Family Matters: The Case for Friends

Turns out there’s really something to the expression “friends with benefits.” But the tongue-in-cheek double entendre we’re using here isn’t exactly what British researchers had in mind when they delved into the importance of friends and relatives in the lives of middle-aged men and women.

Researchers concluded that the broader a circle of friends men and women can claim in middle age, the more likely they are to describe themselves as content. Interestingly, men also needed a close-knit group of relatives to possess a rosy outlook on life. Why women didn’t have this need for the relative connection wasn’t examined, but researchers speculate it may be because we rely more on friends to support our choices.

The findings were reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The adults involved were participants in Britain’s ongoing National Child Development Study.