Is it Normal to Lose Friends as You Get Older?

Carol Landau, Ph.D., healthy living expert at, answers your questions about managing your 20s and 30s without getting depressed

Most research focuses on the positive aspects of friendships -- how we value them and how they can help with everything from sticking to our exercise plans to coping with illness. Less has been written about losing friends, but we know that it hurts to lose a friend at any age.

Often, friendships change or disappear as we take different paths and our circumstances change. You are lucky to have friends left from the “friends forever” stage of adolescence. As we age, however, we become more selective about our friends, according to Stanford University psychologist Laura Carstensen.

According to her socioemotional selectivity theory, we gather many friends during adolescence because we see the world as open and are future-oriented. As we get older and our sense of time changes, we naturally invest more time in fewer people. Of course, sometimes friendships end because they aren’t being honored: A friend is being insensitive, inconsistent or not listening.

Changing friendships is one of the challenges women face in the decade after college along with moving to a new place, looking for work and meeting new people. When these life changes don’t go smoothly they can lead to depression. Learn more about the pitfalls and read this survival guide. To ask questions or get and lend support, visit our Depression Support message board.

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