The value of age-gap friendships


When it comes to making friends, we tend to gravitate to people of a similar age. In fact, in a 2018 Ipsos Global Advisor study, “less than half (45%) overall of those surveyed said they had friends who are at least 15 years older than them, and only a third stated that they had friends who are at least 15 years younger than them.” (Source: Ipsos Mori)

Interestingly, South Africa scored higher than the study’s average and second only to Brazil, with 56% of respondents saying they have a much older friend.

“Age is just a number, not a state of mind or a reason for any type of particular behaviour.” ― Cecelia Ahern

Intergenerational friendships can be as rewarding as any others – and in some ways, more so. Here are a few reasons to include older or younger people in your circle.

You can learn from each other. As the adage goes, with age comes wisdom – and as older adults have more life experience, they can share a different perspective and offer some ‘been there, done that’ advice. Younger adults tend to be more open to new opportunities – and can encourage you to be, too. Plus, they can share their enthusiasm and their perspective on an ever-changing world.

Age really is just a number. And it’s no reason to miss out on an incredible friendship with someone you connect with. After all, no matter what our age, we all have insights to share and unique contributions to make.

It’s good for you. Having strong social networks and relationships has a positive effect on mental and physical health and wellbeing – so don’t let age be a barrier and embrace opportunities to make new friends.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis

The bottom line? While we’re not suggesting you actively seek out an older or younger friend – relationships happen naturally, after all – it’s worth being open to a friendship with someone from a different generation to you. And who knows, your next friendship may be found at work, at your golf or running club, in a cooking class, at church, or in your book club.