As we age, our friend circles become smaller and smaller. Some friends grow apart, others lose touch and often, it’s just a matter of growing up.
Therapist and friendship researcher Miriam Kirmayer, says over time, it gets harder for adults to form meaningful friendships.
“There are several significant reasons why it can become increasingly difficult to make friends as we age,” she tells Global News. “Often times, it is a practical issue. Our schedules are busy. We are short on time. As we try to balance the various relationships and responsibilities that we have, our friendships are often the first thing to go.”
She adds on top of this, adults often feel “rusty” when it comes to making new friends.
“What’s more, the ways in which we can or should go about meeting new people and building close connections can definitely change, the older we get.”
Kirmayer continues some people also feel shame going out of their way to meet someone new and this often leads to other issues of loneliness and social anxiety.
“The difficulty is that feeling alone with these thoughts and emotions can take away from our willingness and ability to put ourselves out there and meet new people.”
Investing in friendships as adults
Some studies have found friendship is critical for a person’s health and happiness, Time notes, and friends at an older age can be even more important than bonding with family.
“Given the overwhelming evidence that friendships are important for our emotional and physical health, it is well worth investing in creating a social support that reflects who we are at that moment in time, the kind of life we want to live, and the support we all need and deserve,” Kirmayer says.
And as we age, we also get a better sense of who we are and the type of people we want to keep (and cut out) in our lives.
“Being open to building new connections can help us secure the support we need for whatever it is we are going through at that point in time, be it college, motherhood, or retirement.”
The power of the internet
The internet in particular has become a powerful tool for people of all ages to connect. From reuniting with family to catching up with old friends to even finding love, Kirmayer says it can also be a way to make new friends.
Lilian Yange initially met one her closest friends, Angel Foley, in a line at Service Ontario. While the two didn’t talk to one another, the 26-year-old said she remembered talking to Foley’s mother. Both women were there with their children, and Yange remembers Foley’s quiet nature.
Months later, Foley, 29, had found Yange via Instagram through the social media app’s explore feed.
Lilian Yange (left) and Angel Foley (right) with their children.
“She asked me if I wanted to meet up for coffee and we’ve been friends since,” Yange tells Global News. “I never thought I would see her again.”
The two moms talk every single day and their babies even have play dates. “It’s so awesome to watch them grow up together,” she says.
Yange adds she often connects with people through social media to form friendships, and as a fairly new mom, it’s nice to find other mothers to relate to.
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“I was surfing through it and found a guy named Arthur and it said ‘internet entrepreneur’ in his bio … I contacted him to find out more about what he did,” he tells Global News. Cosh said the two arranged to meet at “7” but it wasn’t clear at what point of the day.
Arthur Rocha (left) and Rich Cosh (right).
“I thought it was 7 a.m., but it was 7 p.m.,” he continues. “I called him at 7 a.m. and woke him from a dead sleep. He decided to meet me anyway for breakfast and we talked nonstop for five hours. Best friends ever since.”
The two ended up being business partners and started multiple ventures together. Cosh adds Rocha is even a groomsman for his wedding this summer.
“You can meet amazing people anywhere, anytime, and through any medium, social or not. It just takes making an effort.”
Where to start
Even dating apps like Bumble have features where you can swipe for a friend rather than a date, and sites like Hey! VINA and Meetup have been able to help people meet through common interests.
Kirmayer says these sites are helpful for those who feel isolated due to geographical distances, difficulties related to anxiety or depression, or even life events like becoming a new mother.
“For those who struggle to meet people and crave social contact, friendship apps are changing the ways we meet people and how our friendships are formed,” she says. “It can be easier to reach out, introduce yourself, and get a friendship off the ground when you know that the other person is also looking to make new friends.”
And as we age, she says we should make friendship a priority.
“It ultimately helps to recognize that investing in friendships does not have to come at the expense of other relationships and responsibilities, but rather can make our lives that much more meaningful and fulfilling.”