Adult friendship is difficult, but why?

FRIENDS. You might not make friends like they do in the movies, but you will find some. Illustration: Anna Jakobsen


When you are a kid, making friends is easy. Do you have something, literally anything, in common? Perfect, now you’re friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game, a color, a food or a character from a TV-show. And once school starts, most of your time is spent surrounded by people in your age group.

Yet, making friends as an adult is not that simple. Sure, I know a lot of people, but I wouldn’t call most of them my friends. And I doubt they would describe me as such. But why are adult friendships so hard?

First of all, everyone has their own schedules. These are full of school and/or work, chores, family obligations, hobbies and self-care. At the end of the day, there is little time and energy left for socializing, let alone making new friends. 

Secondly, the way we define friends changes over time. Adult friendships are still shaped around having something in common – a job, an experience, an interest – but that one feature is no longer enough.

As we understand ourselves and the world better, we realize who we want to spend our time with. We become picky as we cut out people who don’t align with our values, leading to fewer but deeper connections. 

Another major reason is that it is hard to meet like-minded people. Just because you go to university together or are the same age doesn’t mean you are in the same life phase the way it did in high school. 

Depending on your lifestyle you might not encounter many new people on a daily basis. This means that the pool of people is narrowed down significantly based on the job and hobbies you have. 

While going out is a common way to meet new people, it’s certainly not for everyone. The emphasis on alcohol as a social lubricant can be exclusionary for many and can make it harder to interact in other settings to further the relationship.

So if you are still struggling with making friends at the end of the semester, you are not alone. Friendships are hard, they require lots of time and effort. You might not make friends like they do in the movies, but you will find some. Now that exams are (almost) over, why not ask someone to go for a coffee?