A friend can be viewed as a mirror to yourself. They assure us that we are never truly alone, and tend to act like a support system in our lives. Unlike any other relationship, friendship is unparalleled in its own way as we choose the people we want to be friends with, and it is up to us how much their presence will impact and change our lives. Our friends sum up our whole world when we are young.
But did you notice how so many of the friends who meant everything to you in your school and college years, seem to disappear as we get older? By the time we're 25, we tend to get so busy with our new jobs and new relationships that unfortunately, we often put our friends on the back burner, and even start making fewer friends.
Quality over quantity?
A recent study published by the Aalto University School of Science in Finland and Oxford University, found that for both men and women, the age of 25 is when most of us start losing friends. Researchers call this a "peak" point, and as we get older, our group of contacts begin to drop. Both men and women continue to make lots of friends until the age of 25, but it’s claimed that after this, friendships begin to fall away rapidly, and this decline in our friends continue for the rest of our lives. It has also been found that women lose them at an initially faster rate than men, though it was downhill for both sexes once they entered their late 20s. The average 25-year-old woman contacts about 17.5 people per month, while a man contacts 19 people.
Hridi Haque, 26, who has been working for a year now, thinks that maintaining friendships when you no longer work in close proximity is difficult. “It also depends on how much time you dedicate to those you want to keep in touch with, and to keep your friendships alive. Once you graduate and start working, it's hard to maintain your friendships as everyone gets busy with their lives and goes off in different directions,” says Hridi.
It’s when you are in your 20s, that you start to focus more on the quality of friendships than the quantity. As a teenager in our early 20s, we enjoy being surrounded by a large group of people, but as we get older our priorities change. However, keeping a smaller group of friends can actually be better.
It only gives you more time for things like travelling, eating out, and those face-to-face intense conversations with the people you actually care about.
Healthy balance in your life
Entrepreneur Rafat Jahan, 28, thinks it's not a bad thing to lose your friends when you start working, as you have more time for your family, romantic relationships, and your hobbies. He says, “The 'cut-off' age of 25 may vary from person to person, and what we expect is that you will have a gradual withdrawal from casual relationships, simply because you have to balance work and family life. You'll have a fewer number of friends and focus on somewhere else.”
On the other hand, Bijoya Hasan, 30, a banker by profession and recently married says, “Life gets difficult when you're married and working more than 40 hours a week. Especially when you don't have that many friends to hang out with during the weekends, and the only best friend you have lives in another country thousand miles away from you. At times when you feel like talking about the hardships in life, the only mode of communicating with that friend is through those Skype calls. Hence one needs to keep in touch with their friends from home and abroad, in order to maintain a healthy life.”
Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of us in our late 20s or early 30s, where we want to be around the friends that mean the most of us, but work and other responsibilities get in the way. You may have some good times, and you may be lucky enough to find colleagues who eventually become your friends, making it easier to grab dinner or have a heart-to-heart over a cup of coffee after work. But at the end of the day you need those friends who understand you like nobody else can, and who can give you that emotional support when you need it the most, regardless of whether they live right around the corner or thousands of miles away.