Finding true friends can be difficult. And as you hit your 2os, it becomes increasingly and indisputably obvious that when it comes to friendship, it’s quality over quantity.
I’m lucky enough to have two really close friends. But, it recently came to my attention one of those friendships isn’t so conventional.
I have my oldest best friend and my older best friend. The first I have known since primary school. Over the years, from fights and illness to triumphs and happiness, our friendship has endured it all. We've been in different states, and we've had completely different life paths.
We're both addicted to good coffee and enjoy tanning on the beach. Things are never awkward; we can talk about anything and everything, and even when we haven't spoken in ages, we just pick up right where we left off.
My other closest friendship is a intergenerational friendship. Also called an age-gap friendship, an intergenerational friendship is when your friend is either significantly older or younger than yourself.
We tend to stick to our own age group when socializing, mingling and meeting new people, so it’s surprising for people when they find out my closest friend is almost 25 years older than me. It even gets a few raised eyebrows.
Despite the gap, we have so much in common, and we always have a lot of fun. We have the same sense of humor.
I can talk to her about anything, and our talks range from discussions on our bodily habits to deep and philosophical musings, like whether the pursuit of perfection is a learned or innate behavior. We both are givers and people pleasers.
We are similar in our outlooks and views. There are just a few decades between us.
A generation-gap friendship has been said to be one of the most essential friendships in a person's life. And there are a few benefits to having a friend who is older and wiser than you.
1. She offers a course in class.
In our younger years, we are often frugal with money more out of necessity than choice. Gen-Y lifestyle can mean “treating yourself” comes in the form of a $10 bottle of wine paired with microwave noodles.
Having an older friend teaches you there are some things you shouldn’t be a tight ass about. She will introduce you to the importance of quality wine, food and fashion. And you’ll be grateful for it.
She help you to look better on the outside and the inside. Just by being around her, her self-confidence and sophistication will unconsciously rub off on you.
A high-quality woman is a woman of value. She is a woman who knows her worth, and she won’t settle for anything less. Being around a confident, fearless, female friend is empowering.
2. She’s wise beyond your years.
The older you are, the more you’ve seen and done. Chances are any hard situations you find yourself in, she’s either been through herself or knows how to deal with them. Her advice (should be) sound advice because she has the real-life experience to draw on.
Learn from her mistakes. Warning: Although wise, she will still be just as bad an influence in casual cocktail consumption and shopping trips.
3. Different generations equals different perspectives.
As you get older, you begin to care less and less about what others think. And while your younger friends may feel obliged to tell you what you want to hear, an older friend won’t sugarcoat the truth.
Not only will she point out your problems, but she will help you fix them, too. Older friends provide a perspective or outlook you might not have considered.
Anna Kudak, coauthor of "What Happy Women Do," 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."
Sick of talking about Tinder, hookups and last week's party? Different perspectives on issues is a great recipe for intelligent conversation, and it can help you to really broaden your own thoughts and ideas about the world.
4. She can handle the “ugly.”
Life isn’t all roses. To put it bluntly, sh*t gets hard, and a lot of Gen-Yers just don't have the maturity or emotional stability to handle the intensity of life's more difficult issues. An older friend can.
She is also proof that even though it doesn't feel like it now, you will get through it and come out the other side.
5. Older doesn’t equal old.
Until I met my best friend, I didn’t realize the truth in "old age is a state mind."
My older best friend is strong, hilarious, smart, fun and generally pretty kick-ass. But, she can also be a complete mess, just like me.
She serves as a much-needed reality check that certain hardships and annoyances follow us through our entire lives. The troubles you think would pass with time (like anxiety, cliché high-school-type drama and childlike males) will be things you have to deal with well into your later years.
The perfect life we strive for or believe will come with time doesn’t actually exist. Be prepared to spend your entire life trying to get your "sh*t together." Sooner or later, you’ll stop caring, and you’ll just enjoy the ride.
6. She doesn’t judge.
This is because she's been through the exact same thing a few years earlier.
As you develop as a person, it’s expected your priorities will change, too. Your older friend won’t think you're “boring” or “lame” for preferring to stay in and have one glass of wine, rather than go out on the weekend and get completely hammered.
Relationship Coach Keren Smedley says,
"If all your friends are the same age as you, there are going to be times when you’re out of sync with them — perhaps they’re having babies, while you’re still single. Or maybe they’re all retired while you’re happily running your own business. "Befriending someone because of their interests rather than their age means your social network will include people at different life stages, so you’ll never feel left out or pressured into decisions you’re not ready for."
In an intergenerational friendship, there’s no judgment nor petty jealousy, either.
At the end of the day, age is just a number. It’s about who you are as a person, not what year you were born. As the saying goes, you’re only as young as you feel.
An interrogational friendship doesn’t just benefit the younger of the pair. Like all friendships, it’s give and take.
As Smedley concludes,
"The realism of the older friend combined with the vitality of the younger one is a fantastic mix."