Anyone still in their 20s had better hurry up and make sure they have a good group of friends because it's believed that making friends over the age of 30 is a significant challenge. Why is it hard to make friends over 30? asked a New York Times writer who argues that close friends - "the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis" - are in comparatively short supply for people in their 30s and 40s.
The reasons cited for this are: busier schedules, altered priorities and the fact that we become more discerning in our choice of friends. Evidently "it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." Differences in professional status and income, partnering up with a significant other and having children are all circumstances that can impede our ability - indeed, even dampen our inclination - to make new friends.
Yet the lively comments section of that same article is rife with examples of people who have defied conventional wisdom in this regard: 73-year-old Viviana's new "BFF" is aged 83; Tsultrim's closest friends were acquired "at divorce time in my late 30s"; and most of Emoon's "current friendships began after age forty, quite a few after age fifty - and after age sixty". Bookseller had a pragmatic take on the subject: "it is indeed possible to make close friends later in life, but - like looking good - you have to work at it more than you did in college."
The idea that friendships gradually become more difficult to make has certainly gained traction. Depressing instructions on How to Make Friends in Your Thirties include: start a "30-something" Facebook group, join adult groups at church, take personal growth classes and take a vacation with a tour group. I think I'd prefer a state of perpetual friendlessness than try any of those things.
Not being a fan of either social media or dwelling on the past, I didn't find most of the advice in Adult Friendship 101: Tips for Making New Friends After 35 - which included "[c]onsider alternative resources like Facebook and Twitter" and "[r]evive friendships that may have been placed on the back burner" - to be especially helpful either. The gloomy outlook continues with Making Friends Post 20-Something is Harder Than Meeting a Mate in which the writer confessed to being on the verge of scouting for prospective friends at the grocery store. "Now that I'm married, in my early 30s, currently working from home and in a new city, never before has making friends been so challenging," she wrote.
Yet I wonder if this is just a great deal of angst over an issue that may not be particularly widespread. Despite not being the most sociable person on the planet, I made a number of close-enough-to-go-away-for-weekends-together friends in my 30s and 40s.
These women variously entered my life in their roles of: university course class-mates, tennis partners and fellow mums at school pick-up.
We may have begun as "situational friends" (this is an often derisory term for mere friends of convenience with whom you happen to share the same time and space) but the relationship eventually transformed into something deeper. I think the best friendships develop organically without conscious effort from either party. Unable to be forced or artificially created, true friendships are often a happy side-effect of simply living your authentic life. As the first Huffington Post article mentioned above prosaically, yet wisely, said: "You're most likely to find friends in social settings that are interesting to you."
Have you made close friends over the age of 30? Is it really more difficult than when you're younger? In what settings have you made these friends? What tips can you share for making close friends later in life?