Friendship is a relationship between two or more people who hold mutual affection for each other. Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
The value of friendship may be expressed as the benefit gained from a friend who is consistently demonstrating any of the following:
- The tendency to desire what is best for the other
- Sympathy and empathy
- Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
- Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
- Enjoyment of each other's company
- Trust in one another
- Positively strong, deep, close reciprocity, mutuality—equal give-and-take between the two parties
- The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment.