Advertising
Advertising

Friends Don’t Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

Friends Don’t Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

When you were young, the friends you made tend to be defined by common experience, for example living in the same neighborhood, going to the same school, having parents who are friends, riding the same bus, or participating in the same sports or extracurricular activities.

        As you grow older, though, these elements change. You and your friends may move to different towns, have different works, come across different challenges in life, and may even lead a different lifestyle. Some may already get married and have their own children; some maybe traveling around all the times; some may always be busy making money.

        Advertising

            This is when you realize your friendship with these friends has changed.

            Research has shown that three main factors of developing adult friendships are proximity, repeated/unplanned interaction, and settings that encourage conversation.[1] If you’re constantly moving and working, though, these friendships can be harder to sustain.

            A Shared Life Is Not Enough to Maintain A Lifelong Friendship

              Too often, people focus on having a shared life with others. It’s actually less important for friends to physically be in the same life space. Friends need similar core values, which refers to subjective perspectives and beliefs on topics. You can align core values with someone who lives down the street or someone that lives 2,000 miles away.

              Advertising

              Think about it like this: if you know someone who lives down the street (proximity), and you see them a lot at events (repeated/unplanned interactions), and it’s often in settings like bars and parties that encourage conversation, theoretically you should become friends with this person, right? Not necessarily.

              If you and that person’s core values are completely misaligned, communication will be nearly impossible. Both of you may try to constantly prove the other person wrong and conflicts will be common.

              Core values for humans are not easily changed, without an alignment there, it’s very hard for two people to become — and remain — friends.

              Only the Values We Hold Can Build True Bondings

                Humans are social animals. This is the core of the human experience. Humans came to dominate the world because we were the only species that could collaborate well, and form bonds, in large numbers.[2] We don’t seek just physical company; we seek mental company and an exchange of ideas and values.

                Advertising

                Sharing your core values with another, and attempting to understand theirs is akin to sharing a piece of mind. This exchange of value and idea is crucial to satisfying basic human need. You can have a friend who you consistently have fun with, but if this core value exchange isn’t there, the friendship will erode when the environment changes. If you have a friend who’s fun and you’ve exchanged life values with, that friendship will remain despite the change of the environment.

                Not every core value needs to overlap, it’s nearly impossible across any two people. For example, one friend can value punctuality and the other friend can constantly be late. This will make hanging out and communicating harder. But if the friend valuing punctuality is also flexible and adapts to different situations, now the timing is less relevant.

                It doesn’t have to be a perfect alignment of core values between two people. But there needs to be some, and it needs to be shared.

                Find out the Values of A Potential Friend

                To find out whether you have shared values with another person, talk openly about your values. Of course, don’t say “What are your core values? My core values are.. blah blah blah…” This will sound awkward and the other person may feel uncomfortable about the question.

                What you can do is asking “why” in conversations. “Why” leads to deeper answers and discussions then “how” — which primarily goes to process, and  “what” — which are only the basic facts. “Why” is the pathway to the thoughts and values of a potential new friend for life.

                Advertising

                You don’t have to dig into the very deep philosophical questions at the beginning, start with something light like “what’s your hobby and why do you like doing it?” or “what’s your favorite place and why?” will be enough to get you to understand a person.

                To help you have a better idea of what kind of things you can talk about, I’ve got you a list of questions to try with a potential friend:

                1. Why did you decide to move here?
                2. What’s your favorite podcast/book and why?
                3. Who’s your favorite author/artist and why?
                4. What’s your favorite movie/music and why?
                5. What do you do and why do you do what you do?
                6. Who’s your biggest inspiration, and why?
                7. What do you think about when you’re alone?
                8. Are you closer with your mom, dad, or neither? Why?
                9. What makes you happy and why?
                10. What upsets you and why?
                11. What do you like to do during weekend? Why?
                12. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever seen, and why would you say it is?
                13. What motivates you the most, and why?
                14. Are you religious, and why?
                15. Who’s your best friend and why are you guys so close?
                16. What’s the main thing you’d like to change about yourself and why?
                17. Are you proud of some accomplishments so far? If so, why?
                18. Is there anything you’re afraid of and why?
                19. Do you like traveling and why?
                20. What’s your idea of a perfect vacation and why?
                21. Do you want to get a tattoo? Why?
                22. What are most important to you and why?
                23. If money were no object, what would you do all day and why?
                24. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do?

                Save this article and take this list out when you’re trying to make a new friend. Understanding the core values of another person is the first step to a strong and lasting friendship.

                Featured photo credit: Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] The New York Times: Friends of a Certain Age
                [2] Ted Idea: Why humans run the world

                More by this author

                Anna Chui

                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

                26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

                Trending in Psychology

                1 How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 3 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 4 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 5 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising
                Advertising

                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:

                Advertising

                  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.

                    Advertising

                    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.

                    Advertising

                    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.

                    Advertising

                    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

                    Read Next