Active and Passive Friendships

Some of your friends probably play a greater role in your life than others. Although you may be closer to some than others, you appreciate them all.
Active and Passive Friendships
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

We’ve all had passive and active friendships. Both types simply are a part of the fabric of our human relationships.

However, you inevitably appreciate some friends more than others. Because there’ll always be some people you feel closer to and others you just see from time to time.

We’re all social beings. For this reason, you need those daily interactions. They make you feel good. In fact, you can appreciate your daily chat with the grocer or coffee with a colleague, just as much as an intimate chat with your best friend.

There are different types of friendships. As long as they’re sincere and enriching, it doesn’t matter how intimate they are. Authenticity is the key.

As a matter of fact, weak bonds or passive friendships are extremely important. These are the people who generate positive moments in your daily life, even if they don’t have intimate bonds with you.

Two friends looking out over the sea.

What’s the difference between them?

If you care about your relationships, you’ll agree that calling someone a friend is special. You don’t do it every day and not everyone deserves the title. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand the real meaning of friendship and also violate it by demolishing trust and respect. We’re sure you’ve had more than one rewarding friendship, the kind of friend you can share both your joys and sorrows with.

In the 1970s, Mark Granovetter, professor of sociology at Stanford University, published a book titled The Strength of Weak Ties. In this study, he reformulated the concept of friendship.

It’s extremely useful to read this book in the context of today’s new technology, as it makes you understand how important the friends you make on social networks can be.

We can’t emphasize its relevance enough. Indeed, any friend you make on Facebook or other social networks can be just as important as an old childhood friend. Let’s find out more.

Active friendships, the deep connections that enrich your life

Active friendships are present in your life on a daily basis. You consider these friends to be your family. In fact, they know more or less everything about you. You share your experiences, values, and secrets with them. They’re your refuge when things go wrong. In fact, sometimes, they’re more important to you than your partner.

Perhaps some have been your friends for years, maybe since you started school. Others might be more recent. Nevertheless, you still might feel as if you’ve known them forever.

You continually interact with these types of friends. It doesn’t even matter whether you’re away from each other from time to time. Because the desire to know how each other is doing, and what you’re both up to, is constant. In addition, knowing you have their support at all times makes you happy.

Passive friendships are weak bonds that make you feel good

Passive and active friendships aren’t opposites but complementary. Furthermore, in recent years, Mark Granovetter’s theory has become more relevant. This is because his ideas clearly reflect what happens in our new technological and digital society.

Passive friendships are those that are beyond our circle of intimacy. However, they still make you feel good. For example, they might be a neighbor, a family member’s friend, the grocery store manager, the colleague you get along with, or the person you see once a week on the subway on your way to work and chat with.

The basic difference between a passive and active friendship is the closeness and affection. A passive friend might be one you meet on social media. You like to talk to them and you share common interests. Many of these relationships go no further than this.

According to Mark Granovetter, these passive, non-binding relationships are a great stimulus in everyday life. They make you happy and relaxed and offer you different perspectives. You learn from them and they make you feel a sense of belonging.

Close and active friendships are important. However, research shows that creating networks of casual relationships, whether via new technologies or in your normal social life, makes you happy and gives you a sense of belonging.

Passive and active friendships are both vital

A girl looking at her mobile phone.

It’s usually best to have a select few close friends. However, as far as passive relationships go, the more the merrier. Here’s an example. Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building with a very specific idea, to make it easier for employees from the various different departments to mingle with each other.

His idea was to achieve the type of passive friendship that stimulates creativity. These chance encounters were always positive, kind, and enriching. Ideas were generated and stress was reduced. It wasn’t necessary to create great friendships, just bonds of courtesy and kindness where ideas flowed. That was the key.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to increase your daily social contacts to boost your well-being. Conversations, no matter how brief, enrich your day. Furthermore, like good friendships, you should cultivating these bonds for the rest of your life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.