I’m not going to lie, making new friends is difficult. I’ve never had much luck with that. In fact, it gets harder as I get older.
Okay, I will give this one a shot, but to be honest, I’ve never been that great at making new friends. Most kids, as I grew up, thought that I was weird and creepy. I can understand that because I am kind of unique. So, meeting new people has never been my strong point. The sad thing is, as I get older, it gets even tougher to break the ice.
Why old folks can’t make friends
Sorry, but I had to joke a little bit about that. I am 43 years old now, and making friends is incredibly difficult. In fact, I usually don’t even try. Most of the time, if someone decides to connect with me, it’s their idea.
But back on topic… There are some good reasons why making friends gets increasingly more difficult as you get older. Let me explain a few of them.
1. Your morals and standards change
As you grow more mature, your morals and standards start to change and solidify. As a young adult, you may have been more flexible and open-minded about some things, but time has worn grooves into your soul. There are things you’ve experienced during life that has caused you to stand fast in what you believe in.
This means not associating with people who have opposing views on things that make you sensitive. While this can be a really negative standpoint, it can also make you more independent. The bottom line is, it makes it harder to make new friends and sometimes even maintain your connection with the old ones.
One of the saddest moments in life is when you realize that the only thing you share with your old good friend is the memory of the fun you had together and the people you used to know. And you hope that nothing has changed and you are still going to have many more happy moments together.
But you just don’t vibe the same way you used to.
2. Introverts become more introverted
If you were always an introvert, chances are, you will be even more so at an older age. As we mature, we become more at peace with who we really are.
This means, if we are introverted people, we will find less and less need for socialization at an older age. Yes, we will get lonely, but not near as much as extroverts. When we do decide to go out and find a new friend, it will be extremely difficult to know what to do or say.
3. Social media is ruining friendships
Okay, I get it. It’s really easy to accept a friend request. But the more we do these things and hide away behind our computer screen, the harder it will be to make new friends in “real life”.
I used to detest when my online friends would say things like, “Hey, I got to go, real life calls.” But now, I understand what they meant. They were living healthier lives than me because they were able to separate the online life from the physical face-to-face confrontations.
The more we hide behind the screen, the harder making new friends will be. Sorry, the truth hurts.
4. The college to workforce transition is hard
When you leave college and enter the workforce, you will notice just how much more difficult it is to make friends. That’s because, in college, you were surrounded by people who were basically in the same mindset and doing much of the same things. Many of the social events were common and friendliness was encouraged.
In the workforce, however, friendship is not a top priority. The pressure is much higher and people are varied and have drastically different goals. So, it stands to reason that friendships in the workplace, although sometimes present, are not the best of quality either, much less plentiful.
5. Times are changing
Since the turn of the century, humans have become more and more individualized. This means social needs are falling with time. You may have noticed that people aren’t as friendly as they used to be when you were younger, and some people just rather be alone. This makes it really hard to make friends.
Even when you’re pushing yourself to make friends because you heard it’s the healthy thing to do, others are more and more opposed to that need. This may be why there is less loyalty when people do make friends. I think, as humans, we just don’t care as much for each other as we used to.
6. We are just rusty
Maybe, as we grow older, we just get rusty at making new friends. Think about it. Many of us get married and have children, and for decades of our lives, we see our children as our best friends.
No, we don’t tell them this, but we hold this feeling in our hearts, now don’t we… Well, when our children leave the nest, we are left with our mate, or we are left alone. When this happens, we have forgotten how to socialize correctly.
I think this is happening to me, but yet, it still doesn’t make me feel more extroverted. Lol. Oh, what loneliness lies ahead, huh.
7. There is no trust
As I grow older, I realize just how much trust is missing in real friendships. I notice how much loyalty is absent and it makes me petrified at meeting new people. To be honest, the last couple of “friends” I had betrayed me terribly. So I keep to myself in “real life”.
It’s so much more difficult to make friends as you get older because you have experienced betrayal and you’ve learned the red flags. When you see the red flags, you shy away, thus refusing to make friends.
There is just little trust and loyalty in friendships anymore, and this is why it is so difficult to let others into your life.
What can we do? How can we fix this?
Okay, yes, making new friends is possible no matter your age. Even for an old recluse like me, there is definitely a brighter horizon. So, here are a few things you can do, as someone, say, a 30 or 40-year-old with hurts, scars, and betrayals:
Join a class
That’s right, think of something that really interests you like painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument. Go find a class for that hobby or passion and then just let things happen naturally.
I have met friends before while taking an oil painting class. Yes, it’s true, as introverted as I am, I was able to make a friend as easy as the next one. If it worked for me, then it can work for you too.
Frequent social occasions even when you really don’t want to go
It may feel uncomfortable, but sometimes you can meet a really good friend when you dare to leave your comfort zone.
Get outside more
You can start by taking a daily walk in your neighborhood or the park. Many people are trying to improve their health and you may have the opportunity to get to know someone during your outdoor activities.
Just be creative, and most importantly of all, don’t give up on meeting new friends. Yes, it gets more difficult with age, but the quality of friends does improve when you’re selective about your time. Making new friends is possible at any age and there is always hope.
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This Post Has 12 Comments
This article makes real sense.if a person from an young age drifts into his /her own orbit it gets worse in later life. Also if one experiences no real warmth or closeness from friendships in universities ,it kind of changes ones perspective. Another factor is the individuals own insecurities or personal traits like expecting too much from a new friendship,a critical attitude ,controlling attitude these traits do not allow a friendship to blossom a friendship that can stand the test of time. Friendship is like any relationship a two way street,selfishness on the part of one is death of a friendship.
Give and take is what helps friendships to grow and mature over time.
Really good points, SS. I do appreciate how you view these things. As I told Gary, I am starting to see that I am a bit too critical. I want a high standard from friends, and I do not tolerate dishonesty. Most of the time when the friendship starts to look shady, I walk away. Either that, or I just limit my time with these people. I just cannot stomach a fickle relationship where one minute you’re talking to me in a loyal manner and the next, I have heard terrible rumors of the negative things that you’ve said about me. This is a big friendship breaker. There is no excuse for this type of behavior. Maybe feeling this way is why I don’t have many friends, and I guess for that reason, it’s okay.
Once again I totally agree with you when flaky friends are around its best to drop them, as within a short period they will show their true colours.Today with online media where true friendships can never happen it can be painful to search for that friendship that once was in past years.
Today at the drop of a hat newly made friends (I call them aquaintences) friendships are built over years not few weeks or months.I can count my real friends on fingers og just one hand and am a senior!!my friendships go back decades have stood the tests of time.
I thought it was just me
No Sam, it is not just you. I thought the same thing for a long time. I think the good people are just too far apart. I think the honest people have grown more honest by watching what goes on around us. It alienates us sometimes.
I find your article interesting but maybe unique to you. I am 70 and in many ways I am also an introvert though I force myself to act differently and have for many years. It has been very rewarding to ignore the part of me that is afraid to be hurt. If you wish to have friends then there is nothing to stop you but yourself. There are many good people out there that are interesting and potential loyal friends. I actually think it is easier to find them now than before. I don’t like large crowds and never have because they make me feel insignificant all part of being an introvert. However, even in a crowd I can narrow it down to a few people that I find interesting and spend most of my time with them. You stated that you have been betrayed by past friends and now you fear letting yourself take a chance on new friends. It is no different than losing the one you love for whatever reason. You are hurt and your self image is badly wounded. Now you have to make a choice. Either get back up and get back in the game of life or wallow in self pity and hide from the world. The former leaves you a chance of not only recovering but expanding your life experience but the latter is a dead end. By your words I can only think that you are throwing yourself your own pity party. Not a good choice. Free yourself as only you can and learn to enjoy the life you should have not the one that you have chosen! You may get hurt again but you are already in mental pain so what do you have to lose? There is an old saying “go forth and prosper.” You should take the meaning of this to heart and you life will change for the better!
I do appreciate your positive viewpoint as it works for most people. There are some of us, however, that have tried this way for many years, even decades. No, I am not 70, and maybe I will change between now and then, but the people I notice around me here are cruel. After many heartbreaks, losses, and disrespect, I have jumped back in the saddle and tried again. Most everytime, I get hurt as before. It is not just hurt or damage to my self-image. In fact, I know that I am a good quality person. I sometimes really hate that these people cannot get to know me. I really hate how they are cruel and disrespect me in order to get ahead, and they do these things and more. I throw no pity party because I do not feel sorry for myself. I tell the truth. I try to see the good in people and when I try, they poop on it. Yes, there are good people out there, but most of them cannot prove loyal for the long term. There’s also the fact that I cannot go looking for friends every minute of the day either. I do enjoy being alone. No, I’m not hiding from the world, as when I do go out, I am dealing with people constantly: the post office, library, grocery store, gas station, etc etc….they hog gas pumps, steal parking places, throw litter in the aisles of grocery stores, slam doors in your face, talk over you, judge you, gossip, try to run over you with their cars….need I give any other examples.
Then I try to be honest, kind and respectful, but I am the one they ostracize for being weird. See, where I live, they wear too much make up, too much hairspray, gossip behind each other’s backs, and when I don’t join in on this charade….I am the odd person. Guess what, you don’t make many friends being real where I live. I hope your hometown treats you much better. Know something else…I do keep trying, every day. I cry and then I tell my children what happens, and then I go to bed. The next day, I do it all again. I have to fight for every single right that I have because in the small town that I live in, if you’re not somehow related to someone, went to high school with them, or part of the “in-crowd” then you’re not getting the house that’s up for sale by owner. No, that house is going to go to “good old George and Martha”, friends of cousin Phil. It’s hard, Linda when your swimming upstream and all you want to do is survive.You don’t want the spotlight, and you’re not trying to impress your high school chums…you’re just trying to have a home and raise your children. No pity here…I don’t have time for that. I’m just trying to relate to some folks who don’t have it so easy making friends.
I think it is important to factor in personality types. If I remember correctly, Sherrie is an INFP? I’m an INFP. We are geared for authenticity more than most. And this type can be judged more as we think differently. We’re in this world but not of this world.
Leslie has hit the nail on the head-Personality types-Nothing can be further from this aspect-Those with BDP and part Narcissistic personalities can Never ever really commit to any friendship or even very close relationships like immediate family. They will start like normal people and the older they are the worse it gets. Mind you, however, they seek out friends and for them, it’s like rearranging their closets every week or a month. They do not give much of their real selves, though there is a great pretence shown as to how much they value the friendship and go along with the motions of being friendly. Within no time the judgemental, critical and selfish traits spring into action slowly but steadily and the end result? ‘Oh its so difficult to have a good friend or loyal one’
I am INFP, I believe. I am a mediator. I feel alone most of the time in life…not alone physically, but alone mentally. I feel like an alien. Now, I have to remember to have a good self-image and appreciate who I am because the negative aspect of feeling different will lead quickly to depression. I try to keep in mind that no matter what someone else says about me, I know my worth. Worth is like gold to personalities like this. Although that same worth is what makes us run off to a cabin in the woods and grow our own food. mmmm that sounds so wonderful.
When I was a young man, I had lots of friends/playmates in school, in our neighborhood. As I’ve grown older, I am more discriminating and more critical about who i call a friend and how deep the friendship will become. My wife is my best friend now. I trust her to always be honest with me even if hurts my feelings.Friendships develop throughout our lives, we find some friends stay for a long time and others drop away for various reasons. To maintain a friendship that you think worthwhile you need to remember the simple phrase: “to err is human, to forgive divine.”
Thank you. Yes, friends are imperfect just like we are. I can see in myself a bit of wanting perfection in friendship, and I am working on that. I guess I just get frustrated by disappointments. I am also picky about who I give my time to.