Most people have experienced increasing difficulty in making friends as we age. As children, we seem to be able to make friends everywhere we go, and we have an ability to instantly bond and find things in common with others. Over time, and with an increasing focus on the “adult” parts of life, it can seem as if friendships fade into the past, and the ability to meet and connect with new people outside of your spouse or partner and family can seem challenging and much more work than it used to be.
The reality is that the platonic interactions between friends is an important part of mental health and wellness. Having someone to talk to who is not a spouse, partner, or family member but is still a part of your world is important. Without friends, there can be increased feelings of loss, loneliness, isolation, and loss of connection with a part of your life.
Being A Friend
One of the amazing things about true friendship is that it is a give-and-take relationship. To have a friend, you must also be a friend, which means you are kind, compassionate, and caring about another person. Whether you are friends from childhood, college, or from raising your kids together or living in the same neighborhood, you have a sense of shared experiences, culture, and connection. You may have shared goals and dreams, hobbies and interests, or areas of expertise. Many friends also have areas of diversity, allowing you to support each other and provide insight from your unique perspective.
Being a friend means stepping out of your comfort zone and supporting their goals and dreams, all from a very altruistic point of view. Friends choose to be friends and choose to continue to work on the friendship simply because the relationship is important to them both.
Working at Friendship
Effective, positive, supportive, and ongoing relationships take time and work. This is true for our relationships with partners and spouses, and it is also true for lasting relationships with friends.
Working at friendship means finding time to communicate, interact, and stay in touch with what is going on in each other’s lives. It may not mean the same level of daily interaction as you experienced in childhood friendships, but it means making an effort to stay in a relationship that is both enjoyable and satisfying and that allows you have those positive interactions we all need in our lives.