Friendships

Hard to make new friends and keep old ones as a 30-something guy

I find it hard to upkeep all my friendships. I have tried to reach out to my friends; however, the connection seems to have gone over the years. Even after trying, the friendships don’t seem to grow. Some of these friends, including church friends, do not share the same interests, or do not want to put in the effort. Do I continue to upkeep these friendships or try to make new ones? Any advice for guys to develop friendships in their 30s and beyond?

Buddy

At The Well

Ai Jin says

Dear Buddy,

It is commendable that you are proactive in maintaining your friendships, though not all your efforts seem to be reciprocated by your friends. Consider broadly the definition of friendship and how each person in your life represents someone at varying levels of closeness, with differing levels of expectations. Write down the names of people you know, putting each in the categories of Acquaintances, Casual Friends, Closer Friends and Intimate Friends. Acquaintances are people we meet occasionally, like a neighbour, barber, gym or gaming buddy. With them, we might make small talk or enjoy a contact point in our daily living. Casual Friends are people we meet every now and then; we enjoy their companionship through a common hobby, such as golf or cycling. Someone who serves in the same church ministry might also be in this category.

Closer Friends are those who show more care and concern, and take the initiative to call. Closer Friends tend to share a reciprocal trust to ask each other for advice when help is needed. Intimate Friends are those who know you well and understand you. Friends with this level of “chemistry” may not meet regularly but bond very quickly when they do, recounting meaningful memories or mindsets once shared, which brings connectedness. They may be childhood friends, old classmates or ex-colleagues with whom you have journeyed during a season in life.

Often, we tend to have unspoken expectations of our casual friends and desire them to be closer. Even well-meaning friends struggle with time management, personal health and work challenges or caregiving responsibilities. Be encouraged to keep a connection with them through simple means like social media, texts or a simple meal. Decide what kind of a friend you want to be and for whom. Be a friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17) through ways that work for you. Continue to cultivate existing friendships and make new friends, as you recognise and appreciate all the people you have in your life.

Loneliness is a universal condition, but Scripture reminds us that Jesus calls us his friends (John 15:15) and knows us intimately. This is one friendship that we can cultivate intimacy through daily conversations of prayer and the reading of the Word.

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