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Think about your friends. I’ll bet you have many different types of friendships in your life. In this lesson, we’ll examine the major types of friendships, and how different types of friends communicate with each other.


Julia has lots of friends. Her best friend is Nancy, but she’s also pretty close to Troy. And then she has other friends, like Paolo, who she kind of hangs out with but doesn’t know very well.

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There are many types of friends, and many different ways that friends relate to each other. Take Julia, for instance: she has noticed that she is very different when she talks to Nancy than when she talks to Paolo.Let’s look closer at types of friends and how they communicate and relate to each other.

Association ; Receptivity

Julia’s friendship with Paolo isn’t very close. They hang out sometimes in a group. But they don’t really know each other very well, and when they talk, they usually talk about pretty basic things.Association is when two friends are acquaintances, like Julia and Paolo.

When friends are associates, they often bond over things they agree on and their communication is about what they have in common. For example, Julia and Paolo both like football, so they often talk about that. But Julia wouldn’t talk to Paolo about problems she’s having with her girlfriend or anything personal like that because they are just acquaintances.Compare that to Julia’s relationship with Troy. They are friends, and know each other pretty well. They can talk about what they agree on but also what they disagree on.

They know each other better, and they generally enjoy each other’s company.When friends are closer than acquaintances, it is often called receptivity. In this type of friendship, you are receiving from and giving to the other person, and the friendship is balanced. In receptive friendships, both people benefit from the relationship, which is called mutual positive reward.

That is, both of them are rewarded by being friends with each other.Think about Julia and Troy: they are both receiving and giving in their relationship. They share things that they like, and they are receptive to each other’s views, even when they don’t agree. They both benefit from a healthy, supportive friendship.

Interdependence & Reciprocity

Julia and Troy are pretty good friends, and they are both benefiting from their friendship, but when Julia is really having a tough time, Troy’s not the person she calls. Instead, she calls her best friend Nancy. Nancy and Julia are really close.

They tell each other secrets and are willing to sacrifice for each other. For example, when Julia was having a really bad day, Nancy cancelled a date with her boyfriend to spend time with Julia and cheer her up.Reciprocity in friendship occurs in the closest friendships, and involves equality in the friendship, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. When Nancy skips going out with her boyfriend in order to cheer Julia up, she is making a sacrifice for their friendship, and she knows that Julia would do the same for her.The deepest and healthiest of reciprocal friendships are based on interdependence, meaning that the friends share power equally in the relationship and take responsibility for their own actions. For example, Julia and Nancy are able to be happy and live successful lives on their own, but together, they are able to support each other.

Neither of them has more power, and when they argue, they are both quick to apologize and recognize what they did wrong.

Lesson Summary

There are many types of friendships. Association occurs in acquaintance relationships when two friends do not know each other well.

Receptivity is common in friendships that are closer than acquaintances and involves giving and taking from the other person. When both friends benefit from the friendship, it is called mutual positive reward. Reciprocity occurs in the deepest friendships, and involves equality within the friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice for the other person. When two people in a reciprocal friendship share power equally and take responsibility for their own actions, it is called interdependence.

Friends ; Communication Overview

Association when two friends are acquaintances
Receptivity you are receiving from and giving to the other person, and the friendship is balanced, both people benefit from the relationship
Mutual positive reward both are rewarded by being friends with each other
Reciprocity occurs in the closest friendships, and involves equality in the friendship, loyalty, and self-sacrifice
Interdependence friends share power equally in the relationship and take responsibility for their own actions

Learning Outcomes

With your study time at an end, discover how easy it can be to:

  • Compare association to receptivity
  • Discuss the significance of mutual positive reward
  • Contrast reciprocity and interdependence

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