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10 Questions about Starting New Friendships at 40

16 Comments

"I Love You, Man", my favorite comedy about budding male friendship.

“I Love You, Man”, my favorite comedy about budding male friendship.

I find that as I near 40, I have very few friends.  Years of relocation for new schools and new jobs have left me with a paltry social life outside of home.  As a kid who grew up with a very isolated dad, I don’t want my son to see his father friendless.  But, how in the world do men my age find and foster new friendships?  Here are the 10 questions/hurdles that come to mind:

1) Where the hell am I supposed to meet these people?  My days are comprised of work and home, and possibly the gas station.  I don’t want to make friends with people at the gas station.

2) How would I even initiate a male friendship?  In your 20’s, hanging out happens organically, but not when you’re older.  I’d actually have to ask someone to hang out with me, one-on-one.  If you’ve ever asked another man out for coffee or a beer, you know it can be awkward.

3) When would I find the time to hang out with anyone?  As a working stiff, I’m at work or commuting 50 hours per week.  So when I’m not working, I want to spend time with my family.  Carving out time for other people, especially new people, is tough.

4) Can a married man invite a woman into a friendship without seeming creepy?  In high school and college I had more female friends than male friends.  But now that I’m older and married, I can’t imagine asking a woman to hang out without my intentions being questioned.

5) Do dad play-dates ever work?  I know that my wife has started a few friendships with our son’s friends’ moms.  I’ve tried a few play-dates with other dads, but it’s so rare to find a kid-kid and dad-dad combination that clicks, I’ve given up on the idea.

6) How do I disentangle family friendships from personal friendships?  This is an extension of #5, but one of the easiest ways of finding friendships that don’t conflict with family time is by getting together with another family.  But, with so many players (dads, moms, and kids) it’s bound that something doesn’t click.  The relationships that have worked tend to be family friends/acquaintances and not close personal friends.

7) Do work friendships work?  Since I spend so much time at work, you’d think there might be coworkers I could be-friend.  But my work role feels quite rigid and it’s hard to imaging expanding those relationships into friendships.

8) If I dislike phone, texting, and on-line friendships, am I screwed?  I’m stuck on carving out face-to-face time, but these days, folks seem perfectly content fostering text-based or other on-line friendships.  I hate being on the phone, I’m too cheap (old?) to text, and I steer clear of using social media as my primary friendship outlet.  What am I to do?

9) Is anyone else in the same boat?  Where I live, many locals are born and raised here, and so it feels like everyone’s got established friendships.  Is anyone else looking for friendship at my age?

10) Am I bound to be friendless for the rest of my days?  After my wife finally puts me in that crooked nursing home when she moves to Florida, who’s gonna hang out with me?

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Author: CJ Nigh

I am an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. Undead Dad is a blog about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I also write science fiction for young adults.

16 thoughts on “10 Questions about Starting New Friendships at 40

  1. Wow, kudos to you for admitting what I (and likely many folks these days) can’t admit out loud. My friend count has dwindled to a tiny handful.

    Indeed it seems nearly impossible to create friendships these days — as people get older and more established in their circles, and much of the world seems content with digital relations. (News Flash: those fleeting check-ins and thumbs-up have zero value to the human soul.) With studies showing high numbers of people feeling lonely and isolated these days due to technology, then why don’t people stop Facebooking and texting and just meet up for a face-to-face beer or coffee? People think these devices connect us, but we’re only truly connected to the monthly bills for them. Verizon et al are laughing all the way to the bank while they drain our bank accounts and our souls.

    As I wrote in a recent post on my Long-Distance Dad blog, now that the South African kid I put through college is more independent, I can once again focus on my own life. As I celebrate “31 Days of Me” for my birthday month, I’m hoping to gain one or two real, live, non-pixellated friends out of the experience. But it takes two to tango, so we’ll see…

    • LDD, Happy birthday! I really appreciate your comments, and completely agree with your sentiments on pixellated friendship. I’m the oldest of my siblings, and even they seem to surpass me with the use of on-line socialization, which leaves me in the dust, even with my own family. Best of luck on this new phase of life and friendship.

  2. Lots of guys in the same boat. I am lucky to have moved into a neighborhood with a bunch of guys my age who are really fun. I have a neighbor who started a local tradition of a beer fire (I wrote about it here: http://fathersworkandfamily.com/2012/09/19/networking-for-fatherhood-or-in-praise-of-beer-fire/)

    I also started a monthly poker game and invited a bunch of my wife’s friend’s husbands and others. Many showed up- lots are in the same boat but afraid to make a first step.

  3. Good post. You said what so many of us feel.

    It IS hard to meet friends when you have small children and work and you’re tired and feel like a zombie.

    Yes, you can be married and have female friends. My husband is “best girlfriend” to several women. He listens to their stories of middle aged dating and men and gives them sound advice. He fixes things for them or tells them what kind of paint to buy or what wine to serve. They solve the problems of the world, just like guys. These women are my friends too, but they like his outlook on life and he is the one they call first.

    As for guy friends… he met them through the kids. They’re other dads who needed friends of their own and found common interests. They also have wives who support them and don’t mind if they go out and play with their friends too. We’ve been there, but it gets better…especially when the kids get older and you meet other parents involved in all of those zillions of activities involving sports and school.

  4. My husband complains to me all the time that he needs some guy friends that he clicks with. After moving countries over 10 yrs. ago and changing neighborhoods 2x it has become increasingly harder/ more awkward and the older you get the more you want to just kick back with a beer and watch some sports. I get it, he feels your pain, you are definitely not alone. Great honesty and humor, who WOULDN’T want to be your friend?

  5. I’ve tried befriending some other parents, but man, it can be tough work. It’s like we have nothing in common except for working sperm.

  6. To me, there is a huge difference between not having many close friends and being isolated. I don’t have many “let’s just hang out” friends anymore, but I don’t feel the least bit isolated. No matter how few friends you have, if you interact freely and kindly with people in general, I doubt your son will view you as isolated.

  7. What’s wrong with the gas station? That’s where I met my husband. Kidding. I’m not even married. I hear from others from all ages, that it’s harder to make friends when you get older. I guess it also depends on one’s lifestyle as well. See you at the bars tonight, then?

  8. I have the same problem and I’m in my 20s. I think it’s the connected yet disconnected age we live in rather than our ages. Post university it seems like meeting new people is a faux pas.

  9. An interesting dialogue is worth comment. I feel that you must write more on this topic, it won’t be a taboo subject but typically people are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers dadabkedgfea

  10. Pingback: $h#t Talking Friends | undeaddad

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