Thursday, April 4, 2019

Making (or not making) Friends as an Adult

Some People Think You Can't Make Adult Friends

New girlfriends
I've found making friends as an adult can be a lot of work.  But it's certainly possible.  
My sister thinks people get to a certain age where they stop making friends.  She's discussed with an age-old friend (and this friend concurred with a third) that adults reach a point where new friendships don't happen; it's a natural state to arrive at. 

My sister lives in a remote city, is a SAHM and plans to homeschool her children.  Her closest family are her bizarre and opinionated in-laws (I've met them).  The other moms she meets are a good decade younger than she, and very done-up.  She's a PNW girl so “looking good” means pretty casual. 

Her friend has been expat for over a decade, is idealistic and also somewhat isolated in her work and living situations. 

And maybe it makes sense they've drawn these conclusions. 

Hitting the Pavement

I found myself stunned by their perspective, however.  My own experience and that of others in my life is that we're continually meeting new people and developing friendships as we “hit the pavement of life”; having new adventures and what not. 

In the conversation, my sister discussed her middle school BFF and said that she never meets anyone like that anymore.  And she's right, in my experience anyway, as these are adult friendships.  What I mean is that the friendships are between two people in very different states: friends with disparate incomes and job histories, friends who are married, unmarried and divorced, friends with children and friends without, and friends with huge differences in age. 

Maybe the girls who were the winners in middle school have a hard time adjusting to adult relationships.  One of the snottiest girls from my high school class, her mother told me, left college after a year because she “wasn't making the right kind of friends”.  This was French, undoubtedly, for “she wasn't the most popular girl in school and couldn't be a snotty little cunt and suffer no consequences” anymore.

For me, the best part about adult friendships is that the people actually are adults.  Pettiness and backstabbing is almost implicitly ridiculed.  The gossip is still there, but maybe it always will be. 

However, by the time you've reached 35-45, people's experiences are so layered that it is hard to find someone who gets you, completely, the way you might have with your middle school BFF.  Two twelve-year-olds are on the same track: finish out these next six years and move on to college. 

adult friendships
Here's a friend I hung out with a LOT when I was in Hong Kong.  

A Few of My Friendsies

One of my better friends from Portland is a woman about ten years older than me.  She's divorced with five children.  We connected, I suppose, because we're both Catholic and artists.  But different in that she obviously has a ton on her plate with her kids.  That's really her job.  So we spent time together when she wasn't with them, visiting over coffee after Mass, and then not see each other for a great while when she'd become consumed with raising five daughters, a world I have no part in. 

I have also felt that she puts me in a special place because I'm single (never mind that she's, you know, divorced and impoverished) and so that's strained the friendship at times. 

Another friend I met at a 30s and 40s Meetup and I have a very specific recollection of our first conversations.  She'd recently driven ½ way across the country and was renting a room in an attic from a lady and had to walk through the daughter's room just to brush her teeth.  I found her a breath of fresh air, as people I was meeting at the time were homeowners and could actually take these things called vacations to exotic places and what not. 

We didn't become friends for some time; we saw each other repeatedly at other Meetups, and it was about 18 months later that we started hanging out. 

But that friendship is strained now as I'm working professionally with her and seeing that she can be humorless and Type A. 

What's Your Experience?

The first friendship landed at my feet.  We met during 40 Days for Life.  And the 2nd I found hitting the pavement, as it was at a Meetup designed to meet people and develop community. 

I do think that in middle-age friends aren't oftentimes THERE the way they may have been when you were in school.  And even when they do land at your feet, you need to work at them to maintain them. 

And neither of these women could really entirely “get me”, nor I them.  Our experiences are so layered, I couldn't possibly share all the parts of myself with them. 

Do you find it easy to make new friends as an adult?  Where do you meet new people? 

Do you find that you're able to share a lot of yourself with your adult friends, or are there plenty of things that you think they would never get about you?

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