Why do we stop making friends as we get older?

Anjoo Mohun
Anjoo MohunJan 30, 2018 | 10:27

Why do we stop making friends as we get older?

Blame it on social media. Unless you are a minor celebrity and have the requisite 5,000 friends on your personal page, you may just have a few hundred. Among those, the closest would probably be on speed dial on your phone and if you happen to be instagramming, their comments would be the most scathing and the most sarcastic. Why? Their special status as lifelong friends gives them carte blanche and they do not mince their words. Well, we wouldn’t take it from anybody else either!


Being friendly and having a friend are two different mind spaces. You can be friendly with everyone who may have received an email from you! But a friend is that person who remains one even without receiving a message for months or even years. When you meet, there would be a conversation without pause, virtually starting from where you had left off.

They will tell you how much your body is sagging, that your hair colour is a rerun of “jawani diwani” but will order your favourite food without having to recall it from memory, skirt a touchy issue without trying, remember your child’s birthday and never buy you a present unless you ask for it.

Another friend of mind always reminds me that I am a pessimistic masochist! 

Why don’t we find such people as we grow older? Simply because we are less patient or even less tolerant of the world around us. We lose our innocence, become harried with work and life, having been tripped up once too often, so ripped by competitiveness and rivalry that we just withdraw into ourselves. When we are younger we are definitely innocent and naïve. Our world view is limited to the school or college boundary. For young adults, it could be in the shared awe and shock of that first job when everyone around you is powerful and you are the knave. There is shared bonhomie and survival. For friends since school, it is pocket money and treats or even copying the math homework.


Life was simple then and it was simpler to like (or not like) another person. How easily we could say, “I really hate that XYZ girl. Who does she think she is, just because she got that new iPad (or in our case a VHS of Kumar Gaurav).” But wouldn’t dream of using such an incorrect term when we are all grown up... “ Hate... umm of course, I don’t hate her! Oh dear, whatever gave you that idea?

Having grown up together, among closest friends there is little to hide because all that nervousness and anxiety is common and reviewed incessantly and we are equally clueless. At work, the slave category sticks together because everyone gets exploited to the same degree.

People bond over torture. The non-stop research, the multiple copies, the binding of reports and revisions of powerpoint. Success is still somewhat over the horizon and looks a tad bit unreachable. So the likes of us enjoy a drink because well, the money is limited, too. These, then are the roots of a long-term friendship. No airs, pure, unadulterated truth and nothing really to hide. Such friendships keep us going through our 30s, 40s and beyond, when our insecurities and life play hide and seek.


The relationships, children, boredom, that fear in the pit of your stomach that it is all going to go belly up and later that niggling doubt: was all that running really worth it? Our friends get it without getting an update.

My best friend indulges my love for cooking and my joy at gaping at those monstrous grocery stores overseas. She stops eating herself and hands me over her credit card while she pushes the biggest trolley around as I thrown in five kinds of mushroom, cuts of meat, sauces and minces. And I am not allowed to pay for it. Then I am given a free run of the kitchen because any half-baked cook will tell you that the joy of cooking is in the produce. She would go online to find me unique places for the food shop and I can weep with luxury if it all!

Another friend of mind always reminds me that I am a pessimistic masochist! That I will never be happy without a mandatory level of stress, wear and tear. It is supposed to be the fuel that keeps me going. I don’t think I would let anybody get away by saying such a thing, blatant truth it may be! But this person has been my friend for almost 25 years and can read my voice, as in my work voice, stress voice and my bored voice — and reply accordingly.

Why, then, do we stop finding such people as we grow up? Simply because we begin to take ourselves too seriously, we ascribe motives to people’s actions who surround and we are suspicious of anyone who smiles too much.

Also, age is a factor. Who has the time or the energy to start an evening with a question like, “Tell me about your life, where did you study?” Would we really want to go back over a couple of decades, though at that age, we could talk through the night without having to get a second breath!

Later in life, there are far too many comparisons surrounding us: who does what for a living, what kind of car is she/he driving? Where do the children go to school? There is almost a mental checklist which precludes people from being open and trusting — from sharing everything without skipping a heartbeat.

We become inward-looking and pretend to be interested without being so. Without brutal honesty, there cannot be true friendship. So with migration, movement, careers and families, our friends spread far and wide and there are so few that we count as lifelong friends. Yet, they keenly follow what we are becoming and how we should be. And we have to be really thankful for that.

The rest of the world you can just link to your Google contacts and make part of the group that says friendlies. But really, not that much!


Last updated: January 30, 2018 | 10:27
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