17 July 2012

The challenges of making friends

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Friends, Random

Making friends has never been easy for me. Whether it was making the wrong friends, getting burned too many times or my own inability to connect with people, it hasn’t been an easy road.

And it doesn’t get easier as you get older or move to big cities. When I moved to Chicago, I knew no one. It took me six months to connect with someone (by accident) and fortunately, a group of friends spawned from that. That friend, and some of that group, are no longer in the picture.

My history, and that experience reminded me that making friendships and connecting with people are things I’ll always struggle with.

I didn’t leave college with a solid, tight group of friends. Maybe it was transferring schools or other things happening at that time, but that didn’t happen. I had friends and people I hung out with, but not deeply connected friends I actively keep in touch with to this day.

Then, I read an article in the New York Times about the evolution of friendships in adulthood and it hit on exactly how I feel about this topic.

For a long time, work has always been my #1 priority. I prioritized that over friendships and a lot of social experiences. My upbringing was focused on job, career, getting financially and professionally established. Friendships were never told to take a back seat, but that inevitably happened. And now that I am financially and professionally stable, I am prioritizing relationships and friendships, something that now I’m catching up on after years out of the game.

And when you don’t play sports, have a boyfriend or kids, connecting is tough. I’ve met a lot of people through blogging, work and random occurrences in the city, but those aren’t your 20-year-old self friendships. Life, work, priorities and other things get in the way, and despite those people in my life, I still find myself alone more than I thought it would. This isn’t a bad thing but again, when catching up on life, it’s a realization.

And even in my desire to connect with people, age, history and time has reminded me to be careful of who I let in. After turning 30, I shifted my priorities of who I want to spend time with. Gone are many of the constantly negative people I used to hang out with and now, I invest in friendships with people I want to spend time with and who are good influences for me.

This isn’t easy and often, takes a LOT of time. But the friendships I have in Chicago, through work, blogging, etc. are those I want to be in my life. And those who show they cannot make our friendship a two-way street, they move to the sidelines.

Starting over with friends or looking for them, is never easy. And putting boundaries on those you have, isn’t either. But it’s a process in finding people meant to be in your life at that particular time.

I’m not a great friend all of the time, but I like to think that to those I am friends with, I’m not too bad to hang out with :)



  1. Elizabeth says:

    I thought it would be easier with the whole motherhood thing on my side, and in some ways it is, but when the only thing you have in common is the brand of butt paste you use, there’s only so much time you can spend together without going crazy!

  2. I definitely have a problem with making new friends especially since my move to NC. I’m still obnoxiously close with friends I have had since fourth grade and then my first two years of college. so my natural reaction to anyone I meet now is that they’re cool but not enough to be considered an actual friend because my actual friends are the greatest people ever. so I’ve just been considering people I occasionally hang out with as ‘acquaintances’ or strictly as ‘work friend(s).’

    my brain? is a crazy place.

  3. orangesugar says:

    I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Instead of living on campus during my time at college I lived at home. I’m thankful because I owe a lot less in student loans but it also stifled my ability to meet people. On top of which I’m pretty quiet and introverted. I’m 30 and don’t really have anyone that I can call a friend and have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that most likely I never will. I’ve tried attending meetup groups but I find them a big strange in that you only see these people at the actual meetup events. I don’t really know where else people go to make friends. I’m also tired of always being the one to try to contact people and make plans.

  4. caryn says:

    I AM SO GLAD YOU CAME INTO MY LIFE. Seriously. SO GLAD. I feel the same way about not having that tight knit group from college, friendships changing, and just know you are not alone. I too, have a post in the works about this and am finding that I want to surround myself with people who are positive and who actually care about me. At this point in my life, I’m more about quality than quantity. Can we do dinner soon? yes, GREAT!

  5. allison says:

    I have a close group of friends from high school still that we see each other only a few times a year but connect via mass emails and even hand written cards throughout the year. We’ve seen each other through a lot and I’m thankful for them each day.

    As priorities change, so do friendships ….. ahhhhh growing up is hard, isn’t it?

    My new motto is to accept people for who they are and know where you stand in the “friendship.”

  6. katelin says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more,we’ve basically reached the age where we should be figuring out who’s worth putting effort for and what friends we really need to be around. also, why don’t we live closer together? that would be magical.

  7. OMG, get out of my head. I’ve almost written this post so many times, but I couldn’t find the right words. You’ve got them. I’ve always struggled to develop deep friendships because I’m so introverted, and it’s only got worse after college when my job (one that had me working nights and weekends more often than not) kept me from nurturing the friendships I did have. Now that I have more time and the wherewithal to develop my friendships, I’ve found I have very few to develop, at least not in Knoxville. As much as I can be satisfied with my husband’s company and my own, I know there’s something missing.

  8. Amber says:

    Yup, totally agree. I’m finding it’s especially hard now that all my friends are getting in serious relationships too, we are all drifting apart a bit which is sad.

  9. Carolyn says:

    it is impossible to make friends when your a grown up. lol. I am lucky when I started going to a gym, I go to a very small gym. It took a few months, but slowly my gym buddies became my friends outside of the gym. Now they are great friends. Have you looked into meetup.com? I did that for a while, there are so many different clubs and groups on there. Where I live there wasn’t too many things near by, but since your in Chicago there are probably tons and tons of options for you to chose from.

  10. Karen Bee says:

    I completely identify. I didn’t go to the same university all four years, and then when I did graduate, I went into the military and kept moving around until I left active duty earlier this year. And while I have a good number of people I keep in touch with, I found it extremely difficult to connect with people and form close bonds while moving every two years or so. A big part of it, I think, is being a single girl – especially in the military, where your male coworkers tend to push you towards being friends with the wives’ club, where it’s all babies and such.

  11. Mega says:

    Well its a good thing we’re friends for life. You’re never getting rid of me. Ever.