We start making friends in elementary school. Gradually there are more and more of them. The circle of communication expands and reaches a plateau at 25-30 years. After this mark, connections begin to melt, and the number of friends decreases on average by 38%.
Let’s try to figure out why this is happening and how you can cope with this problem.
How friendships change as we get older
In childhood, we are friends, mainly with children from the class or neighbors. At this time, there are still no special interests, sincere conversations, and intimacy. Children share games and activities, learn to empathize with others, and unite to achieve a common goal.
In adolescence (13–19 years old), we keep some of our friends from school and make new ones. At this time, close peers partially replace our parents. There are emotional closeness and mutual support. We learn to open up to another person, trust them, and understand what they want.
In youth (19–30 years old), social ties reach their peak.
We lose some of our friends, but the broken contacts are more than made up for new ones. Fellow students, first colleagues, partners, friends, and acquaintances – the circle of communication is wide and diverse.
And now, after 30 years, our ties are slowly beginning to evaporate. Teenagers spend with friends 29% of the total waking time, and in average age, this figure drops to a paltry 7%.
By the age of 65, 12–22% of people are left without friends at all. And although retirees have much more time for communication, many have no one to communicate with. Old connections are lost, but new ones are difficult to make.
Why friends get lost with age
There are several reasons why adults stop actively making new contacts and losing friendships.
Needs and goals of communication change
To adolescents and young people, it seems that they will live forever. At this time, the priority is to collect information about the world, and for this purpose, a variety of social contacts are best suited. Young people communicate with everyone, easily make acquaintances, and strive for peers.
The picture changes with age. People realize that life is finite, and they should spend it on something pleasant. The number of friends begins to decline; only those who provide emotional closeness and warmth remain. The rest are ruthlessly driven out of the social circle.
Priorities shift to family.
At first, marriage expands the social circle; people get closer to their spouses’ friends and relatives. However, over time, priorities shift towards the family. The spouse provides the person with what he previously received from friends. They become an entertainment partner, satisfy emotional needs – give support and consolation, helps mentally and physically.
With the birth of children, this effect only increases. A small child takes a lot of time; the circle of interests changes greatly, especially with childless friends. Often people are locked into a family, and friendships disappear by themselves.
There is no time left for communication.
Like marriage, going to work can increase the number of friends. People often communicate with those who are somewhat similar to them. They share a view of the world, have similar interests and social status. The likelihood of meeting such a person at work is quite high. At the same time, old friends are gradually disappearing due to lack of time and a growing chasm in interests and status.
Life circumstances interfere
In 68% of cases, friendship in middle age ends by accident, due to moving circumstances. Only 25% of people deliberately end a relationship, usually because of betrayal. Also, such circumstances include accidents, the death of a sibling, spouse, or child. After a traumatic event, bonds with friends can be weakened by grief and unwillingness to keep in touch.
A series of circumstances and a lack of time leave us without close friends. This is natural, but there is nothing good about it. After all, friendship is necessary for a person no less than healthy sleep and sports.
How not to be alone
The only way to improve anything in any area of life is to take time. And friendship is no exception.
Maintain old relationships
Friendship is not static. It is formed, maintained, and disintegrated. At any moment in life, the intimacy between people can increase, decrease, or remain unchanged, and at what level your relationship will depend on the investment.
Meet your friends, call them, take an interest in their life. Try doing something together that is important to both of you. For example, running together in the mornings, going to the movies on weekends, doing something good, or just getting together for a cup of coffee once a week, but – definitely! – no gaps.
Change the environment to create new connections
The theory of the social convoy says; throughout our life, we are accompanied by a group of people, which changes depending on the circumstances. Each change in the environment in the future can give you new friends.
Start a new hobby, sign up for a master class, go to group classes at the gym, find communities of interest in your city. You can find a friend at any age, and the older you get, the more meaningful and deeper your new relationship will be.
Adapted and translated by Wiki Avenue Staff
Sources: Life hacker