I know this isn’t new information, but making friends in your thirties is really hard! I’d argue it’s one of the reasons people stay in shitty friendships way longer than they should, because putting yourself out there on the open friendship market is a self-esteem nightmare waiting to happen.
So, why is it so hard?
I’d also argue that pursuing platonic relationships is kinda sorta harder than figuring out romantic ones. Hear me out. With love, and sex, and potentially shacking up with someone, you need to know it’s right. You have to get ‘the feeling’ and it’s understandable if you’re cutthroat about it in your thirties; time ain’t for wasting. With friends on the other hand, well you can have more than one friend and it’s not like you’re planning on raising 2.4 kids with them, so if you dive into a friendship and it turns out they actually don’t like you all that much, despite there being no limit to how many friends they can have, well that’s gotta hurt.
Let’s also touch on the reason you’re making new friends. Chances are if you’re on the hunt for some new pals past thirty, there’s a story there. Mine involved the realisation that old friends don’t mean good friends. It was a very toxic pill to swallow and took over a year to move on from. Diving into the murky waters of friend dates after months of soul searching is not for the faint hearted let me tell you. Was it all my fault? Will anyone ever like me? Am I too much? Am I not enough? And so on and so forth until you’re so sick of self help TikToks and inspiring quotes you decide it’s time to just bloody get over yourself and be brave.
What if they don’t like me, enough?
Which is what I did. I text someone I suspected wouldn’t totally blow me off, explained what a saddo I was and asked if she would like to go for a drink. She did. We had fun. I definitely did not overthink every interaction for weeks afterwards (I did) and somehow a year and a bit later, we’re good friends. And this is the bit I didn’t foresee. I knew suggesting a drink would be nerve wracking and I knew the first few ‘mate dates’ might be awkward, what I didn’t know was how insecure I’d feel once we’d actually become friends. Why did no-one fucking tell me?!
So now I’ve snuck into her life and I think she actually likes me, I find myself on the friendship anxiety train. I’m rushing past platforms like ‘what level of friendship are we at?’ or ‘Can I send her random memes or is that a few months away?’ We mostly see each other in our couples or with the kids because, let’s be honest, it’s just more convenient but sometimes I’d like to ask her for a casual drink, perhaps see if we can survive outside the bubble of suburbia. I’m too scared though. I can’t face the rejection of her liking me but not liking me enough. Arrrggggghh, it’s exhausting!
Just do it
So that’s where I’m at in my current friendship chronicles. I’ve definitely decided that the initial tentative step towards being friends is actually easier. Asking someone for a casual coffee before you know if you’ll get along isn’t so bad, you’re not invested, there’s nothing to lose. Genuinely liking someone and hoping you’ve forged a friendship that will last until at least the kids are older is scary man. In all seriousness though, it was rubbish time getting out of my old friendship and I was convinced I just wasn’t meant to have any real mates. Making new friends has been nothing short of revelatory and I’ve loved it. I’ve rediscovered sides of me I thought were long gone and have just become a better person all round. Whilst it is a bit terrifying to attempt new friendships in your thirties, it’s well worth it. Which is why I’m literally about to whatsapp a woman I’ve had a couple of pissed up chats with to ask if she’d like to put something in the diary. I’m pretty confident she’ll say yes and that I’ll once again find myself in a friendship quagmire wondering how far things are going to go. Bring it on. And whilst I’m at it I might message that girl from the gym with the kind soul and the funny stories. There’s no use waiting around hoping someone will like you, take the friendship by the horns and find out for yourself. You might find yourself rolling around on a grass verge listening to N-Dubz and realising you’re not destined to be alone afterall.