Making new friends as you get older

by Honolulu Mother

This Vox article talks about the increased difficulty of making new close friends as one moves away from young adulthood:

On the other side of the 30, we keep adding casual friends, but most of us won’t gain close friends like before; no more best friends. The 30s are a time for settling in to friendly acquaintances and hanging on to faraway friends over texts and Facebook.

Author Kate Shellnutt notes various reasons for this, including increased work and family responsibilities as well as the presence for most people of a spouse who may fill the role of best friend. However, she also concludes that making new friends isn’t easy at any age, and it’s still a goal worth striving toward.

I certainly find it much slower to make new friends now than in college or grad school, and really I’m more likely to develop family friends than individual friends. And that’s not surprising — whereas once I shared meals and living quarters with roommates / housemates and had plenty of free time to do things together and just hang out, now I live with my own family and my schedule is pretty full. But perhaps as we become empty nesters, that will change again.

What has your experience been of making new friends in your 30s, 40s, and later?

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106 thoughts on “Making new friends as you get older

  1. I made some of my closest friends when DD was in childcare. There was a group of us with just one child at that point and we really bonded. 16 years later, we still get together and the girls are still friends. I didn’t appreciate how unusual that can be until DS started at the same childcare center 5 years later. I liked the families in his class – but a lot of the kids (including ours) were younger siblings so families had less time and the families were much more geographically spread out (the center was in downtown Seattle which meant that the parents worked downtown – but often lived outside the city).

    I’ve had to make more of an effort to make friends with the moms of DS’ friends from elementary school – but it’s a good group and I like them.

    We’ve also made friends with the other parents on DD’s soccer team – but it will be interesting to see if those friendships stick after the girls finish high school. There is one couple that DH and I both really like – we should do more to see them outside of soccer games so that the relationship survives after the girls have left for college.

    I feel like it does take a conscious decision on our part to decide to put the time in – this is probably because DH and I are both introverts and our natural inclination is to hang out at home. But it’s important to me to have a strong network of friends – maybe in part because we don’t have any family nearby.

  2. I have found it hard to make long-lasting friendships since college/grad school. The 3 people I am most in touch with are HS best friend, college best friend (also best man), study abroad friend. DW I met in grad school. There is one guy I met when we were coaching our now 19yos in their youth baseball days with whom I have remained pretty close, but we haven’t done anything together in about a year. There are a couple of other people whom I met thru work at various stages that I get together with for lunch about 1x/yr.

    Some of the infrequency is due to my parking situation at work…if I leave for lunch, it’s likely I’ll end up with a 15 min walk back (vs 5), so things get time constrained. And, although it would be fine with me, a lot of folks do not want to change their morning routine to get a cup of coffee / breakfast before heading to work and I totally get it…much like at the end of my workday I really want to hit the gym, so I’m not inclined to set up time to get drinks with someone then. Our office really isn’t a ‘Friday Happy Hour at the nearby watering hole’ kind of place for lots of reasons.

    I think it really comes down to choice/priorities. Mine are getting my workout and (trying) to eat less / more healthy. Going out can in my mind get in the way of at least one of those.

    But this is an important topic for me. I figure I have <10 working years left and my biggest fear is what will I do with my time once that happens? I know there are lots of ways to be/feel productive but it's doubtful I'm going to be out there making near and dear friends at that age. Finding someone to chat with or play a round of golf with, probably doable.

  3. I’ve posted a few times about the large number of parties, girls nights out and family get togethers in my town. The people seem desperate to be together all of the time. It’s easier for me to be a part of this for certain reasons, but I like being a minor participant. I like some of the women, and we socialized as couples during the summer when kids are away.

    I’m spending time this week with a close friend from college, and the differences between these friendships are very apparent. The level of trust is just not there with my neighborhood friends. I don’t want them to know too much because there is so much gossip.
    Also, our friendships involve our kids and that has created some sticky situations.

    There is really just one person that I met in preschool that I really trust and have a genuine friendship with in my town.

    I do feel fortunate that several friends I met as colleagues are still friends. This is especially true of people I met in two different banks in training programs. Those relationships are really important to me, but they are probably the only other place that I formed genuine friendships post college.

    Plus the folks on here.

  4. I found the article interesting for three reasons – One, the author is lifelong military family, so she has practice is making the sort of friends in situ as is required by that life choice. You would think this would easier for her than for most of us. Two, she is a Christian, and presumably a regular churchgoer, and did not mention the church family at all as a source of friends – perhaps she omitted that because of the platform – Vox. Three, she appears to be out of step with her specific cohort, since a married woman of her age is usually a mom, and the casual mom friendships don’t arise naturally her life. That is probably the key reason for her feeling adrift (also she is a writer, so she has to spend time in her own head researching topics for which she can get paid).

    I am not a person who makes lifelong friends – that is why I prefer to be partnered and also why I had a bunch of kids. But after 50 I found it easier and easier to make and cultivate situational friends, and more importantly to enjoy their company for what it is, because I don’t expect perfection. For example, I chatted on the phone last night with one such friend who is not in the best of health – an 82 year old traditional Catholic I know from bridge who has 7 children and innumerable grands and some great grands. She and her husband are unapologetic Trump voters. And we really care for each other, understand the ups and downs of larger families and how they care for each other. And last weekend we drove out to Vermont to visit DH’s oldest friend from his red diaper days, he has known her since he was 3, but in the male way only speaks with or sees her every decade or so.

  5. Lauren, I live very close to you but find things here much different. It is really hard to socialize. It seems like most people here socialize with their extended families or with a tight network of friends that they have known since grade school ( a lot of people in this town have lived here through several generations). The few people I socialize with locally are all “outsiders” like myself.

  6. I have several very longterm friends, mostly from my grad school days. My absolute best friend lives in Chicago, but works for an airline so she comes here frequently. We have known each other so long, and have had so many weird adventures together so when we get together it is as if we still lived in the same place.

  7. This is an issue for us. I default to people I’ve known a long time, so my two close friends in town are a former colleague I’ve been friends with now for 20 years, and a high school/college friend who lives south of Houston. I still keep in regular contact with about 3 friends who live where I grew up. All of those are friends I get together with alone. All of couple-friends have left the state or gone through really acrimonious divorces, and we’ve never really replaced them. Being at work all week, I always preferred to hang out with our kids in the weekend. The couple we get invited to do things with now are younger than us by more than a decade, and are pretty big drinking, late night types. That has not been our thing for almost 30 years. We discuss every now and then how we need to put more effort in, but we don’t follow up. My DH is very introverted and does not enjoy parties where he does not know anyone. Our neighborhood started an “empty nesters” club that goes out for cocktails and dinner once a month at nice places, and maybe once a month, some other thing. I plan on us doing that at some point. Some day. But not now. i think that’s another reason “home” appeals to me – I have good friends whose husbands my DH already knows. So much less effort required.

  8. Mooshi, I find the differences in many small towns in the county to be interesting. My close friend actually lived in your town until K with her oldest and she left because of what you describe. I think your town is changing as some families move, but it’s been like that since I was a kid.

    My community is really just a small school district consisting of several different zip codes so I think people are looking for some sort of local connection even though most have family in the greater metro area.

  9. My biggest issue is that I work, whereas most women in my immediate area do not. There are a few women in my kids’ school that I like and could be friends with but they have the time during the day when I do not. Perhaps some time in the future our schedules will align. The ladies in the neighborhood, I am friendly with but not friends.
    However, I am hopeful as I do belong to a church and in later years I can definitely meet people through there.
    I am closest to my school friends. The distance or time don’t seem to make a difference when we get together. Recently I drove to see my friend who moved to a city near me. I was putting it off, but I am so glad I made the effort.

  10. All of our good local friends we have met through kids or DH’s work. Where we are and the stage of life for our kids makes it easy to meet people, but then developing those close friendships definitely takes work. But we have a pretty close group of friends and it’s something that’s important to me.

    The town where we live now is not where we want to retire. But one of my hesitations of moving to somewhere else to retire is how will we make friends with no kids or work to provide the introductions?

  11. I have made a good friend in the last two years and it has been astonishing and delightful. We would have been friends if we met in college, but we wouldn’t have been friends if we met now and didn’t have a matched set of kids (age and number). Part of our recent move was to be closer to them (specifically and generally – to live in a place where people socialize with neighbors).

  12. One other odd source of close friends – a particular mommy mailing list that I have been on since my oldest was a toddler. There was a common interest surrounding this list, which I won’t mention because it would be identifying. But this common interest meant that the list remained a manegable size, and we all had things in common. For a while, there were a bunch of members in the NYC area so we used to get together IRL all the time. Eventually, some of my closest friends from the list moved elsewhere, but we still correspond frequently, and get together whenever we are in the same geographic location. We also all have a habit, when we travel, of finding the local list members and meeting up. Our DHs have all gotten used to it. We had an outing to the Natural History museum just recently – 3 families, all with 3 kids each, in tow.

  13. We’ve had a number of what I might call “boat dates” with other families with kids, mostly all in the second half of the summer, and they’ve worked out well, so I’m in a better mood about this topic than I was a couple months ago when a lot of people expressed general interest but nobody could be nailed down to a specific date. Many of them have seemed genuinely surprised that kids will have a lot of fun tubing across the water at a high rate of speed, or surprised that the boat has a lot of space and is actually comfortable. I don’t know what they were expecting, but I think there was some level of dread, or maybe just apprehension with the unfamiliar.

    We’ve got a new family coming this weekend and I’ve wanted to do something with them for a couple years now (something other than attend each others’ kids’ birthday parties and talk there). The Dad, an anesthesiologist, and I were talking at a different bday party a couple weekends ago at the pool, and it was like he was discovering that we actually could be well-matched. They’re a little more Totebaggy than us, they just have one kid, drive old Subarus and do a lot of hiking and tent camping. I don’t have much experience being the one asked on dates, but it almost seemed like he got quiet, and a little nervous for a few seconds at one point and said “you know, I know this is REALLY last minute, so I totally understand…” and we did already have plans that afternoon, but he wanted me to join him for paintballing (which is curiously non-Totebaggy), and I felt terrible for refusing since he actually sounded nervous asking me, so that’s why when DW has been talking about whom to invite boating next, I keep insisting on them. So we’re doing it this weekend.

    I’ve slowly been giving up on some of my closest college friends. One has been back in the area for a year, and I’ve tried to get together and it never happens. But the 15-year reunion is coming up before too long.

  14. We’ve had a number of what I might call “boat dates”

    There are a number of jokes about that:

    “Before I bought a beach house I had no idea how many friends I had!”
    “The only thing better than a boat is a friend with a boat.”

    In many cases, the purchase of boats and vacation homes is a lot about socializing. Be it inviting friends to come along or giving the kids and grand kids a reason to come over other than out of a sense of obligation.

  15. “But one of my hesitations of moving to somewhere else to retire is how will we make friends with no kids or work to provide the introductions?”

    You’ll belong to a yacht club. My parents are more active with friends from there, at their weekend house, than they are at their primary residence. My dad’s a rear commodore now, an honorific for which I tease him endlessly, but it’s just the club’s way of getting a couple years of free management/oversight labor out of you. They want him to be the commodore next, and he told them not until he retires. And they don’t even own a boat! But many of these are actual friends, too, who, for example, will come to Easter dinner with everyone at their primary house.

    They also have friends from their paddling (kayaking) club.

    In some ways, I think it might be a lot easier when nobody has kids any more, as long as you’re willing and able to get out there.

  16. ““The only thing better than a boat is a friend with a boat.””

    When DW was gone this past weekend, my brother and his kids came out with us for the first time, and that’s what he said. (although he’s also holding the loan :) )

  17. In some ways, I think it might be a lot easier when nobody has kids any more, as long as you’re willing and able to get out there.

    This will be part of my problem, though. Fundamentally I’m an introvert, and while I love hosting (or attending) small dinner parties or get-togethers, large activities and social events I find every excuse to avoid. Kids schools and activities have forced me out and about, and I’ve met great people from it, but I do worry about what will force me out when I’m retired, if we move to an entirely new place w/no other contacts.

    On the other hand, maybe my kids will live someplace cool and retiree friendly, and I’ll be over-involved with their children.

  18. “But one of my hesitations of moving to somewhere else to retire is how will we make friends with no kids or work to provide the introductions?”

    I assume it would be like resort friends. You hang out at the complex pool with a cocktail and you meet and great. “Hey, we’re heading out to that new Thai place would you like join us? ” Sure! And there you go.

  19. Being a half decade older than the Vox author, I can say it is tough. I started losing friends the second I said “I do” and continue to lose them. Now because I have a kid, a job, and really no time.

    I manage to keep some friends around, and work hard to foster those friendships, but on the whole, I totally understand why my Aunt says she has no friends. After work, kid stuff, and life, I don’t want to deal with other people’s drama. Life is easier without friends. But I fear that when the kids are grown, and work wanes, I’ll be alone.

    I don’t have time to worry about anything but the now (though I am excellent at worrying about my future employment and reviews because I find myself falling into the same traps that got me in trouble last year…). Hopefully I’ll figure all this out.

  20. “Fundamentally I’m an introvert, and while I love hosting (or attending) small dinner parties or get-togethers, large activities and social events I find every excuse to avoid.”

    I’m the same way. But large activities are fine as long as I can talk one-on-one, and not necessarily have an expectation that I’ll get around to everyone. Again, at my parents’ boat club on Mem’l Day Weekend, I volunteered as a bartender and ended up having some good conversations with a lot of people, mostly all older. I was thinking that it would be great to retire now and hang out there. Especially now at my age, because a number of these guys really wanted an ex-Navy lieutenant to help them pilot their boats on overnight trips. I would never need my own.

  21. I am surprised she didn’t mention the bonding experience of going through tough/new/exciting things together. My best friends are from college and law school, largely because, oh, crap, it was all so terrifying, and we were basically all together for several years, which forced us to make it from the “this person is awesome” through the “this person is annoying as crap” and all the way to “you know, I really like this person despite the annoying XYZ” stage. I feel like they know me and accept me for who I am, and vice-versa, so there doesn’t need to be any putting-on-a-good-face stuff. Probably the same reason that the only “former job” people I stay in touch with were from my entering class at my first law firm — that was the last time I was part of a group all going through that “oh holy crap” feeling at the same time.

    I do miss having good friends close by, but it’s also my own fault, because I just don’t put in the time right now. Part of it is legitimate schedule stuff (I already don’t find time for the gym like I could). But that part doesn’t bother me, because to the extent it’s really due to a lack of time, well, time will magically reappear as the kids move on and we move toward retirement. My real issue is the introvert thing: my life already has all of the “other people” in it that I can take on a regular basis. My days are filled with interactions with clients and coworkers; my evenings and weekends are filled with interactions with my immediate family and my mom; most of my vacations involve some component of the far-flung family as well (this next year, T-day, Christmas, spring break, and summer are already spoken for by different sets of family. And that doesn’t even count getting the kids to/from my dad’s for camp). I adore them all and it is truly a lovely, lovely privilege to whine about. But it does mean that I am already scrambling to get sufficient downtime just by myself to recover my energy for the next day. The last thing I want to do on a Thursday night is to call up a friend for a drink — it’s truly not her, it’s me.

    Except, of course, now, when I’ve been holed up at home with a now-cranky recovering teenager. Can’t tell you how happy I was to have time with an Unrelated Grownup this weekend and to be in my actual office with other adult humans today. :-)

  22. Funny – this week I’m having coffee with a woman who one been on one other “friend date” with and I expect we may start getting together more and more. She expressed the hope that it would happen – we really are more direct as we age, I think.

    Anyway, I’ve had the opposite experience as the Vox writer – I’ve made more friends than I’ve lost since 25. My HS, college and grad school friends are very dear to me, but my closest friends are people I met from my first law firm job and beyond, so in my late 20s, 30s and 40s. One from that first firm job (21 years ago now), one a neighbor after DS was born, one a mom from DS’s teams (they are couple friends, we are godparents to each other’s kids, ICE contacts on all forms, etc), one a fellow stepmonster, and two others more recently (met a few years ago only) through a common pastime. I see and talk these last two now, and DH and I are good couple friends with one of them and her DH.

    For me, I think older age and the concomitant decline in the frenzy that comes with a young family has made making friends — and really getting to know them — easier. We can suggest getting together and then actually make a plan right then to do it, because whatever thing the kids might have that day/evening they can get themselves to. The kids can manage for entire weekends too, so we can say yes to friends for a few days in Napa or up north or in Chicago or whatever – all trips I’ve made (sometimes with DH as a couples thing) in the past several months. I also have far less stress and freneticness in my life now, leaving me so much more emotional and physical energy for making the effort with friends.

  23. This is one of the issues that really bugs me in my day-to-day life. I’m not really having much success making close new friends even when I try.

    Part of it is that I had a baby right when my first entered K, and so I was not there when the new parents were meeting. But it’s been a few years and we still don’t get invited anywhere.

    Maybe I need a boat :)

  24. About two years ago my younger DD (about 12 then) asked me why I wasn’t going to do something with her that she wanted to do at the last minute. The short version is I told her that I needed to keep some friends because she would be moving out in a few years and if I had no friends, she would be unhappy because I would be wanting to hang out with her ALL THE TIME.

    I agree it is harder to make close friends because you have things that take priority – work schedule, kids, elder care, etc. I think the best way to find friends is through activities and/or organizations as you know you have something in common. I go to a tai chi class where it is mainly men. We don’t have many new comers. The newest member has been coming for 3 months, the next newest is me and I’ve been in the class almost 2.5 years. I just started going to a aqua fit class one day per week. That is mainly ladies, who have been together a while. They have been very welcoming and invited me to an after class coffee. Unfortunately, we were headed out of town.

    I see others finding friends through church as they typically have groups to belong to that fit your schedule and age/interests. I belong to a volunteer organization where I was very active before kids and am starting to ramp up my activity again now that my kids are more independent.

  25. Sky – do you have time to help in the kids’ school at all? Field trips and class parties are big parent gathering occasions (vs being Library Mom where you’ll be the only parent there that hour). Would that be a way for you meet some of the school parents?

  26. I think part of being in your 30s/40s is just realizing that if you want friends, you have to actually put yourself out there and invite someone to do something and keep up with it. I’m a pretty social introvert (like how Lark describes herself) but an introvert, and so I’m terrible at making the first move and following up on things (it takes energy) but if someone invites me out, I will certainly go and have fun. I forced myself to make a play date with a woman in my neighborhood who has kids the same ages as my youngest and we went, had fun, kids had fun and she e-mailed me today and we did it again. It ended up we have a friend in common and now we’re talking about getting our families together.

    Also, if anyone has any tips on navigating the relationship with couple friends who are divorcing, let me know. Gah! The parents of one of my daughter’s best friends just told us they are divorcing but still want to hang out with us (it seems pretty amicable). I really like them both but am closer with the wife and want to make sure I’m being a good friend through all of this, but also don’t want to cut the husband off because he and DH are friends.

  27. Sky – I had a similar experience. I had my youngest on the third day of my oldest child’s first grade year and so volunteering and being around was sparse that year (and it felt like I was the only one with a baby). My oldest also never seems to make friends with the kids’ whose moms I really like (she is so uncooperative) so we don’t have that natural connection.

  28. “if anyone has any tips on navigating the relationship with couple friends who are divorcing, ”

    ATL – my solution was to really keep in touch with neither party. But I only knew them a few years before they divorced, and it’s completely different than your situation…

    Sky – we can be friends. I feel the same. I realize that all my friends have kids older than mine and those with kids my son’s age are significantly younger.

    And lately, all the people I befriend are single and wonder why I can’t drop everything to meet them at a bar on a Thursday night.

  29. I’ve met two true friends online, so there’s always that option. I also got dragged back into my high school crowd by one persistent friend and that’s been interesting. Facebook linked me back up with my college bestie.

    I think it gets easier in your 50s because you kind of give up on some of the pretense. Your kids either turned out okay or they didn’t, and everyone now knows that plenty of good parents produce fuck-up kids, so it’s less judgy. Didn’t start that incredibly successful tech firm? Yeah, most other people didn’t either. I’m never going to be thin and cute again, but the other women (even the thinner, cuter ones) are 56 too, so you might as well not worry about it. People (maybe women especially?) are kind of exhaling at my age. I wouldn’t have believed it at 30 or 40.

    You folks who are worrying about all this now when you’re dealing with careers and school-age children and the competitiveness will find that it’s easier to take your corset off (so to speak) and put your feet up and connect with others when you’re late-middle-aged.

  30. RMS – I have one friend I met online when AOL and chatting were still in their public infancy. We’ve remained friends since and have never met in person. The only way (we hope) that the other is “true” is facebook. But after all this time, it’s really hard to believe that someone would maintain a fake FB page just to trick me…

  31. My dad seems to make new friends quite easily even though he is a super introvert. The answer is to take up golf.:) All of the new friends he’s collected in the past two decades seem to be people he’s met on the golf course.

  32. Great post. It made me think about the purposes of friends- people to have fun with, people to go through hard times with and help or be helped by, people to help you understand your strengths/weaknesses in terms of family, career or other decisions and if you’re like me, people to argue politics with.

    At this point, my friendships are minimal. Other parents at my kids’ school are nice (if someone’s kid loses an assignment sheet and the parent posts a request to the school Facebook page, there’s usually a response before I even see the question) but not generally social. Almost everyone here has local family except for other people from work, who are more apt to move here for professional reasons. When lots of your high school friends are still around, you probably don’t have a strong desire to make new adult friends.

    I’m hoping to continue a friendship with a Mom who has kids the age of my twins and Baby WCE. We were able to help her out by transporting her son back and forth to Scout Camp this summer. Her husband is another EE who travels more frequently than Mr WCE.

    I am thinking of trying the international social group (mostly wives of international students with young children) with Baby WCE in a year or so when the boys can spend an hour after school by themselves. Those probably won’t be lifelong friendships but the group is usually trying to recruit native English speakers/people in the community and I “get” the whole grad student in engineering lifestyle in a way other moms of young children may not.

  33. “I am closest to my school friends. The distance or time don’t seem to make a difference when we get together.”

    I feel the same way. My high school friends still get together every year for a weekend. It’s fun to chat and catch up.

  34. Keeping friends in divorce. I think it depends on your pre-divorce relationship. I would say that the person I was closer to (common interest, etc) is usually the one that I stayed in touch with. In the middle of it, you can only really offer empathy for a difficult situation, offer to help with the kids if appropriate, and not take sides while showing understanding for each persons point of view.

    In the most recent divorce in our circle – next door neighbors – she and I were better friends, she is the one who moved out. Still cordial with him, but he became almost a hermit when she moved out. No kids involved, though we used to watch their pets.

  35. High school and college friends knew you when you were just some girl/boy. Grad school too, to some extent. You didn’t have kids, a job, a house, and a bunch of other things to be judged on. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, a couple of my really successful friends actually seek out our high school group. One of them is so far up in the Silicon Valley hierarchy that people approach him obsequiously and tend to want something from him. But his preference is to hang out with us fellow high school dweebs who call him by the old ridiculous nickname and remember the time he threw up on the band camp bus and so on.

  36. I can totally relate to these stories. I gave up a number of meaningful friendships when we moved, and although we continue to see some of these people on visits back and forth, it’s not the same as having them around the corner. I have made some good friends here, but because some are ahead of me by several decades and others behind, it’s harder to connect on a regular basis to folks who are going through the empty nest/new grandparent/ phase. All of my previous close friends were those who were struggling through the same life stages of law school/law firm/new working parents/SAH parents/parents of teenagers applying to college etc. While it is nice to have friends in their 70’s who keep telling me how YOUNG I am, and also nice to have friends in their early 30’s who (unwittingly) make me feel very OLD as they have children the age of my grandchildren, there is something very special about the people who remember being deprived of Brady Bunch re-runs by the Watergate hearings. Agree that it takes effort to make and keep friends when kids are almost or mostly grown, but I have also found, as a lifelong introvert, that making the SLIGHTEST effort with fellow introverts is amazingly effective. So many people are just waiting to be asked out.

  37. I’m posting too much, sorry. Just one more remark. My mom used to worry endlessly about what she was going to do when Dad died. She didn’t maintain her friendships. She started seeking out her two oldest friends. But they both got dementia fairly early, and Dad hung on til his 80s. So that didn’t work out, and I felt as though her worrying and planning was pointless. That’s partly why I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it myself. It will all either work out, or it won’t.

    Mom and Dad went to the same high school (Paly, just like my sister and me) and they went to their 50 year reunion. It was great, and after that the group of folks from the classes of about 1937-1942 just started getting together all the time. It was all very “Hey! You’re still alive! That’s awesome. Come on over and sit down and chat.” Mom went out with “the girls” for several years before the ill health and dementia and so on really started thinning the group out. At the end they were all meeting at the main Palo Alto retirement home. One of Mom’s 100-year-old high school teachers was there and would join them.

  38. RMS, I enjoy your posts. Your memories of Palo Alto are like my Dad’s memories near his family farm in Iowa. He thinks if he has to go to a nursing home, he’d like to go to the one by his high school classmates, a preference subject to change now that he’s remarrying.

  39. WCE, DH’s paternal grandfather went to the nursing home in Anderson, IN, where his high school friends were, and it worked out very well.

  40. RMS – well said. I too find the pretense dropping away with old friends. I lost one of my school friends and that loss made us all realize that we need to keep in touch and visit if we are able to.

  41. RMS, I have a high school friend like that too. He is a Very Famous game development expert who successfully ran the dev efforts for a number of prominent computer games, and who now has a consulting business as a Famous Expert. He travels the world doing seminars and has books out. But he is FB friends with our entire old high school crowd, and loves to spend time commiserating about 8th grade gym or the stupid jocks.

  42. My dad has had the same group of friends his entire life. They see each other a lot and laugh about the crazy stuff they did, like when they stole a car when they were 13 and drove until they got busted by one of their dads. A few have died and it has been very hard on all of them. I totally get why people gravitate towards old friends. Common history, knowing your family, shared memories. Those things are hard to replace. I have had the same best friend since middle school. We are very different (she is a Trump supporter!), but has witnessed every big life event of mine and vice versa. She knows my parents and brothers and all of our history.

  43. I have been reconnecting with friends from high school too whenever I go “home”. It is really nice to spend time with them because of the shared history and memories and we’re also all in about the same stage with kids so we’re finding new things to connect over. My best friend from high school is trying to convince me to move “home” again and the thought does seem nice but it’s probably not a financial reality.

  44. I want to add something about moving full time or even 7 mos a year to a classic retirement destination, and you are not moving to a place with people you already know or to pursue some consuming pastime, if you want to have a circle of friends do two things. 1. Move as a couple while you are still fit. 2. Pick a place that has a critical mass of people like you, in a fairly narrow sense. My best friend (I do have one) ended up with a seasonal residence in Tucson. She is a classic New Yorker transplanted to Boston, computer geek. Her husband grew up in rural Minnesota then to Boston prep school on a newsboy scholarship. His Mom retired to a double wide in Tucson and they liked the area. Tried Phoenix for two months and said no. But although he can recall how to pass as a midwesterner after all these years, she has no hope. They barely have resort friends. They are a tight couple no kids, but it might be nice if they could fit in even slightly.

  45. “My mom used to worry endlessly about what she was going to do when Dad died. She didn’t maintain her friendships. She started seeking out her two oldest friends. But they both got dementia fairly early, and Dad hung on til his 80s. So that didn’t work out, and I felt as though her worrying and planning was pointless.”

    See, this is what I was thinking in response to Rhode’s comment about “I fear that when the kids are grown, and work wanes, I’ll be alone.” Because, maybe. Maybe not. But the real value is that if you get to that point, and you are alone, and you are not happy with it, then you will also have the power to do things differently to change that.

    I am rapidly becoming a fan of “to everything there is a season.” I have had to acknowledge my own limitations lately: the life I have chosen means that I have less time than I would like for a variety of things that either are good for me (e.g., lots of time at the gym) and/or that I would enjoy (e.g., more time with friends). And I also have to trust that if I find myself unhappy with where I am at any given point, I have both the power and the responsibility to change something around to fix that.

    So basically, as much as I angst and navel-gaze about many things, insufficient friendships isn’t really one of them.

  46. I think the original writer went too far, but NDT (if that’s who it was) only confirmed some of the criticisms by his response.

  47. Ada, I am definitely one who reads all the comments. That is usually the best part!

  48. “I totally get why people gravitate towards old friends. Common history, knowing your family, shared memories. Those things are hard to replace. ”

    Kate – this is why my dad has done so much to remain friends with my mom after their divorce. They have such a shared history – familial, cultural, etc – that it’s hard for others to understand them. My dad’s current wife has made if very difficult for my dad to maintain the friendships he had when I was growing up (he had a sorta boys club…).

  49. See, I am afraid of being alone later in life. I have spent most of my life surrounded by people. There was a 3 year stretch of my life when I had finished grad school and no longer had that circle, before I moved in with the person who is now my husband. I lived for a year and a half of it with a roommate, and the other year and a half by myself. That year and a half is the only time in my life I lived alone. I hated the entire 3 years. I felt like I was always on the prowl, looking for people to socialize with. I took all kinds of silly courses, and volunteered a lot, just to meet people. As it turned out, my fellow tenure track colleagues were the only people who ever ended up being real friends – still hang out sometimes with a couple of them. But I was LONELY. I really like having lots of people around me, which is why I lived in dorm housing even as a grad student. I am so dreading when the kids move out, and honestly hope that they become part of the trend of moving back in with the parents.

  50. OK, Milo, ‘splain. I honestly don’t know the guy who wrote the original article, and I don’t know NDT either. But the article was just basic name-calling — maybe he’s not so smart, huh-huh — while the response contained a ton of links to what he had actually said/done plus a few “sticks and stones” comments. Just based on what was published, I know whose views I would respect more. So totally not seeing the horse’s ass comment.

  51. “I am so dreading when the kids move out, and honestly hope that they become part of the trend of moving back in with the parents.”

    Same here.

  52. Ah, friends – I have very few. My siblings and DH, of course, and parents – my parents magically became my friends after I was done with law school, which was great if a bit odd. Then my close girlfriends are from HS (2), college (2), and law school (3, but all less close). None of these people live closer than 4 hrs away, and about half of them are across the country. DH and I have about 3 sets of couple friends, but one of them moved to Argentina for 2 years and the other 2 are near our old neighborhood, so I guess we’ll have to make more now. Sigh.

    I never ever EVER wanted to be friends with any of the moms at our kids’ old school. Blergggggg. For this school, they will have a bus, so I think it may be bringing them to activities on the weekend when I meet new people.

  53. “None of these people live closer than 4 hrs away, and about half of them are across the country. ”

    I am in the same boat. Started to make some parent friends thru my kids school but many of them have moved or their kids have moved on to another school. I was just lamenting to DH that I am annoyed with many of my longtime friends because I am the only one (bar 1) making an effort to keep in touch. Really lucky that DH truly is my best friend.

  54. Houston and MM, the empty nest is hard but I have done my best not to let my younger kids know that I really wouldn’t mind if they wanted to move back home. I don’t want them to feel guilty about moving on with their own lives and I can’t move on with mine if I cling to the “having kids at home” stage.
    Fortunately college DS has a few years left as a “kid”.

  55. LfB – without getting too much into specific issues, the response’s tone is characteristically dismissive. “These are the people I disagree with and they are wrong, but look, it includes a few liberals, too, so I’m good.”

    For climate change, the critical author said “anthropogenic,” which NDT omitted in his response. He’s just perpetuating more of the us versus them mentality, and that does nothing but polarize people. Those who agree with him will say he’s brilliant, those who do not our dismissed as nitwits. But nobody listens or learns anything. It’s just snark.

  56. Ugh. Just got home from moving DS into college, stared at my now empty nest, and saw this topic.
    I’ve worked on developing new friendships the last few years in preparation for this. I need to keep it up.

  57. @Milo — Hmm, interesting, because your response to NDT is exactly my response to the original article. I completely detest the “might”/”maybe” rhetorical device — it’s a cheap way to cast aspersions while (a) still pretending to be reasonable/objective and (b) shielding yourself from any obligation to actually support what you’re saying. It’s lazy and it’s namecalling — and all it does is provoke divisiveness. This guy is not actually bothering to counter anything NDT has said — he’s trying to discredit him by calling him an anti-American athiest who picks on kids, and proclaiming that liberals like him because of those things (because, presumably, liberals are also anti-American athiests who enjoy being mean to children?). I mean, really? Who does that in rational discourse?

    As I mentioned, I don’t know NDT from a hole in the wall — I’ve heard of him, of course, but I had zero clue what positions he had taken on anything until the article. I was actually hoping it was going to be a funny smackdown on Stupid Astrophysicist Tricks or something. But I kept reading what I thought was an intro, waiting for him to circle back and provide some actual support for his points, and then the article was done, and I was just like, “hunh?”

    Given that the point of the original article was not exactly to bring the warring political factions together and sing kumbayah, I’m not going to jump on NDT for responding in kind — someone calls me out like that in an article, yeah, I’ll give it back with both barrels (and probably a much higher degree of pointed snark, to boot). But at least the response had some substance to it — you can agree or disagree with that subtance (I haven’t read all the links and don’t know which side I fall on), but at least he said straight up “this is what I have said” and provided documentation, instead of hiding behind “maybes” and namecalling.

    Then again, we’ve already demonstrated that I’m not particularly sensitive to people coming off as smarter-than-thou (e.g., President Obama) — I pretty much *want* people in those kinds of positions to be smarter than me, so maybe it doesn’t rub me the wrong way when they demonstrate that they are. So there’s clearly some “smug” message that I just don’t get.

    Although NDT did specifically refer to “human-induced” climate change. So I did getcha on that one.

  58. I’m impressed that several of you with school age kids are able to survive so effectively in your communities without at least a few mom friends. Even with one kid, I’m able to work or do other activities because these parents help with after school care and driving. When I had to unexpectedly go to a funeral last week, these are the friends that I call to see if DD can spend an afternoon or morning etc. This same group of mom friends has lots of information about how stuff works in each school, how to register for certain after school activities since some have older kids.

  59. I don’t have much experience being the one asked on dates, but it almost seemed like he got quiet, and a little nervous for a few seconds at one point and said “you know, I know this is REALLY last minute, so I totally understand…” and we did already have plans that afternoon, but he wanted me to join him for paintballing (which is curiously non-Totebaggy), and I felt terrible for refusing since he actually sounded nervous asking me, so that’s why when DW has been talking about whom to invite boating next, I keep insisting on them.

    Milo, I love the comparison to dating. I’ve recently been hanging out a bit with another dad from DD’s softball team (although his DDs aren’t playing this fall). He texted me when we were in Iceland to see if we were back, and I got a little bit of that “he likes me” feeling.

  60. Denver – did you text him right back, or did you make him wait a couple days?

    I wonder if he’ll want you to wear his letter jacket.

  61. When I knew him, Tyson was a really charming and friendly guy who was super-smart, and sometimes got a little too much of a kick out of finding something he knew more about than you did.

    But he wasn’t a jerk.

    The author comes across as a childish twit, even if he is trying to make a point about the name-calling. If you are trying to persuade someone that there is an overwhelming case for anything, it is impolitic to open the argument by declaring that the only people who could disagree with you are morons. (I should know! ;) )

  62. As we speak about friends my older kid is texting his buddies to see if any of them are in his home room. He says he knows so many guys that there has to be a few people he likes in his class. Same with DD, she is super excited as her circle of friends is in her class. Both of them surprise me by finding people they can hang with at school, camp, activities etc.

  63. I’ve always managed to find some situational mom friends like Lauren describes, but often those friendships didn’t survive after the kids went to different middle schools or someone moved. I guess they were more of the “mutually useful relationship” type friendships than anything else.
    Having moved a lot, we have done our share of “family dating” like Milo’s boat outings. It was wonderful the few times we would find that magic combo of their kids liked our kids and we liked the couple. Now that we are down to one high schooler at home, we are freer to try to socialize with people we enjoy without thinking about whether our kids are compatible. It is easier now, IMHO.

  64. Milo, re driving, there is a National Geographic book titled something like ‘the 725 best drives in the US’. I have it in my basement.

  65. But that part doesn’t bother me, because to the extent it’s really due to a lack of time, well, time will magically reappear as the kids move on and we move toward retirement. My real issue is the introvert thing: my life already has all of the “other people” in it that I can take on a regular basis. My days are filled with interactions with clients and coworkers; my evenings and weekends are filled with interactions with my immediate family … it does mean that I am already scrambling to get sufficient downtime just by myself to recover my energy for the next day. The last thing I want to do on a Thursday night is to call up a friend for a drink …

    Speaking from the perspective of a retiree with grown (well, mostly grown) children, this is me exactly.  I’ve gained so much more time for both the introvert down time and the social time I need.  I’ve just begun to spend time on activities that I enjoy, and I’m finding that the people I meet help fill a need for social interaction and could become good friends. I’m frankly more concerned about my health holding out.

  66. That’s an interesting list, Louise. It seems Maryland has nothing to offer :). Same for North and South Carolina.

    It’s not a bad list, it just seems very arbitrary.

  67. What, Ritchie Highway from Annapolis to Baltimore didn’t make the list? I’m shocked — shocked, I say.

  68. Lauren – it can be a tricky balance asking favors from other mothers. I have sent gift baskets to families when it wasn’t possible for me to reciprocate exactly. Sometimes, when things get too crazy, I have to just say no and the kids have dealt with it.
    I think it will become easier when kids are old enough to be left alone at home or can get themselves to and from friend’s houses.

  69. “Ritchie Highway from Annapolis to Baltimore didn’t make the list? ”

    The B&A Trail is awesome.

  70. I don’t know the other moms in my son’s class. at one of the birthday parties, the only mom I had previously met (from a prior birthday party) seemed to know everyone there) but she is a SAHM and volunteers at the school

  71. Maybe I’m looking at this “friend” thing all wrong. My mom will likely handle a lot of school stuff in the beginning and for as long as she wants to. She’s a “SAHM” right? So maybe she’ll be friends with DS’s classmates moms and I don’t have to deal with their BS?

    I’m assuming BS because every group of women I come in contact with seems to have never left high school. For all I know, his class parents are ridiculously cool and I’ll be jealous of my mom’s new friends.

    DS will start daycare in the spring (more like pre-preschool stuff, but whatever they want to call it). So that will be my first dive into “mom” friends…

  72. “I never ever EVER wanted to be friends with any of the moms at our kids’ old school. Blergggggg.”

    :) Why?

  73. @Rhode – I don’t think Grandmoms who stand in for Moms make or don’t make friends with other parents in quite the same way as a parent would (just my observation). However, if there are other grandparents handling school logistics they will be in your Mom’s “new friend pool”.

  74. I’m assuming BS because every group of women I come in contact with seems to have never left high school. For all I know, his class parents are ridiculously cool and I’ll be jealous of my mom’s new friends

    Rhode. How do I say this without coming across has harsh? But I think it would be better, for you and your kids, if you can, to try to approach other class moms from a place of warmth and assumption of good intent. These are the people that will be your village over the next 16 – 18 years. Some will be annoying, some will have values different from yours. But the great majority are just like you – trying to raise their families and live in this world the best they know how.

    We are all subject to confirmation bias. If you go into the classroom assuming you’ll find overgrown high school girls, you’ll find evidence of it everywhere. But if you go in assuming you’ll find parents who want to get to know your kids, and want to journey through parenthood as part of a community, you’ll find evidence of that everywhere as well.

    Parenting is tough. We need other parents around to help guide our kids – it can’t be all on us, all the time. The more respect and affection you have for those other parents, the better guides they can be for your kids (and in turn, you for theirs).

    Please read this in the “gentle and kind” font it is intended to be written in.

  75. My core group of very close friends is from college or just out of college for all the reasons listed before. Many do not live close, but we make it a point to get together regularly & it is like no time has passed. I very much look forward to that. One does live close, and so I do have that outlet for friend connection, although we are in different life stages. (seems to matter less and less the older my kid gets)

    I am mostly satisfied with the more situational and fleeting new friends that come around at this stage in life via kid’s school, work, neighborhood, etc. I don’t have a ton of time & energy for that, and the situation Lauren described with FT neighbor togetherness is absolutely not what I want. I would rather spend weekends/evening mostly with family with a couple social things mixed in here & there (including kid social stuff).

    I’m not really concerned about the future that way. I would like to follow the plan Meme/Rhett laid out – once work/kid obligations dwindle, move PT to a traditional retirement destination with lots of people pretty much like us, join a tennis club, and hang out at the pool. I am not all that concerned about making friends. I think the hardest part will be finding a good location with the right mix. This is what I’ve gathered from talking to people who have done it – visit lots of condo/developments & get a feel by talking to people, touring, looking around, etc.

  76. And as a final contribution to this topic, I am steaming about a Facebook exchange with my high school bff who just threw something in my face that I said when I was 15. I said I was sorry, and she just rubbed it in again.

    1) I have no memory of saying it, but I’m sure I probably did.
    2) I WAS 15. It was 41 YEARS AGO.
    3) She said stupid stuff when she was 15 too.
    4) I SAID I WAS SORRY. DROP IT.
    5) Jesus H. Christ.

  77. Milo – it just seemed like all the moms that I met were either (1) incredibly smarmy, overly helicoptery, and super judgy, (2) religious and not interested in speaking with me because I was not of the correct religion, or (3) rude. #1 category was the largest. I didn’t meet any moms who seemed like regular smart people with whom I wanted to hang out, other than the one who was already my friend before our kids started school (one of our couple friends).

  78. Rhode and L, if you don’t want to hang out with the moms, are those the kids you want your kids growing up with?

  79. Rhode,
    I feel the same as you; didn’t like the cliques in HS, and have no interest in trying to fit into one now. I am happy to smile, wave and say “hi”, but make a “friend”-probably not going to happen. Which is similar to meeting people from this blog-Rhode and I live in the same small state, but I would be nervous to meet her because of all the” what if’s” (we even have a similar aged kid!) I remain close to my husband, mom, family-stay in touch with some acquaintances, but no real friends. and I am ok with it-my life is great and full as it is-for now anyway!

  80. RMS,

    My grade and high school BFF is still upset over some mean girl shenanigans another girl did 40 years ago. I can’t even talk to her about it. I mean, seriously, yes she was a jerk, in the intervening decades she has been pleasant and polite. We all live hours from each other. I cant fathom why she even commands a second of BFF’s attention.

  81. When I read the NY Times, it seems like “diverse schools” is a core liberal value. People are willing to bus young children long distances to achieve this value.

    My children’s school is not racially diverse (nor is my state), but it has moderate socioeconomic diversity, certainly compared to what many of you describe. I like and respect the other parents, but we don’t make the same life choices or necessarily want to socialize. Most of them prefer to socialize primarily with family, I think, or maybe church.

    What level of friendship are we talking about? I have two friends who will text me what teachers my kids got since we’ll be gone during the Meet ‘n’ Greet. I have another friend who watched my boys after school the day Baby WCE was gone, and their family did extra scout camp transportation the week my mom died. I and my babysitter took the-boy-from-the-twins-reading-group to some activities this summer, since his Mom is caring for her Dad with advanced Alzheimer’s and a baby and can’t get out easily.

    Maybe tying into today’s post, this is part of living in a community and having some level of trust in one another. (She didn’t do a background check on me or my babysitter when we offered to take her son to the library science program.)

  82. “She didn’t do a background check on me or my babysitter when we offered to take her son to the library science program.”

    When DD was younger, she would keep making new friends, in part because the school would shuffle class assignments each year, and got invitations to sleepovers at homes of friends whose parents we didn’t know. DW would google those parents, and query parents we knew about them, before deciding whether to allow DD to stay at their homes.

    Does anyone else here do this?

  83. Finn – we don’t do sleepovers*, at least not yet. Googling is only going to tell you that they’ve already been caught and convicted and are on the sex offender registry. It also doesn’t cover the boyfriend who may also be staying there, the uncle, the older brother and his friend who’s also sleeping over.

    If we don’t even know them, NFW. The potential adverse consequences are one of the worst things that can happen to a kid, and the likelihood and frequency are so much higher than people care to acknowledge. And no matter how much you talk about it beforehand, I just don’t believe that any prepubescent child can really understand it.

    *One exception was a Girl Scout sleepover my DD attended, lots of kids, multiple moms staying overnight, and the Scout leader made a preemptive point of saying that her DH and sons were staying elsewhere for the entire time.

    I just can’t reconcile worrying about how long your kids are rear-facing in the car, or in a five-point harness vs. a booster, and then turning over a completely vulnerable child to spend the night with whomever happens to be in and out of someone else’s household. THIS is the shit to worry about, because it happens all the time, not bullshit about corn syrup.

  84. Does anyone else here do this?

    No. I don’t think you can ever really know anyone well enough to get the level of trust you and Milo seem to be needing. For example, there’s a family we’ve known since DS was in kindergarten. He’s friends with their son and DD is friendly with their daughter. The kids have been on various teams together, and a couple of years ago, the dad and I coached the boys’ baseball team together. They got divorced last year and the mom confided in DW that the dad is a very heavy drinker. It’s something that would give you pause to leave younger kids at their house if the mom wasn’t going to be there, but we had no idea.

    So yeah, it’s definitely something to be concerned about. But the only way to be completely safe is to never allow them to go over to anyone’s house regardless of how well you think you know the parents.

  85. Milo,

    I think the BMW might be a bad example as it so irrationally offends totebag sensibilities. But, how about if they got a chance to do a semester abroad at the Univerity of Bologne where they would study and also work on a European Space Agency computer science project. Would you kick in a few grand so they could take the train to Rome, maybe a long weekend in Dubrovnik, ski, have a few memorable dinners? Or, would tell them to wait and do a Viking River Cruise when they’re 80?

  86. I agree with Milo here. We did one sleep over each with each kid, and I said no more. We just know too many people who are heavy drinkers, and I don’t want to say yes to one family and no to another. DH agreed. When our kids are asked we blame the ‘no’ on early morning golf or tennis lessons (always fictional but plausible), or we decide on the spot we are heading to the beach for the weekend. Our kids don’t care – after one taste of it each they immediately decided they prefer their own beds.

  87. I once fielded a sleepover invitation from a grandma of a kid in DS’s 2nd grade class. “It will be fun – they are going to sleep in the treehouse, and the dogs will keep them real safe. They are protective!”
    Yeah. We were going out of town, sorry.

  88. As the kids get older (and we get to know some of the parents better), we’re more inclined to let them go to the sleepovers. As has been discussed here before, there is a need to loosen the reins as they get older, and we don’t want their first ‘sleepovers’ to be their first nights in their college dorms.

  89. we don’t want their first ‘sleepovers’ to be their first nights in their college dorms

    Ours have both gone to sleep away camp, which frankly I find less concerning in some ways.

  90. We had #1 do a sleepover earlier this summer with a new friend she met at camp. It was a cultural experience. :)

  91. we did sleepovers. in tents in the backyard with no fences. starting when they were 9. the celebrants in one big tent and me in another nearby. and my kids went to similar things at other people’s houses. all kids from their school. no issues. maybe we were lucky, maybe that’s just how it should be.

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