From elementary school through college, making lasting friendships was much easier than when we get older. We find that people become less willing to make new connections with one another. That’s difficult to accept, especially if you view your friends to be a lot like an extended family. Not everyone marries and has children, either it is by choice or because they just didn’t find a person that was right for them. Whatever the reason, friendship is an important part of life.
As people, we do need other people. Friendships, and relationships, in general, having healing properties not only for the mind but for the mind. However, as we get older, something changes in our ability to make new friends. Easily, you could meet someone that has the same interests in music, have similar hobbies, and even watch the same television shows. Yet, even with so many shared interests, the relationship goes sour. You go from being “friends,” but not quite friends. You keep trying to go from that borderline of friend/acquaintance to friend, but life gets in the way.
This isn’t unusual as we get older. There are many new people that will come into our lives through work, your children’s school, and let’s not forget Facebook. You can have thousands of Facebook friends, but in reality, have less than a handful. The building of actual close friends that we use to make, those friendships that we made as kids or in college, the ones that you could call in a crisis. Those are the friendships that have disappeared. My only belief to this happening is that as we approach our late 40s and on, we’ve faded away that exploration stage in our lives. Instead, time becomes less available, our priorities change, and we become more selective in who we want in our friendships.
No matter how many friends you make, they seem to fade over time. We don’t make best friends like we use to, the way we did in our early twenties. Rather, we resign ourselves to situation friendships, the “we are kind of friends,” at least for now. People have stopped realizing how much they have neglected to restock their group of friends, at least until they experience a big life event.
The truth is that as we reach our forties, we tend to interact with fewer people. This is especially true as we approach midlife. We, in turn, grow closer to the friends that we already have in life. This is because we have an internal clock that goes off inside of us when a big event happens. It reminds us that time is become less and less, so we pull back on exploring new friendships and concentrate on the here and now. We focus on what is important to us, so we’re not interested in going to a party when we can spend time with our families.
We have missed out on the conditions that have helped us to build new friendships, the type of friends found in the 1950s and 1960s, living in neighborhoods where people encourage interaction and being around people who are willing to let their guard down and confide in one another. Developing a bond has become less common. This results in friendships having little to no foundation and falling apart.
Somewhere after thirty, we experience internal shifts in how we approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to having self-knowledge, and we become let willing to let just anyone into our inner circle. The bar is higher than we were when we were younger when we would meet anyone at any given time. The manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs, the less mature don’t make the cut anymore. Having been hardened by experience, many of us to develop a more fatalistic view of friendship.
Often times our standards change as to what is meant to actually be friends. We’ve come to use the term more loosely. Making the real kind, the brother or sister kind of friendships are much harder now. We instead fill the gaps in life with people by a specific need, a workout friend, a shopping friend, or a sports friend. It takes courage for people to take the first step. However, what is meant to be will be. Hopefully, we can make it easier for someone by taking that brave step towards friendship.