Age-Gap Buddies: The Many Benefits of Having Friends Who Are a Different Age to You
Most people tend to have friends close to their own age. This may be because they’ve been friends since childhood or because they met when having children, and were naturally at a similar age and stage in their lives.
However, every so often, people choose to have friends that are either significantly older or younger than themselves; despite the fact that it is considered unusual. Can having age gap relationships bring any discernible benefits? Well, according to experts, yes it certainly can!
Age-Gap Friends: Supporting ‘Mental Well-Being’?
Having a friend that’s a dramatically different age to yourself can bring with it considerable advantages, or so Anna Kudak, co-author of What Happy People Do, claims. She says: ‘friendships with older and younger people help broaden your perspective, which in turn allows you to have compassion and empathy in your day-to-day life’. She adds that ‘it not only increases the friend pool, but it also expands and supports mental well-being’.
Being friends with someone of a different age can bring with it fresh attitudes, opinion and insight. It can serve to galvanise and inspire you, and chances are that you’ll be able to learn something from them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be same-sex friendships either. Bette Midler and the rapper 50 Cent are famously good friends; despite the fact that she is 30 years older than him.
What Are the Benefits?
Here’s just some of the benefits of having age gap relationships
- Increased confidence. Older people in particular often enjoy greater self-confidence than their younger counterparts, which can prove to be empowering for a younger friend. As Mark Vernon, author of The Meaning of Friendship comments: ‘Older people not only have the benefit of experience, they’re also less afraid of the opinions of others.’
- Ditch the stereotypes. If you’re friends with people from a different generation, you’re far less likely to buy into the stereotypes commonly associated with age. Friendship can help to confront these preconceived notions head-on and challenge any stereotyped views; providing a broader, more informed perspective.
- Shared interests, not shared ages. Many people find that they meet their age-gap friends when taking part in a class or hobby, such as creative writing or art. Friendships that are based on mutual interests rather than age often stand the test of time, as you’ll always have plenty in common.
- Fresh perspectives. Sometimes, older or younger people will see a situation very differently to you, and may be able to offer helpful advice or guidance as a result. They may be able to suggest alternative solutions that you hadn’t considered, as a result of their experience or knowledge in the area.
Celebrate the Age Difference
Having a friend who is a different age to yourself can be an empowering experience, which benefits both of you because of the age gap, not in spite of it. If you’ve got a chum who is much older or much younger than yourself, enjoy the relationship; as it brings with it many rewards.