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Friends of a Certain Age

Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

JULY 13, 2012

Editors note: This article first ran on July 13, 2012, but were running it
again because the topic is timeless.

IT was like one of those magical blind-date scenes out of a Hollywood

rom-com, without the rom. I met Brian, a New York screenwriter, a few
years ago through work, which led to dinner with our wives and friend
chemistry that was instant and obvious.

We liked the same songs off Dylans Blonde on Blonde, the same lines
from Chinatown. By the time the green curry shrimp had arrived, we
were finishing each others sentences. Our wives were forced to cut in:
Hey, guys, want to come up for air?

As Brian and his wife wandered off toward the No. 2 train afterward, it
crossed my mind that he was the kind of guy who might have ended up a
groomsman at my wedding if we had met in college.

That was four years ago. Weve seen each other four times since. We are
friends, but not quite friends. We keep trying to get over the hump, but
life gets in the way.

Our story is not unusual. In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter
your life, through work, childrens play dates and, of course, Facebook.
But actual close friends the kind you make in college, the kind you call
in a crisis those are in shorter supply.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt
like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change
and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in:
the period for making B.F.F.s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s,
is pretty much over. Its time to resign yourself to situational friends:
K.O.F.s (kind of friends) for now.

But often, people realize how much they have neglected to restock their
pool of friends only when they encounter a big life event, like a move, say,
or a divorce.
That thought struck Lisa Degliantoni, an educational fund-raising
executive in Chicago, a few months ago when she was planning her 39th
birthday party. After a move from New York to Evanston, Ill., she realized
that she had 857 Facebook friends and 509 Twitter followers, but still did
not know if she could fill her partys invitation list. I did an inventory of
the phases of my life where Ive managed to make the most friends, and
it was definitely high school and my first job, she said.

After a divorce in his 40s, Robert Glover, a psychotherapist in Bellevue,

Wash., realized that his roster of friends had quietly atrophied for years as
he focused on career and family. All of a sudden, with your wife out of
the picture, you realize youre lonely, said Dr. Glover, now 56. Id go to
salsa lessons. Instead of trying to pick up the women, Id introduce myself
to the men: Hey, lets go get a drink.

In studies of peer groups, Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor

who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California,
observed that people tended to interact with fewer people as they moved
toward midlife, but that they grew closer to the friends they already had.

Lisa Degliantoni has downsized expectations in trying to make new

friends. I take an extremely efficient approach and seek out like-minded
folks to fill very specific needs, she said.
Basically, she suggests, this is because people have an internal alarm
clock that goes off at big life events, like turning 30. It reminds them that
time horizons are shrinking, so it is a point to pull back on exploration and
concentrate on the here and now. You tend to focus on what is most
emotionally important to you, she said, so youre not interested in going
to that cocktail party, youre interested in spending time with your kids.

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three

conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to
making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a
setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each
other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at
the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many
people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

In the professional world, proximity is hard to maintain, as work

colleagues are reassigned or move on to new jobs. Last year, Erica
Rivinoja, a writer on the NBC series Up All Night, became close with a
woman, Jen, when they worked together on a pilot. Almost instantly, they
knew each others exercise schedules and food preferences. Jen could
sense when Ms. Rivinoja needed a jolt of caffeine, and without asking
would be there with an iced tea.

But as soon as the pilot was over, it was hard to be as close without that
constant day-to-day interaction, said Ms. Rivinoja, 35. They can
occasionally carve out time for a quick gin and tonic, she said, but there
arent those long afternoons which bleed into evenings hanging out at the
beach and then heading to a bar.

The workplace can crackle with competition, so people learn to hide

vulnerabilities and quirks from colleagues, Dr. Adams said. Work
friendships often take on a transactional feel; it is difficult to say where
networking ends and real friendship begins.

Differences in professional status and income also complicate matters. It

really does get weird when your friends are making tons more than you,
or tons less, said Adriane Duckworth, a former marketing executive now
working as an artist in Hamilton, Ontario. She recently welcomed a
promising new couple into her circle of friends, but they quickly turned
people off with their obsession with money.

At our wedding, other friends of ours who were seated with them actually
complained to us afterward about the couple who was asking everyone
how much money they made, said Ms. Duckworth, 32. People who made
less felt uncomfortable discussing it, and people who made the same or
more just felt it was weird to talk about it so nonchalantly.

Once people start coupling up, the challenges only increase. Making
friends with other couples is like matchmaking for two, said Kara Baskin,
a journalist who works in Boston. Not only are you worrying about
whether the other woman likes you, youre also worrying if her husband
likes you, if your husband likes her, if your husband likes him.

Not long ago, she invited her husbands new work buddy over for dinner
with his wife. But the wife was visibly unimpressed by Ms. Baskins half-
furnished home (they had just moved in) and thrown-together spaghetti
dinner. It was basically clear that his wife had been cajoled into
attending, said Ms. Baskin, 33. She settled on to our rickety Ikea kitchen
chairs like she was lowering herself into a coal mine.

The couple departed quickly after dessert. The next day at work, the
husband made an excuse about his wife being tired. But it was unspoken
that we wouldnt be seeking their company again, Ms. Baskin said.

ADDING children to the mix muddles things further. Suddenly, you are
surrounded by a new circle of parent friends but the emotional ties can
be tenuous at best, as the comedian Louis C. K. related in one stand-up
routine: I spend whole days with people, Im like, I never would have
hung out with you, I didnt choose you. Our children chose each other.
Based on no criteria, by the way. Theyre the same size.

Even when parent friends develop a bond, the resulting friendships can be
fleeting and subject to the whims of the children themselves.

Caryl Lyons, an event planner in Danville, Calif., and her husband found a
budding friendship with a parent-friend couple hit a roadblock when their
young sons, who had been close friends, drifted apart. When the families
planned a barbecue together, her son would say, Can I have my other
friends over? said Ms. Lyons, 44.
Kara Baskin said that being part of a couple presents obstacles in making
friends. She described it as like matchmaking for two.

External factors are not the only hurdle. After 30, people often experience
internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way
to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround
yourself with, said Marla Paul, the author of the 2004 book The
Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When Youre Not a
Kid Anymore. The bar is higher than when we were younger and were
willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita, she said.

Manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs: a lot of them just no longer

make the cut.

Thayer Prime, a 32-year-old strategy consultant who lives in London, has

even developed a playful 100-point scale (100 being best friend
forever). In her mind, she starts to dock new friend candidates as they
begin to display annoying or disloyal behavior. Nine times out of 10, she
said, her new friends end up from 30 to 60, or little more than an

You meet someone really nice, but if they dont return a call, drop to 90,
if they dont return two calls, thats an immediate 50, she said. If theyre
late to something in the first month, thats another 10 off. (But people
can move up the scale with nice behavior, too, she added.)

Having been hardened by experience, many people develop a more

fatalistic view of friendship.

When youre younger, you define what it really means to be friends in a

more serious way, said my screenwriter friend, Brian. (His full name is
Brian Koppelman, and he wrote and is a co-director of Solitary Man, a
2010 film starring Michael Douglas about a middle-aged man trying to
reconnect with friends and family.)

My ideas of friendship were built by The Godfather and Diner, he said.

Your friends were your brothers, and anything but total loyalty at all
costs meant excommunication. As you get older, that model becomes

By that point, you have been through your share of wearying or failed
relationships. You have come to grips with the responsibilities of juggling
work, family and existing friends, so you become more wary about making
yourself emotionally available to new people. Youre more keenly aware
of the downside, said Mr. Koppelman, 46. Youre also more keenly aware
of your own capacity to disappoint.

I havent really changed my standards for what it means to actually be

friends, he concluded. Its just that I use the word friends more loosely.
Making the real kind, the brother kind, is much harder now.
Some, like Ms. Degliantoni, the fund-raising executive, simply downsize
their expectations. I take an extremely efficient approach and seek out
like-minded folks to fill very specific needs, she said of her current
strategy. I have a cocktail friend and a book friend and a parenting friend
and several basketball friends and a neighbor friend and a workout

Its much easier filling in those gaps in my life, she added, than doing
an exhaustive approach for a new friend.

Or, they hit rock bottom and turn back the clock to their breathlessly
social 20s.

After a move to New York in his 30s, Dave Cervini, a radio station
executive, was so lonely that he would walk his cat in Central Park, hoping
to stoke conversations. Finding only curious stares, he decided to start
the New York Social Network, an activities group for people to find friends
by hanging out at Yankees games or wine-tasting mixers. The company
now counts 2,000 members, most in their 30s. He considers 200 of them
close friends.

It takes courage for people to take the first step, he said. Hopefully, I
make it easier, having been there myself.

In that spirit, I recently called Brian. We joked about our inability to find
time to hang out, and made a dinner date at the next available opening.

It is three months from now.

Julie Machado

Hayward, CA July 22, 2012

Thank you for your article on friends being hard to find, Alex. Here is an
idea for a follow up article.

It occurs to me that there is a win-win solution to this dilemma: fraternal

organizations. These types of organizations have been disappearing across
the nation, but they offer exactly the type of "real" (as opposed to virtual)
ongoing social interaction that people need to develop friendships.

A little over 2 years ago, we re-started our local Odd Fellows hall. We now
have about 70 members and a lively calendar of activities. We have made
a lot of new friends in the process, and have a new "community"
surrounding us. See our website at . I certainly do
not feel lonely, and now I have a lot of people I can call on if I wish.

One of the nice things about Odd Fellows is that there is a hall in virtually
every community (unless it has been closed down and sold off). They
were typically built in the original downtown, with storefronts to help
support the organization. Odd Fellows are based on "Friendship, Love and
Truth" - how bad can that be?

Masonic halls are also easy to find. To start meeting potential friends, just
attend a meeting. Lions, Kiwani's, Eagles - these are all organizations that
have been dying off but whose fellowship are sorely needed.

You have identified a problem in your article. Now it would be great if you
could also direct people to a potential solution.



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SC July 22, 2012

The thing about why the article might seem depressing (the somewhat
collective longing for close(r) friendships) is also what is, through reading
the comments, enlightening and hopeful, to me. Obviously, there's a
world full of people who want connection and the issue might partly be
about proximity but there's also part of the human condition: that with
age and experience, we aren't still standing in front of people with our
hands out like we were when we were younger and not so
acceptance/rejected-minded and expectation/consequence-minded, be it
positive OR negative. Good thing a person doesn't need to be young to be
this way. We just have to want to be connected (the purpose of life) more
than we need to protect our personal boundaries and/or the seemingly
fragile infrastructure of our lives. Or maybe this is just what I need to do!



NYC July 22, 2012

I think what the artcle suggests is that what we are dealing with is
somewhat of an existential dilemma. Whe we talk about friendship what
we are really talking about is some sense of void. Something missing. We
are feeling lonely. This is the real heart of the issue.

You can be surrounded by "friends" and still feel this overpowering sense
of being alone. What is this emptiness , this sad disconnected feeling?

Isn't it more about the way our society has evoloved?

When I was a kid in the 50's, I spoke to my friends constantly. To

connect, we had to be physically with one another or over the phone.

Technology has made it possible to remove actual interaction with our

friends. How can you stay intimate when you connect via email and text
messages. You simply cannot. It is so easy to say we stay in touch, but
we really don't. Over time, relationships wither from this true lack of

How do we share feelings, and hopes and joy in a text or a long email? It
is just not possible.
Over the years, I have found that most of my 'friends" have chosen this
way of communicating, and it has eroded the feeling of closeness..

There is a deconstruction of personal relationships. I know I am not alone

in feeling this way.

We all have too much on our plates, too much work, too much worry and
now we have this technological divide.



New York July 21, 2012

Her observations are insightful, but the objectivity with which she dissects
relationships is precisely the reason why cannot seem to make true
friendships during our adult years.


Lao Tzu

Rapid City, SD July 21, 2012

What awful priorities. Everyone interviewed in this article is suffixed with

their job title, yet none of them "has time" for one of the basic
components of happiness:

Friendship ... which in my experience is paired with Laughter, not

Judgment of Furniture.

Maybe I could enjoy some Schadenfreude on the careerists if this weren't

so deeply depressing.



Burlington, VT July 21, 2012

I have a lot of friends I have kept up with from the Midwest - but living in
Vermont is a different experience than living in the Midwest. By and large
people are insular (not everyone) here in the NE. Harder to get to know,
and harder to become friends with - at least enough so you can have a
cup of coffee together or something.

The friends I have found are usually people who have moved here from
elsewhere and are as baffled as I am about the culture. I am not quite as
lonely as I was when we first moved here, I work teaching creative writing
at a place called the Writers Barn and love what I do. Hopefully, in time,
things will become easier.

If you move to another place, remember, their culture may be quite

different than what you are used to. In the Midwest people are very
friendly, open, helpful and it is quite easy to make friends. Here it takes
time, a lot of time, and meeting a good friend here is like winning the


NYT Pick

Julie McElmurry, Franciscan Passages

Lexington,NC July 20, 2012

We've found an amazing tool in Through it, I've found

hiking partners while working Western New York for the summer, a board
game club in London, Ontario, another gathering of board gamers while in
Washington, DC and a group with a hodgepodge of activities that is based
out of Greensboro, NC.

One of the problems with being so independent (a defining American

value, I posit) is that we have to make up reasons to need each other. In
my case, it has been a "need" for board gaming opponents and hiking
partners. It is when I start coming up with these needs (maybe a group to
go tent camping with) that I'm going to be motivated to find people to
meet them. Of course, what results is a mutual exchange, plenty of
laughs, an audience for witty comments, and eventually, a bond of
So, my fellow Americans, with so many options for entertainment at your
fingertips, I dare you to leave your house this weekend and find a group
of strangers (perhaps through the aforementioned website) and go
someplace new. Another option is to call your local soup kitchen or
homeless shelter and ask about long term volunteer opportunities. If you
commit yourself to a regular volunteer shift, you'll get to know your co-
volunteers in an interesting milieu. You'll also have a chance to offer the
gift of your presence to the soup kitchen's patrons and in that mutual
exchange, you'll defeat that feeling of loneliness as well.


angela ss

louisiana July 20, 2012

I have to agree with this wholeheartedly. I am 35 - a mother of 2 school

aged children and have moved cross-country with my family several
times. With each move, it has been harder to make connections.

We have been in our current location for nearly 5 years. I am involved in

several organizations in our small town - and I'm an elementary school
secretary. I KNOW a lot of people. I socialize with plenty of them. I am
close with a few women, and I feel like I've known them a lifetime. My
husband also has some close friends. What we lack are family friends. We
don't have couples to call to go out for dinner or families to invite over for
a backyard bbq.

As our kids grow older, I don't see our situation changing, but I can
always hope. And I am grateful for the wonderful friends I do have, old
and new.



Colorado July 20, 2012

This article is great but I don't think the problem of making good friends
starts when your 30. I am in my mid-twenties and am just coming off of a
recent move cross-country. I think even being young you still have all of
these same hurdles to jump over. I have found that most people that
have friends are content with them and don't feel the need to invite
anyone new to their next group outing or get together. People my age are
not welcoming to new comers, new friends must be made in innovative



Seattle July 20, 2012

While I agree with some of the things mentioned in this article I might say
that what you describe is what happens mainly in the US. Coming from
Latinamerica, I have made good friends in my 30s and still keep in touch
with them and love them. I think it all depends on the country. I think it is
mainly a US issue.



california July 19, 2012

Work life for professionals in today's corporate America is a meat-grinder,

leaving scant time for oneself, friends, family or community. Corporations
have discovered that all time over 40 hours for a salaried worker is free to
them and American salaried workers have sheepishly and, sometimes,
enthusiastically agreed. There is no longer an agreed ethos of "This is my
time." but, instead all time belongs to our "lean" employers.

In the public sector, there are still many places where a sane division
between work and personal time persists and time for friendship still
exists. This sane approach does not show up in the salary comparisons of
public and private workers but is priceless.



Los Angeles July 19, 2012

When I got divorced to make new friends I started traveling to concerts of

a particular musician I had known since I was a teenager. As it turned out
I made many friends who were also fond of this person. We keep in touch
through Facebook, e-mails, phone calls. I swear I see these peeps so
many times a year ( we travel to shows and hangout for weekends in
different cities) it a blast! The big plus is we get together in each others
city even when our favorite music guy isn't on tour. If your looking for
friends, follow your heart if there is something you love, (music being my
particular favorite) go for it.



West Chester, PA July 19, 2012

I found it harder to do this particularly when I lived in NYC. With so many

things competing for your time, finding a second to have a drink with a
new friend comes in last on the list. Its about making priorities. Thanks for
the beautifully written and thought provoking piece, Alex!



New Orleans July 19, 2012

For me, this is the key piece in the article -

"As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three

conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to
making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a
setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each
other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at
the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many
people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added."

I live in New Orleans and have a very tight-knit group of friends that I
made in my 30s. We all have busy lives, demanding jobs and kids, but
we're still able to maintain close friendships. The above quote resonated
with me because New Orleans, unlike other places I've lived, is a city that
lends itself to spontaneity and intimacy. Furthermore, not to generalize,
but people here tend to value family, friends, and special moments
together over career and money.



USA July 19, 2012

"As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life
felt like one big blind date, are fading."

Precisely. I can't agree enough with this statement.



Dallas July 19, 2012

I went to a very special small public high school in Dallas (Woodrow

Wilson), which is located in a community inside the city called Lakewood.
It's very easy to make friends in other classes and age groups as we are
all linked in this quasi-fraternity. When you meet someone new and you
find they "went to Woodrow", you think, he/she's o.k.

We are there to support each other through the good times and the bad
times. Yesterday, someone formed a Facebook group for an alum who is
facing a sudden, difficult battle with cancer and within 24 hours there are
700 members. Keep in mind this is a small high school, with less than 300
members in each class. The demographics vary from rich to poor and are
of all ethnicities.

OK you may say this is Facebook, they are not valid friends. But I would
beg to differ. I have actually gotten to know people so well online at that
site and others that I felt a need to hug the person when we actually meet
physically. We have established certain companionship parameters.

We have get-togethers and parties several times a year and reunions are
open to members of other classes - even parents and children.

When you need a friend the most - at a funeral - they are there. You can't
ask much more of a friend then that...


BFF Seeker

Chicago July 19, 2012

Has anyone read MWF Seeking BFF by author Rachel Bertsche? Rachel
moved to Chicago to be with her soon-to-be-husband and quickly realized
she needed to make new friends in her new city. In the book, she
chronicles her journey through 52 "girl-dates" to find her new best friend
forever! An honest and hilarious look at how difficult it is to make friends
as an adult!



San Jose, CA July 19, 2012

It's easy to make friends. You need to make yourself irresistible.



is a trusted commenter Texas July 19, 2012

As we get older, we get more critical. Then we get older still and we get
more tolerant.


Della Donn

Manchester UK July 19, 2012

I have reached the age of 80 and have more friends than ever. If you
keep your mind occupied and have many interests there is no problem.
You must be your own person and not rely too much on




Chicago IL July 19, 2012

Most of these comments speak to the emotional and physical energy

required to initiate and maintain genuine friendships. Yet we have Mr.
Cervini saying he considers 200 people from his New York Social Network
"close friends." Spare me needing a "friend" who is busy tending to 199
other he kidding? How disengaged is this guy? How reciprocal?
Clearly he is defining friendship loosely.


SF July 19, 2012

Well I was relieved to read this article and not feel like i am the only one
struggling with this issue.I am a 38 years married female with no children
and working mostly from home.So my chances to meet people are very
very slim.I also was born and raised in Europe and moved to the U.S 10
years ago on my own.I left behind my family,childhood and college friends
and started over on the east coast.After meeting my now husband 6 years
ago I followed him to California leaving behind friends and coworkers.

We moved again last October to San Francisco after he got promoted by

his company so again left behind an older female who was and is a great
great friend.

My husband works constantly and travels a lot and he doesn't like to do

many activities or hang out with other people that much.He likes for us to
be constantly together or he does his own activities (a lot) not including

I am more of a loner but I have been feeling lonely a lot recently.I joined
a gym group, went to book events(I read a LOT) but I am having a hard
time meeting people to do things with so I mostly do things by myself
during the day my schedule being flexible.

I crave intelligent conversations,going hiking ,visiting new places ,cooking

for guests at our home,laughing and enjoying little things.I also don't
have anybody locally I can call if my husband is away for long periods of
time except maybe 911 in case I am in trouble :).

I think I need to try harder.



USA July 19, 2012

I've never been able to wrap my brain around the idea that, once one is
part of a Serious Relationship, one can only befriend other Serious
Couples. My boyfriend and I share many interests, but we also have a
number which are very different; how in the world would we find one
other couple which happened to share the same ones, much less several?
Who would I talk to about feminist blogs and fandom? Who would my
boyfriend talk to about engineering and RPGs? My suspicion is that
coupled-up people who have difficulty finding friends are having trouble
not so much with everybody liking each other, but with their own
ridiculous expectation that being a couple means sharing EVERYTHING, at
all times, including friendships; no wonder some people's circles of friends
collapse when they get divorced. If we refused to have individual social
lives or be friends with single people or people one of us really likes, but
whom the other doesn't really have much in common with, we'd barely
have any friends left. If the friendships couples have seem shallow or
fraught, maybe it's because a friendship developed primarily on the basis
of "we're both couples!" isn't much of a friendship at all. What do these
people even talk about? Is this how you make friends when you have no
real interests or causes you are passionate about? If this is how Adults are
supposed to interact socially with each other, I want no part of it.


Henry Halff

San Antonio, TX July 19, 2012

I don't see church mentioned in this piece. My recommendation is this. If

you want friends join a church, synagogue, or mosque and get involved in
its work. You'll soon find yourself in the company of people who share
your values and are involved in a common enterprise.


Sachi Mohanty

India July 19, 2012

So we make friends when we are younger. Well may be we are less

choosy and have more time.

As we grow older, we have less time. Do less exploring.

I think that's our loss. And how do you RETAIN those old friendships if
and/or when you discover that the paths you have chosen in life diverse
rather than converge.

Just because you happen to have studied in school together, cannot

overcome differences if such occur.

What I have observed in my own limited life experience is that some

people stop growing as they are focused on their careers and family.

It then becomes difficult for me to relate with them.

I am left with no old friends and not many new friends either.

I hope some day TECHNOLOGY will become REALLY smart and help us
find friends ...

Imagine a social networking platform that was smart enough to suggest

friends for us based on an analysis of who we are -- not just suggest folks
who went to school at the same time we did and all that but a deeper

May be twitter could do some sort of an analysis of the content of our

tweets and suggest others whose tweets are similar.

That would be truly wonderful.



San Francisco July 18, 2012

The writer assumes everyone over 30 is married and has/will have kids. A
more appropriate title would be "Why Is It Hard to Make Friends After
Marriage?" I have made many close friends after turning 30. I have
changed considerably and can barely relate to friends from college or high
school. Its actually easy to make friends being single and finding other
single people who are similar to you. People are more mature & wiser and
forming deep connections is not based on getting drunk together.



Los Angeles July 18, 2012

I lost contact with all my college friends because my interests changed

and also some of them couldn't handle when I came out of the closet.

About 5 years ago, I joined several groups, and I can now
honestly say I have many friends who I have a lot of things in common
with since we all like the same types of activities and hobbies. I have over
200 friends in Facebook, and I see most of them in person every couple of
months - some on a weekly or even monthly basis.

If you are having difficulty finding friends, join your local MeetUp groups.

I do make a point of being very selective of my inner circle - I don't waste

my time with manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs, and people with
too many quirks. Life is too short to have to deal with those types of
people and its better to toss them out of your life as quickly as possible.



Crystal Lake, IL July 18, 2012

I always found making friends difficult. A socially awkward and horribly

shy "boomer," I made few friends in high school and only one "sort of"
good friend in college. Most of my "attachments" were to members of the
opposite sex. I made friends with THEIR friends. When my romantic
relationships dissolved, so did my friendships. Add to the mix my
propensity for moving a great deal, and it's easy to see why -by the time I
reached my forties-my friends could be counted on the fingers of one
Now in my early sixties and no longer working, I just relocated -AGAIN-
and making friends has become even more challenging. Without the
structured interaction of a workplace environment, meeting people and
sharing those informal encounters that create stronger bonds is close to
impossible. Even planned activities, like exercise groups and classes, have
a frenetic, "hurry up and get out of there" feel to them that make hanging
out for informal conversation, no less an opportunity to invite someone for
coffee, a rarity.

While I cannot say I found this article encouraging, it helped to see that
people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds are struggling with
the same issues as me. With so many of us out there, we've got to run
into each other eventually, I guess.


Prasanna Karmarkar

India July 18, 2012

Excellent, insightful article. Agree, agree, agree. But there is also a case
here for remaining more youthful - read open to new people, ideas, and
therefore the ability to make friends, and not just K.O.F.s - well into the

Btw, attention NYT Edit - K.O.F.s? - it should be K.O.F.s



Turkey July 18, 2012

This article is perplexing. Friends are people who are with you, where you

My best friend just sort of happened. She annoys me because she is

always late and very spontaneous. I annoy her because I always like to
have time to spare, guided by my agenda. We have somehow worked out
some sort of compromise, because we love each other "just the way we
are", with all our foibles.
I got married late, and I was surprised that I was then invited to "couples"
events. At first I was honored. Then I was bored. My husband and I don't
invite "just couples" to our home.

I recommend letting go of the criteria. Friends happen in the most

surprising places.



NYC July 18, 2012

I'm 42 with no children, and I've been thinking lately that I need to make
more friends. I'm in a couple, and most of my friends are now coupled as
well. Some are married, some with families. That in itself was an
adjustment, but what's really hard is that several of them have moved
away to other, more manageable cities. We're still in touch, and I'm so
grateful for the technology that exists today with skype, email and FB that
allows us to stay connected. (I never understood how my mom could be
friends with far away people who could not come out and play! Now I do.)

I really liked commenter Celia's attitude, even if she is still young and her
life is not yet full with other things that take priority over outside
activities. I do think that friends come and go, even long term friends.
Over the last year I reconnected with a dear friend of by attending the
yoga class that she teaches, knowing that even if we can't hang out often,
I can always see her in class. As it turns out, class has given us the
regular opportunity to hang out afterwards. I think there are ways to
squeeze friends in, and we must.

I would say that time and effort needs to be made to hold on to old
friends and to make new ones, even as the nature of those friendships will
be different. My four friends from college and I get together once a year
for a weekend. Between all of our lives and families and partners, a
weekend is all we can do. But that is enough for us to keep our bond.


NYT Pick

Oakland July 17, 2012

The article also assumes that you have to be friends with people your own
age. I am almost 40 but I have a very close friend who is 22 and another
who is 91. We share alot of the same academic interests, talk about
relationships and families, make art, drink margaritas, argue theory, go to
protests, do volunteer work, play games, and just hang out. My friends
are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Each
friendship is different! I'm currently single but friends with lots of couples
and people with kids! It's all great! If this is one of the most emailed
articles, it's because there are lots of people out there to hang out with
and to care about and love who will care about and love you back!



Orlando July 17, 2012

The friends I have now are great. We meet occasionally meet for lunch
and talk about our lives. What's missing is that we don't have many
shared experiences together. We need a trip together or some experience
that gives us a closer bond and something to laugh about in the future.



Dallas, TX July 17, 2012

I am no longer in this 40's and under demographic either. Gone are the
days of happy hours and all that--I'm like the person who's reading a
good book at 11pm. I have met friends--just a handful, that I know I can
count on in a crisis--that was proven when I had open heart surgery in
2006. It also proved who was just a 'friend'--it is harder as I get older,
because I am pickier and really don't want to waste my time--if you seem
uninterested. I am one grateful for Facebook, because those long ago high
school classmates and first major job friends who knew you before
everything happened--those relationships have deepened. As for as a
newer 'we work friends" is a young man, who is 27, and half my age. Yes,
I wish he were a wee bit older :) --however, we bonded over being
Christians. He is a trustee in his church, teaches Sunday school and had a
cat--once. We talk about Christ freely and sincerely, which I can do only
with a handful of people, outside of church. It is fun to talk about things I
lived thru, that all he knows it as history. Knowing him makes the new
realms of friendship exciting.


Kate Cone

Waterville, Maine July 17, 2012

Thank you! Heard you on NPR today, and read the article. I am 58 and am
experiencing a few of the "symptoms" of the difficulty of making new

1: My husband and I moved from the place where I raised my kids for 20
years to his territory;

2. His friends, who were all couple friends of his and his late wife's, have
abandoned us. Reason unknown, but it is logical to think it's because I'm
not her;

3. When my kids were in school, I had many acquaintance/kid/parent

friends, non of whom were close, but at least I had social contact;

4. I worked for years at county courthouses doing freelance title work,

which meant on any given day I did my work among several to many
other adults. I got to chat, network, share...I'm not working now, so that's

On and on. I think the point for me is to go back to the long-term

friendships, some from 20 years ago and instead of posting to them on
Facebook, investing time in the weekly or monthly phone call. It always
makes me feel better and there is lots of laughter.



dc July 17, 2012

My fiance and I often have conversations in this grain and this was
another welcome addition. But please, I'd like to think the writer went to
more trouble than asking his former classmates from film or j-school what
they think about making friends after-30. Article smacked of facebooked



mpls MN July 17, 2012

Does Thayer Prime actually have any friends? The point system would be
hilarious if it weren't apparently true.

I have great friends, of many ages, backgrounds, incomes & POV - I feel
really lucky!


a. gibbs

n. california July 17, 2012

This is a great topic-- Currently people are very wary of any expression of
proposed intimacy, making friendship creation awkward. If you are sixty
and looking for agreeable friends your own age, it is practically impossible,
partly because everyone is so self-absorbed and insular. And approaching
much younger women makes them uncomfortable, as everything to them
is sexual; they tend to see any meeting as 'dating.' Young men will look at
the older man as a has been, and anyway they think they already know it
all! So you have to keep plodding along with your projects, and try to
derive some satisfaction from that--and if your wife is becoming
increasingly dull, then god help you. What is most disturbing is to discover
that the qualities of depth of feeling, unity, sense of humour, etc., you
thought were present in a new person, turn out to be a ruse---


Jonathan Pearl

San Francisco, CA July 17, 2012

Everyone I know is working very hard just to get by. Sure wages are
higher in SF, but so are housing, food, entertainment, etc. Friendship is
another casualty of this lopsided economy where the 99% are working
much more for less.

Roman Iakoubtchik

New York, NY July 17, 2012

Regardless of age, true friends are hard to come by. I don't necessarily
agree that someone in their 30s, 40s, etc... won't meet someone who will
become a true friend. Meeting friends "the way [we] did in [our] teens or
early 20s" isn't over, it's just different.



Milwaukee July 17, 2012

I am 51 and often experience these fast and close connections and I enjoy
the give and take. But after a time, I've heard their story and they've
heard mine and the relationship disspates into conversations centered
around the day-to-day. At my age, I feel that life is this big-huge
experience that doesn't need to be talked about at that level of detail. I'm
good with a few "colleagues" and save the BFF designation for my
husband and nearly adult children. I know I run the risk of being alone
one day, but that consciousness makes me even more greedy for time
with them. I'll figure it out if and when that day comes. Meanwhile, I'm
only available for lunch.



Boston July 17, 2012

I make friends easily and keep them. Even though life has moved me in
three different countries over the past 20 years, I have made many
friends. Some oare closer than others and what I have discovered over
these times (and countries) is that I have a type. I have been lucky to
have found my type four times in my life. Out of these, two are still very
close to me, people I can call and talk to about anything. One I had to
break up with. His emotional life was getting too heavy for me to carry
and it was draining me. One broke up with me - he was possible the best
friend of my life and we were very close and like minded and always up
for a good laugh or a deep conversation. He met someone and got
married and the spouse did not like me (without meeting me at all) and
basically gave my friend a choice: me or her. I made it easy for him and
let him go. Broke my heart (it has been eight years). They moved to
another country and I haven't seen or heard from him since. Found out
recently that the two divorced. It didn't surprise me but now I wonder, is
it too late to reconnect with my old friend? Maybe one of these days and I
have a feeling it will be just like picking up a conversation mid-sentence
as if we dropped it a few minutes ago.


a. gibbs

n. calif. July 18, 2012

Hello, You are right about corresponding types, and the importance of
types to social well being; there is nothing worse than being surrounded
by people who are not relevant. Where you have to explain everything
because they just do not get it. As people very rarely live according to
type, and do not know themselves it makes it all the more difficult. It is
easy to identify with something that is not good for your essence at all.



NYC July 18, 2012

It is not too late! Contact him and see what happens. Good luck!



Atlanta, GA July 17, 2012

Just a thought: I wonder if this lack of friends contributes to the intense

"helicopter" and attachment parenting we've been seeing over the years.
It could be that many people channel missing adult friendships into more
attention paid to their children.

Thus you get the parents who insist their kids are their best friends, who
won't leave the child with a babysitter for a three-hour party, who monitor
their grown child's every move, or who are planning to move to
cities/towns where their children will reside. These are very stressful,
delicate situations for those children, despite the parents' seeming

Just when I think or seen I've heard it all in terms of parenting, I hear of
something odder. Maybe those child-focused energies are a reaction to
adult loneliness?


NYT Pick


Vienna July 17, 2012

Michael, AM is right. Call your friends and reclaim your friendship

I had a falling out with a close college friend and we were silent for
decades until he reached out and we recaptured our bond. He is no longer
with us, and and I am very thankful that we resumed our friendship while
we could because he was brave enough to take the risk.

Don't chance living with unnecessary regret.


victoria christian

minneapolis,mn July 17, 2012

I am 29 and feel that this article was right on...I am at a place where I
dont want to waste time or energy on people that dont deserve it or dont
want to give it back...I have four children to devote my time and energy
too...Friends...I have a select few and I am ok with that.....Thanks



Providence July 17, 2012

Thanks for this! I often have conversations with my husband about this:
we are both academics and have lived in 3 states the past 10 years, and
we are so TIRED from trying to make new friends. We moved here a year
ago, and haven't made any real new friends here yet...but have grown
closer to our old ones. We have just found it very difficult...


ms muppet

is a trusted commenter california July 17, 2012

The best way to have friendships in middle age is to volunteer in one or

more of the many wonderful service organizations. For example, the
forest service needs volunteer help in maintaining trails. Its a fun way to
get out in the fresh air, get some exercise, and be of service to a larger
community. I agree with the author that it is hard to maintain friendships
if you are richer or poorer than they are--unless you have a shared
altruistic interest or passion in common.


NYT Pick


Australia July 17, 2012

Having lived a geographically dislocated life and having no kids, I

completely agree with this article. Every 5-10 years, I've been in a
different country or over into a different social milieu. After 30, it's been
very difficult - all the more depressing when you are a different country
and/or culture.

No kids makes it worse when you are a woman, as you don't even have
that in common with others. Oh to be in the position to even complain
that your friends are temporary.


Erin Harty

Moscow, ID July 17, 2012

My husband and I have an added roadblock. We had our children when we

were young and now everyone our age- late 30s, early 40s, are just now
starting their families while our kids are moving into teenage years. This
can be a deal breaker for some people.


Seffert July 17, 2012

Of course, throwing children in the mix does have it's positive sides as
well. Yes, you're being thrown together with parents who's only
qualification is that they have children of similar size, but there is at least
that one thing in common. And there will be more chance for proximity
since you might well be at the same child-friendly events, parties, games,
what have you. Whereas when you don't have children, it can often cut off
a whole sector of people from being real friends. I read a great blog about
that subject here:



Brookfield, IL July 17, 2012

When my husband and I had children, it was our single and/or childless
friends who dumped us, not the other way around. I would have been
happy to stay in touch with those friends. They made the decision to stay
away. However, when we had friends who became parents before we did,
we included their children in our circle. Parenthood shouldn't mean the
end of friendship.


Vivian Gilliam

Ceske Budejovice, The Czech Republic July 17, 2012

I've lived ans prospered in three countries (the USA, Italy and the Czech
Republic) over my 61 years on this planet and I have never found it hard
to make . . . and keep REALLY close friends wherever I go. So, quite to
the contrary of what is written in this article, I find my circle of very close
friends growing, instead of shrinking. These are all people I can count on
and many of them live around to the world now. When our paths do cross,
it's like picking up the thread of conversation of their respective lives and
mine without losing a stitch. When we don't physically see each other,
there is Skype and we catch up and remain close that way. I think the key
is to have a number of good, close friends who come from all different
backgrounds and of all different age groups. I look upon all of my close
friends . . . from teens to octagenarians . . . as equals and I think they
look upon me in the same way.


Ind July 17, 2012

Thank you for this article!

As one part of a 40 something couple we have drifted to various couples

for friendship and are now part of what has been a pretty standard group
of 5 couples for several years now. Our schedules mainly revolve around
our respective kids who all do go to the same school and many participate
in the same activities, but as some have graduated and moved on we
seem to still stay close and have a good time traveling, riding our
motorcycles together and sharing dinners.

My problem is my husband likes 1/2 of another couple whose wife none of

us can stand and who is a known trouble maker and likes to gossip and
'stir the pot'. My husband and I have never had an issue of one of us not
liking 1/2 of a couple of before, believe it or not, and it's starting to cause
some problems. The husband is a wonderful person and we actually have
a lot in common with the couple as we have many shared interests, but
the wife has hurt some of the other ladies feelings and some aren't willing
to forgive. It's caused some strife. I didn't know I was still in high school,
but after reading this article apparently others have dealt with the same
issue, it doesn't go away, even when you're forty.



nyc July 17, 2012

Why with some couples must it be 'all couples or nothing'? Just because
you are all coupled, does that automatically mean you all have stuff in
common and will like each other? Of course not.

So in this instance, it sound like 9 of the 10 of you actually DO get along.

Obviously you can't suggest that only the 9 get together and that the
other guy leave his wife at home. So how about mixing it up...why can't
you do lunch with 2-3 of the ladies one time, or lunch with one of the
wives you particularly like? (Or would the other wives who don't get
invited feel 'hurt'....can they not accept that people have different levels
of 'like' with different people?) What about your husband getting together
with the guys once in a while? Why must it always be complete couples
hanging out with other complete couples? Or why not actually include
some (gasp) true singles into your mix?


Chicago July 17, 2012

As a single woman in my 40s with a long history of frequent moves

between major cities around the country, I've approached making new
friends with more zeal than I've approached dating. If I meet someone I
believe is good friend material, I pursue her, usually with texts or emails
and an invite to meet up for a drink. This method has served me well, and
interestingly, I've made close friends who admit that we never would have
become friends had I not taken the initiative with them.

Making the first move is hard, and follow-up can be even harder, but the
rewards of a long-term friendship with a like-minded person is well worth
the effort.


Jennifer M.

New York July 17, 2012

I have made more friends since I got an awesome dog two years ago,
than I ever would have on my own.


NYT Pick


New York, NY July 17, 2012

This is what many people join faith communities for. Folks are there
because they want a commitment to something or someOne bigger than
themselves--and they bond over it. In 25+ years as an Episcopalian, my
church friends have visited me in the hospital, cleaned and painted my
apartment, wept with me over my parents' deaths, and hung out at
innumerable pubs and coffeeshops.

Find a community to join--focus on something other than yourself;

preferably, focus on doing good--and real, long-term friendships will

Jodi Anderson

Boston July 17, 2012

Sometimes it feels like we really are all "Bowling Alone."

Proximity and time are the main issues at play for me here. Many people
don't have the ability or desire to carve out time for new friends once they
are in their 30s.

Also, realism about the obligations of friendship can make it hard to be

open to others. For ex., I met one girl who seemed really nice but she
lives on the other side of the city in a bad area. I didn't pursue the
friendship because I thought getting together would be a huge
inconvenience and hassle. But I did make one very close friend who just
happens to live in my town and go to my gym (we became gym buddies!)

All of this might not be such an issue if there were more urban places that
would act as a third space. When I visited Italy recently, I was *amazed*
to see so many people lounging around the town squares...the cafes...the
gelaterias. There are benches everywhere! I would think it would be easier
to make friends in such a country, and also, that one would feel less
lonely even if they didn't succeed in making friends since once could be
"alone among many." Nowadays, people just run to Target or the strip
mall to get what they need and then go home. Even MALLS (crappy as
though they were) aren't really around anymore. There are practically no
places where you can just go and BE--to hang out among others.

It's an empty, soulless, disconnected society.

Maybe there's any antidepressant solution for this? Big pharma, are you


NY July 17, 2012

In my experience, people in their 30's are the most boring folks on the
planet - the poorest friend material imaginable. Completely absorbed in
following "the program" of career and childrearing - which is very difficult,
of course, so their desire only for "functional friends" is understandable.
As a single woman, I learned not to take rejection (and suspicion!)
personally during that dreary decade. When these program-followers start
to emerge from the haze of their 30's and 40's, some of them start to
realize they need more in life than what society instructs them to do.
Then, some of them are ready for friendship.



Summerland, CA July 17, 2012

There are millions of people excluded from this otherwise insightful and
welcome story about adult friendships,


Judith Klinger

Umbria, Italy July 17, 2012

Poor Lisa, she's never made friends with Serendipity. Why would you only
want like minded friends who fill a slot? Life is messy, a little friction is
good. I'm extremely lucky to have friends of all ages, from 5 to 89, Some
topics are off limits, but my life is rich and deliciously unpredictable.



WestCoast July 17, 2012

I am uber social and a great friend but yes it is harder to connect at this
stage in life for various reasons. I even do social media well but new
engaging people free to form new relationships elude me. Maybe in my
next job or on the next MeetUp adventure. sigh


Northern Virginia July 17, 2012

There are some aspects of the story that you don't address here. My
husband and I have both been stunned by the ways in which the brutally
competitive nature of modern parenting affects friendships. My sense is
that most of the other moms I know are too busy racing their kids against
one another in some kind of bizarre horse race to ever actually make
friends with the other jockeys. The music moms all regard my family as
competition as do the academic moms -- and dads. A lot of Asian kids will
tell you that there are kids that they know from Chinese school, music
lessons and church who are technically referred to as friends but deep
down all they really are is competition for a dwindling set of resources and
everyone knows it. Sometimes moms will use one another to get key
pieces of information -- where is the best SAT program, or which math
teachers to avoid -- but that isn't really friendship.

And women judge each other. The article mentions the woman who was
auditioned as a friend and dumped when her house didn't meet some
House Beautiful standard. I have been on the receiving end of that
particular scenario probably half a dozen times. The religious wives don't
like me because I work, and the career wives don't like me because I"m

Honestly, the only things we ever get invited to are those parties where
you are required to buy things.



Ohio July 17, 2012

I've been thinking a lot about friendship this past year, so this article
really hit home. I've always cherished the good friends I made over the
years, especially the ones I met when working at newspapers. A decade
ago, when I was in my 40s, I made the leap from the newspaper industry
to academia. Friendships have not been been the same for me since. I
have not been able to make any close friends in my now not-so-new
environment. I always wondered why, when I knew (from past
experiences) that I had the capacity to forge amazing, nurturing and what
I believed were lasting friendships.

And then, in the article, I read this lineup of good-friend ingredients:

"proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; setting that encourages
people to let their guards down." Bingo! I had all of the above in my past
lives, and jobs, and I have none of the above in my present life. I enjoy
what I dolove the students, the school, my colleagues, etc., but I am
not in the trenches, day after day, with others who have "we're-in-this-
together" attitude. I'm not in close contact with a bunch of people who are
like-minded (i.e., love to tell stories) and curious about everything.

I try and stay in touch with those friends I left behind, and those friends
who moved on sooner than I did. Nothingnot facebook, email, or
anything electroniccan ever replace those real-time, face-to-face, daily
interactions. These days, I find myself mourning far too many friendships
that have withered over time.


Steve Sailer

America July 17, 2012

There's another it's harder to make friends: The older you get, the funner
you ain't.



Short Hills, NJ July 16, 2012

I am so fortunate to have very good friends from high school and college,
friends from my home town and several new friends from recent trips

In my opinion, the definition of a good friend is one who cares about me,
listens to me, who does not have to agree with me but who is respectful
and not judgmental. I try to be that kind of friend to them.

While there is a deeper connection to those I have known for many years
and have a shared history, I have some friends that I've recently met and
who, I think, will become "good" friends as we share experiences going
If a relationship feels like "work" (and I don't mean employment work),
it's not a friendship at all.

Be with people with whom you can be yourself and whose company you



Greenville, SC July 16, 2012

Wow. How depressing.

I'm newly 30 (okay, fine. 31), and thanks to a lengthy illness that took up
the majority of my time and attention during the formative years, now
find myself with very few (okay, zero) friends. I do agree with the article
in that I'm finding without the opportunities provided by school, work (I
work from home), etc., it can be quite difficult to find good friends at this
older age, especially since it seems many people are already happily
"paired up" and/or no longer "in the market." But this article is incredibly
discouraging and makes it seem nearly hopeless.

Thank goodness I stuck around for the comment section. A big thank you
to those of you who shared your own encouraging experiences and sage
advice. You have renewed my faith in the possibility of strong and lasting
friendships and provided me the greatest gift of all: hope. Perhaps I won't
die a hermit after all.


At Heart

Nantucket, MA July 16, 2012

I'll admit, I'm in my upper 20's so I'm not quite there yet, but I find
myself wondering if this is really an age problem so much as it is an
individual personality problem. I've moved to two different states with my
husband since we graduated college five years ago. I now have friends all
across the country with whom I communicate on a weekly basis through
Facebook, email, Skype, and/or phone; many of who are good enough
friends that we have traveled to visit one another. These are friends I
retained from high school and college, yes, but most of my closest friends
have been made since then, in all of the places this article suggests it is
impossible to make and retain friendships. And, interestingly, nearly all of
my post-college friends are 10-20+ years older than me, the 30 and 40
year olds that supposedly have a hard time making new friends.

Despite having moved to another state, I am still close friends with

several women I met in various work places, through P.E.O. (a women's
philanthropic organization), as well as many women that I met before or
after my daughter's birth. And I now have a great group of friends in my
new city. My husband on the other hand will readily admit that he doesn't
have any friends at all -- because all he is interested in doing is working
and spending time with his family. It's all about the effort you are willing
to put in. If you don't try to make and retain friendships then of course
you won't have any.


Shiju Vethamuthu Nesamony

Chennai, India July 16, 2012

True that it is hard to be on the exploratory mode to find out good friends
beyond the 30s. I am not ruling out the chances of finding good friends
though. The begin as acquaintances. With our jobs and other
responsibilities at hand, it is hard to spend much time with them. So, it
might actually take much longer to become confident enough to confide
and seek support.


Divorce Mediator

Bellevue July 16, 2012

Im glad people are discussing this topic. It can be difficult to make friends
as we get older, especially when relocation for job opportunities becomes
more common. I could definitely relate to the experience of finding
couples that you click with. It is like a four way matchmaking date and if
two people dont click, the foursome probably wont work. I always
encourage my friends to include some of their friends who I dont know
when we go to events. Usually, if they have the stamp of approval from a
good friend of mine, they are someone I will probably get along with well.

Ivy Roberts

Seattle Based Mediator



Chloe E

Brooklyn July 16, 2012

I wonder if this is true across all socioeconmic groups. Perhaps those who
are not chasing the dream pursuing the big career are able to carve out
more time for meaningful relationships (out of necessity/a need for
support) eg. they can't afford nannies or sitters so they care for each
other's kids, can't afford to dine out so they have BBQs at home . . .



Portland, OR July 16, 2012

I have few close friends and I like it that way. I guess I am an introvert.

But, one good friend who I knew for almost 60 years, died a few years
and I miss her. She was the kind of person who joined all kinds of groups,
had many hobbies, and volunteered all the time. (Her many friends came
from each group and there was little crossover.) Sometimes it made me
tired just listening to her talk about her weekly activities. If I made a
suggestion for an activity that we could do together, she always had to
check her schedule first before she could "pencil me in."

At her funeral, the church was packed. What was amazing was the
number of people who met outside of the church afterwards and were
surprised to run into friends who also knew her from a different segment
of her life. Evidently, the volunteers who advocated for the mentally
handicapped didn't know that she also sang in a community choir and the
women she joined with for a twice-weekly exercise class had no idea that
she belonged to a sewing/knitting club. And so on.

I miss her friendship. But, I think I also miss hearing about all of her
activities and the people she knew. It was almost like I had vicarious
friendships through her.



BC, Canada July 16, 2012

I come from a small family and married someone who came from an even
smaller family. My two sibs married into large families and were pretty
naturally absorbed into those families and their activities. I've also lived in
three countries and often many thousands of miles from any kind of
related "family".

Early on, I knew that it was my responsibility to develop and maintain and
accumulate friendships. I see this as especially necessary as we age.
Largely, I have accomplished this...along with my spouse! It was my
birthday this week and I have a mantle full of cards from those
accumulated friends. One card was from a friend from my teenage years
who I still see regularly, and with whom I've exchanged birthday cards for
45 years! We live a thousand miles apart but never quit trying to
appreciate our long relationship.

I now live in another new place geographically, and I've added new people
to my bouquet of friends. Friendship is never easy, but I think the old
adage remains true - that to have a friend, you must be a friend. It's not
much more complicated than that.

And the computer is a marvelous tool between friends.


Colorado July 16, 2012

Friendships are so unique. One of the ones that I treasure the most right
now is with someone I met in 5th grade. I've stayed in contact with so
many friends from elementary school that it isn't funny. But this friend
has been in and out of my life for many years (we are in our mid forties)
she lives close by and that helps but she and I are willing to help each
other. We both have kids and we know each other's parents and in-laws
she is more of an extrovert and will reach out when needed. She is a real
treasure. I hope we stay friends forever, what I noticed about these olden
golden friends is they get you and accept you like newer friends almost
never do. We both are welcome anytime day or night and that helps a lot.

Like some of the other posters, I've learned to avoid certain people over
the years, ones who are too narcissistic, dramatic or needy. I have my
own kids and they need me more than those folks do.

As a single mom, I think I am left alone by married couples who are the
parents of my children's friends. Instead we've tried starting a single
parents group.

Finally I've just decided the right people will be attracted to me and begun
to stop worrying so much about "social success." I am not everyone's cup
of tea, nor are they mine.



CA July 16, 2012

I've found that you have to work at keeping the friendships, but many
people don't when small obstacles like distance or schedule get in the
way. We moved 2 hours away and have lost many friends from that city.
We're all busy and it takes effort to find the time, but I can do it, and so
can the friends we've kept. It just saddens me when other people that we
were close with can't.

Real friends work around schedules, drive 2 hours, and follow thru. It just
sucks that there's so few in our self absorbed society.


Paradise Lost July 16, 2012

" He considers 200 of them close friends. "

The only optimistic statement offered in a hopeless piece, and quite

obviously a cognitive fiction that echoes the shallow connections across all
those interviewed.

" We joked about our inability to find time to hang out, and made a dinner
date at the next available opening.

It is three months from now. "

What a coup-de-grace for this piece.

Somehow the hallmarks of proximity, unplanned meetings, and let-your-

hair-down moments has slipped off the chart and has been replaced with
ironic cynicism. Is this how the challenge of making friends can be met?


Gustavo Sales

Lexington, MA July 16, 2012

As a person whose closest friends today include six classmates from my

high school days thirty years, I certainly appreciated this article. To this
article, I would observe that, in my experience, staying close to my
friends from high school has been easier than expected because our
friendships are "interlocking (i.e., each of the entire group of seven of us
is friends with all of the others in the group), "proven" (i.e., our
friendships were forged during the trying times of adolescence, have had
their strength tested, and have survived intact), and "relaxed" (i.e., each
of us can be ourselves without fear of losing the friendships). I am not a
professional psychologist or sociologist, but I would imagine that
friendships formed later in life are somewhat less likely to be interlocking,
proven, or completely relaxed....



nyc July 16, 2012

Check out this fortuitous article that appeared in yesterday's NYT!



NYC July 18, 2012

That was so helpful, thank you for posting it! :)


Toronto Girl

Toronto, ON July 16, 2012

Friends of certain age? what is that?

I am in my 40s and still find making new friends exhilarating...let us be

honest as humans we all have something in common...unless the person
is abrasive, rude and anti-social to me...I make friends with almost
everyone who crosses my path.

I do not judge, I practice more compassion than my younger days and I

simply cannot say I will ever think aging as a barrier to making new

Also the sweetest thing, is as I get older I love making friends with much
younger kids and much older ones...why not? I am a middle age after all!

it keeps life in perspective!

I think those who think in age, are missing out making new friends. Sure
it is nice to have old friends, but if you are moving around or they move
around or die, then what? I personally find those who keep friendship
possessive boring!

And yes one does not need to talk to the said friend everyday just like you
may not talk to a family member everyday and that does not change the
feeling or the relationship.

No one is too busy for making new friends. If you are that busy, you are
watching too much tv or online and life is just going by!



Portland July 16, 2012

Wow Thayer. Thanks for that friendship scale. Positively pro-social!



Biggs July 16, 2012

Christ I'm lonely.



Scarborough, ME July 16, 2012

"Thayer Prime" Seriously?

Just for fun, I checked out her Facebook page (with a name like "Thayer
Prime", it's awfully easy to come across quickly when searching).

And I *immediately* docked her for her misspelling of "hee hee!" when
commenting to a friend about something or other by writing "hehe".
Sorry, Thayer, your score is too low to be my friend.


Max Zoloft

San Francisco,CA July 16, 2012

Yay,yay,yay: This is a funny and sad and all to realistic and wise article.I
do not have too many close friends now and though it is qouite lonely(I
have no woman in my life)

and not for psychological reason that requires psychotherapy but simply
becasue as I age,I need steak,not tofu in a conversation.It is true,as they
say,it is far lonelier being with anyone with whom you can not emotionally
or psychologically connect than being alone at home where I can have
great thoughts and conversations with myself.

I can not abide people whose life experiences and whose background and
whose "psychology" is so different from mine,that I get annoyed or bored
with them/All people are NOT wonderful and unique in their own
way.People who say they find all sorts of people "fascinating" are lying to

And the writer also leaves out serious political as well as differences about
sex,love,relationships which will make real close relationships impossible.

Shared emotional experiences are thicker than blood.

People who have been in psychotherapy are radically different from those
who have not been or who scoff at that.

Also too,with couples,there might even be(goodness gracious) sexual


Go see the pretty stupid movie Take this Waltz if you want to see what I
Gee,maybe I am lonely because I dare to be (gulp!) "judgemental!!!And
maybe make too many typographical errors.!!!



trumbull, ct July 16, 2012

I agree with the guy who said he makes niche friends. Neighbor friend,
workout friend, etc... If you are lucky, you have a couple of friends who
know you from youth that you can see only occasionally and not lose.
Most people don't lose friends through their fault or the friend's. It's just
the passing of time and changing needs.

The luckiest thing is to have a couple friends who are rooted to you for
deeper reasons than just common interests.



nyc July 16, 2012

My no-fail solution for having more friends ... a Dog!

Most people love to be friends with a person who has a dog.

And if your friends aren't available ... your dog is always there!


NYT Pick


SFBay July 16, 2012

I'm 37. All my friends are from college. I'm not on facebook but I do have
a couple of friends who are extremely extroverted. This helps a lot.
I also try not to date my friends. So I have had several long lasting M/F

I cannot have children and I have weaker friendships with couples who
have kids.

If I lost all my friends, I would probably join meetup groups and try to
make friends that way. I'm not good at meeting people at bars. But I
don't see making friends as an impossible task. Just something that
requires some additional work.

I think this article romanticizes the past a bit. College friendships required
the same amount of work. You just have to be willing to put in the time.


a. gibbs

n. calif. July 17, 2012

Hello, Just curious, how do you make it clear to potential men friends that
you do not date them--that certainly clears the air, as people are so wary
of being taken advantage of. You just tell them, i don't date? cheers,alan


NYT Pick


India July 16, 2012

real friendships take continuous investment: time, effort, negotiation,

compromise, tolerance, a sense of humour, a balance of space and
sharing. it's a hell of a lot of work! i can see why people find less time to
make this investment at a time in their lives when time is at such a
premium. it's unsurprising that so many of the positive comments are
coming from people in their 50s and 60s.
but ultimately it comes down to magic. the magic of wanting to watch that
new movie only with x, an overheard conversation on the train that simply
has to be messaged to y even if she is thousands of miles and many time
zones away, the fervent desire at the end of a bad work day to order a
particular drink in a particular bar with a particular person who you know
will say exactly what you want with the perfect blend of outrage and

this is the magic that real friendships start with. it is the magic that keeps
us investing through the downs when nothing - priorities, interests,
schedules, appetites - seem to click. and ultimately this is the magic that
comes through over and over again in the darkest days when you have no
light left of your own.

and magic, by definition, can happen any time and anywhere. we just
have to be open to it.



Singapore July 16, 2012

I'm in my early thirties and often wonder about what our social lives
would be like later on.



San Francisco July 16, 2012

It has been my experience that gay men are more successful at

friendship, with both men and women, than their heterosexual
counterparts (with lots of allowances for individual variation, of course.) It
would be interesting to do a study to see if this is really true, and if so,
why; and, if true, will it change as gay men become more likely to be
married with kids.


Patty deVille

Tempe, AZ July 16, 2012

I have that my tolerance for certain behaviors has been greatly reduced
over the years. I had a BFF that constantly whined about her
relationships, one after another all the same. When I pointed out to her
that the common link was her choices and not the men, we quit speaking.
I didn't miss her. I have other friends that have gotten into religions,
cultish fascinations with oddball lifestyles, become alcoholics (or
recovered) and had nothing else to talk about but their discoveries. I
didn't miss them, either.

Now, at 56, I have several aquaintances that I have drinks or dinner with,
see movies, run into at different places, and chat on Facebook. I much
prefer these pressure-free relationships and have found I do not need "the
one" for a BFF.



Houston July 16, 2012

Be nice, be interesting, show empathy and don't talk too much. You'll
have all the friends you need.


Jeanie Blackwell

Detroit, MI July 16, 2012

A "playful" 100-point scale for judging new acquaintances? No wonder this

Ms. Prime has a hard time making friends. I wonder how she would fare
under the same scrutiny.

Making and keeping friends is not that hard. It all depends on your
attitude and open-mindedness. Frienships are not meant to be analyzed,
nor to be made more efficient. You'll get nowhere trying to pick which
attributes you require in a friend. Instead, focus on being a better friend,
and you'll open the door for better, more meaningful relationships.

Think of an old friend or acquaintance you'd like to reconnect with, and

extend an invite for dinner or a drink. It's that simple.


nyc July 16, 2012

I agree that once you become part of a couple and/or have kids, that
making friends becomes more complicated. It's hard to please everybody.
For this reason I firmly believe that couples and families need to allow
themselves to be a bit 'selfish'. It's ok to have your own friends. It's OK to
do things without your partner. Couples do not need to be glued at the hip
in order to prove to themselves and the rest of the world, how much they
love each other. In fact, I'd say that the opposite is true: you show how
much you love and respect your partner by giving them some space to be
their own person, to have their own friends, their own hobbies. This only
enriches a relationship. (Of course, this won't work if one or both parties
are insecure or needy, which many people indeed are.)

As for it being harder to make good friends later in life, I think it really
depends on the person, and how you are going about it. Also, NYC isn't
exactly the best place for doing a 'study' on making and retaining
friendships seeing as there are so many type A's here who are solely
focused on making the 'right' types of friends who can do something for
them, or whose friendship will benefit them in some way. But there are
indeed plenty of stand-up people in this city who will indeed be loyal
friends. You just have to know where to go to meet them. And of course a
lot has to do with you come you treat others.
Loyalty etc. usually begets loyalty in other people.



NYC July 18, 2012

I agree, I think it's important to see your friends without your partner,
and to encourage one's partner to see his friends. I wish my partner had
more friends in general, and especially in this city.



Burlington, VT July 16, 2012

If you are going to pick everyone apart and begin doing things such as
judging them on a scale of 1 to 100, well, you are not looking for a friend,
you are looking for someone to make you feel better about yourself.
I am not a "people-person," but even I know the secret to making friends.
Listen to another person, take clues from what they say and ask a few
related questions, show interest in them as individuals, and you will have
the beginning of a relationship. If you like what you hear, introduce them
to some of your other sort-of-friends, and all of you may begin a shared
relationship based on the common good of the group. Now that wasn't so
difficult, was it?


Claire Binkley

West Chester July 16, 2012

Rather than sitting around reading and writing comments on a news

article, why don't we all just go out and act nicely to each other?

Something is bound to happen.



California July 16, 2012

Maybe try to be more outgoing and less self centered?


NYT Pick

Lisa Gaffney

New York, NY July 16, 2012

My husband I moved from a lifetime in Manhattan (and all my close

friends) to a small rural town. Almost immediately he had a short,
desperate, losing battle with cancer. I find it almost impossible to break in
to the tight existing circles of friends. Six cats later I am realizing how
limited the opportunities for the actual and emotional availability needed
for real bonding are.



Tennessee July 17, 2012

Lisa, can you move back to Manhattan? Your close friends will welcome
you home.



manhattan July 16, 2012

A very enjoyed reading article I've emailed to friends. For what it's worth,
I've always believed Aristotle's definition of a friend, as a second self.


l July 16, 2012

"Nine times out of 10, she said, her new friends end up from 30 to 60, or
little more than an acquaintance. You meet someone really nice, but if
they dont return a call, drop to 90, if they dont return two calls, thats an
immediate 50

If 9 times out of 10 people dont return your calls.... Maybe its you???



is a trusted commenter Cambridge, MA July 16, 2012

So your "horizons" are supposed to shrink at 30? I am turning 30 and I do

not have a house in suburbs (or anywhere) and the husband and I do not
yet have kids. I do not feel old, or rushed, or out of time. We nurture our
friendships and devote time to them. We even make time for the very
very limited number of our friends who have had kids already.



Bethesda, MD July 16, 2012

I think this article is brilliant and timely. I turn 50 this year. Just today I
was speaking on the phone with a dear friend (and former girlfriend) of
mine whom I have know for more than a quarter century. One of the
things we discussed was how difficult it is to make true friends at this
point in our life -- especially friends of the opposite sex. When I was
younger, many of my closest friends were of both sexes. But now they're
all men -- many of whom I have known for decades and a few of whom I
have met over the last several years.



ma July 16, 2012

Do you do anything when a friend leaves? I never have, but I had one
friend of many years. I was very close to her husband and son. I have a
chronic illness, but when she had problems, I showed up. Many others did
not. When her husband died, I told her I stay up late and she could call
me whenever she wanted. I left a few messages and sent her an article
from the Times that I thought would be of help re a crisis she had.

Eventually she called me. I don't remember exactly what she saiid
because I was so stunned. Something about seeing a counselor who told
her at that time not being involved with anyone who might need her.It
sounded like a set speech. I couldn't believe it. I called her months later
asking her if she wanted to go out for our birthdays. This had been a ritual
for many years. She met me for lunch but seemed uncomfortable. She
called me one more time when she wanted advice re a serious problem. I
never heard from her again. We have close mutual friend but I don't bring
her name up..

I really lost two friends (her late husband) so it was a large hole in my

Should I make one more attempt? Have any readers been in this



Philly July 16, 2012

I'm not sure why everyone is slamming the woman who drops would-be
friends who treat her badly.
I created a MeetUp for people in their 30s and 40s to play board games,
go kayaking, see movies, etc. Most of the time 80-90 percent of the
people just didn't show up. It didn't occur to them that someone (me) had
spent time making arrangements and was sitting there waiting for them.
Or they just didn't care.

. People have a hard time making friends because they forget how to be
one. Friendship isn't just about what the person can do for you.

Do you drop your friends whenever you're in a relationship? Do you pick

up the phone and call if someone is sick and see if they need anything? Do
you ask them to do things or is it just one way? Do you constantly bail at
the last minute?

Maybe this makes me rigid and demanding. But if you're sick, there's no
question that I'd be there in a minute. I just doubt other people would be
there for me in the same way..



Indio, CA July 16, 2012

I often think about the friendships I've "let go" of with some wonder.
People I really loved at the time but from who I ultimately drifted (or we
drifted apart, together). Sometimes it's worthy to revisit, sometimes you
just know that time and experience make some relationships diverge.
Especially those wonderful office-based bonds.

I have a wonderful circle of old and dear friends, only one of which is
nearby. I moved where she lives so we can be in close contact and care
for each other as the need arises and drink martinis and play gin until
then. Since moving across the country (PA to CA) I've met people I like
but it seems to me that the really deep, intimate slots are filled by people
who go back for decades. Most significant about these old friendships is
the complete understanding and "forgiveness" if that's necessary, for not
being in constant touch. I don't need it from my dears, and they don't
need it from me. Thank goodness!

I've added new 'good' friends over the past 6 years, but none I'd get into
a hottub, naked, with - if you know what I mean.
A single woman in her 60's, what I've really missed is a really good MALE
FRIEND.. Those seem to only be able to happen in high school and
college. Once you are past your 20's you just can't . Guys are married and
wives and your own mates maybe, are 'protective'. That was the piece
that was missing for me in this article which seemed to limit its focus to
homogeneous friendships.


Judy Bowen

LA July 16, 2012

Michael, you're right. Friends"fall in love". My late 20s and my 30s were
the period when I made many strong friendships. I deliberately didn't
make strong friendships during college in Mississippi because we had so
little in common and I couldn't wait to get away! But one woman I adored
and considered to be a dear friend suddenly dumped me during the 80s.
Many who knew both of us said it was no loss but I mourned that
friendship for 20 years. Finally one day she contacts me on fb. We begin
long emails, long phone conversations and 3 months later my husband
and I travel to Sonoma to see her. I'm still "in love" with her. Whenever
she brings up how poorly she treated me I tell her not to worry; I only
remember the food times. My husband starts to say that she isn't putting
as much into our friendship as I. I'd forgotten how bossy she'd been and
it's now a badge of honor she wears. It became painfully clear that her
bout with breast cancer is what had prompted her to contact me. She felt
guilty. And I realized she is, and always was, jealous of me. For the
stupidest reason anyone has ever heard she dumped me again. Just as
well. I'm better off. I still have friendships from childhood, and several of
those that began in my 30s. I'm now 59 and continue to meet new and
interesting people. But one does get pickier as we age. We have to. We've
got less time.


NYT Pick

Watery Grave

USA July 16, 2012

I don't think my grandparents worried much about friends through their

lives. My paternal grandparents were dairy farmers. When you milk cows
at 6 AM and 6 PM and most of the time in between focuses on feeding the
cows, your social time is likely to be a brief conversation at the feed mill
or parts store. My maternal grandfather worked in a leather tannery while
my grandmom ran a farm and raised three kids. All this after WWII... Both
sets of grandparents still had friends who visited from time-to-time. But
they also invested in relatives and sought friendship in their family
members. I think older generations didn't have friends. They had
communities and family, the things we really lack now. When you make
friends with the soccer moms, the gym buddies, the networking industry
pals, you're making the same kinds of friends we've always had, the kind
of people who are around.

Count yourself lucky if you're worrying about making friends in your 40s,
50s, and 60s. It means you have a notion of free time, if not enough
actual free time that coincides with your friends' free time.



New York July 17, 2012

your comment fits in nicely with those who tell their children that they
walked to school 6 miles in the snow-without boots. What's your point?

People can be in their 40s or older, NOT have a lot of free time, and sill
feel the need for friends. Your comment sounds so sanctimonious.



Baltimore, MD July 16, 2012

Very interesting article. I married an introvert who had no need for

friends, other than me. That was charming at first, then smothering. So I
lost the few college friends I had. Then I made a good friend at each job,
until I went into private therapy practice, and never saw any one except
patients. I still have a few good friends, but we are geographically spread
out. Now I face a move to a new state and find myself wondering how I
will make friends there. I told the introvert husband he has to get with the



Orlando, FL July 16, 2012

One observation I think you may have missed is friendships made in later
years. I'm watching my parents (both retired) have the time of their lives
with others in the same stage of life. They're bowling and doing water
aerobics, going on Mediterranean cruises and golf outings.

Thankfully, they are healthy and able to be out and about, which may not
be the case for everyone their age. It's the first time I've seen my father
(who was a workaholic) with so many wonderful friends. These are real
friends, too--not just acquaintances. The kind that look in on each other,
go to their friends' children's weddings, share hurts and pray together.

My parents moved into a 50+ neighborhood and it was a wise, wise move.
It has encouraged me deeply (as their daughter and for my own future
friendships!) to see them enjoy so many new people. Now, if I could only
get them on the phone!


NY July 16, 2012

Reading this article, I just gave a best friend from college (that I haven't
spoken to in 4-5 months) a call......I feel better already.


NYT Pick


NYC July 16, 2012

People change a lot from their teen years to when they reach thirty and
keeping even one or two friends from those earlier years is just luck. The
friend you went out to party with every night of the week in college is not
so interesting now that he still does this in his thirties...he is just a drunk.
Or the roommate who stuck you with a big phonebill and plenty of
excuses...good riddance.

But I think the biggest mistake most couples make is that they feel they
have to do everything together, so when one of them meets someone (of
the same sex) who they really like, they feel compelled to do 'the couples
thing'. (I clearly remembering turning down an invitation to a couple's
dinner from a friend by telling her I wasn't into the 'couples thing' and she
laughed and said she wasn't either.)

Don't do it. If you meet someone you think could be a good friend, you
are allowed to see them all by yourself. Trying to force four people to get
along, just because two of them like each other, is not only ill-advised, it
ruins the fun of having a friendship that just works for you.

Not everything has to be done as a couple. I have seen both friendships

and marriages destroyed by this strange dynamic. You don't have to like
the same people and you both need and deserve to have time alone with



nyc July 18, 2012

Thank you. I wish more couples understood the importance of this, but
social mores ('....why isn't Mike here with you? everything ok with the
two of you?!), possessiveness, neediness and insecurity seem to rein with
many couples in the U.S.



CA July 16, 2012

After having my first child over 12 years ago, I started to make new mom
and play date friends, making the assumption that since now we are all
moms, we should share the same interests, values, and ideas about the
well being of our beloved babies, and oh boy that I was wrong, later on I
discovered that in my single life I would have never made friends with
some of those people, I could have easily walked away, but when your
kids are involved and they make friends with other nice kids at their
Montessori or local parks, it truly makes things more complicated, if you
are trying to teach your kids about the value of things, about building and
making things and listening to classical music and being peaceful then
their friend's mom takes her to a nail salon at age 5, having beauty queen
and barbie parties and you avoid to buy barbie dolls for your kids at any
cost, now you enter a all together different world and either you like or
not, you have to participate or not to socialize at all. then what do you do?
you think hard and strong with your husband and try to find some kind of
a balance, let me tell you as they they get older it gets harder and harder,
like now, I'm dealing with 12-13 year old girls talking and behaving as
mean girls & soap opera queens, friends one day enemies the next, I do
really worry and am concern about the future generation and what kind of
life long friends they would make and what are really their true options
without losing their sanity & dignity.



Bronx July 16, 2012

One sentence?



Oro Valley AZ July 16, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed your article. When I was younger and busy with my
career, I did not need many people outside of my job. I worked part-time
at fun jobs (indie book store, etc.) during my early retirement - then we
moved to an AZ retirement community. Oh, boy; this is a whole different
ballgame. We are non-golfers & non-bridge players in a very conservative
community. Where are the people like us? Please write an article geared
toward the 65-plus crowd. Note: I have lots of stories for you!

Thank you from "Smug City USA"



Dallas July 16, 2012

Thank you for this. I went into an emotional tailspin a while back when it
dawned on me that I quite possibly--indeed, probably--never have a
passionate friendship again. It's a situation that warrants more discussion
than it receives.


nyc July 16, 2012

Thank you for this article. I find this very interesting because I still as a
student wonder what happens to my friends when I go to college, make a
family, and finally settle down somewhere. From what Im reading and
previous comments I see it as a very difficult thing to keep best friends. I
guess its still early at my age to start loosing many friends at once and
having different friends for different things. But I do notice that many
people I know are distancing themselves. I guess I am also doing the
same but I find it very important to have friends. You sometimes need a
second opinion. I guess your needs and wants change from lets say your
early 20s to the time you reach your 40s. Friendships also come with
different needs and wants. This is a very interesting article in my interests
and point of view. I also think that as you begin to grow older and older,
when you start to have grandkids I think you'll start to find it more
important to have friends by your side because your children might not
always be their. Your friends feel the same loneliness you might feel at
the time. I also do believe though friendships strength as time goes on
because of that. In the end I do believe it is possible to make life long



Cambridge, MA July 16, 2012

Excellent article, though I feel fortunate to have met my BFF at age 44 by

a divine accident of moving in next door to her when I relocated from
Florida to Massachusetts. I made other friends since then, mostly through
joining a local UU church, but most of them are more like strong
acquaintances, not the deep, abiding love of my BFF.



NYC July 16, 2012

as a single woman in her 50's and disabled to boot, I can only say that the
more people I meet at this stage of life, the more drama that comes with
them and in a city full of daily dramas, willingly letting new ones into your
life is often just an opportunity to have someone else to talk to your
therapist about. most of my close friends, I've had for between 25-45
years and they've been there for me through sickness, health and
everything in-between. I treasure them and give them my unconditional
love and support right back. newer ones I've allowed into my inner circle -
however ernest they may seem at first - are often too wrapped up in their
own soap operas to see beyond their own nose.

and then, exactly what defines being a friend? different strokes for
different folks I suppose and it all depends on what you're looking for, but
I prefer people that are responsible, dependable and are as willing to love
me in all forms and moods as I allow them to be with me. true friends are
incredibly rare and I tend to look at their friendships with others as a good
barometer. if their other relationships have endured the decades, then it's
a pretty good bet ours will too.

oh yeah, and becoming instant best pals (of either sex) with someone on
Facebook just because you went to the same high school 35 years ago
doesn't mean squat, so stop investing so much energy in them. chances
are you're both trying to recapture your youth and we all know how that
usually goes...



US July 16, 2012

What this article leaves out is the effect on friendships when one spouse
or another has lost a job and we have to move away. I still do not
understand the magic ingredient-- why we can keep connections with
some people but not others. We have had to move so many times though,
that I really don't know where my home is anymore.



Kettering, Ohio July 16, 2012

Great discussion!
I have found that the easiest way to make friends is to be a good listener.
Simple as that. People love to talk, mostly about themselves.


Michael D'Angelo

Bradenton, FL July 16, 2012

Friendship: It's one of the true paths in the pursuit of happiness.

"Probably the closest expression of the pursuit of happiness which this

ordinary citizen may hope to capture comes in the form of an inspirational
poem, related by a dear and wise old friend."

Read more about An Ordinary Man's Pursuit of Happiness at



fairfield July 16, 2012

One factor that I have seen change is 30 years of adulthood is that it is

impossible to make friends at work anymore if you have a responsible
private sector job that you need. Everyone is your competitor- and with
layoffs seemingly coming out of the clear blue you cant get close to your
co workers as any revelation on your part can be used against you in a
pinch. My father and uncles- all machinists- and their coworkers used to
meet up on the weekends to do work on house/cars or take families to
parks. I have never done anything with a co-worker outside of work. That
is a big chunk of day to be shut off from friendships. I dont think it holds
true yet in government or education as layoffs very rare- but even now
there is a gap between older workers with "tier one" benefits/pension and
new hires with far less lucrative benefits.

jenny mullany

san francisco July 16, 2012

Solid article, and while it makes sense, its a little depressing. There just
isn't the time to spend all day everyday with people as we did when we
were younger so it becomes hard to build those meaningful friendships.

It's fairly cliche but I have had some luck making friends through sports
leagues but to the point of the article they never feel quite real. I have
also met some great people on



los angeles July 16, 2012

I take a different approach. I actively avoid situations where I'd be forced

to meet new people. I've been meeting new people for decades. Most are
either boring or annoying. Why go through the process if the yield is so
meager? Solitude can be rewarding and more satisfying.

Enjoy your own company.



New York July 16, 2012

Betsy R:

That's very optimistic. My mother has dementia. We always had a pretty

poor relationship, but it's upsetting and trying to explain for the 100th
time that her parents aren't visiting because they died 30 and 40 years

She's had a couple of visits from friends, but I don't blame them for not
wanting to visit. It must make them very sad to see her that way, on top
of making them fear for themselves.

NYT Pick

Betsy R

Chicago IL July 19, 2012

My mom had Alzheimer's. Some friends would visit to drink tea, look at
books, take walks, brush her hair. Near the end, theyd hold hands.

I tried to help Moms friends by sharing tips in advance of visits, e.g. "Let
go of explaining!" At some point, folks with dementia *will never*
remember things or understand explanations. It's freeing to realize you
can stop explaining. Unless a matter of health or safety, just go along!

I'd prepare friends by saying, "If Mom says something weird, try to gently
play along and then distract her." For example, if Mom said something
like, "Where's Hilda?" her sister, who died many years before, I'd say,
"Hmm, she's not here just now" and depending on Mom's mood, I might
add, "Wow, look at all these washcloths that need folding, can you help
me?" or "Hey, let's look at these photos of so-and-so's baby" or "Yes,
Hilda and you were so close when you were kids" or even, "I'll be sure to
tell you when she gets back."

Some folks werent able to maintain the friendship, and I'm not mad at
them - they had their own stresses to deal with and couldn't manage
another. Yes, people do fear the same fate will befall them. But - what can
we do? Some of us WILL develop dementia - we have to realize that
avoiding people who have it won't "protect" us. Heck, we're all going to
DIE - staying away from funerals for fear of dead people won't keep us

All we can do is to get help & support, then model ways to interact with
the loved one.



NY July 16, 2012

Wow, I never realized how fortunate I am. I've always had a lot of friends,
mostly through work, but now that I'm home a lot more (self-employed) I
find myself with an even greater number, and have even had to put the
brakes on several budding friendships because I just don't have the time
or the inclination.

I'm meeting new people in spite of the fact I have no patience anymore
for narcissists, the socially inept (I used to "adopt" them), stupid people
(too many to count!) and those who are just plain looney (a sadly high
percentage of our population).

I agree with an earlier poster that, if you find you can't make friends ... at
whatever age ... the problem is probably you.



Lancaster, PA July 16, 2012

The defining experience that results in close friendship is SHARED

ADVERSITY. That's why "foxhole buddies" are friends for life.

The reason we make friends easily when we're young is because we are
anxious to share the traumas of growing up. As adults we don't want to
disclose our weaknesses to others or admit we can't cope, and we can't
make close friends unless we are willing to do so.

This article has a lot of interesting anecdotes and quotes, but never hits
the mark about what makes close friends and why we make them when
we're young..



Texas July 16, 2012

Into our late 30s, my old college roomie would call me every night at 8
p.m. and recount in excruciating detail the plot of "General Hospital." This
was her idea of friendship. After so many years of hearing about fictional
lives, and having my evening eaten up with the goings on in Port Charles,
one night I simply didn't answer the phone at 8 p.m. She never called
again and we haven't spoken since. Oddly, I don't miss the roommate's
"friendship," but I do wonder now and again how Monica Quartermain is
getting along.


Enid K Reiman

Rutland, VT July 16, 2012

You think you have a problem at 40? Wait till you're 70 and your circle of
friends has morphed to a square or triangle



Chicago, IL July 16, 2012

For the folks who've posted here that they disagree and have many
friends - good for you, then why post here? To brag that you got it right?
(Reminds me of the dinner couple who only wanted to talk about money,
lol.) For many of us, as we age friendships become fewer and more
challenging. This article was helpful in pointing out that we're not alone
and what defines friendship is a very personal/individual thing.


Chapel Hill

North Carolina July 16, 2012

I'd never have imagined as a 22 yo that one day I'd have friends as old as
my parents and as young as my grandchildren.



San Francisco July 16, 2012

I remember reading a quote from John Adams when I was a teenager:

"One friend in a lifetime is much, two is many, three are hardly possible.".
I had no clue what he was talking about. Now at 50, and having lost my
best friend of 23 years due to her disinterest, I fully understand. I
mourned her loss like a death. I have other friends, but no best friend,
and I doubt I will have that intense, 4 hour phone conversations, and all-
night laugh fests ever again.


Morgan S

Atlanta, GA July 16, 2012

The silver lining in my husband and my evacuation from New Orleans

during Katrina was landing where we did - a bohemian "in transition"
neighborhood inside the city of Atlanta. We have made really good friends
here and I have a best girl friend again after probably 20 years of social

We see friends at the local Lowe's or at the local coffee spot or our
treasured ice cream shop. We've seen babies come and now those babies
are starting school. I have a regular knitting night with a group of gals.
When the house we were originally living in got broken into we rushed
home to find half a dozen friends in the driveway. I know that if any
disaster should befall us we have friends we can call at 2am that live just
down the street.

Living inside the perimeter in Atlanta in a community-focused

neighborhood that has a lot of folks around my own age has certainly
given me an immense feeling of "home". I joke that I have more friends
now than I did in college and that is actually probably true.


NYT Pick

marci alboher

nyc July 16, 2012

Im aware of the research about the necessary ingredients for close
friendships. In fact, the workplace where most of us spend our adult
years is one of the richest sources of deep friendships for the very
reasons the writer cites for the premise that our deepest friendships are
made in school.

As someone who only discovered who I was after a number of wrong turns
and lengthy detours, I also discovered that I tend to make friends when
doing things I really want to be doing as opposed to things I was thrown
into or exploring, which was often the case in my school years. And while
I know all too well that you cant manufacture new old-friends, I take
issue with the thesis that adults no longer have the time for nurturing new

Ive heard the lament voiced in the article that the early parenthood
years thrust people into relationships of shared circumstance rather than
shared interests. Ive also heard that complaint from those who have
structured their lives so that there isnt room for one more good friend. I
too have had that feeling that my plate is so full that I couldnt possible
add one more delicious relationship to it. And then I stumble onto a
person who entices me in some way. And voila, suddenly theres room.



nyc July 16, 2012

Great analogy & insights.


Jessica Mackner

Philadelphia July 16, 2012

I moved back east when I was 23 and I had been a very social person. I
guess I still continued to make some friends when I moved back east, but
none of them ever became close friends like those that I had met in my
late teens and early twenties had. After I got married and had three kids,
I found that my closest friends were still all 3000 miles away. I went to
law school, a little later than some, and met some nice acquaintances, but
failed to make any strong bonding friendships there as well. Considering
that I had been a very social person in my younger years, it started to
become a point of contention for me. I have gone to various places and
tried to extend olive branches, but close friends like I used to have are
just not a factor in my life at 35.



Denver July 16, 2012

I'm no longer religious, but the times when I get most nostalgic of that
bygone time in my life is when I think of the fantastic friends (especially
"gal pals") I had back then. I haven't had that since I left the church.

My parents, and many of my friends in their 30s, are still very religious
and have a number of very dear, close friends. It makes me wonder if my
lack of religious communitymy opinion of the associated doctrines
asideis why I haven't felt truly close to more than one or two people in
several years.

After all, when you're going to church with someone, your friendship is
always going to be about something bigger than work, cocktails, daily
drama, or even kids.

I wouldn't go back to church, but now that I'm 30, I find myself longing
for those deep relationships.


L Kleinholz

Massachusetts July 16, 2012

Reading this after the death-of-liberal-churches article leads to an obvious

insight - to make friends, you need a community. After leaving high school
or college, people used to find this community in their small town or
neighborhood, or in church. My girlfriend and I have made far more
friends in one year in a small, rural town of 2000 than we did in three
years in Boston - excepting the deep friendships she made in church. Very
few close friends, so far, but that would be different if there were more
people our age - people in your late 20s and 30s, please move to rural
New England!



NYT Pick

Amelia Marchand

Los Angeles, CA July 16, 2012

Thank you for this article. I've thought about this a lot in the past year,
especially after the disintegration of my first long-term 'adult' intimate
relationship of six and a half years (living together), the death of my
beloved cat of 10 years, and extreme financial hardship.

I have always felt that, in general, it is harder to meet people here in the
City of Angels. However, I also think there are ways, even if one doesn't
have much (or any) money, to simply meet people. There are walks, and
talks you can have with dog guardians (even if you are 'solo'), there are
free events around town, meet ups, and volunteering. (And for those it
might appeal to, there is Alanon.) I think it comes down to just wanting to
cultivate friendships in whatever way they flower, and being open to
patience, and perhaps sometimes enjoying the fullness of solitude.

And sometimes there is good old-fashioned synchronicity. Like when I

watched the Dead Poets Society a month ago, and mused on how I
wanted to join a poetry group, and the next morning, I looked on Craig's
List and for the first time ever, noticed someone's ad for such a group!
Next week, we shall see how it goes...11 poets who have never met will
be meeting for a little poetry gathering.

I say - Carpe Diem. Live 'as if,' and put all of the excuses in the dustbin.
The world never changed with reasons and excuses. There's someone out
there who wants to know you in all your magnificence. Let it shine!

alan gibbs

n. calif. July 17, 2012

amelia, Good luck with the poet group; lots of modern poetry comes
across as weak haiku--beautiful thoughts, just cannot express them? I
moved out of south bay in 1972 and it was pretty bleak then, so now is
must be more advanced in that direction? Cheers (check out the 'free'
section in craigslist!)


NYT Pick


TX July 16, 2012

Making friends is the easy part. Keeping friends is harder as it takes the
willingness on both sides to put some time and energy into it. OTOH, with
more friends there's less need to put all the friendship needs on one
person--to burden that person with all the hopes, fears, affections, desires
for companionship, etc. Learning that has improved my friendship-making
ability. From a kid who had one or two close friends and expected total
loyalty (and gave it), to an adult who does not expect from anyone what
they're not willing to contribute, without undue strain on themselves-- was
a huge step.

I'm officially "senior" now, being over 65, and still making new friends.
Will they last? I have no idea. After all, at this age it's more "Will I last?" A
friend who's in my life for only a year is better than no they
move or we move or they marry someone who dislikes me or my
husband, or we just change with age, that's OK. They were there when it
worked for both of us. My regrets are for the friends lost to my youthful
certainty that I knew what friends had to be, whether that worked for
both or not....and my youthful inability to detect the manipulators before
things got difficult.

Most of my current friendships began after age forty--quite a few after

age fifty--and after age sixty. They're not as intense as the junior high
friends (long since dissolved) and I wouldn't want them to be. They're

Endorsing Freddie

New York July 16, 2012

Sad. There are SO many more choices than this article suggests.

Do what you love!

NOT what you think society, your family, or the lame people you call
friends now expect you to do.

Switch your job.

DON'T have a family if you don't want one and ESPECIALLY not if all
you're going to do is complain that you missed the best "friendship-
making" years of your life.

Travel. Go outside.

Stop watching TV and getting fat.



Greenville July 16, 2012

I checked out that " socal" mentioned in the article. $15 a
MONTH?? Really? For people who don't put up even a picture? So much
for that. I have no women friends because I chose to be child free, don't
have any interest in children or what they do every freaking moment. Not
one talks about sports, politics or even car repair. So, the few local friends
I do have, are men. From my longtime friends, we talk about many topics
when we get together. Some of those friends have children, but we don't
talk about them all the time. Others are comedians, and we have great
times, but I don't get to the city as often as I should, even to perform. I
am changing that, because I want to. I am trying to meet up with my
friends as best as I can. If they don't come to me, we'll make a plan to
have dinner or drinks. It's been working so far. Let's see if we make new
friends that way.

Susan Orlins

Washington, D.C. July 16, 2012

I have a bfbf (best Facebook friend), whom I have never met. Soon, I
plan to go to Chicago to meet her.

In general, there are the reacher-outers (me) and the reacher-outees

(most of my friends). I don't mind a bit that I am usually the one to call
and say hey, let's meet for dinner. A lot of people are lazy about this kind
of thing.

If someone isn't interested, they'll be vague often enough and I'll get the
message, the way I used to do with guys I didn't want to date.

With a new friendship, I learn the other person's preferred mode of

getting together. I don't do mornings, so I aim for an afternoon walk or

The year I noticed that my phone hardly ever rang, it took months until I
realized that my own preferred communication was email. If we want to
talk, let's get together.

In terms of availability, it helps that I'm divorced and work at home. I aim
for one social encounter each day. Sometimes I settle for the dentist.
Other times, I walk my dog and have long conversations on my cell with
out-of-town friends.

An elderly woman told me she tries to make at least one new friend each
year who is younger than she is, because friends her age are dying off.

After a friend I rarely saw died, I immediately wanted to go to lunch with

him. I then began to wonder who might die next, which could lead to a lot
of unnecessary lunches. I ponder this and other things on my blog
Confessions of a Worrywart. If interested, here is the


Lucinda Piersol

Manhattan July 16, 2012

This is a subject I have thought about a lot. I am 72. Having younger

brothers and sisters gets some friends or at least social life for you.So
does your husband's job - academic in my case. My own interests have
led to friends. I am into the quick bonding type of experience. When I was
in my twenties I met a colleague of my husband and I just looked at him
and wanted to be friends because of how he acted. We are still friends as
a couple plus guy thing even after his separation from his wife. Recently I
met a friend of this guy and we all went kayaking, and even after I
screwed up and caused him a lot of trouble, he wants to go again with us,
so I'm hoping for a new friend. I have noticed that with myself and my
three siblings, each of us has a different dynamic in making new friends
and creating social life.



Toronto, Ontario July 16, 2012

Kudos for giving voice to a malaise of our times. Just over 50 now, my
GF/partner is my companion, best friend, etc. and it's a struggle to
maintain contact with many of my former BFFs.

Brian, the cat-walker has 200 close friends? That's not only suspicious but



NY, NY July 16, 2012

Can I dock people for ranking me on an obsessive compulsive 100 point



NYT Pick
Tish S.

Ottawa, ON, Canada July 16, 2012

I'm facing this situation in my early 50s. The friends I made in university
have long ago vanished from my life. The friends I made when my
children were small and we were all moms together at play group are no
longer people that I have anything in common with.

A few years ago, I made a concerted effort to become good friends with a
very nice woman I met through my work. I really liked her and we clicked
as friends. She joined my family for holidays. We went on trips together,
enjoyed all the same things.She was going through a divorce,
contemplating leaving the company and starting a new career. I became
her cheer leader, encouraging her to date new men, improve her CV and
work on her qualifications for a new job. She finally succeeded in all those
things. Then she dumped me. I still don't know why.

I'd really like to have a new woman friend, but it's too hard!



New York July 18, 2012

It sounds like she dumped you because she was a "user." .She used you
to help her get through the rough times. Now that she doesn't "need "
you. she dumped you .Unsolicited advice-the next time she comes
knocking at your door-don't open it. there ARE nicer people out there.



New York July 19, 2012

Tish, please don't give up. There ARE nice people out there. and I am sure
many of them would be happy to have you as a friend. You sound like
very nice peson. I see that you live in Ottawa.I live in N.Y. or I'd be happy
to be you friend :)


Chicago July 16, 2012

This article validated what I've been doing via self-employment for eight
years and on a day when I'm bemoaning my horrid health-insurance,
scared/sad that I don't have a paycheck every two weeks, wishing I could
do stuff that my make-more money friends are able to do, I needed that -

Mac 'n Cheese Productions exists to help people enhance their lives, and a
large component of that is helping people make genuine, lasting
relationships (professional, social, romantic, spiritual). As you so
eloquently state, that can be such a difficult endeavor post-college!

Based on the feedback I get -

"One of the most transformative experiences of my life."

"Its very rare to meet so many amazing, adventurous, open-minded, and

accepting people when youre an adult.

- I seem to have hit upon the right recipe for genuine relationship-


- sign up solo

- challenge themselves

- are put together with people with whom they never would've crossed

- are inserted into uber-supportive environments and into situations where

the expectation is to enjoy oneself, not get a date/job/client/friend
(though those are often results!)

- laugh hard and a lot

An example is Fear Experiment where participants learn an art-form
(dance, improv, stepping, or a capella singing) they're not good at with
strangers and then perform in front of 700+ at one of Chicago's most
revered theaters.


Michelle Levy

Plainsboro, NJ July 16, 2012

I disagree with most of this article. I find it easier to make friends now
than I did in my 20s. Back then, I was more unformed, and more
insecure. Now, I know who I am, what I like, I have interests that I can
talk about, and enough world experience that when I come across
someone new, I can ask intelligent questions about their field or hobbies.

There was a point when my child was young that my friends tended to be
my kid's friends parents, but even when the kid's friendships waned, I
remained friends with the other moms (so, instead of play dates where
the children played together and the moms hung out and talked, the
moms formed a book club without the kids). After my divorce, I realized, I
didn't know any other singles my age, so I joined, and found
plenty of people, some of whom became good friends.

I do think that the unplanned running in to the same people is more

unlikely now than in college (when you are surrounded by people your
own age), but with Facebook and text messaging, if I find I have some
unexpected free time, I can easily post a message and find out who else is
available to get together. And, belonging to social clubs/meetup groups
means seeing the other people in the groups at multiple events. The other
thing that happened as I'm in my late 40's is that my daughter is going to
college and is driving herself, so even though I'm still working full time, I
suddenly have much more free time to devote to my own pursuits, and to


New York City July 16, 2012

The good news is - there's an on-the-ground organization for women over

50 exploring what's next (and who isn't?), The Transition Network
( We offer programs, peer discussions and
the chance to meet lively women in 11 locations around the country. Our
members redefined work options for women in the 70s and 80s; now
we're redefining options in this new stage of life.



DC July 15, 2012

This article truly resonated with me--at least I don't feel completely
socially inept or all that weird anymore. I've found it difficult to make
close friends in my 30s (and I never had a huge network to begin with,
even in college), and I was relieved to read that others struggle with the
same conundrum. I also considered myself a strong introvert--I enjoy my
own company and spend most of my free time reading, writing, working
on my house. And it's true that I have almost zero patience for spending
time with random people just for the sake of hanging out; that's even
more depressing and less satisfying. Just a lot to think about.


Michelle Pattee

Sebastopol, CA July 15, 2012

I've been waiting to read a piece such as this. It was spot on. The upside,
I've noticed, to the often forced solitude that comes with parenthood and
a busy work schedule, is a greater awareness of self. Since I spend less
time these days chatting with friends, I've had more time to focus on what
I'm about.



Los Angeles, CA, USA July 15, 2012

A couple of years ago, in my early 40s, I made it my New Years resolution

to host one dinner party a month. The idea was to expand my horizons in
multiple ways, including meeting new people. I succeeded in the
resolution, but I found the single most difficult part of the effort was filling
the table. A couple of times I "outsourced" the inviting -- telling a friend
that I'd do all the cooking, etc. if they'd gather the guests.

I'm having another party on July 28th. I'm still looking to fill three seats.
I've been turned down by four couples so far...



Brooklyn, NY July 15, 2012

It is difficult to develop meaningful friendships in a society where so much

of social activities center around spending money.


Don Seekins

is a trusted commenter Waipahu HI July 15, 2012

I used to live and work in Japan, and one of the advantages of being an
expatriate in that sometimes uncongenial country was that I automatically
had a lot in common with other expatriates, something to talk about,
analyze or complain about. So I had a couple of really good friends over
there. Then I retired, relocated to Hawaii, and find myself isolated in the
Blah of American suburbia.


Cass Franks

Shelby Township, Michigan July 15, 2012

The French have a story of "Three Ages." You are born into the first Age,
make many family and life choices in the second Age, and, as you near
the retirement third Age, choose what you liked best from one and two .
That is what we consciously did. We picked from among our peers people
with like budgets, interests, reading and cultural tastes acquired and
moved on together (winter condos in Sarasota, Florida, attendance at
reasonably-priced cultural and artistic events, tennis, being outdoors as
much as possible, etc.). We still do some poker, fishing, boating, foreign
travel, with others. It's worked out well so far; fewer friends but many
more pleasurable life moments as my wife and I get ready to celebrate
our successive 70th and 75th birthdays this summer....Cass and Pat


San Francisco Bay Area July 15, 2012

The role of women-friends is the subject of the book, soon to be

published, titled Women I Want to Grow Old With by Diane Gage Lofren
and Margret Bhola. The authors share personal stories of friendship and
strategies for meeting and cultivating new friends through every stage of
life - 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's. Until the book is available this
Fall you can enjoy Diane and Margret's posts on the
blog Diane is a friend
of mine and I have had the privilege to read excepts from the book and
am excited to read the full book. I thought readers of this article would be
interested to know of the book and blog.


NYT Pick


Washington DC July 15, 2012

What is missing: a conversation about the way cities/places are designed -

and how urban planners/designers should conceive of spaces with the
three conditions mentioned at the beginning of the article in mind
(proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; setting that encourages
people to let their guards down). The car-friendly environment most of us
inhabit is giving rise to the exact opposite of these conditions.



New York City July 15, 2012

Though I have several high school and college friends that I've kept in
touch with over the years, my closest friends, the people I can truly count
on (and all of us have gone some major events) are the people I met after
I had my children. I have four very close girl friends and our husbands all
get along but it's the women who sustain the relationships between all of
us. All our children, now adults, do keep in touch with one another as
Some are best friends but when we all come together on holidays, all the
kids are closer than our own families. I feel very fortunate to have made
these four good friends. We are each others closest confidents, we are
each others therapist, advocates, soul searchers, celebrators for the
happy times, care takers during those sad and hard times. We all have
friends outside our friendship but we are well aware that ours, is special
and reliable.




is a trusted commenter Oklahoma July 15, 2012

It is hard being a fish out of water. Where I live now, the topics of
conversation among the women are A. They are always mad at their
grown children because their grown children won't let their mothers run
their lives. B. That it is very important to spank their children and now
that they are grandmothers it is very important to spank their
grandchildren. C. Church.

Since I never spanked my child and don't believe in it, they think I'm a
freak. I heard a woman at WalMart tell her granddaughter she would beat
her and throw her in the trash. I'd rather be alone than with people like
that but I haven't met anybody here that has any interest beyond hitting
children, complaining about children and going to a fundamentalist
church. I'm more lonely with the locals than I am by myself. When I was
living where I was happy doing the things I loved, like mountain climbing
and river rafting, I had friends. Here, I just have nothing in common with
the locals.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 15, 2012

I really, really hope you can move, but before you do, there must be
*somebody* there you'd like to be friends with. Aren't there any secular
volunteer groups (soup kitchens, civic organizations, outdoor groups) you
could be with? Libraries? Best of luck.


Concerned Citizen

Anywheresville, USA July 16, 2012

Anytime someone says something like this, "everyone hits their kids", I
know they don't know very many people.

Oklahoma is a decent sized state; they have liberals in Oklahoma.

Teachers. Librarians. Democrats. Book readers. People from other states,
perhaps transfered for jobs. There are unmarried Oklahomans. They are
Oklahomans who never hit their kids or grandkids.

There are Jews in Oklahoma...Muslims...atheists and agnostics. None of

those people attend "church".

Years ago, folks had some excuses, but today with the internet, you
should be looking for like-minded folks to hang out with. Maybe start with
Craigslist. But stop stereotyping everyone, and then rejecting them.



Boston July 15, 2012

Interesting article, made me think about why this is not true in my


I'm a 35 y.o. professional, very ambitious about his education and his
career and about his personal interests outside work. I'm currently single,
I'm not on FB or other social networks.
I'm surrounded by a number of amazing people for whose happiness I
would make sacrifices and the same is true the way around. The list of
friends (and I'm very particular about using this word) has been
expanding. All my friends date back a decade, when I first moved to the
United States, well into my 20's.

My experience in many ways contradicts the theories in the article, which

prompted me to think how I did things differently, and a few thoughts
came out: 1) I've been greatly exposed to personal social interactions of
many forms, mostly in educated circles. From pleasant and painful
experiences, I've developed a filter to sense the potential quality of a new
connection. I simply do not waste time of dead ends; 2) I give generously,
usually not expecting much back; 3) My friends are my mentors. They are
the people I admire and I can learn from. They are also the people I can
share my own personal learning with. Our bond is one of mutual growth
and an adventurous one. Those friendships tend to be stronger despite
distance and time; 4) I'm frank about my feelings about people. The
moment we compromise on that, we set ourselves up for mediocre
connections based on misunderstanding.



Memphis July 15, 2012

I out-educated my friends from high school and college, and the friends I
made in grad school all went on to jobs in other cities, and eventually so
did I. It takes work to nurture a friendship, and I wasn't willing to put in
the effort--or when I was, it was unrequited. Now that I have reached
retirement age, I will have to settle for having situational acquaintances
and no true friends. I guess I should feel lonely, but for some reason I
don't. The secret is to keep busy.



Denver July 15, 2012

I'm going to post a link to this on Facebook, and ask for comments from
my 'friends.' In my 40s, I felt this way about friendships--with a school
age child it was exactly as the article stated. Adult friendships seemed to
be so heavily centered on school activities and the parents of her friends.
Now that she's in college that's no longer the case and I find myself with
many more people I actually do want to be friends with. I don't know that
I'd say it's harder to make friends now then when I was in my 20s but it is
different. I'm a more tolerant person now, but I'm less willing to settle for
relationships that are based solely on having somebody to hang out with.
It's not worth it to me to subjugate my beliefs, I suppose because I no
longer equate being alone with loneliness. The Internet is a huge part of


Barbara Saunders

San Francisco July 15, 2012

Part of this difficulty, for many people, has to do with the isolated models
we have for romantic relationship, marriage, and family. In college, my
friendships typically originated in group socializing. In adulthood, group
socializing typically ritualizes all kinds of barriers to potential intimacies.


mj rainey

ayden,n.c. 28513 July 15, 2012

Excellent piece,Quite accurate and thought provoking.Not a positive thing

for society as a whole. Wish it were different.



NY July 15, 2012

This article was an eye opener. I think I identified why I have no friends. I
mean no real friends.

I am afraid to join the club that will have me.

I will now crawl back into my online avatar and pretend.



New York July 15, 2012

Coco Chanel said it best:

"My friends....there are no friends."



nyc July 16, 2012

If that is to be taken at face value, I'd say that is very sad and the words
of a pessimist. Many would strongly disagree with her words. If she truly
believed that true friends don't exist, that says more about her than


Sandra Mauck

Tucson, AZ July 15, 2012

This was uncanny timing as I just posted on my

blog about just this topic. I can see
there are as many variations to making friends as older adults as their are
older adults. What a grand adventure! Reaching out and finding those who
compliment, stimulate and support us is what it all about and as our
communities change, our ideas mature, our needs shift, friendships also
become different. Thanks for a wonderful perspective on this important



Burbank July 15, 2012

Thirty years ago, when I moved to New York from the Midwest, I was
cautioned by one of the first people I met, "No one telephones (!) here
just to talk."
Now I am 75 and in Los Angeles at the behest of my children. Here, it
seems, you are supposed to enjoy another's company just because you
are of the same advanced age.



NYC July 15, 2012

I'm still trying to deal with all of these people, including the NYT writer,
using the infantile "BFF."



10110 July 15, 2012

75. THE FAMILY from "A Pattern Language" 1977

The nuclear family is not by itself a viable social form.


Set up processes which encourage groups of 8 to 12 people to come

together and establish communal households. Morphologically, the
important things are:

1. Private realms for the groups and individuals that make up the
extended family: couple's realms, private rooms, sub-households for small

2. Common space for shared functions: cooking, working, gardening, child


3. At the important crossroads of the site, a place where the entire group
can meet and sit together.

Until a few years ago, human society was based on the extended family: a
family of at least three generations, with parents, children, grandparents,
uncles, aunts, and cousins, all living together in a single or loosely knit
multiple household. But today people move hundreds of miles to marry, to
find education, and to work. Under these circumstances the only family
units which are left are those units called nuclear families: father, mother,
and children. And many of these are broken down even further by divorce
and separation. Unfortunately, it seems very likely that the nuclear family
is not a viable social form. It is too small. Each person in a nuclear family
is too tightly linked to other members of the family; any one relationship
which goes sour, even for a few hours, becomes critical; people cannot
simply turn away toward uncles, aunts, grandchildren, cousins,


Charley horse

Great Plains July 16, 2012

A very good point. I also suspect that in larger, more community-based

households, there is probably less abuse of women and children. Too
many people around to see what you are doing, also other people around
to help out when things get difficult. "A Pattern Language" is an insightful
piece of work.



midwest July 16, 2012

"less abuse of women and children". This is a naive statement. I

personally know many joint families in India where children are regularly
abused physically. Other family members turn their backs on it in order to
keep the peace.

Joint families (inter-generational families) can work well if all parties are
respectful and educated. Lack of education, stress...don't think there isn't
abuse of those less powerful, whether children, women or the elderly.

But, true, you are probably never lonely. On the other hand, do you enjoy
having your weight, clothing, choices (what choices you are in fact allowed
to make) discussed by male members of the family in front of you? This is
considered completely fine behavior in many non-American
intergenerational families.



NYC July 15, 2012

Ever try While we did not make super close friends there,
my wife and I did meet social friends and such. They have meetups based
on interests and so forth. Just about anything really, wine, language,
culture, religion. My wife is Asian so we joined an "Asian Social" group and
also a Buddhism group. Anyone can start their own group there as well.


Jessica Guzik

Virginia July 15, 2012

Jumping off what Sarah and Lenore said, it's been my experience that
older adults are more hungry for fresh social connections and better at
making them.

I started a real-life social networking platform a few months ago, and as I

invited people to join, I found myself convincing the 20-somethings that
expanding their social horizons was a good idea. Those in their late 30s,
on the other hand, latched on to the idea right away, and those in their
50s and 60s are now approaching me for events targeted at their age

A cool crop of new sites are aimed at facilitating new connections across
demographics, mostly centered around food. But you have to start
somewhere, and you have to eat. I've had good experiences with
Grubwithus and, of course, Curated Table.



NYC July 15, 2012

I think there is something to be said on couples who spend far too much
time with each other than hanging out with friends. Something I've seen
time and time again is when one of my female friends drop off the face of
the earth when they enter a relationship. And if the relationship doesn't
work out, who is there to pick up all the pieces? All her friends that had
been ditched.
That is why when I'm in a relationship, I make an active attempt to
engage with friends. I can see the temptation to not go out on a Friday
night and watch a movie with the boyfriend at home. But if I'm invited to
a dinner with a group of friends, I will come out and if the situation allows
even bring him along. It doesn't have to be either or. Friends should never
have to be sacrificed for partners.



Chicago July 16, 2012

Thank you, you're absolutely right.



nyc July 16, 2012

Thank you. Also, I think it's just plain boring to be with your partner 24/7.
The most boring couples to me are those that are glued at the hip. The
most vibrant couples are those who are mature enough to give each other
space, who allow their partner to have their own friends (both male and
female), who are secure in themselves and in their relationship with their

I love the female friends who only call you when their man is out of town
or has other plans. Otherwise you never hear from these 'friends' of
yours. Until such time as you too become part of a couple. Then suddenly
she is inviting you and your man to have dinner with her and her man.
Blech. Nothing more boring than a bunch of couples sitting around all
being 'couples', and then the guys break off and do guy talk while the gals
do 'girl talk'. Life is so much more interesting when you mix things
up...and socialize with couples, singles, couples with their kids, straights,
gays, young, old, every race, conservatives, liberals, etc.



Boston, MA July 15, 2012

Great article. I am 32 and travel 3-4 days a week. My wife is doing her
residency and as a result, we place much more importance on our time
together or the time we spend with our family. As a result, we have
deprioritized making new friends. But I have found that I continue to get
closer to my best friends from college and shortly after college. Though
we all live in different cities, I see them often and we always plan a few
events each year.

Also, Thayer would be docked 80 points in my arbitrary 100 point scale.

She seems a little possessive.


NYT Pick


Philadelphia July 15, 2012

Thank you for this article. Making and conducting friendships has turned
out to be one of the most perplexing tasks of my life.

In connection with this, I remember two men: the philosopher

Schopenhauer who said that it is best to be neither too close nor too far
and that the measure of this distance is courtesy (manners; a due
regard). And Philip Roth who said that nothing, nothing at all, prepared
him for the death of a friend.



Middle East July 15, 2012

It seems we're often too busy for friends and put too much stock in work
and domestic relationships to sustain us. I am living in a foreign country
that is by no means a model on social issues but one thing I noticed is
that friendships are very important here. Work is where you go to make a
living, family is a given, and the rest of the time is spent hanging out with
friends. Even at work people never ask directly for something, first they
inquire about your health, family, etc. before getting down to business.
Over time unexpected friendships grow out of these daily interactions. We
don't always have this luxury of time in the states but instead of
evaluating which friends provide the most or fit a niche or are most
punctual (!), maybe it's better to take extra time to get to know and
appreciate the people we interact with everyday and make more time for
the friends we already have.


taipei July 15, 2012

Important clear writing....not revelatory, but essential reading and

pondering. Personally, quite moving, fearsome truth.



Seattle, WA July 15, 2012

As an individual in her 50s with neither close friends or family I found

myself in accident that was life threatening. The hospital in its zeal to find
said next of kin case I didn't make it and they needed that bill paid they
Googled, Facebooked, me and contracted everyone on my phone. As one
who uses her phone strictly for business not person the information they
got was limited at best. As a result I was dumped 3 days in anterograde
amnesia with my former dog walker who was willing to take me off their
hands. This story gets more frightening as you find out that my accident
was caused by my date who drugged me and left me in my car to find my
way home. The hospital contacted him 5 times that night.. imagine if he
had returned the call what would have been the result. NO ONE helped
me. This is our society we are narcissistic and self involved and
judgmental. When an individual doesn't fit inside the provincial boxes we
use to define people you are treated as less of a person. Women single on
their own in this country of a certain age are stigmatized, ostracized and
well had I died I wonder if anyone would have cared any further. They
certainly didn't why I was alive. My story is horrifying and true.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 15, 2012

How awful. As a single, childless person in my late 50s, I understand your

feelings of vulnerability. I hope your experience inspires you (and others
in a similar position) to find someone you trust enough to delegate as a
health proxy, then make the arrangements.

It isn't necessarily heartlessness that holds people back. Personally, I

would hesitate to take on life-and-death responsibilities on behalf of
someone I know only through work and who doesn't consider me a friend.
How would I know what he or she would want done? How could I make
major decisions on her behalf?



California July 16, 2012

I feel very sorry that this happened to you and hope you are fully



NYC July 16, 2012

But like the saying goes, "If you don't have friends, maybe it is because
you are unfriendly."


Concerned Citizen

Anywheresville, USA July 16, 2012

I am so sorry for your experience. I'm also in my 50s, and if my husband

wasn't around, I'd be vulnerable to the same things you are -- my best
friend died 9 years ago. Kids are grown and way out of town. My siblings
live way out of town; my nieces and nephews all scattered. I have one,
frail 91 year old aunt. God forbid I actually NEED anything -- mostly it is
ME who has reached out and helped others, but not a huge number left to
take care of me....I do have friends but there are "friends and then there
are friends..."

Someone in your book club may not wish to take you home from the
hospital or nurse you for weeks.

All I'd suggest is talking to a few people and trying to find someone (or a
few someones) where you MUTUALLY agree to step into this role if the
other becomes incapacitated. Get it durable power of attorney if possible.
And get their full name (or names if it could be one of a few people),
address, phone, contact info, Facebook, etc. and put it on a business-sized
card in your wallet somewhere prominent -- near your driver's license.
("In case of emergency, contact _____".)

Not perfect, but better than being "dumped on your former dog-walker".



NY July 17, 2012

In the late Middle Ages, there were communities of women that came
together in "beguinages." They were religious communities of unmarried
or widowed lay women, not nuns, and they served an important social
function, although sometimes controversial. I am someone who has never
had any female friends, but when I get older I would gladly put my
proclivities aside and try to make such a community/institution work.



Syracuse, NY July 15, 2012

Willing to make yourself vulnerable is how to be a friend. Sharing without

one-upping, listening, supporting, showing up, offering to host, reaching
out "just because." Asking for help and taking it, offering help even when
it is refused. That is what it takes to have and be a friend.


NYT Pick

Vince S

San Diego, CA July 15, 2012

If you think developing and keeping friendships is hard when you're

married, its twice as difficult when you're over 40, single, male and gay.
Most gay men do not have the traditional milestone markers as
experienced by straight people. In my 20s, my heterosexual friends were
pairing up, getting married, establishing careers--settling down.

Most newlyweds dumped their single friends and sought out coupled
friendships--citing that single friends can often be flighty, unstable and a
third wheel. "Oh dear, he's not only single, but you know,--we certainly
can't pair him up with your cousin Doris" In your 30s, while you're forging
friendships at work, play dates and the country club, I was lucky if I made
a good friend at the local bar.

Now as we transition into our 40s, your kids have left for college, the
honeymoon period long since waned, you're calling me up to reconnect
and once again, reestablish a friendship which long since died. No thanks,
I'll pass and stick with my own circle of friends, true, we may not be the
most mature and responsible bunch, but we realize as we grow older we
have the one thing that truly matters: friendship.



Seattle July 15, 2012

Wow, I couldn't have said this any better.



Palo Alto, CA July 15, 2012

I hear you Vince, the last paragraph has been true for many hetero
couples and their hetero friends too. The kids leave and suddenly you
have time to spend with people you cared so much for 20 years earlier. I
am so glad to have reconnected with several old friends who dropped out
of our lives while we dealt with 3 boys, jobs, 2 bouts of cancer, etc.

I recommend forgiving your old friends for leading a different life. I don't
think they rejected you, they just weren't together enough to know how
much you meant to them at that time, or simply didn't have time.
Embrace your old friends, it may be some of the best relationships you'll
have in the future.

I'm in my mid-50s and it is constant creative work try to find friends who
work in my life.


Atlanta, GA July 16, 2012

Julie - Why should Vince or anyone else forgive and embrace so called old
friends who "simply didn't have time" or "weren't together enough" to stay
in touch? If you haven't had time for someone in 20 years but now have
time because "the kids leave", then you? Are not a good friend. Period.

And Vince and Company. are perfectly justified in not embracing those
self-absorbed former friends in the way they would someone who's
actually been there for them in the last two decades. Many times when
people call for the zen of forgiveness, they selfishly want to forget bad
behavior on their part. It's convenient for them.



Seattle July 16, 2012

The workplace is a typical place for people to make friends, especially

when you spend so much of your waking life there. I am a single gay male
teacher in my 40s, and this adds yet another challenge. Teachers vote
overwhelmingly for Democrats, but in reality they are very socially
conservative. I am accepted by my students, but most of my colleagues
although polite, are very remote and detached. I'm not into sports and I
am not going through the traditional milestone markers (marraige, kids,
etc.) mentioned in another comment. I enjoy being a teacher, but it has
come at a great cost, that of social isolation.



nyc July 16, 2012

Indeed you mention one of my pet peeves....people who become part of a

couple and suddenly think the only people they can socialize and travel
with are...other couples. Blech! I always cringe when I hear people say 'oh
we and a few other couples rent a house in XYZ'. It's so rare to hear of
couples hanging out with a mixed crowd of people. When you DO hear of
it, they tend to be really cool, open-minded people. But your standard
run-of-the-mill married couple? Oh no, we can't include singles in the mix
...that might stir things up too much....there might be some flirting going
on...just too dangerous!

As a single female, I always love when a female friend suddenly becomes

coupled up and falls off the social radar, and then the only time I do hear
from her it's like 'oh hey, Mike is out of town this would be
SOOO great to see you.' Thanks but I really don't like being used, nor can
I stomach people who are so weak-minded that the notion of wanting to
see me and simply making plans (even when her man's NOT out of town)
never enters her mind?

But, it just goes to show ya the power of social pressure. I think many
couples simply believe that's how couples are supposed to behave....that
you are no longer allowed to have your own friends or hobbies, that you
partner should be the sole focus of your life and your sole social partner,
and that the only time you can do things separately from your partner is
when they are ill, working late, or travelling.


Kate G.

Washington, D.C. July 15, 2012

I'm under 30 but move just about every year - and my friends are spread
out across the country. Though I have several close friends I interact with
almost daily on social web sites, I rarely can find someone to do simpler
things with - which leads to consternation on my part... how can I 'know'
so many people so well yet end up at the movies alone?



Cleveland, Ohio July 15, 2012

As a late-20s man who's moved between five different states and two
countries in the last seven years and who's good high school/college
friends have done the same, well, it's easy to see why we don't have
many new friends. But, finally having settled down in Ohio for the last two
years I'm still finding it hard to meet friends. Just as it's hard to make
friends with people who make significantly less or more than you, as the
article points out, it's equally hard to be friends with people who have
significantly more or less life experiences than you.

The article doesn't hit on just how out-of-touch you can be relative to
others in the work place with your hobbies and interests (ME to prospects:
you've never had indian food, we can go together!, oh you aren't sure?
oh, you deny climate change? your idea of banter is talking about Family
Guy ad nauseum? THEM to me: you don't own a TV!? you prefer riding
your bike to work? you read books and remember them?). I traveled
around and met people I found interesting, sincere and generally good,
and their behavior influenced me. I now find myself as a social pariah,
questioning whether this way-of-being was good or if the culture I'm
currently in is not-so-good.

One solution is to just take it easy and down grade expectations. I know.
This downsizing has just lead to a feeling of hunger, is it because I've
over-indulged far too long?



midwest July 16, 2012

Sean, kindred spirits are out there. Seek out the more liberal areas of
Cleveland (University Circle area) and get involved with the metroparks
(they have SO many hikes and programs). Those are two great ways to
meet people who may share your values.

Feeling lost in my area, too, and lamenting where I picked to live. Good



UWS July 15, 2012

As a never-married-no-kids 45 year old guy who has lived in 10 states & 4

countries, I can attest to the challenges of forming & keeping friendships.
Acquaintances, easy. Friendships, not so much.
School: repetitive interactions w/ppl of the same age, suffering together
through classroom lectures & PE. Bonds form. Some outlast school; others
don't. Rinse & repeat thru college.

Adulthood/first job: again, same-aged and usually like-minded people,

working together, confiding in each other ("if I were the boss..."). Dreams
shared, plans made. jobs. Things drift.

Marriages begin: wedding after wedding. Now there are pairs. And still
some singles. Priorities shift.

Children: Perhaps the most significant obstacle to maintaining or building

friendships. Time & resources are devoted to the kids, as is proper.

The odd-man out like me stands there as an example of a different path.

Not married. No kids. Travels the world. Has time.

The secret: it's no picnic trying to maintain friendships with your married-
with-children friends of yesteryear, esp. for peripatetics like me. Even if in
proximity, it's a challenge. Parents don't have time for you, especially with
the daunting schedules set out for kids these days (whatever happened to
just going outside to play? Why so much structure?). Your married friends
worry about you and why you're not "settled down" yet.

No more school. Jobs change. Responsibilities alter. Friends are definitely

harder to find and keep.



dixon July 15, 2012

Try this: I own a collection of Hawaii beach cottages I brought 35 years
back and where I have now retired. At any time I have at least 10 people
as both long and short term guests. I do it all; advertise, book, greet, and
accommodate and maintain.

My 'compound' consists of 4 elderly beach houses in constant need of


so I am Mr. Fixit. I purposely book in young adults (puppies) who are fun

be around (I am 70). I also book in big sloppy noisy families and give
them great rates so they can afford a Hawaii beach house and watch them

I get worn down oldies , get them out of their cars , shut off the TV, and
set for them the goal of just sea-side lounging, reading, enjoying my acre
garden. I get them to close their eyes and listen to the sea. Go walking on
the beach.

I also make income and have my old friends visit...having a separate

guest house is a big draw....close to you but not-in-your house. There
must be other cottage compounds out there waiting form smart
'development'. You can even make Faulty Towers your can be
Sybil, Basil or Manual... your call. The internet makes this all possible
now; the marketing of holiday rentals once THE insurmountable hurdle
has been banished and many more people book only vacation houses and
stay well clear of hotels or resorts.

So it's a model worth emulating. I have been doing it for 10 years and I
don't see the downside yet. Maybe a tidal wave?


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 15, 2012

Sounds lovely. Can I come?


Concerned Citizen

Anywheresville, USA July 18, 2012

Yes, I'd love to come. Post a link!

However: most of us can't remotely afford this. I might as well say "I own
a collection of private jets..." Hawaiian beach cottages? HELLO! Most of us
could not afford a fishing shack on the local lake, let alone that.

Of course people flock to you, Mike -- you are renting them below-market
vacation villas in PARADISE. Try getting people to come and visit when
you live in Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh. In the winter.....not so easy.



Colorado July 15, 2012

I found this article very enlightening. I made a major move at age 30

without thinking about the potential difficulties of making new friends. My
experiences during college and directly after gave me the false impression
that I was quite good at it, but my thirties have been a struggle, all the
more so because I generally prefer male friendship to female (I'm
female). Took me many years to get back on track. I'd also assumed that
if I'd been married, or religious, maybe it would have been easier, but this
article leads me to believe that might not have been the case.

Seems that as we age people take one of two directions -- they choose
friendships with people who have similar circumstances (married, kids,
burbs, etc.) or they want to feel a deeper connection regardless of their
circumstances. Depends on where you are in life and how open-minded
you are. Hopefully as lives change over time the circumstantial friendships
will run their course and people will be more open to meaningful ones.

Lester Breeze

Santa Maria, ca July 15, 2012

Wonderful piece, I miss my true friends



nyc July 15, 2012

Seriously? Docking points for lateness or unreturned phone calls? Picking

friends to fill functional "gaps" (book friends, etc)? This is a sign of greater
self-knowledge and maturity? Sounds like people in middle age become
more rigid, less forgiving, and disturbingly self-centered when it comes to
friends. Wow.



Manhattan July 15, 2012

I had a very similar response.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 15, 2012

Not "people in middle age," just those particular respondents! Lots of us

aren't like that.



Indio, CA July 16, 2012

I agree that the point system is off-putting, and she starts at 100 - BFF I
guess, and works her way down from there. No thanks. But don't put
middle=agers into that category. what you're going to find as you get
older is that you become more selective about who you want to spend
your time with. It is a form of selfishness I guess, but your tastes and
your enjoyments do ripen over time, and time really does become more
precious. But there willl always be those who like a lot of buzz and people
around them and for whom quantity trumps quality.



Warwick, NY July 15, 2012

Love the whole package on friends. May I add this? How to be a friend:
Focus outward. Ask questions of the new people you are meeting that
show you're interested in them, what they think, what they like to do,
where they've been, etc. That doesn't mean you are being nosy, but
showing genuine interest.

You can find a lot out about someone with this style of conversation,
including whether they want to know about you, too...

Isn't it a turnoff when meeting someone new who just talks about



NYC July 15, 2012

The author mentions Louis CK. There was another great episode of his
show recently that dealt with liking a guy from Miami, and how awkward it
can seem to eagerly court new male friendships in later life. Very



Dixie July 15, 2012

when my department was dissolved at work last year and we were all
riffed, I lost several friends and on bestie just because we all went to new
jobs or retirement. I am 63. Who my age needs another friend? I find my
sister and two daughters and spouse husband fill the void and I have a
couple friends from as far back as 50 years who live states away and we
always connect well by phone. I dont miss being a corporate wife and
entertaining so called friends. They all disappeared when my husband
changed firms anyway. In the end familuy is all you have. I always knew
that having moved 33 times and lived in 6 staes in the midwest, southeast
and northeast.


Manhattan July 15, 2012

Who your age needs another friend? How about people who do not have
spouses or sisters or children? If family is "all you have," I'm SOL.
Happily, it's not.



Germany July 15, 2012

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the intricacies of making and
keeping friends later in life. As time passed, I found myself forced to
reevaluate old friendships and I realized that things were not the way they
used to be. Maybe I changed, maybe they changed or life changed us
both, but is very hard to maintain the same degree of tolerance like in my
20s towards what I now perceive as "inadequate behavior".

I also think friendship is quite a gendered question. As I struggled to find

and keep female friends, I always believed that the "guys" have it easier.
This image of the 4-5 girls who are friends and go out together, return
calls and are interested in each others' lives is very flawed. It never
happened to me, at least. On a 1 to1 basis,things might work. Beyond
that, very very hard. I couldn't even pinpoint the reason, although I
thought about it and even went through an analysis of my potential flaws
as a friend, so that I am aware of my shortcomings. Nothing worked.

I happen to have many male friends, but things get a bit tricky once they
enter a relationship or I am not the best buddy of their wives/girlfriends.
In the end, the old problem of female friendships arises again.

Thus, I decided also to lower my expectations, try to be the kind of friend

I want myself to find and be happy with what people can offer. But I am
very careful with the "friend" label - more like "friends for now".


Providence, RI July 16, 2012


Agreed. I was in one of those fictional groups of women who purport to be

friends with one another. But one abused trust in a really nasty way and
caused the group to fracture. It was sad, but it's also a pattern that is not
all that unusual among women, so I've learned. Usually jealousy- based.


Chris Ellen Montgomery

San Francisco July 15, 2012

I didn't make many friends in high school, I was too shy. I make lots of
friends in college, but we all moved in different directions. I've make
friends when my son was born & lost (they dumped me!) them all when I
divorced... I remarried, a woman this time and we have a circle of friends.
I have a dear friend from elementary school, we have remained close,
even closer as our adult lives took many of the same turns... I have a
close circle of friends I have collected along the way... I recently (within
the last year) made a close friend 20 years my junior. We met walking our
dogs in the park; we talked and shared as we walked our pooches... I am
part mother-figure (my friend lost her mother 4 years ago), mentor and
best friend. I took a disability (newly diagnosed MS) retirement 3 years
ago, 6 years earlier than I had planned, and was feeling rather useless... I
adore my new friend; she is honest, a single mom of two girls & dedicated
to self-discovery... We are in different stages of life, and that is just fine.
My mother always had a wide range of friends of different ages & I think
that is very healthy. It's a way to recreate community for those of us who
have migrated far from our first home...



Westchester County, NY July 15, 2012

This is a fascinating article on a very relevant topic. I do think the world of

my mother, where direct contact with her friends was the primary means
of connecting was much more satisfying than what passes for friendship
today. My mom spoke regularly to her close friends- they probably had
more time to share their thoughts and be in touch. Now, phone calls have
been replaced with emails. Staying in touch is a lot more perfunctory.
People's lives seem more densely packed with obligations. My kids on the
other hand have the the leisure to spend extended time with their pals
and I see the close ties they are able to forge. The internet for adults has
created a virtual world of association- but the pleasure of someone's
company has to be scheduled (and usually far in advance) and the casual
availability of seeing friends kind of goes by the wayside. Everyone is
working hard, managing family, hobbies and obligations. Friendships
remain important but are lower on the list of what grabs our attention.
Not the easy comraderIe I remember from the era of my parents'.



Ames, IA July 15, 2012

Changes in lifestyle can also really disrupt existing friendships and deter
new friendships. Contrary to overwhelming media focus, not everyone in
this country has children. My husband and I are in our forties and don't
have kids. I find that I have little in common with my long-time friends
who now can do nothing but talk about their children and and new
acquaintances in our age group typically have small children and are
spending their time with their children or with other couples with children.
Is there any hope? The article doesn't offer much in terms of hope for
midlife friendships?



nyc July 16, 2012

Read through the other replies here. Plenty of ways for people of all ages
to make new friends....

Be curious, inquisitive. Be daring and don't be afraid to possibly have

others think you are 'weird'. So long as you like yourself, most people
WILL like you.

Example: I moved 4 months ago to a new apt building and have a 4th
floor balcony that looks down over the yards of other houses on the block.
I do alot of gardening on my balcony.....I'm a real nature lover. One day I
observed some people standing on the roof of a house below and I came
to realize they were keeping bees up on their roof. I also could see they
were planting raised garden beds on their roof. 'How cool!' I thought....'I
must meet these people!'

So I wrote a note explaining that I live in a building that overlooks their

yard...that I saw the beekeepers and their garden...that I have an interest
in beekeeping...and might I be able to observe the next time they are
harvesting their honey? I left the note in their mailbox with my phone

The guy called me back, we had a nice chat, and he said that the next
time I saw them out on their roof that I could just come by. About 6
weeks passed..I'd seen them once or twice on the roof but then on those
days I wasn't up for walking over there. Saw him again yesterday on the
roof and thought ''s been 6 weeks...will he think I'm weird..was he
just being polite...would he really want me to come by?" (continued...)



nyc July 16, 2012


But I took the plunge and called and said 'yeah, you remember we
spoke..blah blah...?" He said 'sure, now's a good time...come on by!"

I met him in front of his house, but before he took me to his place he said
he wanted to show me another yard...a neighbor's yard. So he took me
out back, and there were about 8 people sitting in a beautiful little garden
in the back of their Queens home, just hanging out. 'How cool I's 8 new people in the neighborhood who are into gardening
just like me!' I got a tour of their garden, they offered me a caiparinha,
some brownies, and we sat around and got acquainted, talked about the
nabe, gardening, hydroponics, farmers markets (which the first guy I
contacted is in the process of participating in, via his rooftop vegetable
garden). We also talked about maybe having a get together in the Fall,
sharing the bounty from all our gardens!
After that, the guy took me over to his house, where I saw his rooftop
garden, the bee house, his chicken coop. I asked if he composts, and he
said 'yes'. I offered to contribute my own scraps since I don't have the
space to compost and he said I could come by anytime to drop-off scraps.
I also told him I'd be happy to volunteer to work his stand at the farmer's

So in just that one afternoon, I met 9 new neighbors and set-up

possibilities for future interactions! And this never would have happened if
I hadn't taken some serious initiative! ;-)


Herman Krieger

Eugene, Oregon July 15, 2012

I recall a saying in France:

After the army and school days, you make no new friends.



arizona July 15, 2012

Old friends are forever because none of you can come across to one
another as anything but authentic: you know too much, and that is the
grandness of getting together. Personally, I've moved whole households
15 times, from towns to cities and out of the country, with family and
friends now scattered all over. There is nothing like the get-together with
the ones I've known for decades (I'm 76). The "best" friends are generally
the ones I went to college with, because once you live with other people
there's no polish to apply that will endear you--or them--and that's where
the forever comes in. I agree with Dahlia that moving, and in later life, is
hard on finding new "friends" but being social (are you a reader? join a
book group; or take classes, do something you've never done before and
put yourself in a varied age group) is still rewarding. My literally lifelong
friend comes to visit me every year--talk about "old shoe" friendships, this
is stellar.

laura in Arizona



Florida July 15, 2012

This happens, at least in part, because we don't have "third places" any
more - informal, no-host gathering places, neither home nor work, where
people can spend unstructured time together, coming and going as they

Read "the Great Good Place", by Ray Oldenburg, for a good description.



is a trusted commenter Manhattan July 15, 2012

I am so fortunate to have a close friend from Germany that I met 35

years ago in a postgraduate course. We were roommates and just clicked.
I just returned from my 20+ visit with her. She also visits me in NYC on a
regular basis. We started a tradition (which she got from her mother who
had a similar relationship with a friend in England) of sending calendars of
our city to each other each year. This has turned into one of my closest
friends, we have persisted during marriages, divorces, children born,
children moving away, health crises, parent deaths, etc.

I have met all her family over the years, she has met mine, we are both in
the same profession, and we both have sort of "second homes" in each
others' country.

We only studied together for 3 weeks, but made an effort to make a life
long and very enriching permanent friendship.

International friends are the best!


San Rafael, CA July 15, 2012

A few years ago at the age of 54, I took a class and wound up meeting a
group of like-minded women, a few of whom have become some of the
closest friends of my life. They've seen me through a difficult time as if
we'd known each other forever . It's been a surprise to have that level of
intimacy develop so effortlessly at this age, but what a gift. I guess the
moral, in my case, was to follow a dream (allowing myself to take time
from my busy life and job to take an art class) and that opened the door
to unexpected, cherished relationships.



FL July 15, 2012

Points not touched on here are those extremely close friends from early in
life who were like family and then did something unforgivable. Suddenly,
they're out of your life and an even bigger gap occurs. Not only are you
missing those friends, but you've missed the opportunity to make more
friends because you're older.

Those losses are tremendous at the time a rift happens, like a divorce, but
as time goes by it's even harder to extend yourself to new friends out of
fear of being burned again by those closest to you.

I also agree my bar for making new friends is considerably higher. Time is
much more valuable since I have so little to spare for friend fun, so if
someone treats my time as disposable and cancels plans or drops out of
sight for a while, they're off the list.

At midlife, friend has a different definition.


NYT Pick

Mouse Woman

Northwest Coast July 15, 2012

People who think they don't have time for friends still have time to watch
TV 40 or more hours every week. It's a matter of priorities.

Concerned Citizen

Anywheresville, USAJuly 16, 2012

Or sit on the internet or Facebook for several HOURS a day (and watch TV

Frankly, I blame electronic toys for consuming what little time we have
beyond work, family and obligations.

10-15 years ago, I had far more times for hobbies, book clubs, gardening
and so on, but I foolishly alllowed myself dragged into the internet, and it
just SUCH A TIME SUCK. No one to blame but me, but it's hard not
to....people expect you to be on Facebook -- they don't write or answer
letters anymore. Talking on the phone is reduced to "text messages".

Meet with people in person? HA! they spend the whole time with their
smart phone in their laps, frantically looking for calls or texts, so they can
see "who else they could be talking to". God forbid they "miss anything"
or be "left out".

And I'm in my 50s. It is exponentially worse for people younger.


Mouse Woman

Northwest Coast July 21, 2012

CC, it really has reached a sort of "bowling alone" tipping point by now.
Since other people are busy with their electronics, there is not an awful lot
of community stuff to do in many places.

I'm not on Facebook and have no plans to be. Don't own a television. You
really can back out of a lot of this stuff, but you have to be prepared for a
different sort of life--one where you're alone a lot.
It's no wonder so many people get upset by the prospect of investing in
their communities--they've already opted out of the polis, why would they
invest in it?



St. Paul July 15, 2012

Judas Priest... so what, we're all doomed to horrible crushing loneliness? A

three-page article and they couldn't suggest some potential solutions?
Granted, we still probably won't find BFFs like in college,
but (as one example) is a good way to get out of the house
and interact with people. And whatever happened to good, old-fashioned
volunteering? One shouldn't expect the world to magically grant one's
wishes with a basketful of friends. Like everything else, effort may be


NYT Pick


Manhattan July 15, 2012

Speaking just from personal experience, and as a woman in her 50s, it is

indeed possible to make close friends later in life, but -- like looking good
-- you have to work at it more than you did in college.

Also, I think the internet has radically redefined the notion of friendship.
I'm not talking about bogus Facebook "friends," but about the need for
proximity. Last week I had dinner with four women my age with whom I
participate in an online community that has been going strong for about
seven years. Three of them I see perhaps two or three times a year, one I
had never met in person. And yet I regularly talk to all of them about
some of the most intimate and important details of our lives. They are
absolutely close friends -- and an enormously significant part of my social
life -- even though we rarely sit across a table from one another.


Philadelphia PA July 17, 2012

My own "coven" of nine women is very similar. We have been together for
over 20 years and have lived through death, divorce, 9/11, the perils of
child rearing, weddings, relocation and recreating ourselves in the face of
many challenges, as well as many moments of joy. Each of us knew at
least one other as each of us joined our coven, but we rarely see each
other as we live as far part as Boston, FL, CA and points between.

But we are always there for each other with a comforting word, a quick
quip, or whatever we sense is needed - on our timetable. Yes, my BFFs

Our ages now range from 59 to mid 70's and with 20 years together, we
could write a fascinating book based on the over 100,000 emails we have


Greta Solomon Johnson, Ed.D

Boston July 15, 2012

There are also friendships with relatives that are often stable and ongoing:
sisters in law, aunts, cousins etc. Not self selected but none the less
meaningful and important sources of social support.


NYT Pick


toronto July 15, 2012

who can i meet tucked in bed at 11.0 pm with a book?

or watering my cabbages at 6.00 am?

but the truth may be I have put looking for a friend on perma-pause.

Simply, after someone I was interested in befriending said,

"I don't need another friend."

I (more or less) gave up.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 15, 2012

Don't give up just because of that.



New York July 17, 2012

please don't let that one person get to you .



Vermont July 17, 2012

That person was a jerk. Don't give up.



Jerusalem July 19, 2012

Just a thought - Don't let one person's wall put you into a walled
enclosure. Get out there, do other things that you like to do, and you'll
probably end up making more friends. The city probably has a lot of jaded
people, but also a lot of things to do where you can meet new
acquaintances that may grow into friends.

Just as one anti-social person can be all it takes to take a step back, one
social person who involves you in their life is all it takes to make you feel
good about having been social and open yourself.

All the best.



Providence, RI July 15, 2012

Friendships are (for me) at this time of life -- my sixties -- those

relationships that truly co-nourish and support, are playful and
substantive and, also, challenge me to become the most robust version of
who I am, in whatever time we all have remaining.
My amazing fortune is the presence in my life of eleven such folks, men
and women. Every single one of them lives in the moment and has an
outlook of gratitude.

Carping, gossiping, jabs are far too wearying and that's where I make the

This spring, one of my best friends ever died in the midst of an immensely
engaged and lively life. The loss made me deeply re-think the nature of
friendship and with whom I want to spend these last precious days and
months and years.



Hoboken, NJ July 15, 2012

We often hear "There's no friends like the old friends," and while I remain
extremely close with my high school and college best-ies, I've also made a
couple of extremely close newer friends in grad school (when I was in my
late 30s) and at my new job (when I was in my mid 40s). In terms of
emotional support and physically being there when I need help, they are
true blue. I don't believe you can't make very close new friendships at
ANY age. But, to make good friends you need to BE a good friend.



Ohio July 15, 2012

This article describes my life and my picky middle-aged friend-making

capacity to a tee. But I wonder how universal it is? My ebulliently sociable
mother continued to make many new friends, including deeply loyal, BFF
confidantes, and was open to new experiences and relationships into her
90's. She even entered into a passionate four year romance with a fellow
nonagenarian in her retirement community that ended only when he
passed away. There is no doubt in my mind that my mother's open and
energetic attitude toward friendship and romance is a much healthier
model for a happy old age than my own cultivation of a selective (and
thus shrinking) social circle.


Portland Maine July 15, 2012

I'm 49. Just ten years ago, when I was single, I delighted in having as
many "friends" as I could manage. Since being married, the number of
true friends can be counted on one hand. The energy I once put into so
many "kind of" friends now goes to my husband. I am pickier about who I
spend my time with. With a new career, I only have so much energy to
give, and I want to give it to people who matter and who will last as



Regan July 15, 2012

I have never made the kinds of friends I had since college. Relocation,
divorce, my career and raising three children all seemed to get in the way.

I sort of got stuck in a small group with whom I had little in common. Now
that I am retired I have dropped those women. It is too much effort to
have to explain yourself.

I see some of my old friend now and then. This is fulfilling. I find that a
few acquaintances is sufficient. I sort of missed out on the whole friend
thing during my adult years.



Alaska July 15, 2012

My best friend from my teens and I still communicate, he's had 2 heart
attacks, I've had none, I have 2 friends from early work, and 2 from the
military, whom I communicate with infrequently, the last 4 are married, I
am not. I'm over 60, so set in my ways, it's difficult to another set in
those ways...


New Jersey, NJ July 15, 2012

I met my best friend at 44-years-old, a minor miracle, and knew

immediately to give her my attention and heart and time. People ask how
long we've known each other and we're embarrassed to admit less than a
year. But friendship love, like any love, can produce a thunderous, joyous
roar, no matter our ages.



ny July 15, 2012

Article captures the range of scenarios and issues very well. As much as
my "bff" and I tried to sustain a long distance relationship, given widened
gap of differences in outlook as well as the loss of casual, unplanned
frequent time together it became impossible. Friends with a particular
common interest seems to be the way to go but if there is no spouse or
significant other in your life it I think it gets pretty lonely.



US July 15, 2012

I wouldn't want to be friends with people who say, "go for a drink" or
"cocktail." Why don't people do something like play video games or chess?
And whatever incidental drugs each of us may happen to use, nobody
cares... lest they still use a dial up modem from a museum.



Belgium July 15, 2012

Lots of commenters report having overcome the problems stated in the

article. The commonalities I see among them are flexibility, exploration
and perseverance. It is certainly more difficult to create the time for
friends in a world where both partners usually work. It can be done,
though. Accept the level of intimacy you can afford most of the time
(Skype or Facebook) and make the most of face-to-face time when it's

Having lived outside the U.S. for 20 years, I see in myself more of the
lessons about friendship my mama taught me. The most important lesson
was contact. If I as an individual am not willing to make contact, despite
usually or always being the one to do so, then the friendship is doomed to
starve. This includes friendships made during childhood or college. You
have to be persistant about staying in touch, even if you resent having to
do the lion's share of the work. This does (scout's honor) have its
rewards. One of the closest friends Mama ever had was a women she
didn't meet until her mid-50s. They made time for each other and visited
a few times a year. This woman still keeps in touch with me and the
relationship is a reassurance of Mama's continuing presence in my life.

Social bonds are of prime importance to our physical and mental health as
we age. Like any relationship, though, friendship needs commitment and
consistency to stay alive.



New England July 15, 2012

I suspect the number of a person's real friends is inversely proportional to

the number of their Facebook friends.



NYC July 15, 2012

I am in my early 40s and I can relate to this. I live in NYC, and a few
years ago, many of my friends moved and/or had children. I had children
myself, and if all my friends in NYC lived near each other, that would
probably be great. But if you have to travel an hour by car or subway with
a new baby to see another stressed-out friend with a new baby--well, it
becomes less appealing than crossing the cul-de-sac to hang out. I do
have local parent friends and they are very nice, but we just don't have
that history yet.

I have work friends and oddly enough, one of my best work friends is
completely opposite me in terms of demographics. But my husband and I
both have demanding work hours so making new friends through hobbies,
etc, is very difficult.

I think the main obstacle to new friendships is that everyone is so BUSY

(including me). In my youth, I'd go out every night after work and
socialize, but that's just impossible now that I'm older, tired, and have a



Park City, Utah July 15, 2012

There's no doubt that a similar activity or passion can be the bridge to

friendship. Skiing. Bridge. Hiking. Book club. But of course these are
things that take time, as does friendship.



california July 15, 2012

Social psychologists have written for decades about the social importance
of casual proximities, like living on the same stairwell. And see how offices
next door matter, if the doors are open,
door/, an article about strategic office assignments at MIT. That is one
reason why retirement is depressing.



Minneapolis July 15, 2012

I'm in my thirties now, but have found it difficult to make friends since
college. Mostly this is due to demands of work, which means I can't have
as loose of a schedule as I used to. New friendships seem to demand a
high level of spontaneity. Now, in a new city, it is even more difficult. I
have friends who give advice on how I should get a new boyfriend, but I
know in my heart it is way more important for me to have a loyal
girlfriend who will be there through anything than have a new boyfriend.
It seems weird to desire to be set up with a girl when I'm straight, but
that's what I truly crave. I think friendship has been denigrated to an
inferior status of lover or even spouse and we all know that is not the way
it is at all! Our close friends, like family, have gotten us through every
stage of life. At times, I despair that I'm supposed to find a man over a
friend. Where are the websites for friends? Please advise!


Radioactive Banana

Arlington, VA July 18, 2012

Check out for friend matchmaking. You might also

want to look at Shasta's blog there for a lot more wisdom about female

By the way, I'm not Shasta or in any way involved with Girlfriend Circles -
in fact, I tried it over two years ago and it didn't work for me, because
there weren't many people near my age there when they came to DC, but
they might have fine-tuned how they roll out in new cities since then. I
think this would be worth a try.


common sense

Seattle July 15, 2012

I don't feel like I need new friends, at age 57, I work hard, meet a lot of
people who I form relationships with. It's nice to just come home to my
dog and my cat, and relax. When I want company, I find someone who
simply happens to be available, and easy to be around. They come over
for dinner, or we go out.

I terminated my FB account a few weeks ago. It was too invaisive. I don't

like reading what people I know are saying, or who they are talking with,
and Good Lord, I cannot stand seeing pictures of strangers children ... it's
too creepy. Sharing photos with Aunt Sally is one thing, but when Aunt
Sally shows up on my FB gallery chatting away ... it's just weird.

Anyway. Read a book when you're lonely. It always works for me.


Mitch Lewis
Milwaukee July 19, 2012

Sounds like you read a lot of books...



NY July 15, 2012

I wish this article mentioned how much we grow *through* our friends.
And if that circle diminishes and becomes restricted with age, it may also
constrict the potentiality in friendship. If we become methodical and
regimented about who can be our friend, we're self-selecting our way out
of undiscovered experiences and perspectives. Wouldn't that make us
increasingly close-minded too?



oregon July 15, 2012

I've made excellent friendships through volunteer activities that are

related to my natural interests, like hiking trail development and
maintenance, environmental causes, small local government boards, etc. I
also have a few close friendships that involve distance in both years and
miles, but when we are able to reconnect we pick up right where we left
off. Love that!


Lonely Momma

Pennsylvania July 15, 2012

This article was deeply comforting to me- my.closest friends are from
many years ago and none of them live near me now. I've tried and failed
many times to develop new friendships- I always have new "almost
friends" but I cant seem to figure out how to deepen those relationships
into something that lasts over time. glad to know others have similar



South Padre Island, TX July 15, 2012

My mother who lived to 95 used to walk to the public gardens, sit on a
bench and converse with her friends. When the last friend passed away
she lost interest and became housebound. The inactivity did her in. Moral:
The longer you live the fewer friends you end up with unless you start
making friends younger than you.


Bob Tube

Los Angeles July 14, 2012

On the other hand, my wife is still BFF with the mother of our son's ex-
GF,. The kids' relationship ended about 5 years ago. We still like the ex-
GF, but love hanging out with this late-in-life friend and her new husband.
Who'd have thought?



ashland, OR July 14, 2012

i've love all of my friends dearly, even when college, work abroad,
marriages and divorces came and went; in my 30's i lost my first husband
and moved cross country to restart, but i always knew who had my back!
as i made new friends and found new work, i experienced many of the
"stages" the author describes...and am at a point with so many of my
friends where we are curiously re-examining our friendships and how we
relate to one another - "what makes a 'best' friend?" and "what
constitutes 'great' friendships?"...

these days i am content to call you my friend if i feel motivated to call you
and invite you to share conversation and a glass of wine - it's how i
"friend" my contacts on FB!



san francisco July 14, 2012

Take a look at the book "Too much magic" by Jason Benlevi, and his web
He has a lot to say about friendships in the modern era, and the good
things as well as hardships digital resources have had on those



Savannah July 14, 2012

Interesting points, but I'm not seeing the one that keeps my husband and
me as rich in friendships as we want to be: a serious hobby. Mine is taking
ballet and his is kayaking. I started ballet in my late twenties and am still
a 2 class/week student and annual performer at 61. I've met great people,
mostly other ladies. They come from all walks of life and if they are willing
to engage in a rigorous mental and physical workout regularly after a full
day of work, they are usually well worth knowing. My husband began
kayaking for fun and is now a pro, for fun. Anyone male or female,
regardless of age, that is willing to take what the coastal waters may
throw their way while paddling, rolling, surfing or taking trips around
barrier islands is also as a rule, pretty decent. We maintained these
passions thru the child rearing years of our late 30's up until almost 60.
We both work in education and have found people we enjoy associating
with outside of work, me especially. Just had lunch during my summer
"off" with fellow educators and our dog therapy lady, sans dog. Another
great opportunity to meet like minded people: volunteering. I'll be eating
dinner with our PTA Pres. and VP day after tomorrow. Already warned
them there will be no karaoke for me : ) It sounds simplistic, but I have
found staying necessary in society puts me face to face with a lot of very
interesting people. My family could be richer in money, but not in what
matters to us most.



franklin July 14, 2012

You never make friends like you do when you're raising babies together.



USA July 15, 2012

lloyd wrote: "You never make friends like you do when you're raising
babies together."
That's really not true at all. In my suburban neighborhood with mostly
stay-at-home moms, I've seen many of the moms (and dads) who
constantly hung out together for years drift apart very soon after their
kids went to college. It's sad, but it happens like clockwork. They really
had no sincere friendship ties to each other except discussing their
children. I think it's why so many people have no problem selling their
houses and moving somewhere else after the kids leave home. I find it
interesting - they have no friends in their old neighborhood, and no
friends where they "retire" to either.

I've lived in this neighborhood longer than many of these women,and I

have relatives not far away. I have friends from college and two from an
old job. So I never felt the peer pressure to make friends based on who
had children my kids' ages or because our kids shared activities. If you're
my friend now, it's because we get along, not because we both raised

I always avoided those moms who could only talk about their kids - I
would hear neighbor/school moms complain about these women but they
all kept spending time together. (So silly.)

Two of my longtime friends don't have kids; I noticed long ago this is rare
among my neighbors. If you don't have kids they couldn't be bothered
with you - "no time". I'm curious if they regret choosing their "mom
friends" over other friends now.



Boston, MA July 14, 2012

I am a single, never-married, college-educated, employed woman, and 51

years old. Making new friends was a crisis for me in my early to mid 20's
because almost everyone I knew was getting married and I chose to stay
in Boston after coming here for school. At the age of 28, I began to
connect with social and religious networks of my own faith and became a
cog in and a creator of a wonderful community that was then primarily
single. Twenty-five years later there is a network of probably close to 70
of us, many of us still connected regardless of our marital and family

Close friendship is caring about your friends and being flexible to your
friends' needs based on where they are in their lives, proactive in reaching
out if you want to find others to do things together and being willing to
take emotional risks. You gain and you lose friends throughout your life.
Keep your door open and pay attention to the people you like and care
about, whether a neighbor or colleague, and they often will continue to be
part of your life.



Rochester, NY July 14, 2012

"If you want to find the right person, BE the right person."

Philip Kapleau



Philadelphia July 14, 2012

At 44 I'm taking two short summer vacations (alone, no kids or spouse):

one southward to visit my best friend from high school and two friends
from college; and one northward to visit two other great friends from
college, and perhaps a mutual friend I met through Facebook. There are
friends who have been so pivotal in one's younger years that regardless of
how frequently you see them or talk to them on the phone, seeing them
once again will never be awkward. I so look forward to the next few weeks
to visit with these wonderful people again!



houston July 14, 2012

Oooops, there seems to be a 'p' missing from my comment.



houston July 14, 2012

I am no longer accepting aplications for best friend.



Paris July 14, 2012

This reminds me of something my grandmother said, "you may not love

them all the time, but they are still your family."

In the same way, your friends are always your friends even if you do not
like everything about them all the time. It is also undeniable that it is
easier to make friends early in life, but maintaining the friendships that
you can count on requires a lot of humility and understanding when life
circumstances (marriage, divorce, bereavement, etc,) change.



Brooklyn July 14, 2012

Learned lesson: go back to college :)

Alice Simpson

California/New York July 14, 2012

How about moving across country (NY to CA) at seventy and trying to
make new friends? Thirty and forty were a breeze.

Like Lisa Degliantoni, I have about 400+ Facebook "friends," involved in

all sorts of cultural, political and creative activities most days. But to
replace the tried and true just isn't happening. As a person who hates to
discuss doctor's appointments and arthritis, finding friends my age with
"other interests" is challenging.

Years ago, I heard a speaker at the 92nd Street Y talk about seeing life
like a slice of pie, (I prefer peach, thanks) and that your life can open up
or you can end up in a corner- -depending on your point of view.

Finding the (almost) perfect balance; someone willing to listen as well as

speak, is difficult, but when it happens...wowza! Add confidant to that
mix, and you have a real friend. I'm also in agreement with "I Am A
Blank" in Brooklyn, that forgiveness is a large part of friendship, while
realizing that time and experience shape that ability.

I'm ever open to new people in my life, and hopeful that someone special
will appear.



Denver July 14, 2012

Single people seem to forge more friendships than partnered people. It's a
risk when one is in a relationship to rely on the partner for all of one's
social activities. Many people I have known are at a loss when the
husband dies or the wife divorces.

The workplace is ideal for forming friendships but when people retire there
is less exposure to peers. One has to be diligent to maintain friendships -
reach out, arrange lunches, movie dates, whatever. Don't lose touch with
the 'old' friends you have. I met several friends through my church (when
I moved to a new city) by volunteering to do something. When people get
to know you they are often open to an invitation for more. Take the first
step. Don't be shy. I met the librarian in my new city and we became
movie buddies then friends. Still are though we both moved again.

Get a dog if you don't have one and go walking. You will meet lots of great
people. Offer to dog-sit for those people whom you want to befriend &
arrange for them to sit for your dog. Keep it fair - don't take advantage.
I've met several new pals that way - neighbors who are already dog

Volunteer for Hospice - reach out to people who you would never meet in
your own social circle. I met five of my best friend via hospice - they are:
the wife of a client, the husband of another (and son), the friends of
another and the hospice coordinator and her partner. The world is full of
people looking for friends - go find them.



New York July 16, 2012

"Single people seem to forge friendships [more easily] than partnered


I have NOT found that to be the case. It can be very isolating not to have
occasions to meet other mature adults, such as school events. A lot of
married people or parents have no use for single people, especially single

Maybe my standards are too high: I don't want someone to be just a uni-
task companion, along the scheme mentioned by the woman in the article.
That's not a friend. Admittedly, I am on different wavelengths with my
(very few friends), but I could tell any of them almost anything.

The good side is that if you have interests about which you are
passionate, you have more time to devote to them. You won't necessarily
gain companionship from them, but you will deepen your knowledge or

Everyone, single or married, gets lonely from time to time. That's life.



Portland OR July 14, 2012

I think the end of the article is very revealing. No openings for 12

weeks!!! We have adopted a norm that has us constantly scheduled and
we feel guilty if we have open time. We are not giving ourselves or anyone
else time to breathe and just let life happen. We have suffocated our
capacity for spontaneity. The only way to combat this is to build some
boundaries and guard them zealously.

I also think that the threshold for true friendship rises as you get older
since your close friend have gone through major life events with you:
marriage, divorce, child birth, death of relatives or friends. A new person
can't begin to reach that standard until they have had something more
than routine interactions with you. This is different than when we are
younger when beauty and wit are enough to enamor us.



Arlington Va July 14, 2012

I think there're also cultural differences in defining a "friend". In the US

(could also be western/european), people use the word "friend" much
more loosely than in other (Asian, in my case) cultures. For example, my
husband, an American, calls a lot of people friends that I would consider,
in my standard, just acquaintances.



New York July 16, 2012

It's very hard to buck that American trend. People act as if you're a snob
or aloof if you actually acknowledge that to call someone a "friend" means
Most people are happy with the hypocrisy of calling almost everyone a
friend, although of course they know who their real "friend friends" are.

With languages that have a formal and familiar form of "you," some
Americans don't understand that you don't call someone you've just met
by the familiar form. It's presumptuous.



Worcester MA July 14, 2012

Life is short, Chart Lady. Wake up before it's too late.


NYT Pick


Brooklyn July 14, 2012

I think the Internet has changed how we make friends. I have met good
new friends through blogging - both writing one and reading others. Like-
minded people are attracted to particular websites, where they "meet" by
chance. That becomes the proximity that the author of this article refers
to. After months or years of online interaction, real, lasting and in-person
friendship can develop quite naturally.



Los Angeles July 14, 2012

This is quite true for many people. Blogging is how I met my husband and
a tight, familial circle of friends spread across the country. I mean we
attend each other's weddings and take group trips much like people do
with their college friends.

anita gold

NYC July 15, 2012

You have completely ignored that all-important factor in

BFF relationships: chemistry. No deep love without it. And it is definitely

an in-person thing. I am afraid you will be unpleasantly surprised when,
after years together online, you finally meet only to discover your
relationship may be limited to what is already is, since this potential BFF
and you don't actually "click."

It would be interesting to talk/think/read more about what that all-

important chemistry or clicking is.



Florida July 14, 2012

It gets much, much more complicated as you move into your 60s and
beyond. First, many people move when they retire. Second, people die or
disappear into dementia. Third, some people become obsessed with the
past rather than life in the present. Nevertheless, there are friends to be
made. But it takes a strong desire to remain connected.


Betsy R

Chicago IL July 14, 2012

Please know that when people develop dementia, they can still be your
friends, and you can still be theirs. Your friendship will change - perhaps
you'll no longer have the scintillating dinner-party discussions you once
relished - but you can enjoy music, art, nature, and the comfort of holding
the other person's hand. If your friend develops dementia, he or she may
need your friendship more than ever - be there.


Sausalito, CA July 14, 2012

This article makes an interesting point. During college, we bump into our
friends all the time. After college, friendship requires a special effort.
However the article also implies that, when one grows older, one looses
the ability to make new friends because one becomes less generous

From the age of 30 to 60, due to time constraints, friendships are often
focused around occupation and parenthood.

Unfortunately, by age 60, too many people have forgotten how to make
new friends.

In this context, Charles Dickens' novel "A Christmas Carol" makes for
interesting reading. Everyone should guard against turning into Ebenezer
Scrooge who famously had no friends because, in his old age, he became
too judgmental about others and obsessed about money. It took a visit by
the grim reaper, thinly disguised as The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come,
to shock Scrooge into becoming more like his younger, more humane

Some of the people interviewed in this article show signs of becoming like
Ebenezer Scrooge in their old age. Perhaps they need to make a special
effort to become more like their younger selves - generous with their time
and open to making new friends who are not custom tailored to
themselves and their preoccupation in life.


eliane speaks

wisconsin July 15, 2012

Excellent comment.


Easthampton, MA July 14, 2012

When I moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts to attend college at 38,

I thought it was all me who had trouble making friends. And, granted
there are some very big differences in communication styles from working
class New Jersey to middle class Massachusetts. It took me awhile to
adjust to the political correctness here, but once that was accomplished, I
realized that socializing patterns change as we move from our 20's to 30's
to 40's etc.

IMO, those changes are super tough to deal with if one is single. As a
single, when I was in my 30's & early 40's I kind of thought I could do the
same things I did in my 20's. But I soon realized that people simply didn't
mix the same way as they did when younger. (I esp. noted how some
women got very protective of their male spouses--and I always enjoyed
my guy friends.) I also found I had less in common with someone who is
married with children, even if I happen to like her.

It was very, very shocking--no one had prepared me for all the changes
and challenges with making friends. No one prepared me, either, for how
the challenge of making friends would impact the other challenge of dating
(that's a whole other kettle of fine fish!) I'm glad to see articles like this,
as well as books on the subject that finally discuss how "growing up"
impacts so much of our lives, including how we make or don't make


x July 14, 2012

My criteria has remained the same: I can or have trusted my life with you.
That number is small relative to others' "friends" but I'm ok with that.



CT July 14, 2012

'Tis true: The stakes are higher, and I am pickier (because I know myself
more thoroughly). I have found the "friend for a specific use/need"
strategy to work. I have a friend I call when I want to do fun things in
NYC, a friend for when I want to go to the beach, etc. But I like having a
small group of close friends, even if parts of those friendships happen via
text or email due to our packed schedules and distance. Maybe I'll regret
not trying very hard (okay, at all) to meet new people if current friends
drop off. That's a good incentive to be a good friend to this existing
coterie (as if I needed it).



Chicago, IL July 14, 2012

Wonderfully insightful, thorough article on an issue my friends and I (all in

our 30s) discuss contantly. MeetUp groups, Dabble, language, art, cooking
classes etc. can be a way to find new friends w/ shared interests, talents
or a passion for continuing education. Also--when moving to a new city,
asking current friends whether they have friends there. I've made a
number of close friends that way. The friend-of-a-friend filter is a tried
and true one as you usually share a similar sensibility-



IN July 14, 2012

I'm very grateful for this article. I thought it was a) either me or b) a

move to the Midwest.



New York July 16, 2012

I went through a period when a college friend who lives across the country
used to suggest that it was easy to make friends. I told her it was very
difficult to make meaningful connections with people, even though I was
pursuing things that interested me. Having interests is supposedly a
friendship magnet.

I was a single woman who was working on a freelance basis, trying to find
a new career field, and it didn't help me socially to be a minority. A lot of
people simply weren't interested in knowing me beyond the situation.
But acknowledge that and you're labeled as bitter or someone who has a



Wilmette, IL July 16, 2012

I can relate about move to the Midwest...grew up in NYC, then lived in

Miami and Georgia. Made friends pretty easily, until I came to Illinois.
Most people here have been here all their lives, and are NOT open to new
friends. I am also grateful for this article!



WI July 16, 2012

My sentiments EXACTLY! :-)


I Am Blank

Brooklyn, NY July 14, 2012

Thayer, from bottom page one, has got it all wrong. I've always thought
the notion of 'loyalty' was a bit co-dependent. People have their own best
interests at heart and to personalize inconsistent interactions as 'disloyal'
seems a bit harsh. A good friend is one you can forgive and who forgives
you and let's you be who you are, even if you don't make it to each others
40th birthday party. When you place the responsibility of creating
happiness upon the other person in the relationship, you create an
emotional debt. You, not your spouse or friend, should be responsible for
making yourself satisfied and complete. When you're whole, then you
have enough to give to your friend or mate. The cup runneth over.
Some folks feel that somehow its disloyal to have a life outside of your
marriage. It doesnt mean that someone is devious if they have interests
outside their marriage. I would say that if anything, it enhances the
marriage or the friendship to have an identity of your own. When people
cease to grow, their relationships become stagnant. Too much emphasis
has been put upon the other to create a sustaining element, rather than
getting it from within.

This article's topic is poignant. However, not only did I make some lasting
bonds in my twenties, but some of my closest bonds were made just
before I turned 40. I was willing to depend on myself for the happiness.
People don't want the emotional blackmail of feeling responsible for
another's sense of of self esteem.



TH July 14, 2012

While it's true that we turn towards self-knowledge from self-exploration

as we age I think there's another important factor the article doesn't
address: at middle age we have a better understanding of how the world
reacts to us.

At 40 we can more accurately assess our chances of snagging that

Playboy Playmate or the gorgeous billionaire at the cocktail party than we
could in college.

What seemed possible at 22 seems ridiculous at 38. Once we appreciate

how others perceive us we can avoid situations that are likely to waste our
time and end in disappointment.

The real downside is that we withdraw into ourselves becoming our own
worst enemy. We defeat ourselves by not making the effort anymore;
we've lost the thrill of possibility. Maybe that's what getting old really

K Henderson

is a trusted commenter NYC July 15, 2012

Very insightful and more truthful than what the article attempts to say ,
but there's still something to be said for going to some random social
function and -- just for the heck of it -- trying to be friendly and sociable
and seeing what happens. It is the human thing to do and better than
staying at home and watching a DVD.

As one gets older there's less at stake so why not relax and see what
other people are talking about? True we dont need BF's for life when we
are 40, but it is always cool when someone offers a point of view that one
wouldnt have thought about otherwise.

The challenge for me these days is that we all spend so much time at
work that there is little time to throw one's self into social situations in the
evenings. So when the opportunity arrives? I make a point of going.And
KOB? You should too.


Mitch Lewis

Milwaukee July 19, 2012

I'm in my 50's and I still don't think I have figured out how the world
reacts to me. If I did, then I'd want to change something about myself so
that I was less predictable.

It's true that people will develop preconceived notions about how you will
behave, based on the kind of work you do other superficial characteristics.
I get a big kick out of confounding those expectations.

Nothing is forcing you to lose the thrill of possibility - you are doing it all
to yourself. Maybe you should think more about how you are reacting to
the rest of the world, instead of how they are reacting to you.


San Francisco CA July 14, 2012

Retiring from the usual workplace brings yet another change in finding
and defining friends. Your own life changes substantially. You have to
figure out how to best use your time, and perhaps work out a different
relationship with your spouse. At the same time your friends are now
halvsies--half of them still working the 9-5 (or 8-to-whatever) routine and
the other, retiree half more in control of their own time but with many
more activities, some of which you will never want to do. New friends lack
the context about you that your old friends had. Many of us follow Ms.
Degliantoni's--a hiking friend, a theater friend, but wonder if this will give
us a "whole" friend when a moment of crisis arises.



ct July 14, 2012

Someone who keeps a running tally of my 'score' as a friend doesn't

sound like somebody I'd like to associate with, and yet she wonders why
most people she meets wind up with a low score...



Williston, FL July 14, 2012

I am a 60 year old woman, and for at least 20 years the only women (and
some men) who seemed at first to want to be friends were only trying to
recruit me into their church/religion. Really tiresome.



New Mexico July 14, 2012

Sometimes I think I've lost my sense of humor when it comes to seeking

out new friends. For example, my husband and I were very disturbed after
inviting a couple to our home for the first time who decided to discuss how
they were planning "the end game." In other words, where they might like
to die, as though that were a topic of conversation appropriate to meeting
new people...
Then there are the "interesting" people who show they have not
developed an ability to be interested. There are a lot of them.

Also, the person who is always the guest and never the person who does
the inviting. I just don't have the interest in entertaining others who never
feel the desire to reciprocate, especially after they have accepted
invitations on a half dozen occasions. These same people constantly
complain about not having a lot of money and actually show up with $3
bottles of wine.

Grist for a Woody Allen mill.


eliane speaks

wisconsin July 15, 2012

Is there any possibility that they are in severe financial straits (consider
today's economy) and can only afford a three dollar bottle of wine?

Sometimes people do not reciprocate because they cannot entertain as

lavishly, because of financial, family, time pressure, or health issues.



Ocala, Florida July 14, 2012

"considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated,

unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their
guard down and confide in each other"

That would be the military, especially in the early years of service. My

closest remaining friendships were made there. In this age of elitist
journalism and disdain for the armed services by media, certainly not the
general public, it is easy to see why that would fail outside the
consideration of someone who doubtless deigned not to serve their
country and has no friends who did.

Fred F

NYC July 14, 2012

"seek out like-minded folks to fill very specific needs,"

Um, that's not a friend. That's an opportunist.



Portland OR July 14, 2012

Not to my mind. For instance, I trained in aikido for over 20 years. My

fellow students were interesting, fun people who shared an arcane set of
knowledge, experience, skill and concerns that were not interesting to
anyone outside the school. These were people who I literally trusted with
my physical safety on a regular basis and we grew close as a result. We
were friend and confidantes. But in a limited context. None of these
people ever crossed the threshold to being intimate personal friends and
yet we shared a vital and authentic bond. What prevents this type of
relationship from being opportunistic is that we offered each other similar
things on a basis of parity and mutual interest. The relationships were
valid, interesting and fun, even if they never became BFF.



Paris, Fr July 15, 2012

There are friends that you wouldn't invite to something but you wouldn't
for other things. There are people I want to play sports with and other
friends I'd like to go see a ballet with. It's hardly opportunistic that you
want to spend time with anyone even if it isn't for all parts of your life.



NYC July 15, 2012

Perhaps that was phrased incorrectly.

I do indeed have a friend who I would go to an art gallery with, another
friend I would go to a wine-tasting with (not the teetotaler!), and another
who prefers to come into the city and go shopping.

There is nothing wrong with that, everyone is different and I see it as

each enjoys different interests, so why not indulge that?



NYC July 16, 2012

Thank you Fred F!

I used to have a friend who would only invite me to attend very specific
types of musical events with her. Whenever I asked her to do anything
else, say meet for a drink or cup of tea or go to a movie, she always
refused claiming that she was too busy--despite the fact that she would
tell me details of her other outings. After a couple of years of this routine
playing out with her showing no interest in anything that interested me, I
made myself unavailable and the "friendship" dissolved.

I simply didn't want to be a friend for hire whose only appeal seemed to
be my ability to afford a concert ticket.


R, Barnes

Michigan July 17, 2012

Fred, I understand her point completely. When you've continually made

an effort and been disappointed, you decide it's best to limit your
expectations and what you're looking for in a friend. So someone doesn't
want to take a cooking class with you, but they do enjoy basketball?
Basketball friend. Someone loves books, but hates to exercise? Book
friend. What's wrong with that? I think it's more about meeting people
where they are than opportunism.


New Paltz, New York July 14, 2012

Ya, so the way we meeet new people changes, but that does not mean
that you can't open yourself up to meeting new friends. But it is true if the
roster is already full, then it is hard to maintain quality new friends. One
only has so much time and energy. That said, I have friends al over the
world, and I know we could get together in a heartbeat, and it'll be like
old times, so what is wrong with that?



NY July 14, 2012

And all that is why retirement communities work - a college or High

School environment for seniors....



Charleston, SC July 14, 2012

I can truly relate to this article. As someone who has moved a number of
times in my 40-plus years of life, I have lots of friends that I categorize
(and, for the most part, compartmentalize). At least, I can say that -- in
addition to my BFF, whom I met in 7th grade -- I continue to maintain a
close connection with at least one person from every place I have lived
and from every stage of my life. I do wonder at times; however, whenever
I get married and/or whenever I pass on, how all of these people in my
life -- stemming from disparate backgrounds, locations, and experiences -
- will see holistically their connection to me and to each other.



Los Angeles July 14, 2012

I think this article is true, with some exceptions. My mother is turning 60

in January. She has made a handful of new very close friends over the last
decade, thanks to AA. They are friends who have been very honest with
each other about the lowest moments in their life, in the way that I am
honest with friends I have known since middle school. I find it inspiring.


Texas July 14, 2012

Interesting article, but everyone over 30 probably knows all this.

How about an article about how husbands (over 30 years of age) still want
to hang out with their college or high school buddies (more than 2 or 3
times a year) and have drinks, but their wives give them grief about it or
forbid it? (e.g. "why do you still want to go drinking with your should grow up").

That article would be more interesting.



ridgewood, nj July 14, 2012

I think it's important that a couple maintain outside friendships. I would

never tell my husband not to see an old buddy (unless it started to
happen every night of the week--that could be a problem). Of course the
relationship is central, but you need other people too. It helps bring new
ideas and interests into both your lives. No matter how much you love
each other, there's power in reaching out beyond that world of two.

But I do recognize the attitude you're talking about here...and I have seen
it in men too. Maybe it comes from a lack of trust? Or attitudes a person
grew up with and inherited from parents and hasn't examined since then?

Maybe it's OK that some friendships come and go as part of a phase in

one's life. As long as you have one or two people who stick around and
who knew you "way back when"--I would miss that if I didn't have it (one
friend from college, another from my first job).



NYC July 16, 2012

When my children were young, once a week my husband got a night out
with his friends, as did I. It was wonderful to not have to think about kith
and kin for one night every week, but even if it is only once a month, it
can make all the difference in a marriage.


NYT Pick

Lauren T

Brooklyn, New York July 14, 2012

I find this article oddly comforting. It explains my current situation -- I

have friends but not Friends -- and helps me to reconsider my
expectations. I'm in touch with one friend from high school -- via
occasional FB exchanges and once-a-year ten-page letters. The
friendships I developed in college and grad school were mostly
dysfunctional and wisely shed. Post-college friends have come and gone
as we moved, married, had kids, changed jobs, changed
churches/religious communities, etc. I still pine for a BFF (and my
husband does too), but I realize it may not happen. I feel all the more
grateful for my husband (who is a great husband, but not a BFF in that
best-girlfriend sense) and the close acquaintances I have in the
neighborhood, through my (freelance) work, and my Buddhist practice
community. And grateful for that 10-page-letter high school friend. (And
my sister!)

Maybe it's different with less-mobile populations?



Southeast Florida July 14, 2012

Alex and Brian could not find three hours in an evening to get together
until ninety days out, "at the next available opening".

That sounds as friendly as scheduling a root-canal procedure. Both of you

should be ashamed of yourselves; it's time to examine your self-centered


New York July 16, 2012

I've never forgotten the article by The New Yorker writer whose 4-year-old
daughter had to keep rescheduling her dates with her imaginary friend.

"Bumping into Mr. Favioli"

God, that was 10 years ago.


Don Wiss

Brooklyn, NY July 14, 2012

It would have been nice if the author defined B.F.F. I had to go look it up.
I have never heard the term before. Probably as I am a generation or two
older than the author.


Ms. Massachusetts

Acton MA July 16, 2012

I agree. I think the author was presumptuous in assuming that everyone

would understand this term. I also had to look it up.

Maybe I'm out of the loop because I'm 64. ("Will you still need me, will
you still feed me, when I'm 64?")


New York, NY July 14, 2012

I certainly wouldn't want to be friends with the woman who docks points
from me if I misbehave.



New York July 16, 2012

Me neither. It didn't sound very "playful," did it?

Nonetheless, I've had people dump me for fairly minor transgressions as




Philly July 16, 2012

But why would she want to be friends with you if you're not respectful of
her time ? If you don't return calls and you show up late?

That's not friendship, it's just bad manners and immaturity.



Taipei July 14, 2012

I bet this tendency is exacerbated by America's slightly work-a-holic

culture. In Mediterranean cultures for example, it seems like friendships
and socializing are higher on the priority list.


NYT Pick


NYC July 14, 2012

What IS this!? I could not disagree more. Granted, I'm not in the age
bracket (as a 20-somethin' in NYC), but my impression is that having
enough diverse loves -- and an openness to be genuine with people, even
(or especially) in moments of vulnerability -- presents ample opportunity
for recurrent interactions, planned and unplanned, regardless of age.
Let me give you a flavor of my loves and the friendships they have
fostered. I don't see how aging should change my continued pursuit of
these loves or the friendships they have helped cultivate!

I love painting, so I joined an artistic community, ConArtist.

Love being Jewish, so I attend services for 20-30-somethings at my


Fortunately, I am also deeply invested in my work (neuroscience /

academia / love of ideas), through which I have developed some of my
deepest friendships.

The "as yourself" clause of the Second Golden Rule (love your neighbor as
yourself) is important: love who you are by *doing* beautiful things
worthy of your own love. This will make you worthy of others' love and
friendship, those people doing beautiful things worthy of their love, too.
To believe aging is a barrier to this is completely myopic.

My final thought is that friendships -- like anything else worthwhile, such

as activities you love -- require active engagement and priority. Really? 3
months from now, you're getting together with your friend?

Cause for re-evaluation of what makes for good life balance.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 14, 2012

Wonderful statement very well said - except the last line! Sometimes, 3
months down the line is the best you can do. True friends laugh this off
and simply do what they can, knowing the in the long run, the friendship
will still be there as long as they keep it up.


california July 15, 2012

I am a 60 yr. old woman, and could not agree more with you! If you put
yourself out there, are interested in the world around you, interested in
the people around you, finding friends is easy. Some of my friends I have
had for 50+ plus years, some I have made recently....they all add to the
richness of my life!



Oakland, CA July 15, 2012

Come back and tell us how that's all working out for you when you hit
your upper 30s or 40s. Of course you'll always see friends where you're
united in a particular hobby or religious community, but will you see them
outside of those spheres? People get married, move away, change jobs,
have kids... it's a whole different story after the twenty-something years.
As someone who's single with no kids and has always deeply valued
friendship, I can tell you it's a sad thing to watch how many life changes
and commitments eat into the time that was once freely available between
friends. Hearing about the 3-month wait may seem ridiculous, but it gets
all too common out there.



paris July 15, 2012

Dear swinging 20-"somethin",

I'm 32 and I also have a lot of enthusiasm for many different activities.
I've always made friends easily. So I can understand your naivete while at
the same time experiencing exactly the phenomena this article discusses.

Imagine you work 40 hours a week. I see you live in NYC, which means
you will have to work at some gainful occupation AT LEAST 40 hours a
week to make rent.

That means you leave for work at 9 am and get home around 6:30 (but
hours vary and commute times vary). You have a couple hours before
going to bed (sleep becomes increasingly relevant as we get older, hate to
break it to you). How to spend it?

I like to try to do yoga after work. I also like to see my husband and have
dinner with him and talk about our days. I like to COOK that dinner.
Sometimes I have to buy groceries or get dry cleaning or get my hair cut
or paint my toes. Sometimes I clean the bathroom or do laundry. I am
caught up in a book. Or I comment on some silly article because I am still
young enough to think that my opinion is insanely interesting and

And we are at the moment childless. Wait til i have to race home to
daycare. Wait til the teething starts, and having to find a sitter. And the 4
year old is sick. And I have to take X to ballet and Y to the pediatrician.

for the moment, happy hour with "potential friends" is backburner. Having
a twenty "somethin" quote the Golden Rule to me is a bit too much. Let's
talk again in 10 years.



Yonkers, NY July 15, 2012

Celia, you are not in that age group and, as noted, that makes a
tremendous difference. After a 9 hour work day with a 3 hour round trip
train & subway commute, coming home to children who need your
attention and a spouse who would like some, trying to squeeze in a visit
with a friend is not going to happen. The weekends are full of errands and
housekeeping and hopefully, church and family activities as well. I
wouldn't even try to schedule a get-together three months in advance
because one of us wouldn't be able to make it after all. I love email for the
connections I can keep however lacking in treasured face-to-face contact.



Kansas July 15, 2012

Celia, this article was not written for you. Of course you'd disagree. You
feel like your current formula would work for everyone, but I can tell you
that family, relocation, job loss...they all change the friendship dynamic.

You're probably still at an age where you feel completely in control of your
life. At some point, you'll look back and realize you're not. I remember
knowing everything, too.



Chicago July 15, 2012

You may disagree, but your letter really only proves the author's point. In
our 20s and early 30s, we can't imagine what could be more important
than hanging out with our friends all the time. In our 40s, the answer
often is: hanging out with spouses, kids, aging parents--and taking care of
careers, which are often at their peak. Whether those things apply to you
or not, these types of commitments do remove many people from the
"potential friend" pool.

The people I know in in their 40s are either so securely ensconced in their
little family unit that they do not need, want, or have time to make new
friends. Or they feel isolated because they do not have much in common
with others their own age or with 20 and 30-somethings. Certainly there
are exceptions--but the article was focusing more on the norm. And
certainly there is always room for an evaluation of a good life balance. If
we all did that on a regular basis, there would be no mid-life crises.



holland pa July 16, 2012

its your age. As you get older life allows for way fewer interests. there is
work and family (which gets bigger, much bigger) taking up almost all
your energy. As your children grow up they eventually are a less constant
pressure on free time, which you hopefully replace with a hobby. You will
meet people who enjoy the hobby, and they will be "friends", but as the
author says, situationa;l friends. You play tennis with them, you go to
dinner with them and the wives, but it is never the close BFF of years
past. Hopefully your spouse provides those intimacy needs, because your
friends are not close eough, or available enough as they try to provide for
the needs of their families.



Michigan July 16, 2012




boston July 16, 2012

Celia--someday, some of your friends will have children.

And you'll find that they can't get to the artist meeting because the
babysitter cancelled at the last minute, and they have to leave in the
middle of the service because the toddler has a tantrum, and they can't go
to the after-work get-togethers because they need to get home to put the
kids to bed.

Will you still have the energy to be their friend, even when their lives are
exhaustingly, deadeningly dull? Or will you just go off and keep doing
beautiful things with 20-somethings forever?



nyc July 16, 2012

Being in a committed, coupled partnership - as the author describes in his

own situation - also requires active engagement and priority that, for
many people, can take precedent over all other activities. Throw children
into the mix, and your entire world can shift.

In the meantime, enjoy yourself and your communities to the fullest, for
they are indeed valuable. When you're in your 30s and 40s, you'll look
back on them with love and gratitude that they shaped you into the self-
aware, tolerant, and respectful person that you'll someday become.


NYC July 16, 2012

As another 20-something in NYC, I think that your reply seems short-

sighted. It is AMAZING how crowded life gets. It's not that people stop
loving things, or stop wanting to do fun things like join artistic
communities AND attend church services AND invest in work friendships -
it's that when you are in your 20s, these are usually the "big" things.
When you get older, bigger (and yet smaller) things come. You still make
time for yourself but it narrows to picking one or two of your many diverse
loves and indulging in that. And going home after, rather than hanging out
bonding over a drink. Because while you were at volleyball, the person
you love was at home alone, watching the kids; or the babysitter was at
home, depleting your bank account.

My boyfriend is older than me, with kids. I am blown away when he tells
me of his life in his 20s, all the fun things he did. Sports. Classes.
Thursday nights at an obscure pub that did sing-alongs of old whaling
tunes. Now we hardly get two nights a month to just hang out, the two of
us - much less devote several evenings a week to enriching, friendship-
building activities.

Yet last summer, he went on a week-long golfing trip with his high school
buddies. One they planned before they'd even graduated, for their pre-40
hurrah. New friends take time and effort - wonderful, worthwhile things to
invest, but luxuries usually relegated to the young. Old friends - for most
people, they're more than good enough to make up the difference.



Pittsburgh July 16, 2012

No offense intended, but I believe this article was intended for more
mature audiences. Read it again after you have experienced more of life's
up and downs and I am confident that you will view the essence of this
story differently. We all felt like you at your age.
Be sure to savor every minute



New York July 16, 2012

You make some good points, but as a 20 something in NYC is like a kid in
a candy store....its the best time/place to make friends and new
relationships. I was once a 20 something in NY and I made some of my
best friends during that time.

Now I'm in my 30's, in a new city, newly married and this article was
100% spot on for me. The author can't write an article that everyone will
relate to, but for a reader like myself, its as if the author was reading my



Atlanta July 16, 2012

Just you wait, Celia.



Virginia July 17, 2012

This makes no sense. How can "openness to be genuine" present ample

opportunity for unplanned interactions? If the unplanned interactions don't
happen, no amount of genuineness is going to lead to friendship.

Your activities seem wonderful and will likely help you develop and keep
friendships throughout the years. But just wait and see what finding a
partner and having children (should you choose) do to your priorities.


Mitch Lewis

Milwaukee July 17, 2012

Great attitude towards friendship. But, you'll see, as friends your age
become parents and their lives become all about maximizing time with
their kids.

It gets better when you become an empty nester - as some of the 60

somethings who have commented here can attest. I'm a 50 something on
the verge of becoming one.

Hope you can avoid the traps that the 30 somethings and 40 somethings
get sucked in to. However, even if you do, you may have difficulty finding
others who did not get sucked in. My solution - I love having friends who
are 20 and 30 years younger than me. In fact, I enjoy the company of 20
and 30 somethings much more than the company of 40 and 50



Santa Cruz, CA July 17, 2012

Dear Celia, as a woman in her Sixties I am compelled to respond to your

reaction, which lacks in both comprehension and compassion. I, too,
would have reacted the same way if I'd read this in my Twenties. "What?
Just go out and make friends!" Right? That's really what you're saying.

But you're missing the point. The point is you can "go out and make
friends" when you're older, but these friends now have full lives of their
own; full of family, other friends, work and activities. The truth is there's
very little time left to develop the intimacy that deep friendships require.
Time is more plentiful when you're young and blissfully without family
obligations as both parent AND child, as a spouse, a caretaker (of house
and family members, perhaps), and employee or employer!

Life's plate is already full, so where do new friendships fit in? Into the
crevices and unexpected spaces of life, thus the 3-month date to simply
have lunch.

It's not easy and often not pleasant, but aging requires us to step back a
pace or two, give others (and ourselves) more leeway to be and do as
they must, and accept that loneliness is not necessarily a bad thing.

John D

New York, New York July 19, 2012

There are tiers of relationships. Though, true friends are friends whether
your life is balanced or not. If a friend disappears because they have not
been nurtured or sought after time and again this was a needed
relationship and not a friendship. If we could meet every real friend we
had as often as they needed it? Well, we couldn't educate ourselves, work
to earn incomes, raise our children, care for our aging elders who need
care and on and on. As we get older life has its demands and I think this
is what the aging issue really is. We are all not free to just adapt to what
is out there at the moment. Sometimes that moment and that friends slips

What gets me is how biased this article is about being alone. Like it is a
curse or an unwanted disease. Solitude is often the best recipe for
learning what to give and get in friendship. Instead of following the same
patterns from friend to friend, it allows insight to guide personal growth.


NYT Pick


Ohio July 14, 2012

As I have gotten older, I have found the best friends are those that do not
expect to meet with me or even to hear from me every week. I afford
them the same courtesy. I am at a time in my life that I have multiple
responsibilities and I choose friends that have the same type of lifestyle.
That way I don't have to apologize for not responding in a timely manner
unless it is an emergency and neither do my friends. We get together
when we can-it is called growing up. True friends know that I am there for
them when they really need me. I am always so surprised to read when
people talk about how lonely they are, when there is so much that needs
to be done to improve the world we live in-how about as the article
mentions take the first step to step up and volunteer to give back.



Madison July 17, 2012

by lifestyle, personality, and what one wants out of life. For some, like
myself, I am not lonely and I give back in many ways to the community. I
am an avid volunteer supporting community interests most dear to my
heart. Yet, I would propose friendships are very important. It is up to each
person how they decide their friendships should look like. I would not
suggest telling people they need to grow up.


NYT Pick


is a trusted commenter Upstate New York July 14, 2012

Yes, there are changes. A close friend from my '20s and I had a good
relationship that renewed over the years, including her extended family,
surviving moves, and rearing of children at somewhat different times. At
one point, I was looking for nights out when busy with the work/parenting
thing and joined her bowling team for a few years, dropping out when I
became more involved in my son's Scout activities, but still we saw each

But in the next years it somehow developed so that she and I could only
really make arrangements, when she gets together with the bowling team
and includes me.

But we were friends nearly two decades before the bowling thing.

I realized I was relegated to a corner of her life now, and stopped making
efforts, noticed that no efforts were made anymore from her,, so I let the
friendship drop. I had nurtured other friendships in the meantime,
including her in that circle. But they didn't miss her either.

I feel kinda bad thinking over the years of friendship, but I don't look
forward to seeing her again.


NYT Pick

CO July 14, 2012

Okay. I'll jump in here. My closest friends came into my life at divorce
time in my late 30s. Now in my 60s, I find myself in a new town with the
need to begin again. Thanks to internet and phone, my BFFs continue like
family. It's daunting, but also exciting. No reason why I can't connect with
all kinds of people. The hardest part is that I am single, and most people
my age are married or in a relationship. Their time is allocated largely to
family. Since at our age we are often tired after work, social life moves to
breakfast, lunch, and weekends. I expect to make new friends around
mutual interests and will look for people by getting involved in things.

I had a friend some years ago who was an extreme extrovert. He walked
up to anyone, stuck out his hand, started a conversation, found out about
people, exchanged cards, all within ten minutes. He kept a 14-page phone
list by his home phone. I marvelled at his warmth and ability to connect
people to each other. He saved a girl's life once by getting a doctor he had
met out of bed to go to the hospital and help her. I, a Meyers-Briggs
introvert, found it an excellent lesson in how to. Just put your insecurity or
tendency to be quiet in your pocket, remember that everyone likes to be
liked and noticed, and show an interest. Even those little conversations in
the grocery line can make someone's day.


Mitch Lewis

Milwaukee July 17, 2012

Brilliant comment. As this article alludes to - most people are inherently

shy - they don't feel comfortable talking to strangers. Not so much
because they don't want to talk to strangers, but because they are afraid
they won't know what to say and will feel awkward.


NYT Pick

Miami, FL July 14, 2012

By no means believe one is unable to make a deep and meaningful

friendship later in life. Granted, as we get older we have more complicated
lives and logistics may prove difficult to fit in new friends but sometimes
you get lucky, at 73, my new BFF is 83. We met doing something we both
love - Tai Chi. I only wish we had met earlier in our lives. We enjoy each
other's company and have had an immediate understanding, more of a
recognition, of all the joys and disappointments, we have lived through.

She is brilliant and funny, and accepting of my foibles - what more could
you ask?



Providence, RI July 15, 2012


I'm finding, for myself, that making new friends at this age provides the
richness of general shared knowledge about life's triumphs and trials w/o
what can (not always, but can) become the baggage of knowing far too
much, in too much detail, about longtime friends and their simmering


Giles Slade

Vancouver, Canada July 14, 2012

Life has become increasingly isolated for more than a century now. This
happened when we left the large extended agricultural family and
community for the economic competition of our growing urban centers.

We are increasingly encouraged to live single lives and the single life has
become a growing trend. Romantic couple-dom and lifelong unions are
decreasing radically in favor of serial monogamy. We are alone more often
than ever before.
This is simply an economic condition of consumerism. Solitary consumers
need more goods than family groups which shares its appliances, cars,

As everything in our lives becomes commodified (time, leisure and

relationships) we become less generous and less skillful with others. Still,
even though our dominant ideology is changing, we are undeniably wired
(though mirror neurons and biochemistry) to seek lasting interpersonal
connections and trust. We cannot escape the satisfying oxytocin surges in
our blood that only come from interpersonal connection.

We live at the culmination of an historical movement I describe (in my

new book) as THE BIG DISCONNECT.

Sadly we look to our technology to fill the role that friends once provided.
Siri replaces BFFs. Our music is canned and our romances are fleeting and
mediated by Facebook or the Internet.

We must begin to remember who we really are that what we need other
people to laugh and share life with even if they are often just as annoying
and selfish as we ourselves can be.


Elaine G

Doylestown, PA July 14, 2012

Friendship, like happiness, is a by-product. You meet people at work: you

are doing something together: the mutual struggle and the (we hope)
mutual fulfillment make you friends.

The idea that friendship, any more than happiness, can be pursued, is a
myth - (sorry, Founding Fathers).

So: If you are new in a place, find something to Do. Get involved - in a
church, a worthwhile cause, a sport, whatever interests you enough so
that you are willing to spend time and effort. And there will be a group of
like-minded people: potential friends. Also - lifelong friends are rare:
nothing lasts forever.



NYC July 14, 2012

Yep. I quickly hit it off with another middled-aged guy who shared my
p.o.v. and interest in politics. We could talk so easily and he was one of
the few people from whon I always got a new insight on politics, even life.
We organized, emailed, talked on the phone and had the occasional,
leisurely lunch. Then we tried a couples dinner. It ended in a torpedoed
friendship.His smart, funny, attractive, articulate wife was way more
political and conservative than my wife, but that would have been
manageable.When the guys and gals paired off for our after dinner stroll,
my friend's wife confronted my wife about whether or not she would be
taken up in the rapture or be left behind. Can you say freaked out?! My
wife was; I couldn't blame her, and their seemed no way to respond
positively to the invite to do it again in a month. Then, there was no way
for my friend and me to continue without him being disloyal to his wife. A
cpl of years later I encountered him and his wife at a political function,
and it was one of the most awkward interpersonal situations I've ever
been in--for two hours! Sigh.


BeauJoe Lais

California July 16, 2012

But why couldn't you have a friendship without hooking your respective
spouses in as well? As a single person, I think that's why couples create
such boundaries in their relationships that they lose out on the diversity of
friendships that could be formed.



nyc July 16, 2012

Ditto to what BeauJoe said. So you lost out on a great male friendship (a
precious thing for most American males) all because of your spouses?
Spouses should have zero input or influence on who you chooose to be
friends with. So long as your spouse trusts in your judgement and fidelity,
why should they be getting in the way of your other friendships? This is
the problem with so many married couples, who end up stifling each
other's personal growth.



Van Nuys, CA July 14, 2012

Hey, I feel like I'm in the same boat. Hundreds of "friends" on FB,
hundreds of followers on a blog and Twitter. Meaningless.

I think American life encourages friendship making and discourages its

continuance. We are on a track of hitting life plans and goals which
collides right into caring for other people. And when we fail, in personal or
professional achievement, we go right back into our cocoons. It is hard for
me, right now, to want to "hang out" or get coffee when I have no job, no
money, and nothing to say for how I spend my day.

Except to say, that I spend much of my day with my friends, on Facebook.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 14, 2012

Find some people to meet with f2f. Book group, hiking, music, whatever,
just go there. I don't have much money, either, but there is a lot of stuff
for free at libraries (if they're not closed due to defunding, that is). I do a
lot of volunteering and have made some real friends that way. It takes
time -- you have to care about what you're doing and not just cruise these
places looking for friends -- but when people care about the same things,
it tends to seep into social life.


Simon sez

Md July 14, 2012

What does BFF mean?

I am 63 and found it hard to relate to this article.

I do not have a Facebook page and don't belong to social networking


My life is full, I have as many real friends ( vs. acquaintances) as I want.

That is about 2 or 3. I read, study languages, love my work (private, solo
practice of osteopathic medicine), and have lived with the same man for
27 years.

I just signed up for a two year course in endobiogeny so I am deep in the

study of endocrinology and neurology. When I finish I will be 65.

I do feel lonely some times but when I center myself I again feel fine.

That being said, I understand that things do change as we get older. Many
childhood friends have disappeared but why expect things to remain as
they were? That is a recipe for disaster.

Find out what your new life as a new person has to offer.

You are no longer 20 so don't expect the world to respond to you as such.

charles almon

Brooklyn NYC July 15, 2012






Palo Alto, CA July 14, 2012

What about retirement?

My mother used to live in a retirement community that had the full cast of

There were flirty guys, judgmental couples, mean girls, passive aggressive
individuals, anger management cases, and a few truly open, lovely,

It was just like high school!


charles almon

Brooklyn NYC July 14, 2012

It IS just like high school.

I am continually resetting boundries (don't call me to meet you at


to I don't tolerate any 'drama' or 'feuds'.


New York, NY July 14, 2012

I have said this to family and closer friends (from school days or a first
job) and some thought me to be too cynical about life - but t'is life...



new york July 14, 2012

It seems that work is the best place to meet people and find areas of

What seems like fun is finding out all the interesting individual interests
and hobbies that everyone has. Where I work in the field of science, A
main topic of interest amoung my friends and co-workers is the whole
UFO phenomenon.

We;ll all go out after work for dinner once every few months and discuss
whats happening in the world of UFO sightings, both current and past. But
what I found extremely interesting was that amoung this small group at
work that often get together, we all seem to have had strange paranormal
experiances in the past. These paranormal experiances are not confined to
UFOs but run the full spectrum of the paranoral . Our group personality is
very similar too. We all seem to be politically moderate to left leaning. We
are all approximatley the same age. We are open minded about the
possiblity of life after death, life on other planets and a force or divine
being behind much of what we see and cant see here on earth. I fully
enjoy getting together and socializing with my friends at work


NYT Pick


New York, NY July 14, 2012

Great article, although it missed an important point: love. Whether friends

admit it or not, they fall in love with each other, sometimes at first sight
or at first beer. When I look back at my most enduring friendships, it's the
ones I've fallen in love with (and vice-versa) whose friendships endure the
longest, regardless of physical distance, marriages, children, divorces, and
the passage of time. My best friend James of Sacramento and I have
known each other for 33 years, since High School. He's been through
some hard times in life including tough finances and a divorce. So have I.
Even though we don't talk as often as we'd like to due to the demands of
work and parenthood, we both know that our friendship is strong and that
we could count on each other through old age.

But just as friends fall in love, friends break up, too. Then the hanging
out, the occasional dinners, the e-mails, phone calls, and holiday
greetings stop altogether. Usually huge egos get in the way, sometimes
due to a personal slight or an old grudge. When that happens, it may take
years, or a lifetime, to forget this friend and get over the break-up. To my
college friend and erstwhile sweetheart Ann, my grad school buddy, Mark,
my squash partner, Greg, if you're reading this: I'm sorry. I think of you
sometimes, and even catch myself looking for you in new friends that I
meet. I hope that life has been kind to you, and that someday, our paths
will cross again.



Providence, RI July 15, 2012

I wonder if the people you mention so transparently are saying, "Who?"



Midwest July 16, 2012

Beautiful comments.


NYT Pick


Los Angeles July 16, 2012

Please pick up the phone and call Ann, Mark and Greg today. Life is too
short. Don't waste anymore time. Let them know you miss them and have
the chance to rebuild the friendship!

Small Biz

New York, NY July 17, 2012

@Michael Very, very, very well said. I couldn't agree more.



Alaska July 14, 2012

The best friends I've had since high school years are now in my mid
seventies. I participate in a book club that includes 12-15 single and
retired women from sixty to nine-three from across our city. Books and
political activism initially drew us together and we have become a
wonderful support group for each other over the years. Some of us are
closer to one or several of the members but we all enjoy the full group.
We have no rules, dues or structure except to meet once a month
somewhere accessible in the rugged weather to a group with assorted
walkers, canes and cranky old cars and trucks. Last winter's fourteen-foot
snow base was a particularly challenging time but we didn't miss a
meeting. Periodically we re-focus our gathering on new interests or a
different meeting mode. One of the beauties of our group is that none of
us is a show-off or a gossip, we feel free to make fun of each other's
ailments and eccentricities and we are stubbornly proud of our ages and
being independent. We're all of us ready to try new meeting ideas and
keep them or give them up as suits the group. It is the most fun, flexible
and caring group I've ever been part of.


NYT Pick


Wynnewood, PA July 14, 2012

What is needed is another article written by someone with a wider view of

friendship that encompasses decades other than one's thirties or forties.

In my sixties, I've found friendships that have deepened with time. Many
of these started with relationships formed in the PTA or through play dates
long ago. Our kids outgrew their friendships with their kids, but we are
still friendly with the parents. Now, we're discussing grandparenthood, its
challenges and joys. And it's not just divorce that creates life changes, but
illness and death. The loss of good friends and the continuation of a
friendship with a widow or widower is even more typical of this stage.

Maybe we're better at retaining friendships because we don't depend on

Facebook to do it for us.


Sarah D.

is a trusted commenter Montague, MA July 14, 2012

Yes. I find also that I've become surprisingly close to people I formerly
thought of as nice acquaintances. Over time, our paths have crossed more
and more as our interests have converged in unexpected places. It's
great. It helps to stop thinking about the "forever" part and just show up.
Enjoy what is there today and be useful when you can. All those todays
add up, and one day you realize that you've got some wonderful friends.


NYT Pick


Philadelphia, PA July 16, 2012

I'm a 58 y/o gay male with a problem of too few friends. At least half of
my friends died in the 1980s and 1990s. Then I was in a 15 year
relationship that caused me to focus inward on my partner most of the
time. When he moved away, I was left with a few real friends and a
number of goofy friends who I never spent much time with from the start.
At age 58, you are way over the hill to participate in the narrowness of
gay life. I look and look and look and still come up with no place to meet
new friends. Getting older without friends is not a happy situation.



Portland, OR July 16, 2012

The opposite is also true, unfortunately. If you're removed from that land
where you raised your kids (say, divorce or work relocation entered the
picture), you may well find yourself, in your sixties, without those long-
term acquaintances. Then, meeting a batch of new people turns into a
taste of Dorian Gray--Who ARE these old men and women, anyway? You
wonder what they were like, back when they "looked like themselves." As
you once did. A taste of nursing home life? Oh dear.



nyc July 16, 2012

To SW: I'm not sure what you mean that at 58, you are too old to
participate in the 'narrowness of gay life'. There are gay men at every
age. Maybe you are focusing on the younger gay crowd and the clubs etc.
where they meet? Well how is that any different for straight older people
like myself? I'm not about to go to dance clubs with 20 somethings either.
I have to think of other ways to meet people.

What are your hobbies? Have you tried a Meetup.comgroup? What about
making friends with younger people too? It's good to have friends of all

Also, maybe in our own self-interest, we need to understand that while it's
nice to have friends, solitary time can also be a nice thing. Going for a
hike, gardening, etc. I too often think about when I'm older, and with no
children of my own, and as my own friends start to die will it
be? Well as a nature-lover, I have already learned to see nature...the
plants, the squirrels, birds as my friends too. Maybe you could try taking
up gardening...find a community garden nearby?



Singapore July 16, 2012

Hi Lenore, I'd love to hear more on what friendships are like in one's
sixties. Does it get harder to make friends at that age?



new york July 14, 2012

i actually find this to be untrue, i have made four new real friends in the
last five years and i am 47 years old. there is a very simple trick to this,
once you meet someone who might be good friend material show up, no
not facebook, twitter or pinterest re pinning .I mean, go to lunch, dinner,
coffee, art openings, walks in the park, what ever your interest is. And,
while you are there only answer your phone if is an emergency, actually
talk to one person at one time. It works, try it. Happy friending.


A. Malpas

Melbourne, Australia July 14, 2012

I have noticed how relationships change when colleagues retire. It

surprised me with one friend to find that once the professional connection
was gone I had far less in common with her than I had thought.

Once the work context had gone I saw we had big differences -religion,
politics, lifestyle. The differenrences were there before but did not matter.


April Kane

38.034506N 78.486474W July 14, 2012

Wait till you get to your mid-sixties, retire to a town where you know no
one except your relatives who are a couple eleven years older than you
are and don't have the same interests. AND you've moved to a Southern
town from a major Northern city.

Thank heavens I'd moved so much as a child I'd become used to making
"event" friends with people knowing that after I moved, there was little
contact - obviously pre computers and cell phones. Also became my own


NYT Pick


Newport July 14, 2012

There is another side to this: some people have an easier time making
friends as they get older. For those people who feel more comfortable in
their skin as they age, making connections with others can get easier. I
find myself in my 30s with the most solid group of friends I have ever
had- and it keeps getting bigger. Slowly and surely as I meet more people
I find there are a glorious number of friendships that are still
undiscovered. It is possible to make deep friendships at any point in your

If you find yourself having difficulty with this, try a little self-assessment
to see what you could work on in yourself to become a more attractive
friend. I've had to do that at some points in my life and I found that my
social life was lacking because I wasn't offering enough as a potential
friend. Once I figured out what I needed to work on and became a much
happier person, my social life started to bloom.



Las Cruces, NM July 17, 2012

I want to move to your town.


John D

New York, New York July 19, 2012

excellent comment



NYC July 14, 2012

Other factors as well such as the American workplace which requires long
hours from employees, leaving people with little free time to develop and
maintain friendships.


NYT Pick


Old England July 14, 2012

Thank you for this article. I am 40 something with two elementary school
children in a state I neither grew up in nor attended college. It is difficult,
even after several years, to find friends that I truly feel comfortable with.
I look around and everyone "seems" so confident, so secure -- as I
probably do to others.


Michele Pain

Austin, TX July 15, 2012

I love to hike. But I don't have a lot of friends who do. These days I am in
a couple of "meet up" hiking groups. I get a notification/invitation and
voila! A week later I'm one of twenty people going for a hike.

As to friends-I've met a few folks I'd like to get to know better at meet up
events. But, as a way to do some activity without being by yourself, meet
up groups are great regardless of whether they result in deeper
friendships. Mostly free, easy to look up and join.



New York, NY July 14, 2012

I agree with much of this article. As a middle aged single woman, all of
my closest friends, sans one, are like me, single, and they all (sans that
one) live nearby. It is true that one can be close to colleagues on the job
and when they move on, that closeness often fades. Once people marry
and start families, priorities change and its like youre living on different
planets. That one married friend I have is the one I made 33 years ago in
college. She lives across the country in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was
the one that moved away to NYC in 1982. Even though we only get
together a few times a year, my friendship with her continues to grow and
Im very close to her husband and kids. Thus far, this friendship has
withstood the test of time. Now that were in our fourth decade of close
camaraderie were definitely well on our way to Forever-ville or maybe
we're already there? Friend-wise she's in a league of her own with me.
Just the thought of my life without her in it is very depressing. I suppose
thats what defines a genuine BFF.


Lifelong reader

Brazil July 14, 2012

Asking other people how much money they make is really the pits. Who
would want to be friends with such gross people?