An article in today's New York Times (July 15, 2012, "Sunday Styles" section) caught my attention: "Friends of a Certain Age." The Web page bears the somewhat more informative title "The challenge of making friends as an adult." I have been thinking for a long time about this topic, for reasons that I will mention below. First, though, just to give an idea of what I am talking about, here is an excerpt from the article:
In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.
As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.
No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.
But often, people realize how much they have neglected to restock their pool of friends only when they encounter a big life event, like a move, say, or a divorce. . . .
As external conditions change, 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, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.
I wonder whether other men who are well into their adult years have difficulty in making new friends--by which I mean close or important friends, not mere friendly associates--and, if so, what they do about it.
To tell a bit about why I raise these questions: I have always been disposed rather to develop a few close friendships than to maintain more casual ones with a larger number of people. This seemed to work all right through much of my life, but in recent years, the loss of two important friends has made me much lonelier. One loss is perhaps not so troubling, first, because the friend in question was not as close as he might have been, though his friendship was very important to me for a time; and second, because he has not died, but has simply acted toward me in a way that has made it impossible for us to be friends any longer. The other loss, though, was of someone who had been not just an important influence in my life but also my closest and most loyal friend since I was 20 years old (I am now 51), and the loss is unequivocal, as he died two years ago.
I am sometimes inclined to think that it is pointless to try to make new close friends at my age, for the reasons outlined in the last paragraph of the quotation above: the ways in which people's lives go in advanced adulthood make it impossible to form bonds comparable to those formed in one's late adolescence and early adulthood.
On the other hand, I also tell myself sometimes that one should simply aim lower, and that, in the absence of an all-around friend with whom one can share most of oneself, friends with whom one shares comparatively small bits of oneself--specialized friends, one might call them--are better than nothing.
Anyway, I wonder what sorts of experiences other men have in this regard.
Cause i am in my early twenties, probably means that i miss the life experience of my thirties and fourties. So i hope i am not speaking out of boundries. But even I recognize the problem you are sketching in this post.
Throughout my high school and college live I have always reckonned the ones I called friends more as the kind of friends, the situational friends. I found that my ideal of what a friend means to me is far more than that most of these persons (Even though we get along just fine!) do. And i mostly don't quite let them become close friends very soon. For me it's a slow process, in which you have to move across events in live (together or to talk about them).
And during my teenage years i really felt the need to make new friends and thus be accepted. But this has turned out otherwise, which made me a quite introverted person. With only two close friends. But even now i started 'a new life' in Amsterdam, i am not speaking to them as much as i want. But it makes it interesting about how you see friends and what they mean to you in live. for one i can emphazise the thought of losing those friends and feelling quite lonely about it. On the otherhand for me it is the most important thing that i keep talking to and meeting people. It doesn't have to be every day or to be very good friends.
You know, i am still young, but i've even seen my dad at his fifties gain new friends. i think just have the patience to let the friendshop grow and to put more trust in people, little by little, but i can only end with.. Hell, what do i know..
Offcourse, i agree with you. It's just the lines and boundries i set for myself are sometimes unrealistic as you probably guessed. But that doesn't make it so that anyone should stop trying ofcourse!
Not intentionally. Church. Work. I'm not much of a people person, I guess. Most of my close friends are longstanding.
There was a quote from 'Last Man Standing' (that new Tim Allen show) ... something to the effect of "sometimes I think your father had a family so he wouldn't have to meet anyone new". That about covers it.
I figure I've already met most of the people I'd like.
I'm 24 and made a new friend/acquaintance during just two weeks spent in New York City recently. Met another guy I would call an actual friend at work before that, I think it's just a matter of finding people even somewhat similar to you, and talking to them over and over and getting to know them. Just like in high school and college. No, you probably won't become friends with a stranger on the bus or something, but it's not hard to meet people at work.
Now Carl, be kind. You were writing these sorts of messages, what? A year ago?
As far as the question. I think everyone has this problem. Everyone's busy.
A good friend of mine died this past year. Our of many good friends he was the best I ever had and yet I'd known him less than five years. I was 33 when I met him. So you can make close friendships in a short time. Also, the ones that took time to build are very good but early on I didn't think much of them.
This has been an area of contention for me. I have never had male friends, and as I've aged and valued the concept of friendship, it has become more difficult to forge authentic friendships. I relate to the reality of church acquaintances proving not to be friends once you don't align to their narrow worldview. I served in a church seven years, and literally from the last service I worked for them until now there has been no social interaction---no calls, no emails. I sent texts in the beginning, but they were only from me to them. I am good at catching the hint since most people won't just say they don't want to spend time with you. It has been a difficult being this much time without any males to talk to openly.
It's just a fact of life that men don't talk like women do. Generally when another man starts talking too personally too much too soon or with a certain sort of intensity, we back off, instinctively. I've seen people do it and I've done it myself. It's easier to see it when you're outside of it.
In fact, this is true of people in general - but more so of men.
The trouble is that you're seeking female-style friendships with men. That's not to say that some of the greatest writers and thinkers haven't had the sort of friendships you're describing but they are rare and so the man who tends to function that way is going to have trouble finding friendships that are really substantial to him.
You've got to realize that people aren't being unkind when they pull back from intense friendships. Most people really can't deal with them and so they regulate things so that they don't have them.
You have to accept things as they are before you can start seeing things improve. Friendship is one of those things you can't care too much about or you won't have it. Then later when you have it, you and your friends will generally value it greatly.
I understand what you are saying, but I think the greater matter is that this is something found more in American culture and not universal. I should say I have made friends, but no one to hang out with on a regular basis because those who are open and talk more freely about life are from Europe that I've met. I have pretty much given up on American men being authentic anymore. The image is more important than substance for most. I accept that, but was simply making an experiential observation.