*Hannah Montana voice* You’re a tru-u-u-ue friend; you’re here ’til my 25th birthday.

Do you ever feel less…popular than you used to be?

Like, when you were younger, you’re sure you saw friends at least a few times a week. But, now that public health measures related to COVID-19 are gradually being lifted and you actually can see friends again, it feels like you have no one to reach out to.

It’s not just you – people actually lose friends as they get older.

A 2016 study by Aalto University and the University of Oxford found social circles shrink significantly after age 25; people stop making new friends and start becoming distanced from the ones they have. Specifically, the study showed around age 25, the average person contacts between 17.5 and 19 people per month. By age 39, that number dwindles to between 12 and 15.

A person waits by the phone for their friends to call.

So, why don’t we make friends as adults? IGNITE has a few ideas:

1. Your life changes as you get older

You go to college or university; you get your first “grown up” job; maybe you move away from where you grew up. Suddenly, you have far less chances to spend time with your friends. And, when there is a chance, you’re tired. You have chores to take care of. You have to be up early the next morning.

“Once you engage in your career, the demands on your time have increased and your time for socializing has decreased,” said Vera Eck, an Imago relationship therapist based out of Los Angeles, in a 2018 interview with digital media platform Refinery29.

Issa Rae says, "I'm kinda busy right now."

In other words, your priorities change as you grow up. As a result, it’s no wonder certain connections begin to taper off.

Which connections, exactly? Funny you should ask:

2. You cut ties with the friends who aren’t worth it

“People become more focused on certain relationships and maintain those relationships,” researcher Kunal Bhattacharya, who co-authored the Aalto University and University of Oxford study, told CNN.

Glasses branded with the words "best friends" clink together.

As you grow up, friendships are more about quality than quantity. You develop a greater sense of who you are and what you value in life and prioritize relationships aligned with those things. Other relationships may start to fall off – but that might be for the best.

3. You value other relationships more

With age comes the development of varied kinds of connections. Your inner circle doesn’t only consist of friends anymore – you’re dating, building professional networks and maybe even becoming a parent. And, according to Robin Dunbar, another co-author of the Aalto University and University of Oxford study,

“Our natural psychology is small, very small, like a village.”

Belle from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" in her village.

So, as you build these other connections, you literally have less room in your brain for friendships. It’s not so much that you’re losing friends, it’s that you’re gaining other relationships.

4. You encounter less opportunities to make new friends

In essence, this is the culmination of the other reasons we lose friends as adults: you’re realizing who you are and what you value. You cherish authentic over casual connections. And you’re developing new, non-friend relationships.

All this means you’re busy; you have less time and opportunity to meet new friends.

So what do you do if you really want to?

Lilo and Stitch say "please."

IGNITE clubs are set out specifically to connect you with like-minded peers at Humber College and UofGH.

Clubs directly counter the challenges of making friends as an adult. Your club can meet as often as you like – leaving plenty of time for adult life’s other responsibilities. Clubs create spaces for you to connect over shared interests – so the bonds you build are genuine and lasting. Plus, they open up regular opportunities for you to form new friendships amid the hustle and bustle.

And, they work this way because you develop them.

If you want a way to make new friends and invest in your passions all at the same time, get in touch with one of IGNITE’s nearly two dozen student clubs. Don’t see a club you’re interested in? Start your own! Club applications for the Fall 2021 semester are now open and you can get yours up and running with a few simple steps:

  1. Read the Clubs Policy and Clubs Handbook.
  2. Complete the Clubs Application Form.
  3. Wait for IGNITE’s Clubs Co-ordinator to get in touch with you via email.
  4. Complete executive clubs training.
  5. Find forever friends.
Spongebob and Patrick bouncing.

Here’s a one-sentence summary of this article:

If you’re bummed about making fewer friends as an adult, join the club, buddy.

Get familiar with these silent signs your should check on your friends to keep your clique healthy and safe.

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