You know when you’re in school and your girlfriends decided you would be friends for life, gave each other friendship bands and swore you would never be apart? You even did a pinky promise. I would like to gently ask you where they are now. Despite what movies like Veere Di Wedding and shows like Four More Shots Please might tell you, friendships in your 30s, is a not all warm hugs and drinking games. In fact, now that I think about it, it’s hardly ever that.
In your 20s, friendships involve catching the latest movie, catching feelings and discussing it endlessly with friends, weddings (oh so many weddings) and getting serious about your career. Friendships in your 30s involve careers, the first murmurings of a potential divorce, the tantrums of a mother-in-law and pregnancy announcements (oh so many pregnancy announcements). It is now that you need an incredibly supportive group of women who will tell you are being unreasonable or that you really should not spend that much on a bag, in which case I think they are being unreasonable.
New Friendships In Your 30s
In your early 30s, you still hang on to the friendships from the sunset years of your 20s. These are friends you have perhaps outgrown but your continue to hang out because well, you have known each other for so long. So you may find your friends’ husband’s story about his latest iPhone boring as hell, but the only way your friend will spend any time with you now is if he can tag along, so you listen to him drone on while your eyes glaze over. When you can, you tell her you would rather have her meet you without him and it could go two ways- she agrees and you do spend time together- or she decides she won’t last a minute without him and the distance between both of you widens.
From experience, I can tell you that many friendships sort of fall away, not because you don’t like the person but because you tend to become more protective of your time in your 30s. There’s also research that proves that it’s tiring. You want to spend it with people you get along with, that you genuinely enjoy spending time with and not those that you merely have to bear or put up with. And so you go seeking new friendships. Because no one tells you that finding new friendships in your 30s is like looking for a small key in your tote bag- incredibly painstaking and very time consuming.
Where Do You Find Your Tribe?
After reading many inspiration quotes on Instagram, you know that you are not ‘seeking friendships’ in your 30s, you’re finding your ‘tribe’. But here’s the thing. Going out in your 30s is a whole different ball game. And it involves effort, which can throw off many a person committed to finding new friends. Perhaps the question here is, where is it that you go hunting for your tribe? The workplace is often populated with cheaper labour which is basically humans in their 20s. There are lines here and while they might be blurry, they still exist. Should you get chatting with your colleagues, do you want to hear disaster dating anecdotes? Do you want to be holding their hair at 3am in a club as their throw up their stomach’s contents in a toilet bowl, mascara running down their face while they tell you stories about their latest hook up over their putrid breath? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
So where do you find friendships with people you can relate to? Women in their 30s who aren’t shackled by work, commitments and demands? Friends from your childhood have moved away due to career opportunities or because they got married. Even if they are in the same city, work hours, traffic, distance and other social commitments, when do you reach out to your friends?
And so you must develop newer friendships. So maybe you speak to a neighbour? Or become friends with your spouse’s friends? Do you maybe go on a dating app for friends? How must we go about this? The 30s friendship seeking should come with a manual.
The Values Conundrum
If you do find someone you are able to have a conversation with, one that goes beyond two lines without either of you looking at your phone, are you then friends? What is the protocol for these things? Do you immediately start following them on Instagram and realise that this person has questionable views on say, homosexuality?
I meet a lot of women in my line of work but rarely are we striking up a friendship. It’s mostly superficial conversations. What works against developing something truly deeper is the demands made of our time. But also the values alignment. What if she thinks it’s okay for bosses to ask you to work weekends? What if she is a victim of internalised misogyny and constantly mentions how lucky she is to have a husband who ‘allows’ her to work? Eeww.
What if her idea of fun is hitting the clubs while you want to curl up with wine and have 3am conversations? Who exactly defines the course of new friendships, because I’ve never had a sit down conference about it. When it comes to navigating them, I am at a loss and mostly end up putting in effort and then resenting the other party for not caring at all.
Look, I am just looking at women who read, who lean on the same side politically and can have a conversation without looking like they are bored. Is that so difficult to find? If you’re a woman in your 30s, the answer to that is, yes.
I also talked about the sexualisation of big breasts, and that might be worth a read.