July 15, 2012

It's harder to make friends when you're older because you're less likely to have the 3 conditions needed...

... conditions that were so much more likely to be there when you were in college:
proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other."

Maybe you can get all 3 at work, but if you think you have that third one, you might be setting yourself up for a backstabbing.

41 comments:

campy said...

Trying to tell us something, Professor?

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Oh, this is a continuation of that post from yesterday, right?

Ann Althouse said...

if you think you have that third one, you might be setting yourself up for a backstabbing.

Sounds like a little too much reality TV.

rhhardin said...

Three NYT pages if you believe the bottom links, and guys left at the top of page one.

Mary Martha said...

I guess this is why as an adult I have made many of my friends through church.

In adulthood if you want to make new friends you can seek out places where you have those three things. Church, volunteering, hobby groups. However, it take some effort.

When people complain that they can't meet new people or make new friends I am always confused. It seems easy enough to me, but you do have to put some effort into it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sounds like a little too much reality TV."

I only wish that reality TV cameras were following me around at the key sequences in my life that I'm using for reference!

Ann Althouse said...

Me and my work confidantes.

Luke Lea said...

Backstabbing? Why backstabbing?

bagoh20 said...

The problem with making friends when you're older is that everyone else is so damned young.

bagoh20 said...

Older people should be more of a menace. They have the time. They should be out painting grafitti and getting into gangs and causing trouble. Young people have a good reason to be more productive, and they need the money, because they still want to own and experience things.
Retirement is wasted on the old.

Marshal said...

The best work friends are former coworkers. Even that is risky in insular industries.

AllieOop said...

Older people should be more of a menace. They have the time. They should be out painting grafitti and getting into gangs and causing trouble.

7/15/12 10:09 AM

I'm trying my hardest, how am I doing? Remember the Gray Panthers?

ndspinelli said...

In the many enviroments in which I was employed over my career, NONE was more backstabbing than the large Loop law firm I worked. When I was hired a friend[attorney] told me to be prudent and stay away from ALL politics. It was superb advice.

Alex said...

bagoh - let's go vandalize the town.

Alex said...

I'm trying to picture Allie as a menace and it's just not workin'. LOL!

Joe Schmoe said...

The equation is missing a fourth item for college kids: gobs of free time and a desire to fill it with nothing particularly productive.

Col Mustard said...

I have a neighborhood pub that meets all three requirements.

Making new friends isn't that hard. Put the mouse down, back away from the keyboard and get out of the house. Open your eyes. If anyone dares to smile in your direction, speak to them!

AllieOop said...

Whaddya mean by that Alex? I've kicked your ass a time or two.

Alex said...

Allie - middle aged post-menopausal women just don't intimidate me. haha

Freeman Hunt said...

I find friendship much easier in adulthood than I did in school. I also think it is easier to form solid frienships when most people in your life are married than it is when most people in your life are single.

The more competitive the environment, the more likely people are to be tempted to abuse their friendships.

traditionalguy said...

The secret of the social life of a good Presbyterian or Methodist church Fifties plus class is being described as if it is hard to find.

Whomsoever will come is welcomed. The gays are now kosher too.

We also had a huge covered dish dinner after the services today, and the food was twice as good as any restaurant food...especially the desert table. Burrp.

Freeman Hunt said...

When people complain that they can't meet new people or make new friends I am always confused. It seems easy enough to me, but you do have to put some effort into it.

I don't understand this either. Further, I think it's harder to meet friends if you work. I meet exponentially more people as a stay at home parent than I met while I was working.

sydney said...

I think people become more insular as they get older. I have always been an introvert. Recently, I decided to make more of an effort to reach out to others socially. It's kind of astonishing how often a simple "hello" can be rebuffed. I was in the elevator with another doctor one morning at the hospital. Just the two of us. Said "hello" to him and was completely ignored. Just the two of us! In an elevator! (I had never had an interaction with him before, so I'm pretty sure he wasn't mad at me about anything.)

And today, I was at a large public mass that was part of an Italian festival. I had trouble getting the people around me (all mid-life and beyond) to shake my hand during the sign of peace. Kind of an awkward thing, when you extend your hand and it stays there for a while before they respond. Unsettling. Never had that happen before, but I usually attend mass in a church.

Chip Ahoy said...

Meeting people is easy as eating pie.

You take your fork and bash through the crust using the edge like a curved knife and be sure to break all the way through to the bottom crust so that a little section breaks off separately from the wedge. Pies servings are usually a wedge. Then the spin the fork so it becomes like a spoon and slip it under the piece and lift it to the mouth. Do not stab it with the fork, it might break to pieces.

The rest is the usual chewing, mastication, swallowing, digesting, expelling the remnant portion.

Meeting people is easy as that.

Synova said...

We moved a lot and while I usually made a good friend where we lived, it took a long time, years, to reach a point of "I feel I can impose on you" and "I will tell you secrets."

Shortly after that, we'd move again.

What I wished was that there was a "dating service" where I could write down all the potentially divisive stuff and get it out of the way, and see about making friends with the "matches."

As impossible as it seems, I'm really worried about confrontations and so I'd limit myself to safe topics like... babies.

It's one thing to say "join clubs" and stuff, and probably ought to have, but again... babies.

About the only thing that didn't involve yet another impossibility to schedule and babysitter to locate was the internet.

PatCA said...

Yes, the work friend problem is tough. As Freeman said, it's the competitive environment. In my career I've listened to more than one woman in tears b/c her work BFF hurt her in some way.

Now I have friends from book club, tennis, etc. The group that produces the most free time to just hang out, like the study said, produces the strongest friends. So they're right, IMHO.

sleepless nights said...

Wasn't the road to adulthood just one long, slow recognition that you never really had number 3?

(Oh, that was just me, huh?)

sleepless nights said...

The primary way to meet new friends as an adult is through your kids. You can for a long time as a married adult in a new town and not meet that many people, but as soon as you have kids, *bam* instant community. In my experience, it is usually the wife who makes the friends and then the husbands might end up liking each other here and there.

Michael said...

When I moved to Chicago I found it very hard to make good friends at work (advertising). The competitive nature of the business, the way people job-hopped... the two best friends I made both moved to other cities in fairly short order for their careers.

The internet came to the rescue, more than anything else. Two particular interests (old movies and good food) led to online interaction which led to offline interaction (meeting people for food, attending old movie-related events like conventions-- there's a subculture of conventions for pretty much anything these days, you have to find it).

I conclude that it's harder to make friends with just anybody, but in some ways easier to turn shared interests into rapid friendship.

Doc Merlin said...

Join a tea-party group or a club of some sort.

Simon Kenton said...

Diifficulty is doubled and redoubled when you are married and are supposed to form couples friends. Bleagh!

What I've told the kids with regard to work is that people seem to think their job should

-- provide them a salary and (maybe) benefits
-- provide them a retirement
-- provide friends
-- provide a social life
-- provide wealth (cf, Enron)

The first is reasonable. The second, too, if you think of it as an opportunity to fund your own. The fifth, only if you provide the intelligence, discipline, and a fraction of your salary. The rest, no. You're there to work. That's it.

Pat said...

I was an introverted loner with only a few friends until I was 42. That all changed when I got involved in community theatre. You get all three conditions in spades.

PatD said...

Get involved with something. I took up running marathons and I have a wealth of running friends of all ages. It's fun mentoring beginning runners and helping them do well.

Oh, took up "running marathons"? Took some prep. Walk,jog,walk 5 minute intervals for 30 minutes. Eliminate walks. Run a 5K race. Ready to slowly extend your race distances. Follow a plan and trust your training.

jelink said...

My newest friends are classmates of my son, both in their early 20's. (I'm in my 60's).

They are smart, aware of what's going on in the world, and funny, and they seek me out when they are in town.

I'm a lucky guy.

Lee Reynolds said...

Just go to meetup.com and find a group that you are interested in.

tim in vermont said...

I pledged all my friends to Obama's campaign, now I don't have anymore...

Achillea said...

Geocaching, people. Geocaching. Gets me out of the house, seeing some fabulous views, learning things I never realized, meeting people at events. And it keeps my brain limber.

(of course, I sometimes wind up lifting lampskirts in the Wal Mart parking lot at 2am, but that's part of the fun)

SWWBO said...

Of course, a very nice way to meet other people is via Blogging - Ann, I thought you might mention that!

We have met literally hundreds of people and made good friends with some of them since my husband started blogging in 2003. I also blogged, but anymore, I just play on facebook and then go to work here on the farm.

Of course, my husband is a Milblogger (and gun blogger) and that probably makes a difference. I'm not sure all genres of blogs would be as welcoming to people.

Anyway, we have at least 2 weekends a month when a friend met via the internet and blogging will show up at our door and spend some time shooting guns and eating good food here at Castle Argghhh!!!

Tim said...

I have had several conversations about this lately with friends and acquaintances in our 50's. We all agree that it was so much easier in college.

But perhaps it is just more difficult now that we have spouses, children, parents who need help, jobs, houses to tend, farms to care for, etc. And potential friends all have their own spouses, children, parents who need help, jobs, houses, and farms.

On top of this, the strange, unnatural reality that I work in one town 18 miles away and worship in another city 40 miles away exacerbates this problem. Though enabled by the internal combustion engine, I have made my own choices.

C.S. Lewis once wrote to a friend: "Make any possible sacrifice to live close to friends and family." I tell this to my kids, but I also tell myself that the things which now fill my schedule during this particular season of my life are generally good things, even caring for a mother with Alzheimers.

We need to beware of nostalgia for the college days. They probably were not as good as we remember them.

Tiny Bunch said...

Since I took up swing dancing I have more friends than any other time in my life. It's difficult to show up the first time not knowing what to expect. But it gets easier. Later you can't live without it.

Holmes said...

This is why churches do small groups with people who live in the same area.