“Friendship—my definition—depends on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble."

Blomkvist says these words to Salander in Chapter 27, after she returns from storming out during an irrational fit of anger provoked by her mother’s death and her inability to deal with her emotions after the Vanger case ends. Blomkvist’s definition of friendship, the last of three such entreaties he makes to Salander over the course of the novel, identifies the difference in their opinions about emotional openness in relationships. For Salander, who exhibits a great deal of emotional and verbal restraint and has little trust in others around her, such a definition of friendship seems antithetical to her very nature and perhaps even dangerous. Her bond with Blomkvist, however, differs significantly from her relationships with others, and she regards him more warmly and with more trust than most others in her life. By encouraging Salander to trust him, Blomkvist challenges her to continue evolving as a person, a transformation that becomes evident in the novel’s prologue as she cleans out her cluttered apartment and prepares to confess her feelings to him.

Significantly, Blomkvist’s heavy emphasis on trust in relationships both mirrors and complements the credibility he strives to maintain as a journalist. His desire for Salander’s trust mimics his desire to regain the trust of both his journalistic peers and his reading audience. In particular, Blomkvist recognizes that the libel charge severely damages his credibility. Ultimately, he manages to rescue his reputation with Salander’s help and her stellar hacking skills, and through the process builds a new and fascinating relationship that changes his views on ethics and deepens his understanding of others. Just as she helps him repair his credibility with his readers, he seeks to provide her with the tools necessary to repair and continue a friendship with him. That Salander implicitly accepts his offer of friendship by coming to bed with him that evening indicates an evolution in her personality and also reaffirms the strength of their bond.