Awhile back, a NY Times article circled the social mediaz (there are so many lately) that examined the hardships of making friends over the age of 30.
If I recall correctly, the article said it was difficult to develop friendships, like the ones you had in grade school or college, over the age of 30 because individuals typically get their shit together by then and
decide to scrape off the loser friends who either a.) still live on somebody else’s couch 2.) repeat the same disasturous dating mistakes for years, constantly ask you for advice and then never take it and 3.) drink every night, but think AA is a vehicle assistance program spend more time with their spouse, kids and co-workers at places like Dave & Buster’s than at bars w/ buddies.
Or at least that’s what I got out of the article.
I’ve never been an awesome kick-ass friend. I attribute it to being an only child. And a Gemini. And maybe because I’m a left-handed Jew, I’m not sure. Woody Allen doesn’t seem like he’d make a great friend either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bad friend. I’ve just never been one of those girls that will spontaneously send you a hand-wrapped gift or braid your hair or remember to come to your wedding or that you gave birth.
If you have drama in your life, I will disappear like a ninja in the night.
I don’t particularly like that I’m a three quarters-ass friend and I try to change, but often feel caught up in the minutia of life. Every other year I will send you a holiday card and feel a sense of extreme accomplishment. Once in awhile I will call you and fall asleep on the phone.
I have one grade school friend that I regularly talk to (that I haven’t called back in 6 weeks, shit!). Luckily for me, he’s patient and understanding of my disappearances. I have several friends that I regularly talk to from college, but one recently stopped talking to me after I wrote a bad Yelp review about the store he used to work at. Our friendship has been dotted with various “no speaking times” over ridiculous situations like that and considering he’s neither a chick or Jewish, I have little tolerance for silent treatment (got enough as a child, thanks!) and haven’t tried very hard to break the silence. I’ve met several wonderful people socially in Austin, but when I began to take my writing more seriously and then subsequently met Geoff, I dropped off the social radar to the point where many forgot about me and vice versa. I find that, surprisingly, the only people I enjoy talking to on a regular basis are my friends in LA. Surprised in that when I lived in LA, I felt like I didn’t have a strong support group, only to discover that once I left, I did.
Austin is a very social city and I’ve been fortunate enough through my blog to be invited to various events and shindigs. However, the more I work from home, the more I find myself becoming a cantankerous recluse. Traffic scares me, parking scares me, drinking scares me and large crowds scare me. Noisy rooms send me into a PTSD state of rocking in my chair and biting my lip. These traits do not make for a gaggle of new friendships.
What I am good at is talking to you one-on-one about interesting subject matters in a comfortable setting. I’m good at developing those relationships. Once that friendship has been established, I may not always go out to lunch or drinks with you when you ask (budget also has a factor in this), but I will be there for you in other ways.
In a time where we have thousands of Facebook friends and are easily connected to so many through text messaging and Instant messaging, I find myself pulling away even more. I find myself resting on the comforts of online communication over real life interaction. It’s cheap and it’s easy. I find myself wanting to focus on my career and passing over the calls for physical human connection.
I know this is wrong- at least, that is what various technology/self-help articles that are springing up with alarming speed are telling me- but is it? Am I just going through a phase? Will I die alone? Will I?!? TELL ME!!!
We live in a time that is so confusing in regard to friendships. Are we supposed to actually be friends with all 1200 Facebook friends? Am I supposed to text my friend right back just because we can now? Is talking to a friend on the Internet any better or worse than talking to them on the phone? I see FB friends tagged in thousands of photos at various parties and outings as they are excellent caterers to their social life. They look happy. They have a lot of friends. Is this how I’m supposed to be?
I wish I could say that I’ve learned something from this internal conversation, but the truth is, I’m not sure what to change. The reality is, your childhood group of friends move away, you meet new people, some you keep, some you don’t, and you spend the majority of your adult life trying to succeed, career-wise and family-wise.
Friendships take work. Maybe I’m too self-centered to take the time to focus on nurturing current and provoking new friendships. Maybe I will see this over time, or maybe, like the NY Times article suggests, I will get worse as I delve deeper into my adult life. Will I wake up one day singing, “My God! What have I done?!”
What kind of friend are you? What do you think makes a good friend?
I would consider the friendship I offer to people to be a mixed bag. I can be there for someone and disinterested in a split second. I suppose I get bored. More likely, I’m an asshole. I do enjoy the fact that we are both left handed. I also married a left handed person, so you know it’s important to me. Not really, but I like it.
I like you!
I think the article does have some merit, but thanks to my short attention span, I couldn’t make it through the whole thing. But while I still consider our group of friends here our best, we definitely see and talk to each other less now that we all have kids.
As for the type of friends we are, I could have written your words myself. I WANT to be there, I WANT to be the one who sends a sweet card to say that I’m thinking of someone, but I just don’t. I want to help, I want to offer a meal if you’re sick or just had a baby or something, but…I don’t. I’m a great long distance friend, chatting online or in text with you and telling you that I wish I was close so I could help. But I’m a terrible close-proximity friend, because when it comes down to it, I’m busy and tired, and I don’t have much left to give.
I’ll think about all of this the next time I make a move to accost you in a public setting. I practically trapped you in your chair at the ONA meeting!
😀 I hope I won’t be a recluse the next ONA meeting! 😉
Yeah, ditto. Wow!
“If you have drama in your life, I will disappear like a ninja in the night.” I love that line! Made me laugh and laugh. I am an *awesome* friend but never remember anybody’s birthday or to send cards for anything. But I am loyal to the death, and very, very protective and caring of my friends. So they overlook that I forget little things like birthdays. Oops!
I’m glad I’m not alone! I’m loyal too, but can’t remember dates to save my life. I’m good with my family though. Will never forget a b-day!
i’m not so bad at remembering birthdays, but i am the worst at knowing what day/month/year it is. i get very consumed in what is happening right in front of me.
lauren, i think you are a wonderful friend. i relate to your thinking but want you to know that in the biggest way, at the most important times, you are right there with something lovely: a note, a text, a gesture of yourself. it may seem
small to you, but i assure you, it is no small thing.
Great article, Lauren. I can totally relate to a lot of this.
I think as adults, it’s harder to make & maintain friendships. And, as a military wife (such as myself), it becomes all the more difficult. I cut myself off from my pathetic hometown when I graduated & left, determined to make friends in college. I graduated from A&M with 3 of the best friends a girl could have. 16-ish years later, one of the first friends I made just decided she didn’t need me in her life anymore & told me to lose her number. Nice. Luckily I still have the other 2 and some great friends I’ve made at our last 2 duty stations. I’ve discovered it takes me about a year to warm up in a new place, which makes it tough considering we’re only in a place for about 3 years! I’m thankful for social media & email so I can keep in contact with the few people in my life I can call true friends.
Oh my God! What a terrible way to end a friendship. I guess she at least didn’t leave you wondering? How shitty though! I’m sorry. 🙁 I can’t imagine how tough it is to be a military wife. I meet a lot of folks who travel a lot and they just stick to one another. They seem happy though. I don’t know if I could do it forever…
I am such a recluse too. This is why doing crazy things (like moving across the country or to another country) is easier to do when you’re young and dumb…or when you’re well established with a partner and take the step together. Those of us who live in the middle have to hold on to the few friendships we have because meeting new people is hard!
I’m getting closer to 30 and I do not have my life together. AT. ALL. I feel like the cliche of “oh all my friends are in long-term relationships and having babies and I don’t fit in” is true for me.
But I will say that I do think I am a good friend. Such a good friend in fact that I think people take advantage of me and think of me as a good sideline friend – someone who they can use when it’s convenient. I complain and complain about it, but I still let it happen. But I feel like I’m stuck with shitty friends because I’m too awkward and old to meet new people. Plus meeting others like me is tough. People who aren’t planning weddings and showers and like to drink at pubs on weeknights who actually have jobs and shower.
This comment is getting too long. But yeah – making friends at our age is tough.
Have you ever said anything to your friends when you feel they are taking advantage of you? I know it’s tough. I have difficulty with that…
It’s tough telling people what they don’t want to hear. No one wants to be told they’re a bad friend right? Most people just say, ‘I’m just so busy right now.”
I think people have different priorities and forget that they can slow down and have fun with their friends. Some people value money more, or their romantic relationships, or have a different core group of friends and you don’t really fit in there.
My problem is that I don’t have a core group of friends – I have friends here and there. I almost had a core group of friends when I was with my boyfriend, because we were all friends before we dated. Now they’re all still friends and I’m the awkward outsider. Oh life.
I really enjoyed this. I think it brings up lots of interesting points and worries.
I think that there’s a fine line between “putting yourself out there” socially and going out too much. I walk that line and sometimes I slip into the unproductive side of it and that’s what I worry about.
My advice, take it or leave it, is to try and keep up one or two good friendships in the city you live in (other than romantic relationships) at all times. Not necessarily seeing that person once a week, but at least keeping up. I don’t know, works for me, I guess.
I think you’re right. My problems is that sometimes those people move away or they are boys and it gets weird when you start dating someone. I guess they’re not a true friend if things get weird when you start dating someone though.
[…] blogger Hipstercrite recently wrote about adult friendships, and there was a giant mildly-negative New York Times article on making friends after 30. […]
I don’t care what you say, I think you’ve been a great friend to me. And I’m still holding out hope that you’ll come back to L.A. one day. Austin is too hot, and inundated with feral kittens. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one living in your house right now.
I’m terrible at keeping up with people. Every time I make the effort to do something, I always expect, “Hey, they’ll get back to me next time if they want this friendship to actually exist.” Weeks go by. Months. Then I just feel they don’t want to be friends and give up trying to say anything until a few more months go by and they say, “Hey, haven’t talked to you in a while. We should catch up!”
….Then I just think, “Communication goes both ways.” Become bitter. And then hang out with them anyway.
It’s a vicious cycle.
But I can relate with just about everything you’ve said here (I’m left handed. Not Jewish, but Heinz 57 European). I like my alone time and I’m quiet in social situations which comes off as “stuck up asshole” to people who don’t know me. Then again, if it’s not me being quiet, it’s me finding the people around me extremely boring. Maybe I am a stuck up asshole.
It’s hard for me to break the ice with most people. I’m just painfully, socially awkward.
But, enough of my rambling.
I like the point on stimulation. And the magic of being in “flow.” As far as the point on different thresholds for stimulation, I don’t necessarily know that extroverts can tolerate MORE stimulation, but maybe, *I think, introverts are more sensitive to stimulation and therefore pick up much more in a smaller amount of time..leaving them “satisfied” with less, and potentially “overwhelmed” with less too.
To me, introversion vs. extroversion relates to the topic of friendships because I know for myself I have become more of an “introvert” (as society typically defines it) over time. The truth is I think what stimulates me (mentally) and *satisfies* me has changed with time…and more often than not I have to look inside rather than outside for that satisfaction. That being said, nothing can replace a hug or catching up with a dear friend over coffee. Especially when it’s been a while (I tend to disappear too…to keep things interesting for that eventual meet up)and you can gloss over the day-to-day banter and get to some good philosophizing and thought-provoking conversations on LIFE, the big picture, and mostly, our human experience! A bit selfish to not want to listen to the little stuff (I guess the “big stuff” is subjective, debatable and maybe different for everyone?), but I really I don’t think it’s good for either party to engage in those discussions because it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae as you said, and..does that ever really lead to any sort of satisfaction for anyone? I know it doesn’t for me. :/ But, maybe I’m not a good friend either. Have a problem though, and I’ll run over to you. That’s my definition of being a good friend. If you want to talk about who was next to you in yoga, I’m busy and my phone broke. Maybe it IS a GEmini thing?!
Thoughtful article, Lauren. It made me think about where I stand with this whole adult relationships thang.
I am a GREAT friend. But it took a little while to get there.
Before I went to grad school, I made a few friends here in Austin that are now some of my closest. Let’s call them The Girls. I know I know, very Sex & The City. But I count my lucky stars every day to know The Girls, and I’ve cut out other things in my life to cultivate those relationships, because they are so important to me.
Now … when I moved back to Austin, I started going out a lot, and made some other buds. Let’s call them The Music & Social Media Friends. These are wonderful people, terribly hip (hipper than me), and every time I see them again, they are greeted with a hug. But I’m no longer close friends with them.
At a certain point, my time with The Music & Social Media Friends started to infringe on my time with The Girls (and The Husband). The Girls were like, “hey, we miss you!” And you know what? I missed them, too. So I made a conscious decision to let go a little bit from that newer crew.
Now, sometimes when I stalk TM&SMF on Facebook, I feel a little tiny twinge of … “oh man! Look at all the cool stuff they’re doing! I’m missing out!!!” I also genuinely like these people. But The Girls are my family, and once you’ve found your family, it’s a really special thing.
You said, “I find myself wanting to focus on my career and passing over the calls for physical human connection.” I feel like I’m the opposite, and career-wise, that may be to my detriment. I know I don’t submit nearly as much as I wish I did. BUT, I do think Lauren that you are incredibly supportive of others, AND a great bud (quick to respond, down for hanging out, etc.), even while you are focusing on your career! So if there’s any lesson I’ve learned, it’s that you can only really have so many close friends in your life. Limitless acquaintances, but only a handful of close, family-like friends. You’ve got the close friend gene. It’s just that you work at home, and Lord knows that’s probably why you feel like a Salinger-esque recluse. 😉
I really enjoyed your post. In the few months since I’ve graduated, I’ve felt really removed from the offline social world. I am physically isolated up on a hill (my parents’ house) and the people with whom I was closest in the past few years are too busy with their own things so I can definitely relate to feeling like you don’t have a good support group. I think part of that comes from my high standard of “good friend-ship” which I like to think I offer but don’t always feel is reciprocated.
All in all, whatever makes you happy should be priority. The fact that we are remembering to ask the questions “does this make me happy” or “do I feel like I’m missing out” is a great step in itself.
Again, loved the post!
I’m totally there with you Lauren. I suck at being friends with anyone. I keep in touch on facebook, and certain friends I will text randomly, but other than that, I suck ass at it. Maybe I’m just lazy. Or too self centered. But I would rather be a recluse and spend most of my time reading than going to parties and even just being around people. They wear me out, being around too many at once, and I know I have a very low tolerance for BS. So yeah, maybe I’m just an asshole as well. It doesn’t bother me too much, so I just try to make an effort once in awhile and it at least keeps some of my reclusive tendencies in balance. I think most of my friends by now realize I’m not good with it and they don’t take much offence to it. Well, I certainly hope not anyway.