Evolving Friendships in Our 30s

How have your friendships changed in your 30s? Because I’m certain they have. I’m sure lots of your friends have settled down, gotten married and had children. Many of mine have. Or, maybe your friends aren’t married but they’re spending most of their time with their serious significant other. Which means they don’t have as much time for friends. Friends are compartmentalized in a different way. And look, I get it. That was me. For six years, I wanted to be with my boyfriend most of the time. I relished our nights of take-out and Netflix, and while I did see friends, I didn’t make as much of an effort to make new friends when I moved to LA – because I already had a close confidante to spend most nights with.

And that plan worked. Until it didn’t work anymore. Because we broke up. And I realized that I was alone in a city where I didn’t have a strong enough support system to sustain me. I am lucky because I did go to graduate school here, and did make a few wonderful friends (thank you!), but the geography of the city, me not being a driver, and the newness of my friendships has made it challenging. I don’t want to burden my new friends with my depression and heartache. In fact, most of the people I talk regularly are from home…NYC. Be it via phone, text or on g-chat. I don’t know if that’s entirely healthy, but it works. Friends are friends, right?

I’m kind of obsessed with friendship (being an only child and all) and this recent article in The Atlantic resonated with me, How Friendships Change In Adulthood. The article is fascinating and worth the read. Here are some fun factoids I took away from the read:

There are three main expectations of a close friend that most of us have:

  • Somebody to talk to
  • Someone to depend on
  • Someone to enjoy

The author writes that by middle age, we have three different types of friendships.

These friendships fall into three categories: active, dormant, and commemorative. Friendships are active if you are in touch regularly, you could call on them for emotional support and it wouldn’t be weird, if you pretty much know what’s going on with their lives at this moment. A dormant friendship has history, maybe you haven’t talked in a while, but you still think of that person as a friend. You’d be happy to hear from them and if you were in their city, you’d definitely meet up. A commemorative friend is not someone you expect to hear from, or see, maybe ever again. But they were important to you at an earlier time in your life, and you think of them fondly for that reason, and still consider them a friend.

-Julie Beck

It’s an interesting way to characterize friendships. Do you feel these are accurate buckets for friendships? I think there’s a lot of overlap between active and dormant friendships.

Personally, I know I need to work to gain more active friendships. A lot of that is on me.  I get nervous initiating plans, and over-think asking someone to hang out. But it’s something I’m aware of and can work on.

How do you feel your friendships have changed in your 30s?

One response

  1. Friendships definately take a lot more effort now we’re older. Scheduling in a catch up with my friends can take months as life, partners, work, childcare all factor in but I feel if you put in the effort it’s more than worth it!


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