A young adult patient at Maze Women’s Health was discussing her difficulty in finding new friends as her old ones are becoming more involved in their own romantic relationships and spending less time with her.
Even as babies, we are programmed to form relationships. During our pre-school years, we are constantly exposed to many experiences which help us with the language of play, a prime function which enables us to form interpersonal bonds and to develop friendships. By the age of 4, we have the capacity to form deeper attachments and may already have a best buddy.
Starting in early adulthood, we begin to lose friends and ironically it becomes harder to forge new friendships. We have less time, we no longer have a ready-made group of peers available to us, some old friends don’t fit into our life anymore, it’s hard to find people with similar sensibilities, senses of humor and to top it off, and we become more cautious and self-conscious.
Making new friends as we get older has to be more planned and deliberate. One needs to find someone who shares a common bond and who is open to accepting a new friend. One needs to start slowly and know that friendships require nurturing. I heard of someone who expanded their circle of friends by inviting some acquaintances to dinner and then opened their table to friends of those acquaintances. This befriending story led to the opening of a restaurant!
There was a recent article on 4/18/16 in the Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Bernstein titled “The Science of Making Friends.” Making friends is both an art and a science and although effort is required, who knows, with an extra dose of luck, like the people in the expanding circle who opened a restaurant, your next BFF might even be a chef. Bon Appetit!