Published on 1 May 2024 at 20:04

Friendship after 40? Does it still exist?

Friendship after 40? Does it still exist? Mmmmm....maybe!

All the apps and all the swiping, in the end usually comes to nothing. Nothing that lasts anyway. There is some measure of success using modern technology. No doubt. Does the sheer number of people available at one's fingertips increase the chances of stumbling across that special someone?

According to a gentleman online...yes.

According to my 40 plus experience: not really. I'll give it a MAYBE at best. 50/50...most optimistically. If you get past 2D!

A couple of years ago I was out for the night with the ladies. I was in my mid-twenties and still pretty carefree. One of my lady friends confessed her liking for a young man drinking at the bar. I laughed, she laughed and then her expression turned to horror as she watched me turn my back on her and head straight for him.

"Hi! My friend back there likes you!" I admit that I was a little bit drunk, however, alcohol or not, I'd always had nerves of steel.

"And I rather like you." He confessed shyly.

"Oh..hmm..." I hadn't been prepared for that twist in the plot. "Why don't you just join us and we'll see what happens." I joked.

And he did. He actually hit if off with her. For the night anyway. She realized she wasn't actually so much into him after all. It was fun though and we all remained friends for a while.

It's supposed to be easy to connect with people later in life. According to an old friend of mine, the pool of compatible people is much larger precisely because everyone is older and wiser. In truth, the pool is more like a pond and it dries up real fast when it fails to rain. Later in life people are more private, carry around more baggage (to not say guilt and trauma) and are suspicious of new entities in their circles. Barriers of social class and cultural or ethnic biases block many new connections from forming. Although social loneliness tends to be more accentuated later in life, it has indeed become a young person phenomenon as well. I won't focus on that though. My challenge is how to form new friendships at 40 plus; how to bypass the social autism today?

Over the last year or so I've frequented a chain of clothing stores I like very much. In one of the least visited shops, there was always a young (?) lady who greeted me especially warmly. I was uncertain whether this was professional friendliness or real interest. And if it was real, what to do about it? How to go about it? I liked her at face value. It seemed much easier to approach people twenty years ago. Sometimes I do wonder though if we're not just simply making online excuses in order to avoid the awkwardness of real life encounters. While in fact it's all still the same social game.

"Just go up to her and say hello!" Was the best advice I got to my quest for answers.

Well, no. It's not a bar. It's a shop where a person is actually working. One must tailor one's approach to the context. That is wisdom of older age.

I thought about it for a while and found the perfect method (in my mind anyway). I shall call this one: Work4Work!

I took one of my business cards and scratched out the work number, adding my private one instead. I also scribbled something about selling a product or just friendship. Probably a bit odd to put it that way! Nevertheless, another upside of getting older is the feeling of having nothing much to lose either way. The challenge was finding the right moment to present it. No matter how you swing it, it's still an unusual situation.  Like finding shapes in the clouds, I needed to find the right time in the crowd. At the last moment I decided I didn't feel like it. Who cares anyway? I don't need anyone new in my life. She anyway seemed less interested than all the other times. Was that real or was it just my mood? I was walking around with my youngest daughter, finally finding the item that I was looking for. I thought for a moment about the talks at home between my two daughters, each comparing herself to the other in terms of ability to make new friends. Neither very confident about it. Alright! I thought to myself...maybe there's more to this than just me. I took my daughter by the hand and approached the lady. After making eye contact, I handed her the card explaining how it might be of interest to her. I paused to give her the time to read it. As she looked back up I smiled and she smiled back, thanking me. It's out of my hands now, I thought as we left the shop. 

"Mom?" Said my daughter as we sat in the car.

"Yes?" I replied.

"It worked!" She exclaimed. She wasn't nasty!"

"Of course it did." I answered her confidently. "Why wouldn't it?"

I was glad it played out that way. Lesson taught. Would have been a very different lesson if the result had been negative.

Will anything actually come of it? 


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