— Relationships —

The Friendship Test

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Recently, The Royal Society Open Science published a study that shows the number of friends we have peaks at age 25 and then starts to decline until it levels out around age 45.

I’m glad to learn I’m not alone in this.

When I was younger, I was happy to pal around with people who shared my interests. I like dogs! I like that author! I love Radiohead too! As I’ve aged and my time has become more scarce, I’ve become much more discerning when it comes to choosing those with whom I spend my days.

Now, I am much more interested in people’s stories, values, and the size of their hearts, than their tastes in bands or food. I’ve forged some friendships based on shared interests, but only because those interests provided a window to their souls. For example, there is a small group of us who are connected through our mutual love of French antiques, grand hotels, and circa 2006 J. Crew. While we were drawn together at first by surface commonalities, we quickly discovered that we are all old souls who crave a return to elegance. We realized that many of us deliberately surround ourselves with beauty to offset some of the hardships we’ve survived, and that–more than our interests–is the basis for our friendship.

As I’ve aged, I realize that I like my own company, have a busy family life, and would much rather read a good book than spend time with people who drain my energy. I no longer have time for fair-weather friends, drama queens, or grief-glommers.

I see friends as the people with whom I choose to share my life. A smaller circle allows me to invest time and emotional energy in cultivating deeper friendships with the people I love.

I’m forever meeting interesting people and, with potential new friends, I take a catch and release approach. I’m quick to suggest coffee and then see where things flow from there. My litmus test for friendship is to ask myself if a potential friend makes me feel better or worse. Friends should make you feel safe and secure and loved. I no longer spend time on people who won’t support me in the bad times and cheer me on in the good. Life is too short.

These days, particularly with social media, there is pressure to have a posse; to have a wide group of people who will like what you do. But an entourage won’t necessarily catch you when you fall. Football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has this marvelous quote: “At the end of the day, you only need six people to carry your coffin.” Food for thought, that.

It’s not the number of friendships we have, but the nature of those friendships that matters. I’ll happily sacrifice likes on Instagram for a few kindred spirits who really have my back.




  • 1010 Park Place June 15, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Yesterday I read that if we have five or six people who remember us after we die, we’re blessed. That certainly puts our egos in their place, doesn’t it? BTW, I’ve always loved grand hotels and French antiques… you would have loved going to the flea markets in Paris with me. Please explain 2006 J Crew… xoxox, Brenda

    • Jen Lawrence June 15, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Ego firmly in place!

      Paris would have been fantastic. Yet another thing we have in common. I think we could get into some excellent trouble together.

      By way of explanation, J. Crew’s halcyon days were in the early to mid 2000s when Mickey Drexler was first at the helm and letting Jenna Lyons do what she does best. The pencil skirts with embellished sweaters! The chambray shirts paired with lace! And the catalogues shot in Prague and Scotland. Oh, the beauty of it all. They’ve lost their way, of late, but this season they seem to be getting it back. We live in hope!

  • Leanne@crestingthehill June 15, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I absolutely loved this because it is everything I’ve discovered about friendships since hitting midlife. When I was younger I had lots of friends from school days and from being a mum. Most of those have dwindled away, but the friends I have now are friends of my heart and I value every one of them immensely.

    • Jen Lawrence June 16, 2016 at 8:22 am

      I’m glad it spoke to you. It’s funny how so many things change as we age, isn’t it. xo

  • Elaine @ OMG Lifestyle Blog June 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Loved this Jen. Another wrinkle in friendships in midlife is when dear friends start to retire and move away. Many of my friends are ten years older than me and at retirement age. We have to adjust and make an effort to see each other. We have too much history together and after 30+ years of friendship, are more like family than friends.

    • Jen Lawrence June 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you, Elaine. Long friendships like that are worth investing in, aren’t they. Hopefully they are moving places that are lovely to visit! xo

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