Aging and Friendship

“Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen.”  —  Charles Caleb Colton, a popular nineteenth century English cleric

old senile friendsIt is obvious to me, my previous post about moving and making friends past midlife hit some sort of nerve with my readers. I so enjoyed the personal comments made by over 20+ readers! Some have studied this phenomenon throughout their lives and concluded it may have to do with different parts of the country and different sizes of town and cities.

So I decided to do a little research into this subject. I wanted to understand why two of my closest friends for decades dropped me suddenly soon after I turned 50, and why only one friend from my previous life in the Fort Collins area (for 20 years!), still keeps in close contact now.

The most insightful article I found was: “Aging and 3 Kinds of Friendship” by Brent Green. Mr. Green tells us that there are three kinds of friendships we may experience as we proceed through life, convenience, cosmetic and interdependent. A different article defined these loosely as takers, givers, and power sharers.

We all have had convenience friends, ones you hang out with because you share a work place, or kids in the same grades, or the same workout gym. These relationships can be very unequal with one person “helping” the other a lot. They can be draining!

Cosmetic friendships can also be draining because the person who supposedly likes you, wants something for it. Like work friends who think your relationship may help their career, these “friends” can vaporize quite quickly when you have nothing more to give to them.

The best kind of friends are those who are interdependent on each other. They don’t lean heavily, but they are there for you and accept you exactly the way you are. To quote Mr. Green:

“Both parties contribute and receive. Both are available to share the joys of closeness and help shoulder the burdens that come with aging. They give and take. They are committed to mutual growth and positive adaptation along the uncharted journey through life…They include the extraordinary friends we can count on when we become distraught or disillusioned. They are people who lift our spirits and in return welcome our nurturing care during their tough times.”

If you have any friends like these, count yourself very lucky!