I’ve noticed a few comments here and there recently about how it’s really hard to have friendships in your 30’s. I feel the pain in this sentiment because yes, I’m squarely in my mid-thirties and yes, it can be hard to have friendships during this season. Between the work deadlines, the mountain of laundry piling up, the stacked weekend birthday parties, and finding time to get a haircut…how in the world does anyone over thirty find time to enjoy their friends?
It’s totally possible to make new friends in your thirties!
But hey guys, there’s hope! It’s not impossible -it’s actually quite attainable- if we can shift our expectations just a little bit.
- First, let’s all take a deep breath in and let it ooooout and be THANKFUL that we are (mostly) past our tumultuous twenties. If you are still there, bless you sister, and come sit by us old hags 😜
- Second, let’s be honest about what kind of season we are actually inhabiting right now. I don’t know about you, but for me–the thirties are all about productivity. Work, projects, hustle, growing, whatever you want to call it…the thirties are a busy time of life when we are getting stuff D-O-N-E. And that’s totally normal! Most people get married and/or have kids during this decade, pursue graduate school or further education, get promoted at work or hit a career/vocation stride, move around or buy/build a house, and so much more! *whew* I kinda think we should be having this conversation on the beach somewhere.
- Third, let’s consider what kind of friendships (or perhaps, mode of friendships) can happen in this crazy busy time. What I mean by this: it ain’t gonna look like it did when we were 22. We probably won’t be spending five hours at the local brewery just shooting the breeze with our buddies after work because, ya know, we have people at home counting on us. And that’s a wonderful thing! So pursuing friendships in your thirties in a practical way might mean getting a little creative.
Keeping expectations loose is probably a good idea as well…it’s totally normal for communication to ebb and flow as people are experiencing different challenges in their everyday life. Just let it be what it is.
A few practical tips for being a grown-up friend
I know it takes a little effort, but maybe it’s more of a mental shift. No, we probably won’t be catching up over coffee once a week, but we can still go deep with the people we choose to know and love. Here’s a few ideas on how to make it happen.
- Find the right technology. Folks, we live in a golden age of tech apps that will enable quality time with your friends, it’s just a matter of finding the one that suits your needs! For some, the Marco Polo app might be best–you simply create a group (you can name it whatever you want), add your people, and then start chatting! You can record a quick (or not-so-quick) video whenever is convinent for you, while the viewer has the flexibility to watch whenever they have time. I’ve had single topic conversations that spanned three days! Which is great because you have the time to go deeper than just talking on the phone or texting (plus you can see each other’s expressions for better communication.) Group text threads also work, as does private Facebook messaging groups. Let technology enable quick and easy conversation in between the demands of a busy life.
- When you meet in person, make the effort. It might only happen once a month, or even a couple times a year (if you’re dealing with long distance), but when you meet in person–give that time your full attention! Be there, all there, and enjoy your friends. Put the phone away, get a reliable babysitter who doesn’t mind a late night, whatever it takes to protect that time together. Bring delicious treats to share or do something fun together…just make it special! Kind of like a date, but with ya frans. Also, this is a NO GHOSTING ZONE. It’s a challenge to get together, so respect your people and show up.
- Be the clutch friend. There will likely be some drama or problem or even crisis that you will face together as friends in your thirties–this is a decade when stuff happens. When it does, serve your friend with the love of Jesus. This will look different depending on what the situation is, but be ready to speak the truth in love, to pray your heart out for them, to bring the hot meals and empty boxes, to say “I’m sorry” and “What was that like?” and “You are not alone.” True friendship is tested by the waves of life and we have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us within our friendships.
Above all, let’s have gratitude for the people we love, compassion for the road they are walking, and courage to fight for their wholeness in Christ.
And finally, it’s okay to be a little freaked out at first when pursuing a new friendship at this stage in life. But the great thing? By now most people are done with the pretensions of youth and just want a friendly face to get to know. Be open, give a lot of grace, and I know you’ll make a connection soon. xo