It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“According to research by the late Bernice Neugarten of the University of Chicago, who helped launch the academic study of human development, people choose most of their adult relationships, both friends and lovers, between the ages of 22 and 28. The friends we make in our 20s are not only BFFs; they’re also our first truly chosen friends, people we discover as a result of our adult decisions—where to live, work, or study—as opposed to our parents’ choices.” (“Just How Many Facebook Friends Do You Need?” ; Newsweek 10/15/2012)
This recent Newsweek article is chock full o’ stats for Research Wednesdays. This bit above is from the very beginning, and is one of the most fascinating nuggets of research I’ve read in a long time. Since OD’ing on friendship science back during my Year of Friending, it’s rare that I come upon a piece of research that is entirely new to me. Often it seems to be a rehashing of something we already know — that Facebook is changing relationships, or that friends are good for your health. But this is so specific about how and when we make new friends as an adult. Like I said… fascinating.
According to these researchers, we’ve only got a six-year window during which we become friends with the majority of our lifers. The span makes sense if you think about it—22 is when we graduate college, and 28 is just about when the average American gets married (as of 2011, the average age of marriage for an American women is 26.9, while the average age for an American man is 28.9). The idea, then, is that we create most of our bestfriendships during those “emerging adult” years when we’re on our own but still figuring things out.
It’s amazing, then, that I was 27 when I started my friend search. It’s as if my inner self knew the clock was ticking! (It’s hard for me to really believe that but the science does line up well.) And while of course this friending window isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s also crazy to me that my prime friend-making years might be behind me. Good thing I met so many good eggs when I did.
Like I said, research like this can’t be exact but it does make you think about age in regards to friendship. I’ve always expected that when I have kids, a whole new world of mom friends will open up to me. But this research says probably not. I guess only time will tell on that front.
What do you guys think? Is this 22-28 window surprising? Did you make most of your besties during those years? And if you’re in the 22-28 age range, do you see yourself choosing friends now in a way you never have?