Why Relationships Get Better With Age

Here’s a lovely thought: Your friendships and relationships with family members should get better as you get older.
Why? According to research led by Karen Fingerman, a professor of gerontology at Purdue University, we change the way we behave depending on age, and we’re often more likely to forgive older people or give them a pass when they commit a social faux pas.
Past research has also shown that younger people are more confrontational than older folks—and expecting this might make older people more cordial to those who are younger. Older people also appear to be better at regulating their emotions when they’re upset. At the same time, younger people tend to think they should be more patient and respectful toward those who are older and that the elderly are so stuck in their ways, there’s no point trying to change them.
Overall, Fingerman explains in a write-up of her recent research:

Older adults report better marriages, more supportive friendships, and less conflict with children and siblings. While physical and cognitive abilities decline with age, relationships improve. So what is so special about old age? We found that the perception of limited time, willingness to forgive, aging stereotypes, and attitudes of respect all play a part. But it’s more than just about how younger people treat an older person, it’s about how people interact.

Category: Positive Psychology


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