Want to Avoid a Mid-Life Crisis? Get Friends

The midlife wellbeing of both men and women depends on having a wide circle of friends to regularly socialize and hang out with, a new study finds


“Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates, and guys are just people to have fun with,” Carrie Bradshaw wonders on Sex and the City. New research shows she might be onto something. Regardless of work or marriage, the midlife wellbeing of both men and women depends on having a wide circle of friends to regularly socialize with, the study finds.

The study authors surveyed 6,500 Brits born in 1958 when they were 42, 45 and 50 years old. When they first entered the study, the participants self-reported on their psychological wellbeing, whether they were married, the age they left school and whether they currently held a job. Most people said they were pretty content with their life and happily married. When they turned 45, the researchers asked the same people how many times per month they met up with friends or family. Around 40 percent of men and 33 percent of women said they had six or more friends they met up with regularly. Sadly, about 10 percent said they had no friends.

When the researchers assessed their subjects’ psychological wellbeing and friendship statuses again at the age of 50, the results showed a significant association between the number of friends and psychological wellbeing, especially for women. These findings held up regardless of whether a person was married, had a job or had mental health issues in the past.  Men, however, were the only ones positively influenced by having more connections with family members.

According to the researcher’s wellbeing scale, those sad male souls lacking both friends and family bonds turned out to have lower psychological well being compared to their popular peers. For women with no friends, the impact was even stronger. Severing ties with relatives seemed to have no emotional impact on the ladies, however.


More from Smithsonian.com:

Should We Live to Work or Work to Live? 

Stop Complaining About Monday, You’ll Be Just As Depressed Tomorrow 


Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.