Many friends and I have lamented about how difficult it is to make friends over 30. While we naturally tend to make friends when we start a new school or job, there are fewer life transitions after the age of 30. The natural ability to meet friends as we change environments makes sense, as sharing a common experience can lead to an instant connection.
However, once we are settled, be it employment, geographic location, etc., new people don’t come around that often. In addition, many people are in committed relationships and/or have children, which takes up time and puts us at a seemingly different life stage.
I had a period of time last year when I set out to make new friends. Starting up random conversations with people online led nowhere, and at times, only resulted in weird looks aimed in my direction. Moving into a new apartment and attempting to meet my neighbors wasn’t successful either. As of a year later, I’ve only been able to get to the point of exchanging pleasantries and a quick convo about the weather as we take the elevator to the lobby. By this point, it seems as if I have missed my opportunity with them.
Simply put, by age 30+ many of us are set in our routines, which makes it challenging to form bonds with others. So why is it important to make new friends, and how do we go about doing it? In addition, how can we use online dating platforms as a way to create friendships?
The Importance Of Friendships
Throughout life, we have many different types of friendships: best friends, good friends, casual friends and acquaintances. The closer the friendship, the more we know and trust a person. Friendships are often very fragile, because unlike family bonds, they are elected. Therefore, as easily as some of them begin, they can end just as swiftly.
Friendships in general are important for many reasons. They are a great form of social support since friends can help us get through difficult times. They also provide an intimate connection in which we disclose our secrets and wishes without fear of judgement. In fact, best friends, beyond offering emotional support, also provide a sense of loyalty, trust, intimacy and fun (Hartup & Stevens, 1997).
It’s not just having friends that is important, but it is the quality of these friendships that matter. The “better” the quality, the greater the sense of well-being we derive from this connection (Hartup & Stevens, 1997). Therefore, while friendships are important, positive, quality relationships are the most beneficial.
As many of us grow into adulthood, our attitudes, beliefs and interests change. Our life experiences accumulate, and in a sense, help to shape our sense of self. Therefore, as we change, our needs from others change as well. Friendships that were once very important may wane, which can be the impetus to create new, meaningful connections.
As mentioned, in adulthood, we focus on finding friends who share similarities, experiences, and interests. Therefore, it is important to identify activities and groups that we are inherently interested in so we can meet like-minded people.
Below are some suggestions of where you can encounter new people. These suggestions will also allow you to have a bit of fun, and in many cases, to give back to the community.
- Find a Meetup group that interests you
- Join an intramural sports team
- Become a member of a local synagogue or other house of worship
- Find offerings at local colleges
As you might guess from these recommendations, your search for friendship might also lead you to new romantic possibilities. After all, these activities are intended to lead you to people with similar interests as you, so you might accidentally stumble across a new BFF and a new BF or GF in the same place.
Friendships And Romantic Relationships
Since most of you are on JDate looking for romantic connections, it’s important to note how dating can increase the opportunities to make new friends. As we expand our social circles, not only are we increasing our support system, but we are opening up our dating pool. The more friends we have, the more people we can be introduced to and potentially form a romantic connection with. Also, as our friendships deepen, perhaps a spark will ignite. Finally, if you meet a person that you really get along with, but don’t think you have a romantic connection, perhaps you may form a great and long-lasting friendship.
This works in the other direction as well. Maybe you’ll hit it off with someone you meet online. As your relationship progresses, you’ll be introduced to that person’s friends. These people can also become part of your larger friend group over time if your relationship becomes more serious.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Making friends over 30 isn’t always easy, but it’s so worth the effort.
You may also be interested in Can Men & Women Really Be Just Friends?
Hartup, W. W., & Stevens, N. (1997). Friendships and adaptation in the life course. Psychological Bulletin, 121(3), 355.