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Why Making Friends Gets Harder As You Get Older

Take a second and think about if you needed to phone a friend for emotional support or a favor, who comes to mind? For some of you, this may be easy because you have a large assortment of friends. For others, it may be rather saddening to think about because there is little to no one to call. As time progresses in our lives, studies have shown that even those with large social circles tend to have that same group grow smaller as we advance in age. Although there are essentially limitless possibilities for why this may occur, a frequent pattern of evolving mediums, necessities, and standards accompany the aging process.

When you are a child, reasons for becoming friends can be viewed as trivial. Sometimes you are best friends with Timmy because he shared his 75¢ donuts with you or maybe it’s Cassandra because she gave you the answers to the homework you didn’t know you had. Other times, we end relationships because Bartholomew did not sit next to you at lunch, but at the same time, we quickly make up because holding grudges interferes with inter-sectional friend groups. Although sounding overly complicated and beyond what we were thinking as kids, the school environment and its rules established a community that encouraged relationships. When we were in school, we saw the same people for eight hours, doing the same work, eating together, and had no other priorities besides school work. It was easier to form relationships then because people have more reason to establish a closer relationship and less priorities to divert their attention. 

This medium for communication is simply not there or is overwhelmed by the societal standards in a professional working environment. As we get older, the reason we form relationships is usually out of necessities such as needing to be friendly with someone that you have been assigned with on a business project. Aging comes with a variety of relationship experiences, betrayals, happiness, and it dictates how we establish a good or close friend from a mere acquaintance. We become more stingy with qualities before we open up ourselves to a vulnerable relationship. This is not to shame it as the carefree nature of experiencing relationships gradually dissipates as you find out what is a healthy relationship for you at each act in your life.  

The scope for prioritizing the right relationships gets narrower as you experience new encounters and this also applies to the necessities in life. We gain more responsibilities as we get older, from cooking to working and taking care of the family. The necessary conditions to survive replace the previous spare time we possessed to interact and formulate bonds. This produces a general tendency to reduce reaching out and making new friends. Thus it is not uncommon to see the strengthening of relationships that have been previously established, possibly during high-school or at an early job. 

As mentioned earlier, family or the pursuit of starting one is one of the most common examples of why it becomes difficult to create friendships as we get older. We enter relationships with our partners which require a large investment of time, energy, social interaction, and essentially most other qualities/actions related to making friends. This is also applicable to jobs but regarding the former, when we establish a dating-like relationship, we desire to invest our time into that individual more than our other relationships. We also possess the tendency to seek the approval and security of our partner when establishing any new friendships, almost to the extent of going through two checks to become friends with someone new. If your own relationship advances into a family, your children become another emotional priority and also force interaction with other parents that solely exists depending on whether your child wants to continue the friendship with their friend. 

Although not in-depthly discussed there are plenty of other circumstances which can make it difficult to make friends such as hanging out is more expensive (in both time and money), there is a greater need to have more than one similarity, people tend to carry more baggage entering relationships, etc. From time to time, we may encounter “friends” that seemingly are not quite close because of various technicalities but nonetheless, you enjoy their company. I would advise not to worry if you are an adult or making that awkward transition into adulthood and possesses a small group of friends. It is common for most growing adults to have a smaller and more secure circle. If you are struggling to make friends, I would recommend trying to put yourself in circumstances or activities you have not done before, such as archery, kayaking, or video games. Not only will you gain social experience, it will also connect you to a community of people which will make it easier to find people you connect with. 


Lambert Laura, 6 Reasons It’s Hard to Make Friends When You’re Older,, May 2019, 

Leatherman James, Why It’s Harder To Make Friends After 40 (and How to Combat the Odds), Lifehack, 

Patel Arti, Making friends is harder as an adult - here’s why and some look online, Global News, February 2018,,adults%20to%20form%20meaningful%20friendships

Williams Alex, Why Is It Hard To Make Friends Over 30?, New York Times, July 2012, 

Why does it become harder to make friends as you get older, 

Why is it harder to make friends as an adult? Bitesize, 

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