5 Reasons Damaged People Tend To Bond With Other Damaged People, According To Research

If you're damaged, chances are your friends are as well.

depressed man and friend comforting him Ground Picture / Shutterstock

You're a mess, OK? A hot mess, but still a mess. Your life isn't perfect, you've got some baggage, and sometimes you make mistakes that you don't learn from. You're a work in progress, and the last thing you want is someone judging you for all your imperfections.

We want friends who are similar enough to us that they understand what our lives are like since they've been there before. Friendships become stronger when we bond over shared experiences, have corresponding ways of looking at the world, and have mutual acceptance. 


Our friendships help us to heal. And according to a 2014 UCLA study, female friendships can actually help the almost overwhelming stress we face on a day-to-day basis. When men are faced with stress, they go into fight or flight mode, but this isn't so with women.

Women are actually hard-wired for female friendships.

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Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., and Shelly Taylor, two of the authors of the study, found that when women are stressed, the hormone oxytocin (known as the love hormone) is released, buffers the fight or flight stress response, and encourages women to tend to their children and gather together with other women.

When a woman engages in this tending or befriending, more oxytocin is released, which counterbalances the stress and produces a calming effect. When women talk to each other, we feel better.

Friendship between women is drastically important, especially if it's with someone who knows exactly what you're going through and can relate to things you've experienced in the past. And of course, you want to be friends with someone with the same issues you have. 

Here are 5 reasons damaged people tend to bond with other damaged people:

1. They help you navigate the rocky road that is your life

We all need someone who grounds us and accepts us for all our bad decisions and foolish choices. Your friend will stand up for you when everybody is pretty much over that last crazy stunt you pulled. They know when to be completely honest, but they also know when to let you follow your plans. Your friend is there when you need them, but they know when to give you some space.


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2. They've been there and done that a few times, too

Your screwed-up friend has had enough crazy experiences to know exactly what you're going through, and some of those experiences you've shared together. There's nothing like having a history — no matter how insane of history — with someone to bond you together forever. If your friend has never done a single wrong thing in their life, what can you possibly have in common?

3. When you're with them, it's a judgment-free zone

If you have a non-critical friend — someone who appreciates your unique view of the world and life — hang on to them; they're difficult to find. No one likes to be judged, yet there always seem to be people in our vicinity who love to look down on people and view them with a hypercritical eye.

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4. They see friendship as a priority

We've all screwed up our lives, sometimes in major will-we-ever-recover-from-this ways, and other times in small, non-damaging ways. We're human and we know that we have to move on.

Friendships help us to recover and heal, and they'll still be there (hopefully) even after your dreams of designing couture clothing for hamsters dies, or that guy you thought might be the one who breaks your heart. Friendship is the strong foundation of our, oftentimes shakily, screwed-up lives.

5. They can empathize with your problems

We don't do every single thing in our lives correctly, but a friend who's as screwed up as you are understands all too well what you're going through. They have empathy, which in turn creates a stronger connection between you. When someone can relate to what you're going through and has empathy, it shows that they care about you.


The experiences, failures, and just plain stupid decisions we've made, have helped shaped us into the flawed, yet spectacular humans we are. If you can find a friend just as interesting as you, and one who doesn't judge you, hang on to them for as long as you can.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.