Adam Chapman

Spinning Mates

Roll up, roll up! It’s the most magnificent trick you’ll see this side of the Mississippi. Watch a man try to achieve the ultimate form of balance, defying gravity and time management to keep everyone satisfied. 

That’s honestly the feeling a lot of people have trying to balance the commitments of modern day life. 

How often have you found yourself guilty to uttering the phrase “It’s been too long” or “Gosh I haven’t seen you in ages”. I find myself doing it all the bloody time. 

As someone who’s not a fan of his own company, I often seek out social opportunities but even I struggle with making enough time for everyone in my life. 

This could be due to a lack of money, a prior commitment or because my Southerness makes me more susceptible to the cold that I’m not constantly out doing activities with mates during my free time. 

But I came across some studies recently that had me thinking. 

The short of the findings are this. The older you get the less friends you have. At first I thought, well yeah, odds permitting, unfortunately some of them may die off, but upon reading further the findings became even more horrifying…I’m obviously kidding.  

According to these studies, the average person, male, female or whatever you may identify as, continues to make more and more friends until the age of 25, then ON AVERAGE (remember that this study doesn’t apply to the extremes) there is a sharp and dramatic drop off of the number of friends you make and continue to hold onto. 

As a 26 and a half year old man, this came as concerning news. Are my friends just going to up and leave without a moments notice or does everyone just get a bit more grumpy in their older age to the point they really can’t be bothered with people anymore?

According to the study, as younger members of the human race, we experiment a lot more with people trying to discover who we find preferable before settling down with a number of close mates. In effect the quantity/quality scales flip the older we get.  

Ultimately, however, this comes down to how you identify someone as a friend. Does someone have to be your closest buddy to be defined as a friend or could they just be someone you wouldn’t feel awkward grabbing a pint with. 

Facebook would define a friend as anyone you bumped into throughout your life. I’m pretty certain there’s about 300+ people on my Facebook friends list I probably wouldn’t define as a ‘friend’ in the conventional sense. 

So is someone only a friend if you speak to them daily? If that’s the case then I’m screwed. I know there has been some days that I haven’t even spoken to my flatmate. 

So what about someone you know you can speak to at any moment if needs be? Drop a text here or a social media message there. 

As someone who, like many, has moved around a lot in their life due to university, work or family, a lot of the people I consider friends that I have made over the years now live over 200 miles away on the other side of the country, if not the other side of the world.

It’s a hard thing to describe how you know someone is a friend and it’s something that I don’t feel can be scientifically proven. It’s an unconscious bond that doesn’t have a checklist of criteria to tick off.

There are some people I shall be seeing over the festive period who I haven’t seen in about a year but I know that the moment we start talking it’ll be like nothing has changed. I still consider these people as friends of mine as I’m happy to see them, even if it’s a rarity nowadays. 

There was one moment that solidified this way of thinking for me though and that was upon receiving my Father’s Christmas card. I know that yearly my dad will send out a Christmas card/letter and receive many back that update all the people in his life about the major changes of the past year. 

When I was younger I used to think this was a waste of time, why would people care about what’s going on in the life of someone they hadn’t seen in years?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve seen the value in this. Being able to continue that bond even as life chucks obstacles in the way is something quite commendable.

Knowing that people have made an impact on your life and visa versa. That years after memorable nights discussing where you’ll all be in the future you’re still interested in how the other is getting on.

That’s what friendship is in my eyes.