The Benefits of Having Older Friends

Credit: “The Intern”

I have always enjoyed spending time with friends that were significantly older than myself.  I grew up as an only child in a house full of adults.  My parents, grandparents, and other family members all lived under one roof, and I was typically the youngest by three decades.  As a result, I spent a lot of time learning from, imitating and relating to others that were significantly older than myself.  Twenty years later, I’m so grateful for this experience because it has helped me to find great friends in my personal and professional life.  Here are some reasons why you should look for friends across all generations:

They give great advice: When you’re younger and still growing into yourself, it’s so easy to think that everything you feel is unique and uncharted territory, but chances are that other people have lived through these experiences as well.  It’s always good to work through these issues with friends who have varying perspectives, and having individuals around you to validate your feelings or commiserate can be quite helpful.  

They are secure in who they are: Or I should say ‘more secure’ in who they are.  I think insecurities are a universal truth for individuals of any age.  It’s just a byproduct of having the most sophisticated brain of any living organism, but I think you try to work through these as you get older and let some of them go to a certain degree.  At the very least they can relate to your insecurities because they have been there and done that.

They are supportive: There is something about an age gap that allows you to support each other on a whole other level.  It seems to take away the competitiveness and jealousy that can creep in with friends of similar ages, and it leaves behind an air of pure support.  I typically feel genuinely supported by these friends in a way that I have never experienced with my peers.  I even have one sweet friend that sends me words of encouragement every Friday morning.  (How lucky am I?)

They are responsible: In the days of ghosting, sometimes it can feel like getting friends to meet up is a full time job.  However, I have never had this problem with my older friends.  It may be harder to get onto their calendars between family obligations, but when you do, they will always show up or at least call to cancel well in advance.  It seems like a common courtesy, but it’s one that’s much appreciated and makes me feel as if my time is valued.

They are patient: I find this trait specifically amongst women that are mothers.  They tend to be much more patient and understanding.  I think years of dealing with temper tantrums and moody teenagers have helped them develop a tough skin and a patience beyond all normal human abilities.  It definitely borders on a superhero ability; one that I am constantly thankful for since dealing with their younger friends can often prove challenging.

So to all of my great friends out there, let me thank you for your support, encouragement, patience, and sound advice.  I admire you for many reasons and love that you let me learn from you.  I promise to pay it forward someday.

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