What Kind of Friends Should You Be Making in Your 20s vs. Your 30s?

What Kind of Friends Should You Be Making in Your 20s vs. Your 30s?

It’s no mystery that your social life can affect how happy you are. Friends who encourage and motivate you are more likely to add contentment to your life than friends who harp on every little fault you have (even though they’re clearly perfect). And according to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Studies suggest that poor social connections may put you at risk for early mortality. A recent study conducted at the University of Rocherster and published in the journal Psychology and Aging on friendship and its impact on happiness found that those with poor social connections were at an increased risk for early mortality. “Having few social connections is equivalent to tobacco use, and it’s higher than for those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or who suffer from obesity,” said lead study author Dr. Cheryl Carmichael, PhD.

So it’s important to choose your company wisely, but what kinds of friends — and how many of them — are best for your well-being?

The University of Rochester researchers found that if people had many friends in their 20s and quality friends in their 30s, they were more likely to be happier later on in their 50s. Quality relationships were defined as those the participants described as intimate and satisfying. “It’s often around [our 20s] that we meet people from diverse backgrounds, with opinions and values that are different from our own, and we learn how to best manage those differences,” Dr. Carmichael explains.

That said, the study participants included those who attended an American university in the 1970s and it focused on face-to-face interactions. We’re now in the age of social media, but the data still gives 20-year-olds a great excuse to meet as many people as possible, and the 30-year-olds the go ahead to be a little bit more selective with accepting party invites.