Is It Hard For You To Make Friends?

2009 July 27
by Grace Boyle

I stumbled across Melissa’s recent post, “What Makes a Friendship?” and I was immediately intrigued. She talks about how she doesn’t make friends easily and it takes her a while to feel comfortable with someone before a friendship (if at all) follows. Furthermore, she believes that making friends was easiest when we were children:

“It was easier to make friends as a child. You point at someone and say, “That’s my friend.” And that’s it. You have a new best friend. It’s not so easy anymore. I wish building friendships could be that simplistic again. Or maybe they are that simple and I just didn’t know it.”

In response to her post I agreed that friendships are more complicated as we grow in age. There’s more at risk. It was simple as a child, but so was everything because we were laced with innocence and lacked experience. We weren’t jaded, yet.

Friendships Should Be Effortless (plus a little work that you want to put in)

My best friends (new and old) all began effortlessly. I really believe chemistry connects people (romantically and in a platonic way). I never have to try with my best friends. You share stories, passion, interests, desires, etc. Some of my best friends are very different than me, we argue and disagree, but we both fill a need for the other and find grace within our differences.


Some of my best friends and I. Ya know, doing best friend stuff.

Any relationship is “work” but it ends up being work that you want to do. It’s not hard to do something kind for those relationships in my life; whether it’s buying them a drink, picking them up at 1:00 AM at the airport, listening to them cry and complain or helping them move. It’s work I’m willing to put in, because it’s just part of the friendship package. I’m fiercely loyal and am not a fan of fair weathered friends.

Online Friendships

Melissa also lamented that online friendships are difficult to gauge. We all “follow” each others blogs or Twitter accounts but sometimes question where the line is drawn, what to say or will they like me online? I say be you. Begin to let go of  the beliefs like “they won’t think I’m witty enough,” etc. because being honest and yourself is the way you want those who you click with (woah, pun, I guess intended) to like you.

Making New Friends-Surprise Yourself

To me, friendships are irreplaceable. I’ve been blessed with deep friendships that I know will last a lifetime and with friends that are living around the world (fortunately and unfortunately). It’s important for posterity, success and happiness. Moving to Boulder I had no friends living here and although I had the backbone of friends elsewhere, it’s important to have friends in your current home. I went through the lonely stage but was almost forced to meet new people and create a new friend circle. Although I had to be pushed to meet new people by putting myself out there, my current friends that I am so lucky to be friends with, occurred because of a connection that we both felt.

Sometimes in life we have to break outside of our comfort zone. Yes, even with friendships. Friendships can come and go like the ocean tide, but they also occur with ease because of the natural fit. Let that fit happen. Relax and jump in. You will be surprised what might happen and the lifelong friendship you may have just found…

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  • benjamintwilcox

    I think the point about putting yourself out there is key. It is hard to make friends sometimes when you move to a new area, so being able to be more outgoing and take chances is important. Great post Grace, I think friendship can be much more difficult to develop than most people think.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Ben I suppose I didn't mention that it took time for my friendships to begin. I'm not one to jump right in and I really feel like I have to sift to find the ones that click and work. However, when they work they will work. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Matthew

    It is much more difficult to make friends as you get older, mostly because you aren't surrounded by potential 'friends' at all times. As you said, it's really about putting yourself out there – I'm lucky to have some awesome friends in my life and I always say that I would rather have a couple REALLY good friends than a million acquaintances.

    Here's to hoping you'll get your ass out here or I'll venture out your way so we can become, you know, real life friends, lol.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Matt I didn't point out that it was SO easy/accessible to meet friends in college. First you had your dorm, your frat/sorority (if you were in one), classes and then the inevitable social functions like parties or events through college. Each week I had an opportunity to meet new people and it was easier.

    You're also right that quality over quantity is the best way to go. Haha and yes, someday we will meet in real life 😉

  • Erica

    I love this – friendships are SO important and I always think to myself (in all seriousness) how much my life has improved in Boulder since you became my friend. The restaurants and food you've exposed me to, the laughs and tears and everything! I am really glad and proud to be your friend (and lucky too!) And I have seen your forehead more than anyone else that you know.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Erica You silly goose! I feel the same and I think that we are so lucky *tear*

    Friendships engage and create success in everyday life, not to mention it helps us along through the challenges and happiness.

  • Brett Borders

    It's not hard for me to make friends when I am in my element. I used to live in Oregon and it was a more radical / hippie kind of culture – and more of a true “community” vibe than a scene. I had hundreds of friends there.

    For me now, the thing that currently in the way most from letting natural friendships for has been lack of free time. You have to spend time with people or relationships evaporate. I've been in “startup mode” for the past year or two… and I am consciously slowing down and making a priority to make friends and keep them over financial success. Life isn't worth it, otherwise!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Brett What does it mean for you to be in your element? It may be the certain period you're in or like you said, you've been in startup mode and it's tough to put real time into friendships. However, as you know full well, life is meant to be enjoyed and shared. It's always better with friends to grow and learn with….loved ones in general, that is. I'm glad to hear that you're taking a step back and are able to focus on making friends :)

  • Elisa Doucette

    I'm very conflicted with what to type here, because the truth is that it is VERY hard for me to make friends. I have guesses why, the biggest two being that I am very guarded myself and that I'm sort of a rogue friend type.

    The first is easy, it's difficult for people to want to “get in” when “getting in” involves scaling a 30 foot wall you build around yourself. While most think I'm mean/snobby/etc, I have almost a 100% closing ratio on people finding the complete opposite “once they got to know me.” Seriously, I'm obsessed with stone walls on properties…that in itself should propel me to the front of Dr. Freud's practice!

    The second a little more difficult, I actually wrestle with it more and more on my blog. And that is the fact that most women don't like to be close friends with me and most guys find it difficult to be friends with a girl. I don't know what it is that makes one a guy's girl, but it definitely makes it super hard to fit in with any one particular group. More to come on that, it's still a confusing mass in my head!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Elisa Your second point is interesting. Why do you think women don't like to be close friends with you? Is that really a fact…or is it something that you also feel from your end? It is hard for men to be friends (platonic) with women, but it's very much indicative of the situation and potentially shared history.

    I've been thinking about this post and it's sort of a weird question, is it hard for you to make friends? I was trying to portray that it could potentially be hard for everyone to make friends, but when there's a connection, it will simply be there. I don't like a lot of random acquaintances and really true friends, don't come around everyday. So the in between and waiting game is pretty natural which I don't think has anything to do with any person.

    Anyway, just my thoughts…thanks for sharing :)

  • Elisa Doucette

    I'd like to say it's perception, but I think it's a fact. On discussinng with one girl recently, she told me “I think it's just hard for a girl to “get you” cause you are so blunt and loud and direct and not girly at all. It's like being around a guy with you, but you obviously aren't one. Once she [referencing a girl recently met at a party] got to know you more she really liked you though.”

    I think a lot of friendships are indicative of the situation and shared history. That's part of why it's harder to maintain close friendships when we are adults. When we are younger the situations are similar (simpler) and the history is minimal (and generally simpler.) Now we're in different jobs/locations/life events/etc and trying to find someone to just go play in the sandbox with is a little more difficult. Too bad, though, playing in the sandbox and the jungle gym were always two of my favorites!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Elisa Ah, yes I've heard that many times before. Not all girls are girly though and if you're being yourself, then you don't want to be friends with those kind of 'girls' anyway. I feel you on that and I have a lot of guy friends, because I too am blunt, outgoing and like how they have a little less drama surrounding them. However, my girlfriends that I'm so close with, are like me too. There are all kinds of people out there…

    You're SO right that we don't have shared history anymore, no more sandbox, a lot of moving and changing. This comes up when I was studying abroad and traveling. Sometimes we were in a place for three days and you're alone or want to meet fellow travelers and you make friends fast. Although they are for the moment, you can get close under the circumstances. I really think there are a lot of kinds of friends, nothing bad, just different. Hmm…another blog post? 😉

  • Siva

    I think i found one this week and i wish it gets acceptance and lasts long :) don't you ask who is that? 😉

  • Siva

    I think i found one this week and i wish it gets acceptance and lasts long :) don't you ask who is that? 😉

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  • Robbieyohn

    I try so hard to make friends and I put most of the effort into keeping them but then they dwindle and I lose contact and never hear from them. I don’t drive, they do and it would be easier to meet someplace but they make up excuses like I cannot come and I am too busy when I sense they aren’t. I have no friends at the moment, at least not where I live. I have epals and I hear from them occasionally.
    It’s not easy being the party of 1 at a restaurant or coffee house. I have never been with anyone and people seem to judge others easily. I am not a bad person. I don’t smoke,don’t drink,don’t use drugs. I try not to keep up with the Jones either. I like being myself and all of people expect me to be like everyone else and I refuse to. That’s why we are all in ourselves unique people.

    I don’t text much at all or use the cell phone. I want to find friends who grew up in a time where technology was simple, manners were important and how one treated one another was considered. Seems like people use people as “friends” and then  dump them. I didn’t dump these friends, they dumped me. I used to call,email,etc to set up time together. It hurted alot. I have lost a lot of trust in people anymore and it’s no wonder.

    Friendships do take time and some people connect well with another and others don’t.
    Europeans have few friends and many acquaintances. This is especially true in Germany and Northern European countries. Having that special friend is quite rare.
    The rest are called bekannte which are acquaintances that you know at work,religious places, etc.  One thing and having Germanic ancestry is family ties. Very strong.
    Most Europeans are like that as well as Asians and Native Americans,Latin Americans.

    Americans from my point of view are gossipy,too fashion and trend conscious, money conscious and extremely religious. Very materialistic. An odd combination.
    Whatever happened to taking care of one another? I have seen so many false friendships and they turn out to end eventually.
    I admit I am an introvert. I do internalize my life and spend a lot of it at home,reading,studying,exercising,playing the violin. But I like to get to know some people but they don’t seem to want to get to know me.

    We all have things in our lives which others find odd/unusual. But does that mean we cannot develop a friendship based on trust,understanding and accepance of another?

  • Technics2011

    Very nicely written. Unfortunately, as we age, most people have absorbed the traits/personalities of the groups that they are engaged in. When we are young, we are not yet influenced, we still own our minds, and find new friends. When we are older, we lose a part of our independant thinking. The people around us, the media, all have an impact on who we become. Those who are not affected , have character.

  • Frank

    “Sometimes in life we have to break outside of our comfort zone.” Thank you for this quote. I found this the most helpful in deciding how to tackle the thought of having to make new friends OR how to maintain the current ones I have.

  • Grace Boyle

    Thank you :)