Study shows that having a BFF in high school is good for your health, but we already knew that

Desiree Navarro/Getty Images

Having a best friend is one of the best feelings in the world no matter how old you are, but this feels especially true when you’re younger and going through all the craziness of being a teen. In fact, a new study shows that having a BFF in high school is good for your health and results in a more emotionally balanced adult life. 

Having a best friend is pretty much essential.

The new study, published in the journal Child Development, found that teens who have one close, “high quality,” friend at the age of 15 and 16 years old, rather than a larger friend group with less intimate bonds, had higher levels of “self-worth and lower levels of social anxiety and depression” at age 25, even in comparison to their peers who were more “popular” as teens. High-quality friendships were defined as ones that provided support, allowed for intimate conversations, and looked like there was a sense of attachment. All good things.

The results show that parents shouldn’t pressure their kids to make “more” friends if they already have a bestie they can count on. Quality over quantity.


Rachel K. Narr, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia who led the study, said that she sort of knew that different kinds of friendships might have different outcomes later in life. She told Quartz, “My hunch was that close friendships compared to broader friendship groups and popularity may not function the same way. Being successful in one is not the same as being successful in the other.”

That’s SO true, right?

Although being successful in either is not a bad thing — it’s just a different sort of experience.

The study tracked 169 kids for 10 years, from 15 to 25 years old. They were all demographically diverse, so it didn’t matter what kind of schools they went to or what their friends looked like. The subjects were interviewed at 15 and 16 years old and then at 25 years old, and had to give detailed descriptions about their friendships.

The subjects were also asked about anxiety, social acceptance, self-worth, and symptoms of depression. The researchers also fact checked the responses, making sure that if one person called someone their “best friend,” that the feeling was mutual. Likewise, someone’s popularity in a broader group had to be corroborated. Rough, huh?

Anecdotally, most of us would have probably guessed that our best friends really helped us grow up a little more securely. Now we just have the evidence to prove it. BRB, we’re going to go call our bestie now and thank them.

More like this

BFFfriendshigh schoolstudyFriends
newsletter illustration

Giggles in Your Inbox

!