“Go outside and play with your
friends!” That was Mom’s clarion call to us kids back then when friendship was
easier. When we were naive, tolerant, open to diversity, and had few
We were perfect friend-making
Some friendships lasted. Others
dissipated. Either way, potential friendships seemed to be placed in front of
us for the asking.
Circumstance, not choice, was
likely to be the determining factor in staking out new relationships. People
came in and out of our lives as we traveled through the cycle of education,
career, and family.
It was important, but often
not Priority One.
Friendship by Choice, not Circumstance
Things change for us during the
latter days of our careers, and then in retirement. Obstacles arise.
We’re more set in our ways. More
likely to harbor definitive ideas about who might be an appropriate friend. Who
might not. We might move to a new location. Gain or lose a spouse. Become ill.
Have money. Need money. Become consumed with politics or become apolitical.
We begin to hide pieces of
ourselves in order to enhance compatibility with others. After all, it’s the
time in our lives to relax. We’ve got our old friendships to do the serious
Some new friendships survive the
journey. Some do not.
Leave Your Pre-Conceived Notion of Friendship at the Door
It takes a special type of grit
to hack your way through it. To confront yourself honestly about what friendship
actually means to you at this specific point in life.
We might ask ourselves, why
isn’t this easier?
That’s a rhetorical question. We
all know the answer: friendship is work. Up close and personal.
We want to like others and we
want to be liked. We want to be heard for who we are and stand witness as new
friends reveal themselves to us. We’re seeking a compatible home for our likes
and dislikes because we need companionship and communion.
That’s a complex set of
Perhaps it’s why I so often hear
people resort to the defeatist question: How many really good friends
can one person have, anyway?
Things to Remember as You Engage with Potential Friends
Friendship is an expansion opportunity.
A fountain of possibilities.
Yes, we’re looking for a match
to our existing sensibilities. But we also want more from
new friendships. We look for journey-mates who can help to recalibrate and
support the contemporary view we have of ourselves.
New friends can help us see the
world through a different set of eyes. They can open a lane or two into this
new realm. But it takes work on our part.
Enter Relationships with an Open Mind
of hunting for friendship, let friendship find you. It’s a non-linear, organic
for what’s endearing, not what’s enduring. Be verbal about the parts of the
journey that work. Solid communication breeds repetition and builds trust.
Give Friendship Enough Time to Find Its Way
friendships will find a mutually comfortable depth. Don’t overthink it. You
have good intuition. You can gracefully back away from friendships that aren’t
everyone releases the Director’s Cut version of their lives on the first date.
Be interested and interesting. Ask questions to learn more.
subtle advances and wise retreats.
Build Friendship Slowly, but Deliberately
isn’t necessary to invite new friends on your next cruise through the Mediterranean.
what you have in common, not what separates you.
friendship through language. If your gut tells you it’s working out on both
sides, don’t be afraid to say, this feels like it’s developing into a nice
In the Name of Friendship
I used to be a categorizer. I
ran away from the term friendship for too long. People were
acquaintances. Work chums. Drinking buddies. Pals.
Definitions create limitations.
Limitations create obstacles. This Merriam-Webster definition of friend will show you just how
wide the umbrella of friendship can be. Remain open to the possibilities.
Not every friend will be the one
you call at three in the morning for help. Not every friend makes an equally
deep imprint on your life. No one person or couple can match every one of your
What matters most is a shared
set of common values as I explain in the video above.
Choose to Do the Work
Statistically, one of the
biggest concerns elders have about long life is loneliness. And though the
navigation of adult friendship isn’t without potholes, it’s one of the best
preventative measures against this worry.
I recently shared the story of a friendship with someone with whom I never
imagined I’d have much in common. Though rough going at first, the rewards were
Stretch. Do the work. Go out to
play with your friends!
do you try to make friends with new people? What does it take on your part? Do
you think it’s worth it? What are some benefits you have noticed? Please share
with our community!