Life changes a lot in your 20s. Whether you finish school, move from one job to another or leave home for a new city, you will certainly find yourself experiencing real life for the first time. As this changes you, you may feel as though your personal life changes, too — and that can lead your 20s feeling the worst age for friendships.
Recently, scientists have explored the idea that our 20s are when our relationships suffer most, and they’ve been able to pinpoint the worst age for friendships: 25. There are plenty of factors that play into this, of course.
Whether you’re 25 now or heading into your 25th year in the near future, you probably want to know why this is or will be happening. We’ve got you covered. Read on to find out why this year is the worst age for friendships — and what it means for your future.
You Spend a Lot of Time Exploring Friendships While You’re Young
So many teen movies show the school’s most popular person surrounded by a huge group of adoring friends at all times. Not all of us experienced this level of social status, but we probably all did branch out and try meeting lots of new people in high school and college.
One study found the years leading up to 25 to be a time of social sampling, wherein kids simply try and meet new and different people, expanding their circles to include as many friends as they like. However, by the time they reach 25, they’ve begun to realize who has staying power in their circle, and who’s just an ephemeral, outside friend.
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Your Contacts Will Continue to Dwindle
25 is the worst age, but it doesn’t mark the year in which you’ll have the least amount of friends: It’s the year you start downsizing. The same study referenced above showed that people report less and less regular contact with people as they begin to age.
The study found that the average 25-year-old man spoke to 19 different people per month, while the average woman kept in touch with 17.5 friends. By 39, both had shrunk their social circles to 12 and 15, respectively. Then, if you jump forward 41 years, 80-year-old men and women only spoke with six or eight people, respectively.
It’s Not All Bad
This might make your 25th year sound like a depressing one, but fear not: The shrinkage of your social circle is not necessarily a negative thing. As previously mentioned, you start to reduce the number of people you keep in touch with simply because you realize your bonds are stronger with them than your other friends.
Larger social circles can feel very superficial, depending on the size of the circle and the depth of emotion shared among friends. In fact, in some places like Ghana, people with more than 50 friends are reportedly seen as being naïve or foolish.
In comparison, a solid best friend can seriously improve your state of mind. Having a really good friend standing beside you makes you feel more optimistic about the outlook of your life. He or she helps you relieve stress and bolsters your strength levels, both physical and emotional. Think about it: Who do you call when you get dumped, when a family member is sick or you’re stressed out at work? Yep, your best friend — and that person is worth a lot more to you than a huge group of friends in the long run.
So remember that worst-age-for-friendships distinction comes with a caveat. You might start losing touch with friends at 25, but the ones you keep will provide the support you need for years and years to come.
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