Geoffrey L. Greif, Ph.D.: The Power of Good Friends – Social Support for Happiness | Sero Boost #32

In this episode, host Lu Ngo is joined by Geoffrey L. Greif, Ph.D., who is a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work

The episode focuses on the strong connection between social connections, good friendships, and increased happiness, health, and longevity. The episode also delves into various life stages that impact friendships, such as partnering/marriage, having children, and empty nesting. 

Meet Geoffrey L. Greif, Ph.D

Dr. Geoffrey L. Greif is a prominent social worker and academic. He is a distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and is recognized for his expertise in various human relationships, including friendships, sibling relationships, and in-law relationships. 

He has written and edited numerous books and authored over 150 articles and book chapters. Some of Dr. Geoffrey’s notable works include Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, which explores the dynamics and significance of friendships among men, and Adult Sibling Relationships, which delves into the complexities and dynamics of sibling relationships in adulthood. He has also co-authored books with Michael Woolley, such as In-Law Relationships: Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, and Sons.

About the episode

The podcast episode discusses the significance of social connections and strong friendships in fostering happiness, health, and longevity. Dr. Geoffrey introduces the concept of the “Three A’s”—affectionate, ambivalent, and ambiguous—to illustrate the complexities of relationships.

Dr. Geoffrey categorizes friendships into different levels. Each level represents a different degree of closeness and frequency of interaction. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining different types of friendships in order to experience a well-rounded social support system.

The discussion delves into the differences between male and female friendships. Dr. Geoffrey highlights that men often have “shoulder-to-shoulder” friendships, characterized by shared activities and less frequent communication. On the other side, women tend to have more “face-to-face” friendships, involving regular check-ins and deeper emotional connections. 

The episode explores how various life stages impact friendships. It mentions how transitioning into partnerships, marriage, having children, and empty nesting can significantly affect the availability of time and energy for maintaining friendships. Dr. Geoffrey suggests that investing effort in preserving and nurturing friendships, even during these transformative periods, is crucial for overall happiness and well-being.

Here are some best practices highlighted in the podcast episode:

  • Consciously think about interactions: It is important to be mindful and intentional in one’s interactions with friends. It includes being supportive and attentive, actively listening, and showing genuine interest in their lives.
  • Balancing honesty and support: Finding the balance between being honest with friends and providing support can be challenging. While it is important to be truthful, having their backs and offering love and support is equally essential.
  • Addressing bad habits: Friends can play a role in helping one address their bad habits. They can provide constructive feedback and support one in making positive changes while expressing their love and support.
  • Navigating differences: Maintaining friendships involves navigating differences in opinions and behaviors. Recognizing and respecting these differences while finding common ground and fostering understanding is important.

In conclusion

The podcast episode offers valuable insights into the role of friendships in fostering happiness, health, and well-being. It also offers interesting perspectives on how men and women typically form and maintain friendships differently. The podcast provides practical advice for forming and nurturing meaningful friendships as adults, addressing the unique challenges faced in this stage of life.

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