Previous research has shown that friendships buffer against loneliness, but some children remain lonely despite having best friends. The current study examines relationships between loneliness and Friendship Functions, expectations, and responses to friendship transgressions in children with best friends (8–11 years; N = 177). Children completed questionnaires that measured loneliness, fulfilment of Friendship Functions, Friendship Expectations, and the Transgressions of Friendship Expectations Questionnaire (MacEvoy & Asher, Child Development, 83, 2012, 104). Findings in the current study showed that loneliness was associated with lower Friendship Expectations and higher reliable alliance in existing best friendships. Loneliness was also associated with lower sadness and lower perceptions of feeling controlled and devalued by their friend when they transgress. Thus, children with best friends experiencing high loneliness may be more permissiveness of friendship transgressions and may need support to ensure that they do not allow their friends to be unfair to them.
Statement of contribution
What is already known on the subject?
Friendships buffer children from loneliness, but some remain lonely despite having friends.
Loneliness has been associated with poor‐quality friendships.
But there is no examination of why children remain lonely when they have friends.
What the present study adds?
Lonely children overemphasize friendship qualities that help to maintain the relationship.
Loneliness was linked to expectations of being friends with less popular and well‐liked peers.
Lonely children placed less blame on their friends when they violated Friendship Expectations.