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Why You Have Fewer Friends as You Grow up (and It’s Normal)

Why You Have Fewer Friends as You Grow up (and It’s Normal)

Having good people skills, I know how to make people feel interested and connected. I’m never worried to have no friend. But as I grow up, I find that I have fewer and fewer friends.

And this is not just happening to me.

It is a fairly common feature with everyone. The root of the problem is the way we made those friends in the first place when we young, heart whole and fancy-free.

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    Photo credit: Source

    Everyone makes friends wrong when they were young

    Recall your best friends in high school. What made you become friends in the first place? And how did all that start out? Maybe it was because you sat beside her on the first day of school, started to chat and just decided that hey, you guys did get along famously. So you became friends, spending time together during breaks and hanging out after school…

    Or maybe both of you were on the football team and there came to be a friendship when your team won or lost, or when you all just practiced hard under the watchful eye of the mean coach. All of you were in a similar state of mind and got close because you all understood how the other felt – because you felt the same way.

    What drew you close and held your bonds of friendship together was a common experience. You were in the same situation together. You understood each other. You reveled in each other’s success and shed tears over failures – slowly, this forged strong bonds. But now, years later, when the commonality has vanished, these bonds are fraying or may have already unraveled. Interests have diversified, passions have waned and that common thread that held you together has long been broken.

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    You meet those old friends now and initially, you can talk about those memories and reminisce about those good old days but very often conversations soon die out. Why? It might be because the common factors are few and far between. You may be a hotshot executive looking to have some tippler to relax. He may be a college professor who’s also a teetotaler vegan. Or you may be a school teacher following a yogic lifestyle and she may be a model who needs her drinks and smokes to stave off her appetite. You just have grown out of your friendship.

      Photo credit: Source

      Some friends stay because they share the same things deep, deep down

      Most of us may have lost many of our childhood friends to changing scenarios and diversifying interests, but we still have a couple of good friends around. Sound right? Now you may not meet these gems every now and then and may actually talk to them just once in a while – but you know that they’ll always be there for you, just a holler away…It’s because of you and these friends of you share the same core values that form the basis of a deep and lasting friendship.

      Now you got it. You and your everlasting friends are very similar, deep deep down. It’s like you peel the layers of professions and hobbies and likes and dislikes and you’ll find that you and this friend of yours are very alike, in the most important things of life.

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      The same angst in the world drives you both nuts. A movie can move you to tears. You may hate the current President for his anti-democratic values or may like him for his all-American ones. You guys are the wind beneath each other’s sails and yet also are unafraid to play the devil’s advocate for each other because you want good things for your friend and vice versa.

      Picture this: on one side you have a friend who’s very like you on the surface but when you get to really know him – he turns out to be money-minded while its morals all the way for you. Would this friendship last? We all know the answer to that and it’s a resounding no. But you might have a friend who is poles apart in nature, profession, and interest but who shares the same fair-minded world view that you have. Here you do have a friend for life.

        Photo credit: Source

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        How to build friendship that will survive in adulthood

        They key to making lasting friendships as an adult is to get to know their deep, innermost thoughts before and you can do this by not relying on your instinct and judgment but by asking questions.

        Ask stuff that will help reveal what they believe in, what they’re strongly against for, what is their ideal world, what is their ideal life, what are their top priorities in life… Since it may just prove to be a tad awkward to ask such questions, frame them in a sly way. Play a game of truth or dare. Or coat the questions with a fun color of paint like the 36 questions claimed to be able to make people fall in love! [1]. Some of them are: “When did you last cry in front of somebody?” or “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” or even “What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?”…

        Bear in mind that this method might not make us make friends more easily. Instead it might be even more difficult. The idea is not to make “more” friends, rather the “right” friends. You need to set your standards high so that you are able to be with the people that understand you, complement you and ultimately make you a happier person in a happier place. For when it comes to friendships, it’s not the quantity you should be concerned with, but the quality.

        As Thomas Fuller said, “If you have one true friend, you have more than your share…”

        Reference

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on October 30, 2019

        How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

        How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

        Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

        In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

        Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

        You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

        What is the Stages of Change Model?

        Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

        Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

        Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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          The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

          The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

          The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

          The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

          1. Precontemplation
          2. Contemplation
          3. Determination
          4. Action
          5. Maintenance
          6. Termination

          How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

          To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

            Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

            Stage 1: Precontemplation

            At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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            For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

            Stage 2: Contemplation

            At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

            You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

            The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

            Stage 3: Preparation

            At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

            Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

            Stage 4: Action

            When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

            Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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            Stage 5: Maintenance

            After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

            Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

            Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

            Stage 6: Termination

            Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

            However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

            How long does each stage take?

            You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

            So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

            The limitations of this model

            The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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            Require the ability to set a realistic goal

            For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

            If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

            Difficult to judge your progress

            The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

            Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

            Conclusion

            The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

            While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

            Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
            [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
            [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
            [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
            [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
            [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
            [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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