Friendship // 02.28.13 // 10 Comments

Making BFFs Ain't What It Used to Be

We're excited to have Bethenny's therapist, Dr. Amador, give his expert insight on a topic many women have trouble understanding; the complicated world of making friends in your late 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. As women, we beat ourselves up all the time over the number of friends we have in our circle and why it's so hard to find new ones.

Check out Dr. Amador's advice below, or better yet, grab a potential friend, and read together…

Making BFFs Ain't What It Used to Be
When Making BFFs Ain't What It Used to Be
By Dr. Amador

“Why is it so much harder to make friends? Was I nicer when I was younger?” Or, “I thought when I had kids I might make some new friends, but everyone’s too busy with family, work, soccer, piano lessons...” Or, “The only friends I have time for are at work and I don’t want to take work home with me.” Or, “Weddings are picking my friendships off one by one!”

If any of these statements go through your head or cross your lips, you’re not alone. After high school/college close friends become harder to make and old friends drift away into marriages, parenthood, careers and other cities. Divorce is another friend killer. When you are over 30 the drifting away and ability to make new friends usually gets worse.

Here’s a story Karen told me: “As Jennifer and her husband got in their car after dinner I thought, had we met in school, we would have talked every day and been BFFs. We have so much in common and had this immediate intense connection. That was nine months ago and we’ve seen each other only once! We text, e-mail and even phone every now and then. I call her my friend, but is she really? We tell each other we want to get together, but somehow it never happens.”

Karen’s story is actually typical. Many new people enter your life, through work, play dates with kids (if you have them) and, of course, Twitter, Words with Friends and Facebook. But in our mid-twenties and beyond, really close friends -- the kind we made in college, the ones we call first to share our best and worst news with -- seem to live on another planet. Did the friendship pool get smaller? Did I change? If you’re like Karen, or like me, both are true.

What changed?
From our mid-twenties, thirties, forties, and onward the ground becomes less fertile for close friendships. For 60 years sociologists have argued that three ingredients are needed: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. A school campus with shared experiences and free time to talk create fertile ground. So now what? Go back to school?

Obstacles We Create
When our invitation to get together for a meal, to shop, talk or party is turned down, we sometimes throw a pity party. We give up too quickly and isolate. We overgeneralize and become cynical. When that party gets too depressing, we jump on the resentment train. Getting angry because someone isn’t making the effort you are is not going to open any doors -- and it can look desperate. It hurts to get turned down.

Pain is sometimes not an option when you want to make friends, but misery is always an option. It’s what you do with the pain that makes all the difference.

Here Are Your Don'ts:
-Don't give up and feel sorry for yourself if it’s hard. Most things worth having -- especially close friendships take work and commitment.

-Don’t keep asking to get together if you keep getting turned down. That’s not optimism, that’s being a doormat.

-Don't close your eyes and make excuses for her/him when your new friend is overly self-absorbed no matter how interesting, charming and attractive. You're not headed toward a real friendship, you’re headed toward joining a fan club.

-Don't isolate yourself by staying home 7 days a week and not picking up the phone to call someone.

On a personal note, after college, then again in my 30s and early 40s I found myself thinking like Karen (remember Karen?). I took my own advice and made one BFF in my 30s and two very close friends in the last ten years, and many more casual friends who are real friends: we don’t just have fun together. They show up for me when I need them and I do the same in return.

Let me know, by commenting below, if this recipe for making friends worked for you.

What are your dos when making friends in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond? Use your imagination and share your wisdom below in the comments. We can all learn from each other!

About Dr. Amador:
Dr. Amador is an internationally sought-after speaker, clinical psychologist, professor at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City, the Founder and Director of the LEAP Institute and author of eight books including the national best seller “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!™”

Dr. Amador was featured in "Bethenny Getting Married" and "Bethenny Ever After" as Bethenny's therapist. His expertise has made him a regular contributor to the "Today" show and a featured guest on ABC's "Good Morning America," "Prime Time Live," "CBS This Morning," "NBC Nightly News," "60 Minutes," CNN, "Dateline," ABC’s "World News Tonight," FOX News, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and many others.
Learn more about Dr. Amador »

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Comments

Kaity
191 days ago

Funny that I just found this article - was posted a while ago. I absolutely agree that it can be very difficult to make friends as an adult - I know that this has been very true for me too. I did find a website that helps to overcome this issue - it is kinda like a dating site, except that it is just for women and just for friendship. The one I found is called www.socialjane.com. I think it looks really cool. And I'll definitely try the other suggestions as well - picking up the phone couldn't hurt either, right! :)

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Audrey Marie
504 days ago

Great advice Dr. Amador!

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Elise Gleason
504 days ago

I think that there should be sites online to meet friends
like there are to meet a lover / mate.

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Carole
504 days ago

Uplifting and informative.

I like focus on do's and positives!

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Amy
505 days ago

Yup. Definitely harder to keep in touch with friends after college. College years are meant to be closed-knit andonce it's over, real life kicks in. People move on with their lives no matter if it's getting married, moving to another state/country, and squeezing out kiddos. It's all part of growing up. You form new friendships as you go along. I find myself looking for potential friends at coffee shops, music venue and at restaurants. I would totally eye someone out and if we ended up with a good conversation, phone numbers will be exchanged. It may be weird but it's how you say things and assuming that we're all in the same boat, it'll be less awkward. Very useful tips.

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Deena
505 days ago

As a pregnant soon to be mom in her early 30's, this really hit close to home! Great advice, most of which makes perfect sense, we sometimes just need to hear the message at just the right time. Thanks!

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Tom Bell
505 days ago

I'm a 30 year old graduate student who's wife pulls all the weight around the house. She's the better cook and makes more money so I literally get my allowance and a sack lunch. Since getting married I've noticed that the pool of potential friends starts to shrink a little bit. Some people are uncomfortable hangin with "the couple". At this point though, screw them cuz my wife's amazing but I can see how when we have kids that pool will shrink even smaller.

This article is not only good advice for the aformentioned obstacles but really can be generalized to life in general.

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Emma F.
507 days ago

I couldn't help but laugh when I began to read this because I was just talking about this a few days ago with a co worker! I really enjoyed reading this and I liked some of the ideas that were offered about getting out in order to be in closer proximity to potential new friends. I also like that those suggestions didn't just include going out to bar- because unlike most 25 year olds- I don't drink and I don't really socialize in bars. I can't wait for next week's blog! Thanks Dr. Amador and Bethenny! <3 Emma

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Jessica
507 days ago

This hits so close to home. It's so hard to make new friends! I'll try this advice, thanks!

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Caitlin Shelinbarger
509 days ago

Im a 22 year old senior in college and am noticing all these problems with my current friends. They all have boyfriends or fiancé's or are about to leave to go to medical school, veterinary school or get married and are too busy to hang out or wont do anything without their significant other. This is hard because I am continuing on here at the college we have been at the past 4 years for graduate school and am afraid I am losing my friends. I am so excited to start graduate school this summer but again its a whole different world, school becomes more like a job and most of your time is spent studying or doing your research for your thesis and i am afraid i will be spending a lot of time alone. I am a very social person and love spending time with my friends but the idea of starting from square one with absolutely no friends on the first day of school this summer is scary, and i don't have the safety net of joining a sorority like I did when i first came to college 4 years ago. What can i do to ensure that i find good genuine friends who want to spend time with me like i want to spend time with them? May that be studying together or going out on the town after a hard week of tests.

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