Prime Parents Club

Making Friends After 30 | Why Are ‘Later Life’ Friendships So Hard?


Why is making friends later in life so hard?

I visit the same Starbucks once (and by once, I mean at least three times) a week, and over the past few months have become familiar with many of the employees there. One barista in particular has been exceedingly friendly, and we chat every time she takes my order. She appears to be about my age, is married, and we have similar taste in movies, music, and caffeinated beverages. She loves her job, hates winter, and her husband got her an iPad for Christmas. I can tell you lots of interesting things about her, but I can’t tell you her last name, or what she looks like without a green apron on.

Many times as we’ve chatted I’ve thought to myself, “She is the type of person I would like to have as a friend.” I’d like to hang out with her, and talk past our short discussions at the cash register. In short, I have a friend-crush. I really want to make this person my friend, but I’m not sure how. Every approach I’ve thought of either makes me look like a friendless loser or sounds like I am trying to come on to her.

Why is it so hard (for me, at least) to make new friends after 30? When I was younger, I was always in situations where meeting new people was the norm, and friendships happened easily. It seems as I get older, I have a harder time finding people who I can really connect with, people who “get me.” When I do find people I click with, like my friend-crush the barista, I go into insecure mode. I assume that person probably already has plenty of great friends, and isn’t looking to add another. I assume that people think a woman my age looking for a new friend must be totally lame. I assume that I am the only one who lives her life surrounded with people, yet sometimes feeling a little bit lonely.

One place I’ve had success finding new friendships is on the internet. I don’t consider myself to be completely socially awkward, but writing comes naturally to me, and I am able to make connections without the anxiety I experience in the real world. Social media is just that: social. It encourages making as many connections as you can. Simply responding to a tweet about a website looking for contributors has led me to two women I consider to be dear friends, even though we’ve never met in “real life.” We exchange Christmas cards, chat on Twitter, and they make me laugh when I am down and listen to me vent when I’m frustrated. Despite the absence of face-to-face interaction, they are friends in the truest sense of the word.

ALSO ON PRIME PARENTS CLUB : Friends Over 40 | Making Friends Later in Life

One of my “internet friends” recently moved to my city, and we are hoping to meet soon. I’m looking forward to meeting her, but I’m also a little nervous. What if she thinks I’m lame? What if we have nothing to talk about, despite the hundreds of tweets, texts, and Facebook messages we’ve shared? What if, after she meets me in person, she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore?

I realize that all this anxiety makes me sound like a little kid, but no matter how old we get, the desire for friendship is always there. No one wants to be the kid sitting alone at the lunch table, whether we’re 13 or 38. But there’s something about life in our 30s and beyond that doesn’t lend itself to making new friends; in most cases we’re done with college, we’re established in our careers, and often raising children has taken over the time we once used for socializing. So how do we connect and find friendships in our current life situations?

I don’t know the answer, but if you do (or you just want to make a new friend) you can find me at Starbucks.

 

m4s0n501
Crystal Paschal is our general contributor giving us great posts across all topics. Crystal is the owner and founder of It's Fundamental, a children's book blog. She also blogs about family life at Mom For Less. You can find It's Fundamental on Facebook, and follow Crystal on Twitter at @Mom4Less.

22 Comments

  1. Crystal Paschal

    January 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I am loving all the great comments and thoughtful discussion, thank you all so much! I still haven’t worked up the courage to talk to my barista yet (I KNOW), it is nice to know I am not the only one struggling with this.

    • Prime Parents Club

      January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      YOu want me to pass her a “Do you like me circle yes or no” note for you?
      Heh.

      /jackie

  2. Colleen

    January 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Your post articulates exactly how I’ve been feeling. I am now 54, I am a stay at home mom for my 10 year old and I feel so very isolated. I was a career woman and a mom (I have two daughters in their 20s) until I had to retire at age 46 due to a back injury. I think that while the social aspects of the internet can be good, I’ve begun to feel like it is actually counterproductive to actually making a real friend or friends.

    • Jackie (WritRams)

      January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      “I think that while the social aspects of the internet can be good, I’ve begun to feel like it is actually counterproductive to actually making a real friend or friends.”

      Well said Colleen. I’ve thought the exact same way, but haven’t articulated it as well.

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      I agree with Jackie. Very well said. I think I have a tendency to use internet interactions as an excuse not to get out more, if that makes sense. Almost like crutch.

    • New Crew

      August 30, 2014 at 12:05 am

      Making new friends as an adult is hard! That’s why we are creating an app to help people make new friends and meet new people in cities around the world.

  3. Tami

    January 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Great Article! I enjoyed reading it and got a little chuckle. I also enjoyed reading the comments. Christin has been my BFF for many many moons and what she is telling you is so true! I was so excited when I found out she was “moving home” and then once she was back here I was so busy raising my 5 kiddos that we still only “visited” like she still lived out of state. Now, that my kids are getting a little older (22,20,18,14,and 12)… I want her to come back home, so I can try again!!! I would also like to peronally invite Jackie out for some “adult time” (I can even provide the sitter). One thing I know for sure… the older I get…. the more valuable true friendships are to me. I am very careful with who I will even call a “friend”, most are “just people I know”. Not to get mushy… but, Christin…. is a TRUE 100% Friend!
    Again, Great Article. Good luck with your Barista friend! What have you got to lose! ;)

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you! I feel the same way about some good friends I have. We live minutes from each other, but life being what it is, we can go weeks without seeing each other. Then we get together and wonder why we don’t do it more often!

  4. Brandy

    January 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

    It’s not only harder for me to make friends now that I”m a stay at home mom it’s hard to keep the friends i do have. It seems the older I get the less friends I do have..thank god for my hubby ;-)

    • Prime Parents Club

      January 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

      That’s so true, Brandy. I think one of the reasons that being a SAHM (or even WAHM or Dad) is the isolation. You have to make a REAL EFFORT to get out and into the “adult” world or you start to become so isolated. I really need to work on getting out with more adults.

      /jackie

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      It is harder to maintain friendships, isn’t it? I feel the same way. Sometimes the thought of adding new friends seems daunting because I don’t always feel like I do a good job of keeping up with the friends I already have. Like you, I am thankful for the friendship of my husband. Sometimes he’s the only adult I talk to in a day!

  5. christin

    January 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I thought you might like to know that your post has made it across the pond and back! I just shared this with some friends that are putting together a panel discussion for a MOPS group in Indiana. Even though most of those moms may not be in their “Prime”, I think this article translates across the generations. We all struggle with making friends at some time in our lives. Thanks again for a great post. :)

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this post! I think that moms of any age can relate. When you have kids, they consume so much of your time and energy. Everything suddenly seems to revolve around them, and it can get lonely and become hard to connect with other adults. I agree with you, I think we’ve all been there at one time or another.

      Thank you again for your great comments and for sharing this with others! That is about the greatest gift you can give a writer!

  6. christin

    January 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Great post! I have moved A LOT in my adult years and although one of my super sweet friends from one of those moves always tells me that I make friends easily…it doesn’t feel like it to me. We have moved on average every two years, the longest stint was 4-1/2 years in my home town. One would think that moving back to my home town would rekindle long distance relationships. It didn’t. I actually made all new friends and still maintained the “long distance” relationship with the old friends as if I still lived out of state! Now I am living in Europe and this is truly a new ball game with friend making. Even though it seems like I know “everyone” at my children’s school, I only feel a close connection with one person. So, I have opted to be a recluse and socialize minimally. Which is easy since there is only one Starbuck’s here and it is at the airport.

    BTW, I bet your barista would be flattered to be invited to join you for a cup of coffee rather than serve you. Give it a try, what’s the worst thing that can happen.

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Wow, I can’t imagine having to move around that often and start up new friendships. I see people I went to high school with who are still good friends 15+ years later, and I get a little jealous. I don’t really keep in touch with my friends from high school and college. Those connections just didn’t endure.

      I need to just suck it up and see if my barista crush wants to hang out some time. If the situation were reversed, I would be flattered that someone thought I was fun and wanted to be my friend. At the very least I’ll be paying her a compliment, and at most I might get a new friend out of the deal.

  7. rockle

    January 9, 2012 at 8:46 am

    one of my issues with making friends at my “advanced age” is that i find i have a lot less tolerance for “undesirable behavior” – although what counts as “undesirable” varies from person to person. i don’t have a lot of “free” time so i’d like to spend what little i have with people who have the same interests that i do. someone who seems cool but thinks reality tv is stupid / doesn’t “get” twitter / hates sports / doesn’t read / won’t eat bacon? what am i going to have to talk about with these people? (don’t even get me STARTED on political / religious / parenting differences – WHOLE OTHER can of worms.)

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      I agree. We’ve realized life is too short to deal with the BS.

      Would you believe that one of my two “real life” best friends hates all pork products? It’s a wonder we even speak to each other.

      I like connecting with people who have some different beliefs and viewpoints than me, because I think it challenges me and keeps me fresh. But so many people won’t even entertain the idea that their preferences are right and everyone else’s are wrong…like you said, I just don’t have the time to waste on them.

    • Girl who loves bacon

      August 3, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      I just have to say that your post is so funny to me bc I have a tshirt that reads “I heart bacon” that i wear to the gym often and I’m a librarian…..LOL!

  8. Prime Parents' Club

    January 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

    You’ve hit on something that I think many of us think about.

    Also, I think it’s interesting how the world has changed. In the last few years, easily 80% of the “close” friendships I have made have been online.

    And, I’m *pretty sure* that your online friends will find you just as funny, smart and entertaining in person as online.

    Thanks for a great post.

    /jackie

    PS-I’ll have the skim mocha with no whip. Thanks. ;)

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I don’t know, my online friend is a pretty tough customer…:)

  9. Margaret

    January 9, 2012 at 6:40 am

    This strikes such a chord with me, thank you for sharing it and reminding me I’m not the only one!

    Making *true* friends is not easy. Somehow though, I’m pretty sure that your newly-local internet friend will continue to see you as the wonderful friend that you are :)

    And, if I’m ever in the neighborhood myself, I’ll pop in to Starbucks too :)

    • Crystal Paschal

      January 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you! It’s nice to know I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes.

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