Why Is It So Hard To Keep Friendships Going When You Enter Your 30s?

I used to think my best friends and I would be friends forever. We’d known each other since we were kids or in college and I had no idea just how much life would change. Now I’m left scratching my head and wondering why it’s so damn difficult to keep up these social relationships the older I get.  Why has this become a problem for me since I entered my 30s and for so many other women too? Here’s what some soul-searching has made me realize.

  1. People embark on different journeys. I always knew this, but it felt like such a revelation when I found myself not hearing from friends but seeing their news on Facebook or Instagram. I was completely out of the picture even though I used to be on their speed-dials. I realized that life just pulls people into different directions and no one’s to blame. It’s not like we had beef or anything.
  2. We didn’t think we had to stay in touch. I know, I know, this sounds like a lame excuse for going our separate ways. But I’ve really experienced thinking that not staying in touch would not negatively impact friendships I’ve had for decades. That’s total BS because then one day you look around and you realize you have acquaintances, not friends.
  3. We’re really busy. I know being busy shouldn’t be an excuse, but let’s be real for a second: who has the time or energy to see friends after working a full day and having to look after children? Or after having a stressful week, month, or year that has us vegging on the sofa, drained as hell?
  4. We were never in the same places. It’s really easy to maintain school friendships when we’re at that point in our lives because we’re always in the same place. That’s the perfect foundation to ensure we see each other daily or weekly. Ugh. Now that I’ve been out of school for many years, I find that I’m never in the same locations as my friends, which makes it harder to stay in touch at times because we have to plan ahead to see each other.
  5. We take for granted that we’ll always be there. It’s all too easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and think, “Soon we’ll organize to hang out again!” only to find that maybe that day never comes. Although we might not mean to do it, we certainly do take it for granted that we’ll always have our friends just one text or call away.
  6. We prioritize our relationships. It’s never a good thing but it happens. Just think of how they say that you lose two friends when you get into a relationship. It’s happened to me, and I’ve been on the receiving end of this as well as been the one to blame for it. It sucks.
  7. We realize we’re more different than we thought. People grow and change. I was totally different in my early 20s than I am now, and that’s sure to affect some friendships. For example, with one of my friends, I find that awkward silences fill our conversations now, even though years ago we used to have tons to say to each other. We’ve changed and perhaps realized that we don’t have that much in common anymore. Heck, maybe we never did but we were in the same places all the time and interacted a lot.
  8. We don’t have the same hobbies. This is sometimes linked to being in the same places because it means you can find each other in your favorite bars, clubs, or sports clubs. Not sharing the same interests and hobbies as some of my friends has been a bit of an obstacle in our path because it’s linked to how we don’t have much in common. So, when one of my friends invites me out on an adventure sports weekend, I’m like, “No thanks” because I don’t rate adrenaline activities (and she doesn’t really ever suggest anything else or hates my suggestions).
  9. We’re in different life phases. Some of my friends have kids and their life priorities have totally changed from mine. This is understandable and the way it should be – your kids have to come first – but it also explains why we can never see each other. Other friends have taken the big leap and moved across the globe, so it makes it even harder to stay in touch.
  10. We’ve made other friends. Life pulls us in different directions and we’ve made new friends along the way. While we don’t mean it to happen, sometimes those new friends can start to be the ones we call when we have drama and the ones we share dating and other news with, meaning that our old friends start to fall into the shadows.
  11. All we have are our memories. With one friend, whenever we chat we always make references to inside jokes we shared, like, months or years ago. After a while, it has started to feel like we don’t have new stuff to chat about and we’re using those memories to keep our friendship going. But shared memories between friends can only take you so far.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.