6 Qualities of Extraordinary Friendships

Numerous scientific studies show that developing friendships is an essential ingredient to a healthy life. But few people are intentionally trying to avoid heart disease or improve their blood pressure when they seek out, or stumble into, new friendships. Instead, they just want someone to hang out with, confide in or trust in times of trouble, says Darlene Quinn, an author whose latest novel, Conflicting Webs,(, uses friendship as an underlying theme.

“Friends can start out from a variety of places, but still share the same incredible bond,” Quinn says “Sometimes that bond can span a lifetime. Other times, the bond is just for a short period. Either way, friendships are a vital part of life.”

As she researched her novel, Quinn became fascinated by the motivations behind friendships. Not all friendships are equal and, over the long haul, not all turn out the way people might like.

“Having a mutually beneficial relationship is crucial,” Quinn says. “If only one person is willing to put in time and effort, that friendship won’t work. We tend to intuitively know who real friends are and which friendships are worth our time and energy.”

Quinn said she found at least six factors that can lead to great friendships – three that bring people together and three that keep them together:

• Similarity. The phrase “birds of a feather flock together” has been around at least since the 16th century, and it’s no wonder it became such a well-worn cliché, Quinn says. It happens to be true. “We surround ourselves with people whose style, attitudes, personalities, likes, dislikes and mannerisms are similar to ours,” she says. “Those similarities help to build an instant bond. We feel comfortable around those people and easily slide into conversations about topics that interest both of us or schedule activities we both enjoy.”

• Intrigue. Some people are so fascinating that we can’t help but be drawn to them, Quinn says. “We can build a great bond of friendship with someone when we are genuinely curious about their stories, their lifestyle or their backgrounds,” she says.

• History. Growing up together, or going through the same or similar experiences, can lead to a lasting connection between two people. “Other people may not be able to have a good understanding of, or empathy for, a situation you went through,” Quinn says. “But this person understands you because they went through it, too. Sharing a past with someone definitely can create a special bond.”

•Positive influence. A great friend will be someone who is a good influence and will support you and your goals, Quinn says. “They should inspire you to live up to your highest potential so you can be your best self.” The world has enough negativity, she says. You don’t need that in a friend.