Have you hit your friendship peak?

Have you hit your friendship peak?

Making time for friends can be tough when you’re juggling a career and family responsibilities.

In fact, the number of friends in our social circles plummets after our mid-20s and continues to decrease throughout the rest of our lives, a study found.

Aalto University and Oxford University researchers analyzed 3.2 million European cell phone records. They found that the average 25-year-old woman contacts around 17.5 people per month, while men in this age group contact 19 people.

However, by the time people reach their late 30s, their circle of friends shrunk. For example, the average 39-year-old woman talks to 15 people per month, while her male counterpart only contacts 12.

After men and women hit their friendship peak, they start losing contact with people as relationships, children and careers start to put pressure on their time. In fact, the data showed that from ages 45 to 55, friendship levels out to between 12 and 15 people, with women still having more contacts than men.

Dr. Maleeha Ahsan, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friends.

“As life throws more responsibilities on our plates, it’s common for friendships to be put on the back burner. However, it’s important to surround yourself with people who meet your emotional and spiritual needs. Even though you may feel stretched for time, the investment that you make to friends who matter the most to you will be worth it,” says Ahsan.

Dr. Ahsan suggests the following tips to make new friends at any age:

  • Volunteer – meet people who are passionate about the same things as you and do something good for society at the same time.
  • Share your favorite hobby – join a craft club at the public library, a local garden club or take a photography class at the community college.
  • Connect with your faith community – join a committee or small group.

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  1. I find that consistent good relationships over time, like 3-10 years, averaging 5 years, is key to appropriate mental health. These consistent good relationships help combat depression, addiction, loss, stress, and loneliness. They keep me on track, get me back on track, and give me hope, opportunity for fun, and bring joy and stability to my life.

About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.