay the groundwork for future non-familial relationships. As children begin going to school and interacting with people outside of the home, social connections expand to include friendships during childhood and adolescence. While peer relations teach children and adolescents many of the social skills that are required to maintain close relationships later in life, love relationships, which tend to emerge in adolescence, also contribute to their development and cognitions about social bonds. Love relationships gain a great deal of importance in young adulthood, as young adults strive for intimacy and strong social support. As individuals grow older, they tend to be more selective about the people they spend time with; consequently, middle-aged and older adults’ social circles reduce to the most meaningful connections. These patterns in close relationships provide a deeper understanding of how social connections influence development and, conversely, how development influences social connections.


  • Social Psychology

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