Psychology and Relationships

People with 5 or more friends are 60% happier: 3 ways friendship can improve almost every experience in your life

@criene via Twenty20

In his recently released book "Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong, author Eric Barker examines the relationships we have with our bosses, romantic partners, and even ourselves.

He also explores the precariousness of friendships—the relationships that are usually lower on the figurative totem pole.

"Don't show up for work, and you know your boss will fire you," he writes. "But what calls for the ending of a friendship is often idiosyncratic. Without institutional obligations, the upkeep friendships require must be very deliberate."

But friendships are scientifically proven to improve almost every relationship and experience in your life, according to research Barker compiled in his book.

Without institutional obligations, the upkeep friendships require must be very deliberate.
Eric Barker
Author of 'Plays Well With Others'

Those who had five or more friends with whom they could talk about their troubles were 60% happier than those with less than five friends, one study he cites says.

Here's how friendships can affect your marriage, your job, and even your health, according to Barker's research.

A deep friendship with your spouse increases marital satisfaction

If you want a happy marriage, creating a solid friendship first is crucial.

Studies have shown that being friends with your spouse before taking your relationship to the next level, might be more important than physical intimacy. In fact, Barker writes, 70% of a couple's marital satisfaction is due to their friendship, according to Gallup research.

And those who consider their spouse to be their best friend, get almost twice as much life satisfaction from marriage or cohabitation than those who don't, according to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Being friends with your boss makes work more enjoyable

Those who see their manager as a "close friend" are 2.5 times more likely to enjoy they job, Barker notes.

And friendships with co-workers have the ability to change your outlook on life. "Do you have three pals at work?" Barker writes. "Then you're 96 percent more likely to feel happy about your life."

Meaningful friendships can help you live longer

Loneliness, Barker writes, can be a deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. However, a romantic partner isn't always the answer.

"A 2006 study compared breast cancer patients who had ten close friends to those who had zero," Barker writes. "Being in the first group quadrupled the women's chance of survival— but, more surprisingly, a husband had zero impact.

Same thing for men—a long term study of 736 guys showed friends reduced the likelihood of heart problems. Once again, a romantic partner didn't."

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

Don't miss: How a 28-year-old managed to retire early and earn $16,000 a month in passive income