Today we celebrate the international day of friendship. And surely, if they ask you, you’ll say you have a lot of friends. But who can we consider “friend”? Are those who are part of your life today, those who were five years ago? Ten years ago? And twenty? But, above all, how do we value if someone close falls into the category of “friend”?
Experts say that, like any social relationship, friendships evolve, since neither are we always the same. Maturity, the accumulation of experiences, daily demands, jobs, children, and a lot of circumstances that do not always depend on us are modulating and growing, while approaching and moving away from old friendships. And, although sometimes we find it difficult to assume, it is the most natural and the healthiest. Accepting that people should enter and leave our lives without implying a catastrophe is essential to leave room for new relationships that nourish us more and are more in line with our vital moment, our new interests or our new concerns.
These days we have learned that a study by the Finnish University of Aalto and the Oxford University of the United Kingdom reveals that 25 years is the age at which we tend to reach the maximum number of social connections . Which means that, over the years, the number of friends we have around us will decrease considerably. In the words of the sociologist Francesc Núñez, over time, the selection criteria and the ability to create emotional bonds become more restrictive since, “when you are young, you have not defined your life, your tastes, or the criteria of choice. But as you get older, you define yourself, and since friendship normally works among equals, fewer and fewer “equals” are in the world. ”
Does that mean making new friends is impossible after 30? Probably not. What sociologists and emotion experts suggest to us is that we cultivate our friendships, on the one hand, and that we do not fall into the temptation to lock ourselves into ourselves as the years go by and obligations increase and the time allocated to leisure. The incredible power of social relations in our quality of life, in our happiness and our general health has already been demonstrated in different studies. And if not, ask the inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa, who has the highest number of centenarians on the planet and who stand out for cultivating and pampering healthy, close and lasting human relationships.
It may have to do with being receptive and knowing how to listen before speaking, being tolerant, knowing how to share, knowing how to trust and understanding that friends should not feel or think alike. It may have to do with not waiting and not demanding, but rather focusing on acceptance, gratitude, and generosity. And, although all this seems common sense, very often we forget these bases that should focus our adult relationships if we want them to be horizontal and enriching.