The Shrinking Guest List
5 Reasons you are losing friends as you get older and why it isn't a bad thing
How many of you have played the hypothetical wedding guest list game? Maybe you’ve not gone as far as writing it down but I am sure we have all pondered over who our bridesmaids would be and who from school would actually make the list. Or maybe some of you are much further along than me and have made your real wedding guest list. Having to write down on paper everyone in your life is a difficult game and it throws up a lot of questions.
The colleagues you spend all day every day with - are they friends or just acquaintances? Your childhood best friend whom you haven't spoken to in years but you can’t imagine her not being at your wedding. Or your entire friendship group from school who at one point were your BFF’s but you are now only in contact with 2 of them.
If you ponder on it too long you start to realise that your 16 year old self was so much more popular than your adult self. But the reassuring truth is the people that stuck around in your life or the friends you have made as an adult are the true gems. There may be less of them but your adult friendships are so much more meaningful and true than the futile friendships of your youth and here’s why:
It’s completely normal to change personalities as much as we change hairstyles when we are young. One minute we are obsessed with S Club 7 and the next week they are totally not cool anymore and we now fangirl over Westlife. Our friendships change as much as our likes and dislikes. And when we are young our bonds don't go much deeper than liking the same things. ‘We both like cats, cool lets hangout’ or ‘you watch Tracy Beaker too! We are officially best friends.’ I'm exaggerating slightly and by no means am I discrediting childhood friendships. They helped shape who we are today and provided years of happy memories.
But that is also why friendships often changed when we were young, because we changed. In some cases our friends change with us and the friendships blossom into amazing adult friendships and in other cases we completely grow apart from teenage besties. You might even look back at your Uni self and realise how different you are now. It's okay to change and it's inevitable that you will lose people along the way.
Quality over quantity
As you get older friendships mean so much more to you than they used to and you realise than 5 close friends is so much better than 20 surface friends. Less is definitely more.
For my 18 birthday I had a house party. My house was swarmed with about 50 people all dressed in stupid costumes and making a complete mess. It was one of the greatest birthdays ever! Fast Forward 7 years to my 25th birthday, same house but this time there were 10 people. And there is no one else I would have wanted there. My ten favorite people sat around in our pajamas drinking wine and eating cake. It was perfect. Like the 50 drunken messes were perfect when I was 18. Neither party was better than the other but each served a place in my life at the time.
Now, not only do I not know 50 people to invite but I wouldn’t want my house filled with people I barely know. Now I want nothing more than to sit and gossip with my closest friends.
Your time is precious
Being an adult is hard. Even with the normal juggling of adult life it can sometimes feel like you don't have enough time to give to people. The little time I do have I want to spend with the people who make me laugh harder than anyone else, the people I can completely be myself around and the people who give me the best advice and often know me better than I know myself. There is nothing wrong with putting all your time and energy into your existing friends instead of trying to make new ones. The popularity contest is over.
You have less patience for insincerity
As you get older your ‘bullshit’ radar gets a lot stronger. You are much less likely to take crap from people now. You should get out of a friendship as much as you put in. I’m sure we’ve all had one of those friendships where you feel like you’re the only one making an effort or you’re being picked up and dropped as your ‘friend’ decides to use you for their own personal gain. Our tolerance for superficial friendships have significantly decreased. We value ourselves and our true friendships much more.
You friends are your family
It's not until I reached my early 20’s that I really started to develop a new found love for my friends. The ones that have stuck around since school or uni and even the ones I have made in the last few years. My friendships mean so much more to me than they used to and every year they deepen and grow. My friends are my soulmates, my sisters and I know that they’ll still love me even if I wake up tomorrow and decide I hate Taylor Swift. (which is VERY unlikely)
Remember, when it comes to friendships less is definitely more.