Health

Here's the Age Where You Start to Lose Your Friends

April 11th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

For years, television shows like "Friends" and "How I Met Your Mother" showed us groups of 20-somethings and 30-somethings that maintained tight-knit friendships no matter what.

Alas, as is the case with sitcoms, a recent study suggests this notion is false — that really, at age 25, you're as popular as you're ever going to be.

The study — conducted by researchers from the Aalto University School of Science and Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford and published by Royal Society Open Science — shows a link between peak phone usage and twenty-five year olds.

But there a few things to keep in mind. First, this is based on analyzing data culled from 3.2 million users in an unidentified European country, not the United States. Second, this study counted phone calls only — SMS/text messaging was not included. Third, the study took place in 2007. Since 2007, methods of communication have drastically changed in some ways.

Snapchat screen on iPhone

As for the results, it isn't surprising to learn that the younger you are, the more contacts you have and communicate with on a regular basis. The study actually refers to 20-somethings as "socially promiscuous," meaning young people have a wider net of friends that they frequently call. But after just age 25, this number drops dramatically, stays low until 45, stabilizes for a bit, then drops even lower at age 55.

But that doesn't mean you'll be totally friendless at age 55.

"As [20-somethings] age, they focus more and more of their effort, or social capital, on a smaller subset of meaningful relationships," the study reports. They also note that even when you're at your popularity peak, your number of contacts is "quite modest" (according to their definition of modest) with a phone-based interaction of 15 people per month.

The study also shows that men under the age of 40 appear to have more contacts than women, but that as women age, this statistic reverses, suggesting that women are more selective about which friendships they put their energy towards.

"Females seemed to be generally more focused in their social arrangements than males, targeting more of their social effort onto fewer alters [contacts]," researches explain. "Women appear to have a small number of extremely close same-sex friendships, whereas males do not (they typically have a larger number of more casual same-sex friendships)."

"Our main finding, however," the study stresses, "is the fact that the maximum number of connections for both males and females occurs at the age of around 25."