It is generally maintained that frequent contacts between people are necessary in order to develop friendships, but social contacts do not necessarily have to be person-to-person or "in the flesh." Many people have pen pals, faraway friends, or long-distance lovers whom they have never met in person but for whom they nevertheless have strong positive feelings. In addition, once they are established, friendships can be maintained even though the parties rarely see each other. Rather than requiring frequent, close contact in order to survive, perhaps the perception of continuing friendship is enough to keep a person happy and satisfied (Tesch, Whitbourne, & Nehrke, 1981). Like almost everything else studied by social scientists, the need for social contact varies with the individual. Certainly, most people who have been socially isolated for much of their lives do not report being unusually dissatisfied with their lot. By expecting less in the form of social interaction, they apparently have learned to live with less.
As the saying goes, even the best of friends must part, but friendship is not usually terminated when they do. Friendship may fade with absence and the passage of time, but there are always new friends for those who are willing to make an effort to acquire them.
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