3 Reasons it’s Hard to Make Friends in Your Late Twenties - By Danielle Bayard Jackson
Life is such blur when you are young, wild and free. But once you hit 25, things slow down and you begin to look around at the circle you’ve created. It’s at this point in our lives that we notice we have fewer friends—real friends—than we did before. That’s because once you hit your late twenties, making new friends is suddenly more difficult than it used to be.
If you’ve ever wondered why your circle has gotten smaller, you’re not alone. Here are the top three reasons it’s hard to make new friends in your late twenties—and ways that you conquer each one.
1. You’ve settled into a very #adulting routine.
It’s likely that your college days, filled with wild nights and unpredictability, are behind you. Your routine looks a lot different than it did when you were such a wild child. Now, each day likely mirrors the day before: you go to work, come home to Netflix, piddle around on social media, head to bed, and wake up the next day to do it all over again. Once you add spouses and kids to the mix, there is even less time available to venture into a social environment and meet new people.
Gainesville, Florida is a MAJOR college town. When I was attending UF, I was immersed in an environment saturated by my peers. The grocery store, the clubs, my classes, the Target—every space was filled with people who were young, fun, and educated. It took little to no effort to strike up a conversation with the person standing next to me because with so many default commonalities, it was safe and easy. But the first time I came home after graduation, I noticed how strange it was to be around so many actual “grown-ups”. Where could I find my people? I felt totally isolated, and as my friends graduated and moved back to their respective hometowns, I had to rebuild my social circle.
HOW TO GET PAST IT: The key is to be intentional. Sure, the lure of Netflix is tempting after a long day of enduring a dull, often multi-generational workspace. But you have to make it a priority to seek opportunities to meet new people. Don’t be passive with your days; take control by intentionally pursuing spaces where untapped friendships are waiting to bloom.Break out of your routine and keep your eyes open. And once you learn of an event that could be a great opportunity to mingle, commit to going. Do. Not. Stay. Home. Get out there and expand your circle!
2. You think your high school friends are all you need.
Girl, you may be taking Drake’s “No New Friends” a little too seriously. Sure, it’s a fun song, but when it comes to real life, you should be actively exploring new friendships. While there is comfort in the familiarity we share with our longtime friends, there is also the threat of complacency. Although it’s not inherently a bad thing, we tend to do the same things and visit the same places – we do our “usual” together.
But over time, your work, experiences, and ever-changing beliefs will inevitably affect your growth and maturity. Sometimes, this change creates a bit of distance between us and the world we used to know, and new friendships are healthy to that growth and development.
HOW TO GET PAST IT: Do not reduce exchanges with new people to chats with a stranger. Keep your mind open to the possibility that the girl at your gym that you always bump into could be more. The girl in your meetings who you exchange snarky looks with whenever your boss says something ridiculous, she could actually be more than an associate. Don’t cut yourself off from new friendships by believing the lie that you already have enough. I mean, if you had a sleek beautiful handbag, would you throw your hand up in protest if someone tried to gift you another one? No. You have a little collection going, pulling the right purse for the right occasion. Your “day one” bag will always have your heart, but there’s room in your closet for more. (I’m aware that analogy is pretty basic, but it paints the picture, doesn’t it?)
Hang tight to the loyal girls who’ve held you down since day one. But keep your mind and heart open, recognizing that there is always room for more fruitful and productive relationships.
3. You’re scared of rejection.
By the time we hit our late twenties, we have had our share of disappointments.
We have had a group of people we thought we were apart of go out to the club without us (just me?).
We have found ourselves vibing with someone we were interested in romantically only to have them stop texting back.
We have had what we thought were amazing interviews only to be totally dumbfounded when we get that call saying they decided to “go in a different direction”.
Unless everyone you’ve met has liked you, every man you crushed on wanted you, and every manager you’ve spoken with hired you, you have experienced rejection and know firsthand the hurt and embarrassment it brings.
Since it is such a wildly unpleasant feeling, we both consciously and subconsciously develop defenses to avoid experiencing it again. This means that we will take fewer chances making new friends.
HOW TO GET PAST IT: The next time you meet a girl and find yourself thinking, “She seems pretty cool,” ask her to hang out again. Yep. I’m serious.
We used to make friends so easily when we were five-years-old hitting the sandbox together: “You wanna be my friend?” “Yeah!” Ugh, so simple! The innocence and earnestness of a child without an ego is a beautiful thing. And here’s the secret: we could get that back if we wanted to. We just have to resist the initial negative self-talk we hear when we consider putting ourselves out there.
Recently, I had a photographer I found on Instagram take my family’s Christmas photos. We found ourselves gabbing away during the shoot and shared a few laughs. After a little hesitation, I go the courage to text her from the car afterwards:
”Hey! Thanks for a fun and easy shoot. Let me know if you’re ever down to grab lunch or coffee. Would love to get to know each other better and get as many “new mommy” tips from you as I can!”
“Hey girl! OMG, I was literally just thinking that on my drive, ‘I would love to be her friend!’ Let me know what your schedule looks like the week of the 17th. I’d love to meet up since we live so close.”
We met up twice in the week following the shoot, and it turns out that we have the same background, beliefs, and sense of humor. Hanging with her is really easy, and it inspired me to put myself out there more often.
I challenge you to give it a try: Instead of thinking, “What if this girl thinks I’m a weirdo? What if I look way too eager?” you should consider, “Man, we could really hit it off!” And hey, if she doesn’t receive your invitation the way you thought, then, hey, good thing there are nearly 4 million other women in the world you might click with (literally).
Once we hit our late twenties, making new friends gets a little more difficult. But the key here is that it doesn’t have to be. Once you challenge yourself to mingle beyond your comfort zone (physically, mentally, and socially), you will find that your likelihood of meeting new people you actually like increases exponentially. Sure, it requires a little more effort than it did when you were a young little thing, but I promise: it’s so worth it.