Nobody Said It Would Be This Hard To Make Adult Friends

Why is making new friends so hard?

Photo by Katie Treadway on Unsplash

Nobody said it would be this hard.

It always just kind of happened.

School-age friendship. A forced organic creation. Where ingredients are tossed into one bowl and nobody knows what will come from it.

I didn’t know any other way. Any other method. I assumed it’s how it would always be. I’d move through life and friends would come, friends would go, but there would be a limitless supply.


After school, nobody told me it would be this hard to make new friends.

The Shift In Friendship

It’s funny how friendships begin early on.

At a young age it was, “wow, blue’s your favorite color? I like blue too! Let’s be best friends.”

Pretty simple.

We hadn’t found ourselves. Hadn’t grown into our brains. But it made making friends so much more refreshing. There weren’t a series of boxes a potential applicant had to check off.

The first box I think to come was the cootie box.

All girls had cooties. It was scientifically proven.

Some girls were able to make it past that requirement though. They’d had their cootie shot, so they couldn’t spread it.

Over time though, the requirements became much more specific. And we all started to discover other kids with similar interests. I connected over sports and Star Wars and from who walked the same path home as I did.

There were two other kids who walked almost the exact same path. I’ve been best friends with them since the first and the third grades.

Perhaps I used the wrong criteria in friendship making. It should have been all about mode of transit and heading in the same direction.

Over the years this continued to change, until, by the end of high school, I pretty much had my friends locked in. They were the people I’d talk with every day, sit next to on the bus ride back from football practice. They were the ones I’d get into mischief with. And now, they are the ones I stay in touch with, without the aid of social media.

My friends were set. I didn’t need to take on any more. At least it didn’t prove necessary at that point in time.

The College Years

College friends, in a way, came about in a similar fashion as friends in elementary school.

“Oh, you like watching this sports team and drinking beer? Me too! Let’s be friends!”

I went to film school, which kept me exceptionally busy. If I wasn’t working on my own project I worked on someone else’s because, if you ever wanted them to help you out that’s what you did. What little time I did have for friends I devoted it to the three or four people I really clicked with.

Sure, there were others, but the handful of individuals were the ones I wanted to spend my free time with.

Following graduation, I ended up marrying one of them. It didn’t work out, but it showed the bond we forged during those college years. I’ll still message some of the others from time to time. Mostly about Simpson quotes or plans to ditch society and move to Montana on a billion acres of land. Something along those lines.

The forced interaction in college helped craft our friendship. It just wasn’t as long as my connections through grade school. We also didn’t walk home the same way.

The problem with making friends started after college.

Post College

Making new friends after the completion of college, or at the end of any other form of education is difficult.

There’s no forced interaction. No petri dish. You can hope work provides you with some ample friendship opportunities, but even then, there’s not a ton of opportunity to mingle and interact.

People become more closed off to new friends.

I know I did.

I wanted new friends, but making the new connections felt more like solving a Rubic’s cube.

I’ve never solved a Rubic’s cube.

They needed to be down to earth and capable of holding a conversation. I didn’t mind politics as much as long as they weren’t in my face about it (which is more of a challenge these days). The boxes to check had grown, and yet most people, when looking to hang out, just wanted go-to bar buddies.

One of my biggest issues is I work from home. Have done so for over a decade. I don’t have coworkers outside of my two dogs. They don’t have problems making new friends.

With the growing complication of friendship making, I’ve turned to different ways of interacting with people. Dance classes or book clubs or local theater. Small things with a small group of dedicated people. The larger “young professional” meet-ups turn into walking LinkedIn conversations or people eyeballing one-night-stand potentials.

At least with those smaller group gatherings I know we all have one thing in common.

I just didn’t know it would be so hard to sift through the people around me in order to identify potential friends.

Some days I tell myself I don’t need anyone. That I can go about it with my dogs and let that be that. But everyone needs human interaction, even if it’s limited. Friendship interactions are necessary for my own mental stability. It has a way of lifting up spirits that dogs or solitary experiences can’t.

I always feel refreshed after spending time with my friends from grade school. We don’t see each other as often, but there’s just nothing as emotionally and mentally nourishing as spending time with them.

I just wish it would be easier to find new friends to join in.

Maybe I should stop looking and just see who takes the same walk home as me.

It’s worth a shot, right?

Nobody told me it would be this hard.

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