Friendships in Our Thirties and Forties

March 17, 2014 17 Comments TAGS: Friendship

friends-season

A friend of mine forwarded me a recent popular article from the New York Times titled “Friends of a Certain Age. Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?” The argument states that the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to “situational adult friends.”

“In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.”New York Times

Friends! I love my friends and always have. Growing up an only child was quite lonely. I had always wanted an older sibling, preferably an older brother. You know, the cool older brother with cool friends, who would lovingly tackle me to the ground, someone to try smoking with, and teach me the ropes in life. Well, no such sibling ever came before or after me, so I made due with the next best thing… friends. I had my core group, but never stuck exclusively to them. I always had friends in many circles. My close friends, and then those friends for “a reason and a season.” And it continued throughout the years. My high school friends, my college friends, my work friends, my workout friends, my blogging friends, my husband’s friends, my friends through my children, my carpool friends. I adore them all. They all hold a very special place in my heart.

Perhaps as you’ve grown, you’ve made new friends along the way too. And while you may have a past with your old friends, new ones come into your life based on where you’re at right now. As I’ve grown, I have assembled a little army of new friends. Some older than me, some younger than me. Women of all different groups. And I love these women. I recently had dinner with a newer friend, but it felt like I was having dinner with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. We sat down at 7:30 pm and didn’t get up until 11 pm. We talked the night away over yummy dinner and wine. The connection was immediate… we are just “on the same page.”

As we grow, get married, have kids, hold down a job, volunteer, it becomes increasingly challenging to even make time for our girlfriends AT ALL. When I asked you a while back via social media about how you make time for your girlfriends, many of you wrote back that you have chosen to no longer hang out with the friends you have “outgrown.” By outgrow, you have said that both of you have changed and grown apart and you find yourselves in bouts of silence during conversations. Perhaps your priorities have shifted, and had you met this person today, there would have been no friendship at all. And while this is sad, this is life. We grow, we move, we transition, we change. Not everyone we grew up with we still share that same compatibility. And I think we have to say, “that is okay.”

But the studies are clearly showing that making those good new friendships today, just ain’t as easy as it used to be. And I get why.

“External factors are not the only hurdle in making new friends. After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with, said Marla Paul, the author of the 2004 book “The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore.” “The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita,” she said.

Manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs: a lot of them just no longer make the cut.”

So, the “on the fence” question here today is, do you keep a friendship going with someone you share very little in common with just for history’s sake, or do you let the friendship fizzle? Do you hang onto the drama queens or egomaniacs due to the risk of not finding new friends in your thirties or forties? Do you agree with this new reality, where we need to settle for “situational” friends over BFF’s? I think it’s a difficult answer. We’re all busy women in our lives at this stage, be it working, single, married, divorced… whatever. But, I think friendships should nurture us, and not weigh us down.

So I say, keep the good, throw away the bad. Friendships shouldn’t be about new or old, they should be about QUALITY. I have made wonderful new friends contrary to what the studies may say, and I have held onto the old ones with mad love.

On this very GREEN St. Patrick’s Day Monday, I would love your take on friendships in our thirties and forties.

Erica3

    17 Comments

    1. […] We looked at how we make friends in our thirties and forties. I enjoyed this one. […]

    2. Oh yes, I struggle to keep up my friendships like I did pre-kids. One of my favorite ways to stay in touch is to meet for lunch on work days, or to get together for playdates (preferably involving wine 🙂 ) if my friend also has kids. We all need our friends!

    3. Suzanne says:

      I’m a tad older than 40… let’s say 65. I am single, very active, and have a career. I have learned that friends float in and out at my age. I have a very small group I count on and I think that’s enough. I had a dear friend do a 180 on me. We were close as sisters. I never want to repeat that experience. I love people but I give them their space and freedom. I’m a new blogger looking to make meaningful connections. Hope you will check out my site. http://www.chapter-two.net
      Suzanne
      http://www.chapter-two.net

    4. Kathy says:

      You got the point! Until now making friends it was easy for me, but the hardest part was to keep these friendships through time. I agree with Kerry’s comment.

    5. Hannah says:

      This article is spot on! Friends are really important to me, and I am lucky enough to have some wonderful ones. I love the saying – things don’t end, they complete – and this is certainly true I think of friendships. Sometimes you just change, and what bound you together goes. And that’s fine. We don’t have time in our life for 1,000 best friends.

      I’m 41 (nearly 42… when did that happen??!) and I still meet women today I instantly click with and become good friends, and I am sure this will happen all through my life. And yes, yes, yes to this:

      “The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita,” she said.

      Manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs: a lot of them just no longer make the cut.”

      I don’t have time for ‘friends’ that bring negativity or drama. And I (finally) have the confidence to walk away from them without feeling guilty. I guess that’s one upside of getting old(er)!

    6. Chenice Clarke says:

      A great article, Erica, and although I’m only 20 I’m finding friendships are becoming both more difficult to maintain and make. Our priorities are changing; some of my twenty-something friends are married, have children, or are in long-term relationships; and many are focused on their education, careers and travelling. I think we have different friends at different stages in our lives, and sometimes we’re not supposed to be on someone’s journey with them.

    7. Erica – this just makes me smile….real big. I have a bff since we were 15. Love my friends from 20’s and 30’s but I’ve met and loved some amazing friends who have “clicked” so perfectly since then. I say….there is no end to making a soul-sister connection. Just wish I had time for them all. Love my hubs and my kids to death…but my gal pals??……can’t live without them!

      Thanks for this Erica – just made me realize how blessed I am!

    8. Kerry says:

      I think it is more about quality. I have certainly had a few friendships fizzle from my youth. On a few occasions, they faded away because of distance, but in some instances our values just too different. I suppose you are still figuring things out in your 20s, and by the time I reached my 30s, I realized a few friendships just weren’t healthy. It is tough though to make new deep friendships in your 30s (and 40s) with all of our crazy time commitments, kids and career. Most of my friends probably do fall into that camp of situational friends. Still, I can see that some of those are blossoming. I hope to find ways to carve out more time with friends in the future, because I know they are so key to our health.

      • Kerry, the studies are their on social connection and our health. 😉 I hope you find a little time to carve out for your ladies.

      • Liliane says:

        Have you ever thought about iduclning a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. But think of if you added some great pictures or videos to give your posts more, pop ! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this website could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its field. Very good blog!

    9. You don’t let it fizzle you cut it off Ms. Diamond. Once you see its not worth the trouble leave it where it is.

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