Is it possible to create a circle of friends later in life?
Some women have the good fortune of having circles of friends with a shared history; others wish they did.
I’m in my late 20s, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to keep deep, meaningful female friendships. We’re moving to different states, pairing off romantically, and growing in different directions.
I have three very close female friendships whom I treasure but they aren’t connected; they are friends from different sectors of my life. So I feel like I’m lacking a “friend group.” A side note: I also don’t have enough deep friendships, in general.
It bothers me that most people my age seem to have a “group.” I’ve been in friend groups in the past but found that I couldn’t connect as deeply to each friend in the group. So I prefer one on one time.
I know this sounds like a hard question to answer, but what’s the average number of close female friendships that women my age have? Or any thoughts you have on how friendships change as you get older.
Thanks very much,
What a great letter! You raised so many thought-provoking questions.
Because we’re both quite a bit older than you, we can confidently say from experience that as you go through life, it is extremely common for friendships to change. They are rarely stable, but more fluid, due to changing circumstances like moving, romantic partners, growing, and changing.
Friends come and go, many times depending on where you are in your life. For example, when you have children, you tend to bond with your child’s friend’s mothers; other friendships develop in your workplace. But what happens once your children are grown or you change jobs? Many times the friends you made disappear along with these changes.
Most of us (but not all) fall into one of two groups: those who have a connected circle of friends and those who wish they did!
Some women have the good fortune of having groups of friends who have a shared history—based on where they were, where they lived, or what they did together. But many of us don’t.
A spate of books and TV shows might be partly to blame for your feelings of “missing out” or that there is something “wrong” with your situation.
While it isn’t impossible to forge a sisterhood later in life, it’s generally easier to do as a teenager or young adult because you’re likely to have more time and to be thrown together in similar circumstances—whether it’s the same team, sorority, or neighborhood. As we marry or divorce, move, or graduate and our lives diverge, it becomes tougher to sustain circles of friends.
But even in a circle of friends, there are usually twosomes (dyads or pairs) who seem to have more in common, either temperamentally or situationally. Thus, each woman doesn’t have precisely the same relationship with each member of the circle.
In terms of your question about numbers, it’s not unusual for people to have many more acquaintances than they do close friends. So it’s not surprising that deep and meaningful friendships are the most coveted and difficult to achieve.
Just like a romance, most women say that at their start, there is a certain essential chemistry that provides the foundation for best friendships. Then, as two women feel increasingly comfortable together, they are able to become more intimate and reveal their true selves to one another.
While there is wide variability, most surveys suggest that women typically have 2 to 5 very close or best friends. What’s more important than quantity, however, is quality and whether or not you feel like you have enough of the right type of friends for you. If you feel like something’s missing, perhaps it is.
Irene & Sheryl
It’s easier to maintain a circle of friends as a teenager or young adult but these group friendships often peter out as women’s lives veer in different directions.
Thanks for reading Friendship Rules! Subscribe for free to receive new posts on all things friendship