If life is a journey, friends are the fellow travellers that make our journey unforgettable. The moments we share with our friends always remain vivid in our memory—be it playing games in the elementary school, gossiping about our crushes as teens, or going to a friend’s wedding as the best man or the maid of honour.
But once we’re past our formative years, we might find that we no longer make friends as easily. What was once part and parcel of life might suddenly require conscious effort. According to a study published in the Psychological Bulletin, an individual’s circle of friends starts shrinking by the time they reach their late 20s .
It is not all that surprising. As children, we were willing to be vulnerable. But as adults, we tend to conceal our vulnerabilities from others. As children, we weren’t judgemental. But as adults, we are set in our ways that limit our pool of friends. Add family commitments, jobs and our own mental blocks to the mix and there is hardly any space to squeeze in new friends.
But on the bright side, we mature with age and we learn how to build and maintain friendships with people who are right for us. This Friendship Day, Soulveda speaks to people about the challenges they face in making new friends later in life, and what they do to overcome them.
Kalpak Bhinde, entrepreneurAfter a certain point in life, I haven’t been as flexible as I once was. I might like someone enough to befriend them, but if maintaining the friendship requires me to go out of my comfort zone, I tend to back off. This wasn't the case when I was young. These days, I find that I am a lot closer to my colleagues than I am with my friends outside of work. Friendships with these people are born out of convenience, of course. But they’re ones I cherish, nonetheless.
Deepika Arun, entrepreneurIt’s definitely harder to make and maintain friendships once we’re in our 30s, because most of us get busy with our own lives—our spouse, children and work. Our expectations become rigid, and we become more judgemental. Quite a few of my friendships have fallen apart over the past few years, and it has been painful. Nowadays, when I meet new people through my work, I try to be more flexible and keep my expectations to a bare minimum.
Tony Pius, artisteFor me, it has been way easier to make friends as I have grown older. There is a certain level of understanding of self that sets in; you know what you want. This brings a sense of ease in attracting the right kind of people into your life. Maintaining friendships with such people is easy, as there’s a greater level of maturity.
Sharmila Pandit, homemakerFor me, friendship boils down to common interests and sometimes, circumstances. As a child, I was very shy and I had few friends in school and college. But making friends became quite easy when I became a mother, as I was able to find new mothers with common interests. We had the same kinds of worries and excitement. This has taught me that making friends has nothing to do with age.
Andrew Mather, entrepreneurBy the time you hit 30, you generally have an established career. Depending on the job, you end up meeting a lot of people. Socialising becomes a daily routine. If you are social, you will make friends; if not, then it might be difficult. Age has nothing to do with it. For instance, I'm in the travel business, and I meet loads of customers and suppliers. When working closely with them, I build a bond with them. Something as simple as meeting up for a drink elevates you from being business partners to friends. Sometimes, both parties go the extra mile to help each other out as well.
Savita Shivakumar, client servicing professionalFriendship is not bound by age. But what we need to build and nurture a friendship is quality time to spend with like-minded individuals. Time is crucial to lay this foundation. During our younger days, we had ample time to build beautiful long-lasting friendships. But as we grow older, priorities change, both professionally and personally. Family and work takes a large chunk of our time and there is not much of it left to hang out with old friends, let alone make new friends.