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They help us develop the rhythm of our days and can even shape our goals and our dreams, encouraging us to become who we want to be.Despite their vital importance, though, true friendships in adulthood can be much harder to make and maintain than they were during the golden days of lunchboxes or the late-night camaraderie of dorm rooms. Solid friendships are crucial to your physical—yes, —health.2) Nearly everyone hates the beginning stages of building those friendships as they are often in filled with small talk, awkward moments, uncertain feelings and lots of energy depletion with near-strangers.

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Take heart: If you’re willing to set your mind to it, you too can develop outstanding friend relationships that help you thrive in ways you never thought possible. Did you know that poor-quality social support is the mortality-risk equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day?

Or that supportive friendships in your 20s are a solid predictor of being alive at 70?

Ultimately, the important thing isn't to worry about how you get those friends you crave as much as it is to find the tools that work for you.

When it comes to relationships, romance often grabs the spotlight.

We may spend hours each day fiddling on Instagram or Facebook, typing LOL under a video we didn’t even bother to watch, but doing nothing to make true connections—all the while feeling too “busy” to go out and make some friendships that are much more real. Many of us are bereft after a life transition—feeling ashamed of the fact that we seemingly don’t have many friends anymore—and yet it is quite a normal problem to have.

It has nothing to do with who you are as a person, and everyone goes through it at some point. Making friends takes effort, and here’s a reality check: You need some failed attempts.Genuine, nourishing friendships boost your immune system, improve your prognosis with various chronic health conditions, and lower your blood pressure—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.Emotionally, they help reduce your risk of disorders from depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to anxiety disorders and substance abuse. We know this intuitively, and can probably acknowledge that our five-hundredth Facebook friend relationship is not the bearer of much emotional sustenance.A simple glance in the self-help aisle of any bookstore reveals a thousand ways to Get a Mate/Keep a Mate/Dump a Mate/Get Over a Mate—perhaps there are even tips on how to Moisturize A Mate—and yet so few words written on friendship, which is one reason I wrote relationships that often make up the highs and lows of our lives, and in some ways they affect our daily well-being even more than our family does.For better or for worse, friend relationships, or the lack of them, can largely determine our happiness.It can feel embarrassing, though, and since there is not nearly an official friendship-courting ritual as there tends to be with dating, it can also be downright confusing.

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