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Christian Counseling - Longevity and Friendship,8599,2006938,00.html?xid=rss-health&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%2Fscienceandhealth+%28TIME%3A+Top+Science+and+Health+Stories%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Having good friends appears to boost longevity according to a major study outlined in Time Magazine (the link to the article appears above). In fact, the difference in life expectancy among those with a healthy social life compared with those who do not mirrors the difference between non-smokers and smokers. In the article, they discuss several aspects of friendship that may be linked to life expectancy. They are:

1. Friends provide tangible support when we are ill (helping with bills, meals, etc.).

2. When in the presence of friends, people respond in a healthier way to stressful situations.

3. The immune system of people with friends appears to be stronger.

The studies used in the analysis were conducted prior to the explosion of social networking sites. Therefore, there is a question as to whether we would see the same impact with"Facebook" relationships. However, the nature of friendship described in the studies may not be able to be replicated in a "virtual" friendship. The qualities of the friendships in the study include: face to face encounters, intense intimacy, and far reaching social networks. While it could be argued that some of these aspects of friendship can be replicated online, it is also possible that people may retreat from social situations as their online friendships increase. In addition, online friendship includes a certain amount of anonymity which is attractive to some. When you are online, you can alter aspects of your personality. However, this alteration, especially if not genuine, can limit the intimacy of friendship.

Finally, remember, the study outlined in Time is looking only at physical benefits of friendship. There are many emotional and spiritual benefits of friendship that were not discussed because they were beyond the scope of the article.

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