Growing up on the sitcom Friends, I assumed that part of adulthood was automatically gaining the perfect group of friends who I could share life with, until we were old biddies fighting over a Bingo game in a nursing home!
And it proved true at least for a while, as I had an abundance of friends in my twenties with no shortage of after-work drinks, all-day champagne brunches and girls’ weekends down south.
However, as I moved into my thirties, the number of friends I had to celebrate my latest milestone at work, discuss my relationship issues or go out for a night on the town had slowly diminished.
I knew it was inevitable to grow apart from some of my friends over the years however I didn’t realise how much things would change in my thirties. And now, at 32, I find myself mourning the loss of my once close-knit circle of friends.
Apparently this is pretty common. A recent study suggests that our social circle starts to decline from our mid-twenties, with women losing friends at a much faster rate than men.
So, what changes?
You or your friends couple up
We have all been there – you hang out with your bestie all the time and then they get a significant other and you start seeing them less and less as they start becoming closer to them. Next minute they are engaged and then married. Where does that leave you?
Once people partner up, they naturally focus more of their attention on their partners and less on their friends. And if you don’t have a significant other you can focus your time on you might feel left behind.
The older we get the more responsibilities we have – partners, careers, children. And inherently our social needs take a back seat.
The majority of my friends are married with young children. Don’t get me wrong – I love kids but my idea of a fun activity doesn’t include mothers groups, kid’s playgrounds or Pepper Pig (plus it’s weird to rock up to a mother’s group without a kid!).
And whilst I prefer a day out hiking in the bush, a couple of vinos at a boutique bar or catching the latest Blockbuster, it is hard for my ‘mummy friends’ to do that with me with a young child in tow.
Long distance friendships are hard
An amazing job opportunity or a significant other may be the reason for you or your friend to move away. And let’s face it – long distance relationships take a lot of effort and if both of you aren’t willing to put in the Facetime chats, lengthy emails and phone calls, it’s just not going to work.
You end one sided friendships
As we get older, we cherish our treasured friends – the ones that give as much as they receive from the friendship and we have less time for friends who don’t hold up their end of the friendship.
I had a friendship with someone that spanned over 25 years. I felt it was a one-sided friendship as I was the one that contacted them, initiated plans, celebrated their milestones and supported them in times of need. When I reflected on the 25+ years of friendship, I realised it was one-sided – my friend didn’t really make any effort towards me and I accepted that this friendship had run its course.
Your interests have changed
You might find you drift apart from your current friends because your interests are no longer the same. If you have a family, your time becomes consumed by your partner or children. Or maybe your friends still want to spend nights out drinking and dancing, but you now prefer staying home and watching Netflix. If you no longer share the same interests then you will gradually drift apart.
So, how do you make new friends in your thirties?
Life wouldn’t nearly be as interesting without friends along for the ride and are necessary for emotional health and creating a sense of belonging.
If you find, like me, that your circle of friends is slowly diminishing, you might need to consider making new friends. Add a busy work schedule to the already intimidating task of making friends and it may seem like an impossible task.
But it is possible to make new friends in your thirties – here are some ways to go about it.
Everything is digitalised, so why not make finding new friends just as easy?
There is still a lingering stigma when it comes to meeting friends online. And I for one am still not too sure about trying apps like Bumble BFF, Friender or Hey! Vina.
However, I am interested in Meetup where you can join a local group to meet people or try something new. Think book clubs, running groups, art classes and pub crawls. What better way to get like-minded people all in one place.
Check back here soon – as I am going to sign up to a couple of groups and write a future blog on my experience (wish me luck!).
Not only can a work wife make your job more enjoyable, she can also fulfil your social needs. And who said she can’t be your BFF outside of work too?
You share a work culture with your co-workers, so you already have some common ground to start conversations around. Go for coffee or lunch together, organise after work drinks or bribe her with cake!
Reconnect with old friends
I recently reconnected with an old friend. When I say old friend, I mean my BFF in High School, my ride-or-die, my sister from another mister, my bestie who knew me inside and out.
Social media made it possible for us to reconnect and I am so glad that we did. I forgot how much I missed having her in my life and when we caught up it was like nothing had changed.
Have you got any amazing friends who you’ve lost touch with? Perhaps it is about time you reconnected.
Join a club
Joining a club is a great way to connect with people who have similar interests. And don’t just limit yourself to sporting clubs – these days you can join just about anything from language or literature through to video games or Improv clubs. The world is your oyster!
Reach out on social media
Consider yourself a social media queen? Then why not reach out to new friends on it – no really!
If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, chances are you have someone that always comments on your posts or sends you DMs. And if they are interested in what you have to post on social media, then chances are they would be interested in you in real life. So why not try reaching out to them? What have you got to lose!
Have you got any suggestions for making new friends in your thirties?