Many people have hundreds of friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, true friends for life are much rarer.
And they get rarer and rarer with age. According to a UK study, young adults have an average of 7.6 close friends, while older people over 55 have only – or at least – 4.8 friends. How come and what can you do to make a friendship last a lifetime?
Psychologist Ulrike Scheuermann (54): “The older we get, the less time we have. We have to take care of the children, otherwise the work becomes more demanding and time-consuming. In friendships there is a principle of reciprocity. In other words, it is a matter of give and take. In the family, on the other hand, this principle does not exist. As time becomes more scarce, our contacts shift more and more towards family. In conflict, friendly relations fall apart more quickly than family relations.”
The trick: “Anyone who wants to maintain a friendship into old age should live it like a family member,” the author advises (“Friends make you healthy”).
What is your longest friendship?
The cement for a long friendship is trust. Even if, for example, you don’t like your friend’s new life partner. Scheuermann: “A good friend is someone with whom I can stand at the door in the evening if necessary.”
Also important: continuity and reliability. “You have to actively cultivate friendships and take time for friends. We must take an interest in each other’s pleasures and problems – take part in life!
And don’t just cancel appointments.
“Men in particular lose their colleagues after they retire,” says Wolfgang Krüger (74), a psychotherapist from Berlin. “And in everyday friendships we are like social through stations. Every second fails within seven years. Socially active people tolerate this and can fill their friendship gaps over and over again.”
According to the author (“Starting, improving, shaping friendships”), it is also important to have an attitude to life in middle age, late 40s, to remain curious and lively.
Anyone who manages to maintain friendships and make new ones from time to time will be richly rewarded in old age.
Scheuermann: “When we stop working, friends protect us from loneliness. They keep us fit, mentally and physically. Before no smoking, healthy eating and exercise, friends are the most important health factor for a long life.”
That means: if you want to stay healthy, you have to take care of your friends.
“The wood hobby has made us brothers”
Event manager André Schwabe (42, left) from Lützen (Saxony-Anhalt) and warehouse manager Martin Hönicke (35) from Grethen (Saxony) met four years ago via social media.
What connects them: the fascination for craftsmanship and joint afterwork DIY projects such as building a kitchen.
André: “We are really creative chaotic people, kind of soul mates – and real wooden brothers at heart.”
“It’s a nice feeling to have something like this permanent”
Laboratory technician Dominique Schäfer (34, left) and office worker Ronja Gläs (33) from Völklingen (Saarland) got to know each other in kindergarten when they were only one year old.
Dominique: “We were in the same class in primary and secondary school. When Ronja did her internship and I went to school, we had less contact for a while, but we remained best friends.”
Ronja: “To make our friendship last, we don’t weigh anything too heavily and we respect each other’s opinion. Most important:
We are always there for each other, no matter the time. Since we got the dogs, we see each other every day on nice walks.”
“Our friendship lasts longer than the wall”
Hubert Meeßen (77, left) and Ulrich Franke (75) met in 1990 – through a collaboration between the twin cities of Stolberg (Saxony-Anhalt), where Franke was administrative director, and Stolberg (NRW), where Meeßen was head office manager.
They became good friends.
Meeßen: “We make regular telephone calls. He has given me many new perspectives. It’s like I got a new brother in the middle of my life.”
This article is from BILD am SONNTAG. The ePaper of the entire issue is available here.