Study revealed: It is Hard to Make Friends over Our 30

I have never been a person with a lot of friends. I am not gonna lie about this. Until now, I only have several close friends ( as I am writing this post, I realized we're not that close anymore). I suffered a great deal of bullying when I was in my elementary school, middle school and also senior high school. I pretty much had a rough time being a teenager, full of insecurities, betrayal, and drama. Thus I found it hard to believe people or let them enter my life. 

So, throughout my 20s, let's say I was quite an antipathy but after giving birth to a beautiful son with special needs, moving to Italy, and officially entered group 30s, I found it even harder to make friends. Cultural clash, the language hassle, and prejudice make it even worst. I try to defend myself, like: maybe I don't speak good Italian, you know because Italians are perfectionists; or maybe they don't like a foreigner; or perhaps they don't like making friends with an Asian, even down to "maybe I am such a boring person"

I always think I'm probably having a difficulty to socialize (FYI, I am an introvert anyway), pretty much anti-social especially in times like this, where I am so overwhelmed with everything about my son's special needs. Turned out, one study revealed 'it is indeed really hard to make friends over your 30! 

On one article originally published by New York Times, A psychology professor who is a director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in CA, Laura L. Carstensen observed that people tended to interact with fewer people as they reached toward midlife, but found out that they tended to grow closer to the friends they already have.

Laura implies that this happens because people have an internal alarm clock that stops at big life events like turning 30. They tend to focus on what is emotionally important for them. Party, reunions, and casual gatherings are no longer interesting, these people are interested more in spending time with family, kids or relatives.

With all of the hectic schedule, it becomes harder to meet three conditions in making close friends: proximity; repeated and unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, suggests Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina.

Other external factors that could contribute to the difficulty of making friends over your 30 are Differences in professional status and income; spouse's preference; kids' circle.

I'd like to highlight this: differences in professional status and income. I think everyone can really relate to this, I mean even when we are young, single and free, making friends with somebody of a different professional status can be rather uneasy, not to mention their income level. I was once a journalist who became an English teacher, as you guessed my duties are inversely proportional to my salary and the monthly allowance. Every time I met somebody, my insecurities hit me then they started to talk about how proud they were being in their positions, and that their income could be even better than what they had taken, I was like c'mon, I am not here to listen to this s***.

To make the matter worse, when we start to make friends over 30, in which most of us must have gotten spouses and kids, their preferences can make a big difference. You can't set aside their opinions, I mean, you can start to like some people but if your partner said no, it might change the way you see those people and your affinity with them.

Last year, I persuaded my husband to drive me to one of my new Indonesian friend I met through Facebook. The city where she lived was about 3 hours away from Venice. My husband hesitantly said yes, and we took that long journey to meet her and her family for the very first time. She is a nice woman, kindhearted one, though we only talked online, I already guessed that she would be a nice person to hang out with. Turned out my husband thought the same way about her. The problem arose when we met her not-so-friendly Italian husband. He is a heavy smoker who is also a proud smoker of Marijuana. My husband is a smoker too, but he hates Marijuana to death. This man, from the very first time meeting us, has already seemed agitated and then when he saw that my husband got a tattoo on his wrist (of Arabic calligraphy) he started to yell to his wife. "I'll kill you if you bring another ISIS militants at home!" That's it, a moment when I saw my husband's eyes, I could tell that he was going to tell me "what kind of person did you ask me to meet with!" We never see each other again after that.

Once you've had children, I bet you surely know that we do have friends that we call 'parents friends'. This circle is as odd as it is. I mean, you probably would never hang out with such people but your kids like their kids, so.. there you are.

Luckily, Dario is still too little to make friends, he went to school last September though but in October we decided to postpone his academic year so I didn't really know my son's school friends circle (and their parents). Anyway, I did join Dario for his first two weeks of school but nobody talked to me except the teachers. I was having a hard time helping Dario because he is a kid with special needs (the only one in his class) and I didn't think they knew this because Dario looked normal (only the fact he didn't listen much to commands and orders from anybody).

Soon I might experience the circle of 'parents friends' and before that happens, I'll have to prepare myself.

According to Marla Paul, the author of 'The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're not a Kid Anymore' (2004) external factors are nothing compared to internal factors.

External factors are not the only hurdle. After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with, said Marla,  “The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita,” she said.

Manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs are likely to be the first ones to be cut. At a young age, people have the abilities to see the good beyond the bad and the details means nothing or at least not related to someone's integrity as a decent human being. Yet, once we get older, we couldn't stand anymore those who drain our positive energy. This makes sense because life is tiring enough and we must, whatsoever, constantly strive to maintain our peace and clear-mindedness by avoiding these 'wrong people' 

“You meet someone really nice, but if they don’t return a call, drop to 90, if they don’t return two calls, that’s an immediate 50,” she said. “If they’re late to something in the first month, that’s another 10 off.” (But people can move up the scale with nice behavior, too, she added.)

Having been hardened by experience, many people develop a more fatalistic view of friendship.

You know, I guess we all have had such a bad friendship or failed relationship and those made us rather skeptical if ever make friends again or starting a new friendship/relationship.
I told you before that I was severely bullied at school and through time I didn't trust people until I was sure they wouldn't do any harm to me, but I failed too. I didn't talk to most of my coworkers because they sucked and when I had a hard time having Dario they miraculously disappeared. Until now, I am really picky about making any new friends and sometimes at some points, I give up trying because you know 'idgaf anymore'

I value my peacefulness more than anything.

For me now, it's easier to maintain those good friends I've had instead of finding new people to fill 'the gaps of friendship'

How about you? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

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