I thought it was just me, but apparently making friends in one’s 30s is a thing. Whether it’s because our tolerance levels go down or we have a spouse and kids for companionship or we have just made peace with the fact that we like to hang out with our own family best and while they may be uncool it’s also lucky we are related to fun people, it appears that many people find their capacity for making new friends waning as they grow older.
Two incidents marked the time I turned 30 or thereabouts, which indicated a declining tolerance level coupled with the confidence to make it known. In the first case, a fraintance (friend-acquaintance…there is such a word right?) kept saying things that annoyed me on Facebook and then she came on chat and said something that annoyed me and I told her off. She was completely shocked and I fully agree that it is not my personality as it used to be (which was, and I like to think, is very easy-going though possibly less so now) to react like I did or at least, let me reaction show. We are still friends on Facebook but I’m pretty sure that is in name only and I do regret my frankness because I was never that close to her so I could have just blocked her and let the relationship coast instead of making my annoyance clear. But at that time I was in a pruning phase, which I have now rethunk (okay, rethought).
In the second, a very close friend said something that truly pissed me off. It was the culmination of a long list of little irritations coupled with a personality change (on her part) that did it for me. I cut her off in my mind and was very close to making it clear to her that I no longer considered her a bestie. I received conflicting advice from my two other (completely unconnected closest friends). Curly said confrontation never solved anything; MinCat said I should air my dirty laundry to revive the relationship. While I toyed with the possibilities and steamed inside, a number of life events made me postpone telling her. And two years later, I’m still undecided. I waver between irritation at her and appreciation for how she still remains in my life, proving that she cares. Which is more than can be said for most people so should I be casting away someone who does care just because a lot of the time she annoys the hell out of me? The jury’s still out.
In the meantime, one of V’s best friends and his wife came to town. I was genuinely enthusiastic about meeting them. My general impression of V’s close friends is that one can have only superficial and boys-fooling-around conversations with them but of late, many of them (at the ripe old age of 35-ish) seem to have grown up and become capable of the odd meaningful conversation. His wife is much younger and while clearly an interesting person and not a dodo, was a little too brash for me. Partly the personality-in-the-making thing that I mentioned before, partly that the personality that is in the making is a bit loud, partly because she spoke like an expert on my city when she had lived there only a year (which will be an uncoming post).
And then I began to wonder, do I really have no tolerance for the annoying bits of new people? Is it age? And I have to conclude, no, in my case, it isn’t. In my case, this is how I have always been.
In the past, I didn’t easily approach new people because I was shy. But I also was careful about embracing new people with abandon lest they turn out to have off-putting traits and be clingers. So I have always approached new friendships with caution and a lot of walls. Most people are not that interested in me anyway. Among those that are, I will fend off many…except a few who I deem to be compatible over time.
And that’s the way it still is. I am no longer shy, though my inner shrinking violet does raise it’s head every now and then and I definitely do better in small gatherings than large groups. But I am still hesitant about letting anyone into my hallowed inner circle. What age and the availability of a fall-back in the form of spouse and kids have wrought is make me more picky within my inner circle as well. On the other hand, while I will find things about my own friends annoying the hell out of me, I tend to forgive them in the long run, almost as if they are family.
Okay, with regard to this, I am confused.