Last Friday I had a few people over for a clothing party. Unfortunately the snow put a damper on the attendance, but we still had a good time. As I looked around the room, it struck me that the majority of the people there were just acquaintances. Most of them were moms of kids in Lovey’s preschool class that I had gotten to know when I was on leave last year. My BFF was there, as was Honey’s cousin, who was the clothing consultant. The crowd made me wonder why as adults we don’t form stronger bonds in our friendships. I was reminded of this great article in the New York Times last year about adult friendships. Go read it now, I’ll wait.
For those of you who didn’t read it, here’s the gist. Making adult friendships is hard. It’s hard for a variety of reasons. Even though it’s hard, as adults we still strive to make new connections with people. We are social beings after all. So it begs the question: do we REALLY strive for more connections and what is it exactly that truly stands in our way?
My best friend now is the same best friend I had when I was 13. Aside from a rough patch when we “were on a break” after a silly misunderstanding in college and for a few years after, she has been with me through most of the important events in my life, and I hers. She lives closer to me now than she did in high school. Our kids and our husbands are also friends. She is the only person (besides Honey) with whom I can be completely honest. She is my BFF in the truest sense.
My other close friends are women I met in college. We were all in each other’s weddings. One of my close friends from college married Honey’s BFF. Even though we all no longer live in the same state there is an unspoken understanding that I would drop everything to be with them if they needed me. I’ve done it before. As much as I love them and they are important to me, they are not in my daily life.
There aren’t that many friends I would call on in my daily life. I asked around about this question of adult friendships (or lack thereof) and got a variety of interesting responses. Time seemed to be an overarching theme, but surprisingly, so did interest. Although we say we wish we had more connections, I think deep down a lot of us are just happy (more like complacent) where we are and see it as too much effort to branch out of our small inner circle. I myself am guilty of that.
I remember last year when I was home with the girls I joined a MOMS Club, at the suggestion of BFF who just so happened to be the President of the local organization. Honey asked me if I had a good time at one of the few events I attended. I had, but I responded with “they are all nice people, but I don’t need any new friends”. Total lie. I was bored out of my skull sitting at home with the girls and desperately wanted someone, anyone with whom I could interact. It just takes so much effort to step out of our comfort zones and put ourselves out there for scrutiny. Meeting new friends as adults is almost like dating. And I hated dating.
I also think we worry that our new friends won’t be good enough. They won’t live up to this unrealisticly high standard we put out there for people to win the chance to be part of our lives. (Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit there, but just a tad.) When I think of my dearest friends, or when I think about the lifelong friends of my mom or my grandmother I think of the YouTube video by Kelly Corrigan about friendship. You can watch it, but I warn you to have your tissues at the ready, there will be tears aplenty.
But who’s to say the next lifelong friend you make won’t be sitting on the floor next to you at yoga class, or watching her kid swim next to yours at the town pool? Your next BFF might be out there waiting for you, you just have to be open to meeting her and not resistant to the possible pitfalls. Again, this feels like dating. So I’m posing a little challenge: the next time you meet someone that you think might have potential as a friend put yourself out there. Ask her out. How hard can it be? I’m going to push myself to do the same, maybe I’ll ask you.