When are you the most popular? Research says 25
Those in your mid-20s, beware. A study revealed 25 is when you hit "peak friendship". It's all downhill from there. Not very surprisingly, gender played a role. Though 25 was the high time for both men and women, at around 39, women took over. The pattern stayed the same till the 90s. Differences also emerged in who people communicate with the most frequently.
Decline in calling from 25 to 45, then a plateau
The Departments of Experimental Psychology at Finland's Aalto University School of Science and Oxford University collected call records of 3.2mn people from a European operator in 2007. 25-year-olds were calling the most different people regularly (at least once monthly). By 39, men were calling 12 different people a month, and women were calling 15. Then during 45-55, there's a plateau, followed by another drop.
What makes it so hard to maintain friendships?
Till the mid-20s, people are still likely to be in touch with their friends from school and college. Then comes an eventful phase, full of changes. At around 25, people are focusing on building their career and planning paths to achieve related goals. They move around and find new jobs. They also have to think of making or maintaining a family.
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus?
Though both genders reached their peak popularity at 25, men were calling more different people than women, potentially indicating a male tendency to scout for sexual mates. By 39, the trend reversed; men were likely to be focusing more on work than women. Unsurprisingly, all people were spending the most time on phone with a member of the opposite sex: presumably their partner.
Who do you talk to at 15 and at 55?
There also emerged differences in the age group people were communicating frequently with. Those below 40 were mostly talking to their peers. After 50, they were in contact with younger people. This suggests a shift in focus from friends to children, who by then are possibly moving away and starting their lives. Retirement, health issues and other similar things might also affect social communication.
Many things have changed in the last 10 years
The world has seen tremendous advancements in the last 10 years, including the expansion of mobile phones into the farthest corners. The study didn't take into account meetings in person or calls on the landline, which was then still a somewhat important mode of communication. Communication, to a large extent, has also moved online, a practice not very extensive back in 2007.
It's not necessarily a bad thing either
The results of the study don't necessarily indicate a bad trend. Whereas happiness during younger periods of life are mostly derived from external sources (like having several sources of validation), there's an inward shift later, with people focusing on themselves and only sincere, fulfilling relationships.
If you want tips to make friends as an adult...
Making friends as an adult is definitely not easy. Still, there are a few techniques you can adopt. Check out interest-based get-togethers (like Meetup). Volunteer at community centres. Exploit social media. Connect to extended circles: get to know your spouse's, children's and even in-laws' friends. Most importantly, get rid of laziness and leave the house.
The timeline is brewing!
The timeline is brewing!