Why building relationships is so much more important in your 20s than in your 30s

Being socially connected can have a huge impact on your overall well-being, but when is the most important time to develop these relationships?

A new study by the University of Rochester, published in Psychology and Aging, has revealed the quantity of social interactions during your 20s can be a good indicator of your future health, well-being and longevity.

The study shows individuals who reported a high quantity of social interactions during their 20s were more socially integrated in their midlife as well and developed better psychological outcomes, such as less loneliness and depression.

Frequent social interactions were seen as likely to help individuals accumulate social knowledge and critical skills to be be drawn on later in life, researchers said.

“It’s often around this age that we meet people from diverse backgrounds, with opinions and values that are different from our own, and we learn how to best manage those differences,” said Cheryl Carmichael, assistant professor of psychology at the City University of New York.

This is in contrast to your 30s, where the quality of social relationships and engagement appears to have the greatest impact in life.

As individuals approach their 30s, social information seeking motives wane and many favour emotional closeness with relationships partners more than knowledge acquisition.

The results suggest that engagement in meaningful, “intimate” and “satisfying” relationships at age 30 is associated with better social and emotional adjustment in yours 50s, but a balance must be “struck between optimising opportunities for enhancing and maintaining emotional closeness with a select few close others, while maintaining some diversity in a decidedly smaller social network”.

The study further points out that having a large quantity of social contact appears to become less useful in your 30s and could even interfere with developing intimacy and high quality experiences with others.

“Considering everything else that goes on in life over those 30 years— marriage, raising a family, and building a career — it is extraordinary that there appears to be a relationship between the kinds of interactions college students and young adults have and their emotional health later in life,” said Carmichael.

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