Discovering the benefits of age-gap friendships: 'Love finds a way'

Love always finds a way. 

That's why relationship expert Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, the author of "Makeup Don't Break Up", said relationships or friendships with significant generational gaps can work.

"Love finds a way, age doesn't matter, because you know why? Because the only need in life is connection," Weil said. "This is an amazing connection where you're mentoring somebody, you're looking up to somebody, or you're taking the energy and remembering your own youth by being with younger people and the younger person is using it as mentoring. It's a beautiful blend."  

In 2021, the Survey Center on American Life found almost one-third of seniors said it had been at least five years since they made a new friend.

"I have a daughter who's half my age," one New Yorker told FOX 5 NY. "So I spend time with young people, but I wouldn't call them my friends, per se."

Other New Yorkers noted the difference can be nice and a lot of knowledge can be shared.

"If you have an older friend, they teach you a lot about life and then if you have a younger friend, you can kind of be like that big sister or big brother to them."

In addition to life lessons, the "May-December friendships" can significantly improve the quality of one's life.  

"When you have this friendship, it gives older people a purpose," Weil adds. "They're looking forward to the future when they see younger people. It gives them hope. That is so important to give them hope and purpose, and yes, it affects their mental health and their physical health. It can affect their lifespan, and they can live longer."  

A 2021 report from Generations United noted data suggested older adults in intergenerational programs may experience an increase in strength and stability.