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Why You Don't Need as Many Friends in Your 30s

Why It's Okay if You Have Less Friends in Your 30s Than You Did in Your 20s


As you get older, it's pretty common to find yourself with smaller friend groups than you've had in the past. Friend groups break apart as people take different paths, and it's natural to feel weird about the dissolution of your inner circle.

According to science, though, the natural cycles of friendship actually guarantee that you'll be happier later on in life.

In a new study led by Cheryl L. Carmichael of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center at CUNY, which was published in the journal Psychology and Aging, how happy you feel in your 40s and 50s can be tied to two things: "the quantity of friends in your 20s, and the quality of friendships in your 30s."

The study offers a good explanation as to why your number of friends tends to drop off as you get older. In your 20s, the authors explain, you are still figuring out who you are, so it makes sense that you'd have many different friends as you learn who you identify with most. As you get older, and learn more about yourself, your friend group begins to narrow down. "As individuals approach their 30s, social information-seeking motives wane," the authors of the study write. "Identity exploration goals diminish with the transition into better-defined and more enduring social roles."

Basically, what this study shows, is that the feelings of FOMO or disappointment that our social lives are perhaps less lively than they used to be are unwarranted: as long as you have a few good friends, you'll be just fine.

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