Making Friends at 30
I still remember my first real friend. His name was Collin. Our common interests included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, “Sesame Street,” catching worms, and hogging the monkey bars from our preschool classmates. We became besties at age 3 simply because his cot was next to mine, and I saw him every weekday from 8 to 5. It was that easy. Research tells us that three essential ingredients are required for a new friendship to be successful: shared commonalities, proximity, and consistency. I’ve found this to be true throughout my life.
After Collin, I moved on to become best friends with my next door neighbor, then my soccer teammates, classmates, college housemates, and adult roommates. I never remember thinking as a kid, teenager, or early adult that making friends was hard. In fact, I never really thought about it at all. It just happened. Now, at the age of 30, it’s a bit different.
Research tells us that three essential ingredients are required for a new friendship to be successful: shared commonalities, proximity, and consistency. I’ve found this to be true throughout my life. Let’s first agree on the axiom that friendships are important. Very important, actually. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have strong friendships are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Conversely, studies have linked loneliness and social isolation to heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, and suicide.
As we age, our schedules often become hectic. We become more immersed in our professions, marriages, and offspring. We also know ourselves better and are less willing to put up with BS. All of these factors make forming new friendships at this stage of life more difficult than it once was.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to form lasting friendships with women that have become more like family than friends. Forgive the cliché statement, but it’s true. They’re the kind of friends you crawl into bed with at 2 a.m., sobbing, no questions asked, no explanation necessary. The kind of friends that text you just to announce they showered. Everyone’s friends do that, right?
I have to remember that it’s not as daunting as it seems. These friends I now call family were at one point just acquaintances. Every friendship starts somewhere.
At this point, these fantastic friends of mine are scattered around the globe doing badass, world-changing things. Thanks to the advances of modern technology, we are always connected. At the same time, I know it’s also important to have people like this in my own city, in my own community. So, when I moved to Cincinnati, I set out to find new friends.
I soon met my now husband, and I inherited two of his best friends, a couple. This family became our people – the quality friends you need in your city to be happy and healthy. The kind of friends that need no explanations. The kind of friends you know you can always count on despite the time of day or night. Next week, these friends of ours are moving to Chicago. As we add more amazing friends to our list of long distance relationships, I’ve been pondering the act of making new friends at this stage of life.
While it’s certainly no longer as easy as just sharing a “Sesame Street” video, halftime snack, or glass of wine, I have to remember that it’s not as daunting as it seems. These friends I now call family were at one point just acquaintances. Every friendship starts somewhere.
I believe friendships at this age, though, require more than just consistency, commonalities, and proximity. They also require effort. It’s easy at this stage of life to put our heads down, do our thing, and text our long distance pals we’ve known forever. But, if we want to be happy and healthy, we need these friendships, and we need at least a few that don’t live miles away.
For this reason, I’ve started to consider what friendships I have locally that I could put more effort into. I’ve thought, “I really should chat with that girl I see every single week in yoga.” I decided I’m finally going to ask my new neighbor over for a drink. Because, despite the effort, it truly pays off when you find an acquaintance that becomes a friend that becomes family.
Love CincyStateofBeing? Check out their past columns and stay tuned for more on the last Saturday of every month! Have a topic you'd love to see CincyStateofBeing write about? Email Kiersten with your ideas.