The Science Of Friendship: What Really Makes Someone Your Best Friend

by Lauren Martin

If life is war, then our friends are our best allies. They’re the ones we call up when there’s a battle ahead and we’re going to need some help. They’re the ones who come in when we’re weak and close to defeat. They’re the ones who have been there, supporting us, throughout numerous losses and gains.

Like allying nations, we’re friends because we trust each other. We need each other, for resources and support. We depend on each other; our strength and health are vital to each other's wellbeing.

It’s a support system that’s necessary to our sovereignty. Because if you think about it, every great power would be nothing without its allies, and our strength is dependent on the strength of our friendships.

We take care of our friendships the same way we take care of our allies. We support them and advise them, go to them in times of need and rely on them for our own moments of weakness. They'll be the first ones there when we've been attacked and the last ones to leave in recovery.

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, we choose our friends based on this unconscious notion that they will support us in times of need.

We choose people based on the notion that they will provide aid and care when we need these things most. They are a support system we need to create for those tough battles against all the assh*les of the world.

In findings consistent with a theory called the “Alliance Hypothesis for Human Friendship,” research leaders, Peter DeScioli and Robert Kurzban, say we choose friends based on “cognitive mechanisms aimed at creating a ready-made support group for potential conflicts.”

The Penn theory closely relates the relationships between friends to those of allies between nations. Relationships are born and forged without any necessary expectation that they will receive anything in return anytime soon, but knowing that support is there when they need it makes all the difference.

According to Kurzban, "We live in a world where conflict can arise and allies must be in position beforehand. This new hypothesis takes into account how we value those alliances. In a way, one of the main predictors of friendship is the value of the alliance."

Because in life, we all have a few enemies and we're all bound to fight a few battles. And we feel stronger going into life knowing someone has our back.

We can take the blows and the setbacks knowing someone is there to keep pushing us forward. They are our life lines to the outside world and provide aid in times of need. They are the people we trust most in life and the only ones who would take a metaphorical bullet for us.

Here are all the reasons your best friends are your greatest allies:

They'd go to war for you

Even if they're averse to drama, they will throw themselves into battle to make sure you come out unscathed. As neutral as they claim to be, they will always risk going into battle for you.

They will never retreat or withdraw because the fight is too big or too much effort. A loss for you is also a loss for them.

They take attacks on you as personal attacks

Any threat or abuse toward you is a direct violation toward them. When people attack you, they are attacking you both.

It's knowing that you're not just one strong, but that you have a strong second fleet that will always be there to back you up. Because there's no shame in needing that second brigade.

They always provide aid in times of need

They'll let you borrow money from them without any questions. They know you will pay them back, even if it's not for another few years.

They know you will still have a relationship and they won't have to fight to get their money back. Whether it's a big loan or $20 for the first round of drinks, they know you're good for it.

They'll cross state lines and oceans for you

They'll travel hundreds of miles to see you. They'll cross oceans and borders to aid you in times of need. They will make special trips, bringing you gifts and personal items.

They speak your language and appreciate your customs. They're attuned to your special needs and personal history.

They'd never sneak attack you

In this threatening world where you don't know who's trying to be your friend and who is just trying to get something from you, your best friend is that one person you can trust.

They aren't going to pretend to have your best interests just to get what they need from you.

They will never leave you struggling on your own, reaping your benefits and giving nothing in return. They are a support system, never a threat.

They concede battles to keep peace

Even if you're not getting along, they'll never start a war with you. Yes, you piss each other off at times and sometimes go back on your word, but there are few things either of you could do to warrant an attack from the other.

It's a relationship of mutual understanding and small tiffs that are always worked out over some barrels of cheap liquor.

They share resources

What's mine is yours, right? Friends, like dependent nations, have a strong import/export system. They share everything. If they're hungry, you give them some of your food. If they need sweatpants, you loan them yours. That's how it works.

You share because your friends' health and wellbeing are directly related to your own. If they're hungry and cranky, you're not going to have the best time. But you also share because it's just in your nature to worry about them.

They sneak behind enemy lines for you

They'll do dirty work for you. Whether it's helping you stalk your ex or researching an enemy (or ex-girlfriend), they'll do those things you just don't want to do.

They'll show up on blind dates to check out whether your prospects are good or not worth it. They'll make phone calls for you and pick you up when you've found yourself in compromising situations.

You understand each other

You're very different people, but you understand each other completely. You know each other's fears, desires and the things that make each of you tick.

You know what's going to piss them off and what you can get away with. You share things with them you know they'd enjoy, like TV shows and music, and you even let them drive your car.