It’s well known that having friends plays a big part in our emotional and physical well-being. And while friendships make life more rewarding at every age, we’re now learning that as we get older, quality becomes more important than quantity.
But friendships are harder to make as we age, so it’s important to build on the ones you have.
Research has found that having lots of friends when you’re in your 20s is valuable — think of these friendships as sowing platonic wild oats. But then in your 30s, it’s time to cull that number and strengthen the friendships you want to keep. The quality of your friendships is what leads to stronger emotional wellness in the decades ahead.
Make the time to deepen these relationships. For fun, you might form a walking group with your buddies so you can get healthy at the same time. But all kinds of get-togethers reinforce your bonds.
Above all, be the kind of friend you would like to have — be a good listener, offer support without being judgmental and forgive when misunderstandings occur.
The Mayo Clinic suggests these ways to nurture friendships:
- Show kindness — remember the old adage of treating others as you want to be treated.
- Listen intently — people appreciate feeling as though you’re taking their thoughts and concerns seriously.
- Spend real time, not just virtual visits, with friends.
Keep in mind that it’s never too late to rekindle friendships from your youth — consider reconnecting with old classmates through your high school or college alumni association. And though it’s more challenging to make friends later in life, it’s never too late. Becoming active in your community, such as through volunteering, is one way to meet new people.
The Mayo Clinic has more information on the importance of friendships and how to enhance them throughout your life.