Stress: The Other Component of Friendlessness

In my last post on the epidemic of loneliness having an impact our health and development of deeper friendships, you should know that stress also affects our relationships, especially those with our guy friends. But how?

First, some brain-science

Our internal social support system is based on a balance of hormones including oxytocin, which decreases anxiety levels and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system calming down responses. Oxytocin also stimulates our desire to seek out social contact and increases our sense of attachment to people who are important to us.

Proper levels of oxytocin also help balance out another stress hormone called vasopressin, which is associated with fight-or-flight behaviors such as enhanced arousal, focused attention, and increased aggressive behavior. Under stress, people generate inadequate levels of oxytocin, which is needed to balance their output of vasopressin.

This imbalance leads to feelings of anxiousness and loss of confidence in an ability to cope. They tend to withdraw from others rather than seeking out support. This leads to difficulty negotiating smooth interpersonal relationships with spouses, children, friends, and co-workers, and end up becoming even more isolated, frustrated, and stressed. Its a vicious circle!

Studies show “Bromances” help you live longer

Research shows that large numbers of British and American men say they have no close friends. This lack of what some call a “bromance” isn’t just hard on a guys’ mental health but also on his physical health.

Bromance: a close, emotionally intense, non-sexual 
bond between two men.


Research from the University of California/Berkeley suggests a bromance is just as powerful at boosting a man’s resilience to stress and extending his lifespan as a romantic relationship. That study also showed that our ability to make lasting friendships, also leads to longer and healthier lives.

I suggest a God Buddy will have the same effect!

Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D wrote in Psychology Today that “stress in other areas of our lives spills over into our personal relationships. Work-life conflict is a top source of stress today and research has shown over and over again that we bring the stress and strain from work and other areas of our lives home with us, hurting our personal relationships.”

Carlos Mendes de Leon, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging writes that friendships work their magic in several ways. “Feeling connected to people you value, trust and love may provide the meaning and purpose essential to the human condition and perhaps to longevity”, de Leon says. “Friendships may strengthen you mentally and physically, and that may be instrumental in slowing down chronic disease processes that can lead to disability.”

How are you managing the stress in your life? Do you see excessive stress impacting your friendships?

Comment below please. You might help someone and not even know it!


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