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Last Updated on August 2, 2017

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

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        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Published on July 13, 2018

        Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

        Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

        What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

        By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

        When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

        In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

        Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

        What is attachment theory?

        Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

        The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

        His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

        The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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        When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

        Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

        How attachment develops

        Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

        Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

        The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

        It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

        In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

        Different types of attachments

        In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

        • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
        • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
        • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
        • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

        What attachments mean to adults

        So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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        As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

        • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
        • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
        • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
        • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

        Here’s where it gets really interesting:

        Move towards secure attachment

        The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

        Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

        The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

        If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

        The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

        Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

        How to restructure your thoughts

        Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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        For the Avoidant Style

        As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

        Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

        Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

        Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

        Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

        If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

        Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

        And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

        For the Anxious Style

        For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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        First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

        Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

        For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

        The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

        Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

        When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

        For the Secure Style

        Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

        Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

        Strive towards Secure Attachment

        As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

        • Positive self esteem and self image
        • Close and well adjusted relationships
        • Sense of security in self and the world
        • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
        • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
        • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
        • Trust in self and others
        • Close, intimate relationships
        • Strong determination and problem solving skills

        If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

        It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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