Family vs. Friends: Comparing Key Relationships

Published August 11, 2020
Happy group of friends in a party

Friendships and familial relationships can be both a source of stress and a source of comfort depending on the circumstances. Whatever your own unique relational balance is amongst your friends and/or family members, know that both friends and family can provide meaningful and fulfilling connections.

Family vs. Friends

When it comes to comparing friendships and familial relationships, know that the quality of the relationship is a key component of how meaningful, supportive, and fulfilling a relationship is. This means that whether you are mostly close with your friends or your family, you can still experience loving, healthy, and respectful relationships.

Which Is Better Family or Friends?

There is no "better" when it comes to a familial relationship or friendship. Relationships are all different and will vary based on unique circumstances. A fairer comparison would be to ask yourself which relationships are healthier? Healthy relationships may be absent amongst your family, but not amongst your friendships, or vice versa.

Young women hanging out at the beach

How Do Friends Differ From Family Members?

One big difference between family and friends is that your family member's relational label will not change, even if you have an argument. Your sibling, parent, aunt, or cousin will always maintain that relational label, even if you become estranged. With friendships, if you have a falling out, your relationship status can change and you may end up completely disconnected. In some families, there is more of an undertone that no matter what, family is family, and issues may be prioritized for resolution, while this may not be the case with some friendships.

Family vs. Friends Comparison Chart

Both family and friends can be caring, loving, irreplaceable, and maintain their relationship with you through the ups and downs of life. While some families are open, loving, and warm, others can be cold, abusive, and neglectful. Unlike with friendships, especially if you are a minor, families can feel more difficult to remove yourself from. Family relationships may also be associated with more complex issues, hierarchical disparities, and circumstances where one may feel indebted to another, while healthy friendships have an even power structure.

Family Friends
Will always be related regardless of circumstances. May not always be a friend.
May feel more pressure to keep connection. May come and go with more ease.
May have more motivation to overcome issues. May feel less pressure to resolve issues if friendship is new.
Pervasive family patterns can impact relationship choices. Are impacted by pervasive family relationship patterns.
May be there when friends aren't. May be there when family isn't.
Can be kind and loving.

Can be kind and loving.

Happy family at a gathering

Why Do I Like My Friends More Than My Family?

If you feel like your friends have replaced your family or that you prefer your friends to your family, know that you are not alone. Many individuals turn to friends when they have difficulties with their family members or feel as if their friends are more trustworthy and understand them better than family members do. You have control over who you choose to surround yourself with friend-wise, but that's not the case when it comes to family. Being able to choose friends who support and accept you may feel a lot different when compared to your family relationships.

Group of friends taking a selfie together during a Holi celebration party

Do Family Members Count as Friends?

Family members can also be considered friends. There is no rule stating that a family member can't also be a friend. You may have a cousin close in age, a sibling who you consider to be a best friend, or another family member who you feel like you can truly confide in.

Friends or Family- Who Do You Rely on the Most and Why?

Relying more on a family member or friend will depend on your unique situation. Some individuals:

  • Have an unhealthy family situation and prefer to rely on friends
  • Have a more difficult time making and/or maintaining friendships and may rely more on family members
  • May rely on family members for certain matters and friends for others
Grand-mother and adult grand-daughter hugging

Family Versus Friends Quotes

Quotes about friendships and relationships with your family can highlight their similarities and differences. These quotes can feel inspirational to read, write in a card, or be communicate in other ways you see fit.

Are Friends Better Than Family for Your Health?

Research indicates that friendships, especially for adults, predict better health outcomes than familial relationships do. Having solid, reliable friendships was more closely tied to feeling happier and healthier.

Is It More Important to Have a Good Family Than Friends?

Research indicates that having good friends is tied to better mental and physical health outcomes. With that said, every circumstance is unique, and it's up to you to figure out which relationships in your life feel fulfilling, supportive, and loving, regardless if they are with a family member or friend.

Family or Friends

Relationships with friends and family members are unique to each individual. Know that there is no right or wrong way to have healthy and meaningful relationships, whether that means being closer to your friends or family members.

Family vs. Friends: Comparing Key Relationships