Friendship is the most difficult type of relationship, because it cannot be formalized. And the common life of friends does not connect – unlike, say, couples. It’s no wonder that friendship can be even more difficult than romantic relationships. Understanding why we have fewer friends with age and whether this can be prevented.
Why are friends important?
As people get older, they lose friends or start having trouble making new ones. This makes them devalue friendship: they say, they attach too much importance to it. But in fact, friendly communication is extremely important for a person not only psychologically, but also physiologically. Studies show that friendship helps people maintain physical and mental health, helps maintain normal blood pressure, reduces the risk of dementia, and strengthens immunity. Scientists have also found that emotional closeness with peers helps build self-confidence and reduces the risk of depression. Loneliness, on the contrary, leads to sad consequences – diseases of the cardiovascular system, early development of Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia.
At what age do we lose friends?
It is believed that the peak of a person’s social connections falls on the age of 20-30. Then they begin to decrease, and the emergence of a family plays an important role here: the partner and children, as it were, take on the functions of friendship. It also affects the fact that free time is becoming much less. As a result, by the age of 65, 25% of people are left without friends at all, which is reflected in their standard of living. At the same time, it is in old age, when work and family no longer take up so much energy, that a person experiences a special need for communication. And it is just not there – or there is, but not enough. So the social activity of an elderly person decreases, and this has a bad effect on physical and psychological health.
How to keep old friendships and make new ones?
Find a compromise.Friendship cannot be built on ultimatums and peremptory judgments. You can’t be a dictator – remember that good relationships are about compromise. Go meet your friends when you can. If they ask you to reschedule the meeting, reschedule – and feel free to ask your friend about the same if necessary. Flexibility, the ability to avoid sharp corners and not enter into decisive conflict where this can be avoided is the key to strong friendships.
Develop empathy.Many conflicts, due to which friendship breaks up, are associated with the fact that people do not hear each other and do not want to enter the position of another person. As a result, mutual reproaches and accusations arise. It is always important to try to hear your friend and not attribute your thoughts to him. Do not think of people worse than they are: for example, if a person cannot meet with you, referring to important work matters, in most cases you should believe it, and not assume that you are being avoided.
In the 2000s, psychologist Jan Jager conducted a survey for his book When Friendship Hurts and found that 68% of people have experienced betrayal of friends. However, this impressive figure hardly suggests that humanity is so bad. Most likely, the survey participants simply did not sort things out directly and perceived the actions of their friends as betrayal, although in reality the situation could be completely different.
Strive for personal growth.With age, it becomes more difficult to make friends than in adolescence, simply because a person rarely strays out of the “home – work” framework. To prevent this from happening, remember that you can spend your free time not only at the computer and with your family. Look for additional activities for yourself: go to various courses and trainings, pay attention to personal growth. This will help not only make new friends, but also maintain old contacts. The more active and eventful your life is, the more interesting it is to communicate with you, and friends will appreciate it.
Prioritize wisely.Many people put friendship last on their to-do list. This isn’t fair: friendship is very important, so if you want to avoid the negative effects of loneliness, make time for it. Close relationships are impossible without personal communication. Do not indulge yourself with the illusion that later, “someday”, you will be able to catch up, and your friend will not go anywhere from you.
Express your feelings openly.People often begin to question friendships when they don’t see evidence of emotional closeness. This happens because we rarely consider it necessary to thank a person for friendship, to appreciate his contribution to our life at its true worth. Be open with your friends, often remind them how important they are to you. In addition, frankness is very important: if you try to “censor” your communication with friends, because you are afraid to seem funny or weak, it will not lead to anything good. Sooner or later, such a relationship will collapse under the weight of the unspoken.
Do not withdraw into yourself.It happens that our friends really betray us and we part with them. Or we lose them for some other reason, and after that we no longer start new ones, because we are lazy or it seems that we can handle it anyway. You shouldn’t nurture your loneliness. Sooner or later, you will realize that you made a mistake by choosing a similar path, but it will be too late to change something.