If you have suddenly understood you give all your attention to family and career and have no friends any more, do not worry – many adults experience this problem. Why does this happen, and can you feel the warmth of true friendship again?
When was the last time you had a new friend? Not just a new friend at work with whom you can chat and exchange pleasantries, but someone really close – the person whom you would call in a most difficult situation. If you are in your thirties, you may have noticed that making friends has become increasingly difficult. What is the reason for this and what can we do?
Suspects: work, family, “so little time”
We all know the obvious reasons why friendship moves backstage when we get older. We work 40 hours a week, we have a family and children, we are trying to climb the corporate ladder, and we do not seem to have enough time for everything else.
A study, conducted by the Families Work Institute, showed that the majority of women aged 25 to 54 years have at least 90 minutes of free time per day, and 29% of women have less than 45 minutes a day. This is not enough even to watch an episode of the Game of Thrones, not to mention the fact that we need to make new friends.
These figures in men should not differ much, taking into account the desire to earn as much as possible and family responsibilities.
Alex Williams described the crisis of shortage of friends in the middle age in the popular publication, The New York Times:
When a person reaches middle years, his/her young aspirations to explore everything, when life seems a blank page, are gone forever. Priorities change, and people often become picky with their friends.
No matter how many friends they have, the sense of fatalism still catches up and starts to scare them. The period in which people get their best friends – namely, the adolescence period and early twenties – is gone. Now, this is the time of “friends of the situation” or just good acquaintances.
When people are grown-up, there seems to be an invisible barrier between them. They get together, they enjoy talking, but they do not meet often and spend time together, as it used to be before.
The study, which was conducted by Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor at the Stanford Center in California, found that with age people tend to make friends less often, even though they are getting closer to the friends they already have.
It is assumed that this is due to the fact that the human natural clock is responsive to significant events in life, such as the 30th anniversary. Such dates remind us that life is reduced, and it is time to stop and explore and address what we have here and now.
Friends are no longer needed for survival
Another reason why we have difficulty in making friends in later life is the fact that friends are no longer a necessity. In childhood and adolescence, friendship is an important part of our social and personal development. We need friends to understand who we really are and how to solve social problems.
Of course, one does not think about it when making friends at school. We are not very selective and begin to make friends for fun (You are sitting next to me and hate the teacher, too? We’re best friends then!).
When a personality is shaped, we need something more to become friends, and one set of circumstances is not enough to build a friendship. You can have the same problems and views with the person, you will share them, and then you will separate and there will remain only some formal greeting between you. Is this an irreversible process?
What can you do?
It may seem you do not need new friends, if there are old ones. But if a person, no longer a youngster, suddenly moves to another city because of some circumstances or loses his/her old friends, what can be done then?
Everyone is so busy and we haven’t got the three important things that psychologists recognize as needed for a close friendship: intimacy, repeated unplanned interactions, and trust.
What does it mean? If you are about 30 years old, won’t you be able to have real friends? Not at all.
Maybe you just need to change your attitude to friendship:
Let’s say you have moved to a new city and there is no one familiar there, or your old friends now seem so impudent to you that you wonder how you have been dealing with them for the last 10 years. In any case, at this age, with all its beliefs, you must treat searching for friends as a fascinating quest.
Of course, one needs to go out and talk to people with similar interests.
Here are some examples:
- Look for thematic meetings in your city – find a community in a social network dedicated to your interests and go to such a meeting;
- sign up for any courses of interest: dance, yoga, master classes on decorative art, even martial arts – it is never too late to start something new;
- get a dog. People with dogs just cannot fail to walk together, they always get together (if the dogs do not conflict) and walk at the same time;
- you can travel, start a new hobby, work somewhere as a volunteer and take part in all kinds of social activity.
To be brief, you need to go to a place where you will find people. Friendship is something ephemeral, but at the same time valuable. You cannot control friendship just as you control your place on the career ladder because either there is some warmth between people or there is none at all.
The main thing is to want to communicate with different people. Most likely, you will find a friend when you least expect it.
There are some advantages
However difficult it is to make friends as an adult, it’s worth doing this. In your adult friendship, there will be a lot of advantages that childhood friendship is deprived of:
- your relationship will be connected with a common interest, which you did not necessarily have when you were at school or university;
- you do not have to make friends of the same age, and even from the same city (you may communicate on the Internet);
- your friendship will be more relaxed, without any pressure from the outside because every adult knows that everyone has many things to deal with and will not be offended if the friend cannot meet;
- you will appreciate meeting with friends, unlike conventional get-togethers that you have had before.
When you finally know yourself and become a full-fledged personality, friendship may be more profound than the one you have had since school years. Even if this is not easy. Like any great relationship, it will become deeper and stronger over time.