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Study: New friendships get more difficult to find with age

Studies have found that having a strong circle of friends is good for your health, and longevity. But new studies find that developing new friendships gets more difficult with age.

According to a recent survey, 45% of adults admit they find it hard to make new friends. In fact, the average adult hasn’t made a new friend in the last five years, according to the poll.

The research delved into the underlying reasons why people struggle with finding, or keeping, new friendships. About 42% stated they have trouble making friends because of introversion or shyness. For these individuals, it’s simply a struggle to come out of their shell and comfortably break into new social situations and circles.

A third of adults blame their lack of new friendships on their aversion to the growing acceptance of drinking in society with all the negative outcomes that come with alcoholic consumption. For young adults, night life is where many new friendships are presented but even among this group, meeting people over drinks is becoming a turn-off.


Another third of respondents feel everyone else’s circle of friends have already formed, making it harder to join the gang.

Other reasons for not developing new friendships include commitments to family (29%), not having hobbies conducive to making friends (28%), and moving to a new city (21%).

Still, many Americans are trying to change these patterns. Forty-five percent of those surveyed say they would go out of their way to make new friends if they knew how or had more opportunities to do so.

“For the 45 percent who are looking to make new friends, the best and most underrated way to do that these days is still in-person,” said Piera Pizzo, an in-home entertainment specialist. “You can host a party, or something more low-key like book club… and tell each of your guests to bring a friend. You’ll be surprised at how naturally social circles can come together, and at the lasting connections you can make when bonding face-to-face.”

Studies have  confirmed that finding new companions is easiest in our early 20s. Most respondents said that their peak popularity was at age 23, while 36% of those surveyed said their popularity peaked before age 21.


So what about the friends we already have? According to the survey, the average adult has 16 current, active friendships. Of those friends, three are considered friends for life, five are worthy of a one-on-one hang out session, and eight are generally well-liked but not enough to spend considerable time with in person regularly.

Nearly half of the respondents still keep in touch with close friends from high school, another 31% stay in touch with friends made during young adulthood or “college years,” and an amazing three in ten maintain friendships from a childhood neighborhood. However, the number one place respondents reported cultivating friendships (48%) was a previous workplace.

If you’re still close with friends from back in the day, you should feel proud. A whopping 82% of respondents say lasting friendships are hard to find. As for what causes a friendship flame to burn out, 63% say moving away is the nail in the coffin, while 61% say they simply grew apart. Another 32% say they were betrayed by a close friend, and 24% cut their losses when a bestie wasn’t there for them during a tough time.

The survey also revealed the top five characteristics of a good friend: honesty, trust, loyalty, kindness, and a good sense of humor.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.