3 Hard Truths About Adult Friendships Nobody Wants To Hear
I’ve always been a loner. An INFJ personality type, a rocky upbringing, and my eccentricity cemented this. I’ve never had a huge friend group. No gal pals or brunch brigades for me. I like it that way. I prefer closer, more intimate friendships.
Still, that can make my life feel a bit empty sometimes. Add in that my husband is military and we’ve moved every 2 years for the last decade. Now I’m in my mid-thirties with no cute village of folks.
Some of this is my fault. Years of trauma combined with frequent moves have hardened me. Made me less interested in putting forth the effort to make new friends.
More of it though is a strange mix of societal norms and happenstance. Surely I can’t be the only one, right?
Turns out, no
If you Google “Why is it hard to make friends as an adult”, you’ll find results ranging from BBC and NPR to The New York Times.
Most articles explain how children haven’t had adverse experiences. So they are less likely to shy away from making a new friend than an adult.
Some talk about diverging as we age. Each divergence places us in different categories. High school to college, college to job, marriage, children, etc. Tragedy and circumstance add another layer of divergence too.
Based on these search results, it seems many of us don’t have large groups of friends (despite how they are represented in stories and sitcoms). For a lot of reasons, too.
If you’re struggling or feeling lonely as an adult here, you aren’t alone. It’s not because something is inherently wrong with you. Society has changed. The way we live has changed. The way we interact has changed.
Consider these 3 hard truths about adult friendships.
As unfortunate as it may be, most relationships are situational. Formed through sameness and not much else.
This is why you can have a great buddy at work and then have that friendship fade when you take a new job. Even if that new job is in another department of the same company.
When the situation — the sameness — is taken away, so is the friendship. Because it was never going to exist without blanket uniformity.
People make time for who and what they want to make time for. But the time to make is limited. Life is different today. Oftentimes, friendships can’t be a priority.
A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. More work for less pay makes for less time all around. Add in raising children. Then add in household chores and balancing a marriage. That doesn't leave much time for anything or anyone else.
Acquaintance v. Friend
Often the two are confused. But, there’s a difference between an acquaintance and a friend. Your coworker is likely an acquaintance, not a friend. Even if you are the best of pals in the office.
Why? Because regardless of how much good there is in humanity, most people are (understandably) selfish. Out for what they can learn or earn.
And yeah, ok. Nobody wants to hear that, but it’s true.
Add Online Spaces
And the repercussions of them.
Most interactions have moved to online spaces. In doing so, we’ve lost a lot of our ability to connect face to face.
Communities no longer exist like they once did. We no longer have places to socialize. Shopping malls and open area gatherings hardly exist.
Society is oversaturated with online connectivity and most aspects of life have become transactional. This is disconnecting us from developing meaningful emotional connections.
The lines between personal and professional time and spaces have become blurred. Making it difficult to connect in real-time because at the end of the day, everyone has had enough obligatory socializing.
Add in that most people only share what makes their lives look perfect on social media. Creating unnecessary divisions of comparison among real-life communities. This move to online has degraded friendships and communities in a way that will be hard to bridge (I think).
For me, moving every 2 years plays out the same every time. I build a new community in a new place. When I announce I’m moving in a few months, I hear a lot of “I can’t believe it” and “I’m going to miss you so much”.
The last few weeks are often filled with last-minute dinner dates and the like. Everybody tries to squeeze in at the last second, even if it’s been months since we’ve spoken.
I used to take this so personally. It hurt my feelings, but I didn’t dare show it. Eventually, I stopped putting forth so much effort. Perhaps this makes me callous and cold. I don’t know. But I have learned a lot about these 3 hard truths and the contributing factors over the last decade.
Perhaps my loner self is doomed to a life of isolation. Perhaps we all are. Or perhaps, most of us are just trying to survive. Either way, it’s important to consider all the factors before falling victim to the rabbit hole of believing something is wrong with you. Before believing that everyone else has tons of friends and you’re left out.