Recently, an article was written for the New York Times (coincidentally by the husband of one of my favorite bloggers, Joanna from Cup of Joe) about how it can be difficult to make friends after 30. The post has sparked a lot of conversation, and I’ve seen a lot of commentary and social shares from people agreeing or disagreeing with the sentiment of the author, Alex Williams. Williams writes that making friends later in life (your 30s and beyond) can be difficult and is often attributed to us all being a little bit more busy, and a little pickier with what our priorities are and expectations in friendship.
//image// D. Sharon Pruitt
Personally, I’ve been particularly hyper-aware of this during my first year in San Francisco as I’ve been working to fill my “pool of friends,” as Williams calls it. I’ve met a lot of people over this past year and have had many conversations with those who are also in different stages of making new friends: either brand new to a city and what sometimes equates to desperately searching for new friends, struggling to understand the idiosyncrasies of new or changing friendships, or unfortunately, sometimes removing friendships that aren’t working.
I’ve been really lucky in life with friends – close female and male relationships seemingly have come naturally and easily to me thus far. I feel surrounded by friends who feel like my family and a good list I could dial up if shit completely hit the fan, and I needed someone to talk to, pick me up, rescue me, rub my feet and feed me bonbons (just joking – that’s gross).
But this doesn’t mean I don’t work and try really hard at each of those friendships. Work nearly every day, all year long, at it. I try to remember the little dates and moments that are important to my friends and keep up on their lives: how did that interview go on Monday… how are you feeling today… tell me about your weekend… we haven’t seen each other in awhile, let’s do dinner…did you get the card I sent you… I’ve made this part of my priority in life, whether I’m in a serious relationship or single. If you’re one of my good friends, I won’t let too much time go by before I check in or make a plan to see your pretty face. I’m far, far from perfect or from anyone that has this “all figured out,” but those are just a few of the ways I keep my friends and cultivate my friendships.
//image // Brandon Warren
But, as I charter new friendships in San Francisco (and coincidentally, my first year of 30), I find myself making more calculated, conscience decisions about keeping or not keeping friendships with people more than any time in my life. Williams nailed it for me: my time is increasingly limited. (Even though I never feel like I’m “too busy” to make new friends or to meet new people). I am, however, picky about spending my time with the wrong people. I’m also increasingly more aware of the kind of people I want to surround myself with and what I expect from my friendships. Some of the things I’ve thought about when evaluating new friendships over the past year and deciding who I want to center my energy around and spend my time with are:
- Are we somewhat similar? Do we like to do the same things, do we have good “talks,” are you “social,” can we find common ground?
- Do you treat your friendships with integrity? Will you call me back, show up, listen, and show support.
- Are we both putting as much into the friendship as we’re getting out of it (equally, from both sides)?
- Do we like each other? Do we invite each other. Do we want to stand in a room full of people with each other.
- Do you, or have you, repeatedly hurt my feelings? (This is usually my last “screening” question before I decide that a friendship probably just isn’t for me).
It might seem like a lot – and I know I’m not “dating” my friends, but sometimes we spend so much time with a friend, it’s kinda like you are dating each other. So why not be nearly, or just as, picky?
What are some of the things you look for in your friendships? Do you think I’m too picky? How have your friendships changed as you get older? I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic!
Currently Feeling: Glad my week is a LOT slower than last week – I almost spontaneously burst in flames last week from all the professional and personal plans. Whew. Coming up for air for those I owe phone calls and emails to…
Currently Anticipating: A lot of free time this week to spend on the final touches of my “passion project” that I swear was going to be done two months ago.
Currently Sick Of: Unsubscribing from every “Comments and Likes” from all friends on Facebook because I see random photos and updates of people I don’t even know on my phone. Weird, Facebook!