I would say that adults typically have different sets of friendships based on what they do. First, you have your old "buddies." These will be your closest friends, but they may not live near you. Second, you have the friends at work. You might not grow close to them, but there is a level of friendship, because you see the often. Third, you have friendships if you join an organization or club. You will probably be pretty close to these people, because you obviously joined this club on account of some personal interest. In terms of how they support one another, it is usually in the area of talking and community building to some degree. However, one the most important differences between adult friendships and other friendship is the fact that adults are busy. So, they don't have much time to build friendships.
So are you asking us to talk about these questions with respect to adult friendships that we know of? I will assume that's what you mean. My friendships are largely male-male, others may have different answers.
- The substance of adult friendships is typically shared interests and compatible personalities. Friends need shared interests to get to know one another and they need compatible personalities so they can get along.
- They support one another by being around for the other person. We don't necessarily do heart-to-heart talks, but it's always important to be willing to listen to your friend complain about his job, for example.
- Interactions are largely casual. We talk about sports or our jobs or our kids or things like that. We do things together, usually centered around sports.
Geographic location is a significant factor in the establishment of friendships. Adult friendships develop under different terms than those of children or adolescents. Adults often meet their friendships through work oriented activities or education related events such as returning to college.
Adults seek out friends for different reasons. Friendships are often sought out because of mutual interest or circumstances. For example: A person at work who has a common problem may find himself sharing the situation and it leads to friendship. Quite often those friendships end when a person leaves to go to another job.
Friendships between opposite sex lay out boundaries in the early stages of the friendship. If the boundaries are not laid out or not kept the dynamics of the friendship changes.
In order for a bond to form people must interact with one another in a mutual pattern. If a person begins a conversation and the other person ignores him, the friendship can not develop unless on another try the inter-exchange is established.
People also tend to establish friendships based on their perceptions of others. If a person identifies a person’s culture or race in a negative manner, he is less likely to approach the person or respond to the person with friendship.
Adults have a variety of friend types. They rage from work friends, acquaintances, friends from their neighborhood, friends established through their children, friendships from previous jobs or locations, mates or partners, relatives, sports partners, and gym partners. Of course they may meet and establish friendships in other ways as well. For example: Two persons at a doctor's appointment may strike up a conversation over a topic and find they have a common interest which leads to them following up with a phone call and lunch.
Friendships are not that unpredictable. Most adult friends are in the same economic group, share common values and beliefs, and provide reciprocity in terms of supporting one another.