This Is Why It’s Tough To Make Friends As An Adult

November 8, 2016  |  
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At some point in your life, you will find yourself on a Saturday with nothing to do. It’s rare, I know, between organizing filing cabinets, getting cars washed, picking up those shoes you had fixed, grocery shopping, cleaning, going to the gym, and catching up with your mom on the phone for one hour. But, the day will come when you miraculously have nothing to do. So you call one friend to see if they want to hang out; they’re busy. Then you call the second and third people you’d genuinely like to see who live in town; they’re busy too. Then you realize, you’re out of friends. And you’ll wonder how the heck this happened, thirty or forty-something years into life. It happened because making friends as a grownup is hard! Most people accept that as true but don’t really know why. Here’s why it’s hard to make friends as an adult.

 

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Bonds take time

If you’re going to feel the pull to see somebody, you need to, well, see them with some regularity. After college, that’s very difficult. To really build a bond with somebody, you need to see them repeatedly, frequently, and over a long time frame. This is nearly impossible as a grownup. So while you may have enjoyed coffee with Jamie from yoga…that was four months ago, and now you almost forgot her.

 

 

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

New friends require planned activities

Most people do not feel comfortable asking a brand new friend to tag along on errands, or hang on the couch while they unpack boxes. New friends require planned activities, and some people don’t have the energy, time or mental capacity to plan a hike/day at the beach/concert.

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

We are less forgiving

You probably have friends who’ve made out with a guy you liked, borrowed money they never returned or slept with some questionable people. But, that all happened in college or high school when it was forgivable (they didn’t know better). As an adult, if a new friend does something questionable, you probably bail.

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

We have stricter filters

In college, you likely had an eclectic group of friends. They came from different socio-economic backgrounds; some had green dreadlocks while some had comb-overs; some did every drug under the sun, and some were virgins. It was entertaining and exciting! Today, you likely prefer friends who are more similar to you than different, and that shrinks the friend pool.

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

Bonds happen over shared experiences

Like being in class together, being on a sports team together, being in detention together, sitting through family holiday parties together, etc. There is little opportunity to share regular experiences with people after college. There are your coworkers, of course, but you only like a few of them.

 

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

We are too mentally exhausted for new information

Making new friends means listening to a new person’s story, problems, background, breakups, first date stories, etc. After digesting information all day between work and family dilemmas and tax forms, some of us don’t have the mental capacity to “learn” a new person.

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

Significant others come into play

A lot of people are paired off by now. You may love Kristen, but if you hate her husband, this friendship just won’t work out. And it’s not just a phase she is going through—it’s her husband.

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

And significant others take up time

Even if you do like your friend’s significant other, the mere fact that she has one means that 75 percent of her social time is already spoken for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

The single and the not-single pair off

If you are single, your married friends probably make more time for their married friends; it’s an easy way for them to spend time with their husband and buddies at the same time. They may fear to invite you because they don’t want you to feel like a fifth wheel. If you’re married, you probably do exactly what I just stated to your single friends.

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Shutterstock

Money comes into play

At this point in life, you and everybody else is used to a certain lifestyle. That lifestyle may involve buying bottle service at a lounge every weekend, and it might involve keeping coupons for a chain restaurant. If you and your friend have drastically different entertainment budgets, it can be hard to see each other.

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

Friends often become something else

When we are grownups, our friends can become more than friends; they can become people we borrow money from, people we loan money to, people with whom we begin a business, people we babysit for or who babysit for us. All of these scenarios can turn into arguments that destroy friendships.

 

 

Corbis

Corbis

Some people just don’t want to

Some people—actually a lot of people—just don’t want to make new friends. They may find you perfectly likable, and even have a great time around you, but they’re content with their friend’s group and don’t want to put energy into expanding it.

 

 

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Shutterstock

Or assume you don’t want to

Then there are people who assume you don’t want to be friends! Probably because they encountered the previous types of people I mentioned. So there are plenty of individuals who will never approach you about hanging out.

 

 

 

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Free time is precious

As an adult, free time is very precious. We want to know it will be spent well. We can’t know that when meeting up with someone, we don’t know very well. People tend to stick to the activities, and people they know will make their free time “worth it.”

 

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

People are wary of people who want new friends

It may not be nice or fair, but many people are wary of those who want to make new friends. Oddly enough, those same people probably need more friends! But they assume that if you want to make more friends something is wrong with you.

 

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

People want to reap what they’ve already sown

After a certain age, people want to dedicate time to getting closer to people with whom they are already close. This can take up all of their time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

It requires too much planning, which kills spontaneity

Because we are so busy, we usually need to make plans for a simple happy hour three weeks in advance. By the time those drinks roll around, some of the enthusiasm for them has died. It can feel forced.

 

 

 

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You have illusions of friends

Through social media, parenting groups, networking groups, the homeowners association, your neighbors and your cousins who live in town, you have the illusion of friends. But you don’t really have that many people to hang out with on a Friday night.

 

 

 

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Shutterstock

You have responsibilities

At this point, you’ll usually choose to stay in, saving money, getting a good night’s rest and not risking wrinkles with alcohol over going out, spending money, not sleeping enough, and zapping your vitality with alcohol. Why? Because you need to do things tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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Image Source: Shutterstock

You don’t want anyone else’s burdens

It may sound selfish, but many people don’t want to take on the burdens of others. They have their own stresses and dramas, and they already juggle some drama of their friends. They don’t want anybody else’s problems.

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