Elizabeth Bernstein, Bonds columnist for the Wall Street Journal, just came out with a great piece on why making friends is harder for adults. Many readers will be able to relate as we have all lost some childhood friends, college friends, and single friends to time, graduation, moving, and/or marriage and children. Essentially, the shared life experiences that brought us together change, and too often, friendships fade away.
There are also the friendships that die when one person goes through a life crisis that a friend can’t or won’t deal with. There are the friends who become the toxic friends, due to many different circumstances—these are the ones you can agonize over saying good-bye to, but feel it is for the best. Then there are just those you lose touch with, slowly, over time.
The problem is that making new friends becomes harder as we age, due to the demands of work and family and less time and energy to connect to others and invest in growing relationships with them. Most “friendships” in our adult years happen because of proximity and shared needs and interests—think Mom cliques, co-workers, neighbors, spouse’s friends and their significant others, etc. We might not choose them in quite the same way as we chose friends in childhood, but proximity and repeated exposure were important factors even then.
Therefore for anyone who is having trouble meeting new friends (which is just about everyone) think proximity and convenience. Who lives/works/recreates where you do? What about your neighbors? Are there people who attend your place of worship that you find interesting and would like to get to know better? How often do you get to spend time with the parents of your kids’ friends? There must be some you would choose to spend time with sans kids.
If you are single, what about your passions and leisure pursuits? Where do you go for fun? Do you belong to any organizations or volunteer anywhere? What about co-workers and acquaintances who may also be single and looking for a friend to do things with?
The point that Elizabeth makes is that this is a challenge for everyone—not just you. Therefore there must be people you encounter regularly who would be open to having a new friend. Be open, approachable—and willing to approach someone else. A good friend is a wonderful thing to have.