Regardless of whether they have an age gap, “female friendships are vital and incredibly important,” according to a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, Terri Cole.
“When you have real friends, your burdens are lighter, and your joy is amplified. Having women who love and accept you as you are and simply want you to get what you want in life is incredibly empowering,” she says.
And having a close female friend from a different generation can often provide another layer of benefit, adds Terri, who has friends 20 years younger and older — from mentorship to not feeling competitive due to being at different life stages.
Experts define inter-generational relationships as one having 15-year age gap or more.
“The age really doesn’t matter that you’re really making a soul connection,” Terri says. “Sharing and making heart connections at any age releases dopamine and makes us feel good.”
What other benefits can women derive from inter-generational friendship? Read on!
“No matter how you slice it, there’s a mentorship aspect” to an inter-generational friendship, and that can benefit both parties, explains Terri.
“When you’re younger, a lot of things can feel like life or death,” she continues, pointing out that having an older friend may help you glean some wisdom as you move through whatever challenges you’re facing — such as a breakup, job loss or interpersonal conflict.
Having an older friend can help you deal with life’s transitions, she notes.
A new perspective
“The thing that you get with the difference in age is … a different type of perspective. Someone else can say something that can really open your mind in a different way that you’re not going to get with someone that doesn’t have age diversity,” experts say.
Friends the same age or who grew up together tend to have the same cultural references, which may leave less space in the relationship to share differing opinions, Terri Cole says.
Of her own peer cohort, “we have the same way that we look at the world, the same social norms because we were raised during the same time period,” she adds.
As a result, inter-generational friendships can promote personal growth, Terri believes: “It can be challenging to change with people you’ve known your whole life. … Having these different relationships can enable you to be who you have become.”
No trace of compare and despair
Even if you’re not a competitive person, it’s natural to compare yourself to others your age and even feel a little envious when a friend climbs the career ladder or gets engaged when you’re still swiping right, Cole says.
Of course, you can still have healthy friendships with people your age, but in cross-generational friendships, there’s no “primal” instinct to compete and “no need to feel threatened,” Terri Cole explains.
Sharing good energy
While the younger one in a cross-generational friendship benefits from the wisdom of someone who’s lived more experiences, then the older friend is often rewarded with feeling energized by bonding with someone who’s more youthful, the psychotherapist says.
A younger friend can be “invigorating,” as there’s a “different kind of energy when you have so much of your life ahead of you,” she adds. But the energy exchange can go both ways.