13 Reasons Why it’s Hard to Make Friends as You Get Older

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Old man walking in the autumn park

It seems as if kids have it easy when it comes to making friends, doesn’t it? Put a group of kids in a room, give them access to a bunch of toys, and by the end of the day, they all seem to have bonded and are friends. Why can’t it be that easy for adults? 

If you’re an adult that’s struggling to make new friends, you know exactly what I am talking about. Let’s delve into the reasons behind why you might be struggling to make friends in your older years.

The complexities of making friends as an adult are certainly undeniable, and if you find that you are struggling to make friends now in your adult years, perhaps you just need to understand why a little more clearly. By understanding what is holding you (and other adults) back, you can adjust your approach and slowly overcome the challenges. Read on to learn about why adults find it hard to make new friends.

If you’re not exactly winning at making friends as an adult, here are several reasons why that might be happening. 

Why adults find it hard to make new friends – 13 plausible reasons to consider:

1. As we get older, we get more set in our ways. 

Yup, when you reach your 30s or 40s, chances are that you have a regular routine in place. You wake up a certain time, you go to bed at a certain time, and you have your favorite hangouts. It’s suddenly a little hard to imagine your life going any other way. Unfortunately, while this is a comfortable lifestyle, it is not conducive to making friends. You would definitely need to break your regular schedule in order to make friends. 

2. There’s just not enough time to find and maintain friendships in adulthood.

Adulthood is all about the rush, isn’t it? When is there even time to make a new friend, least of all, maintain a friendship? You have a full-time job, a property to maintain, kids to look after… there’s little time to nurture something new. And let’s be honest, friendships require time and attention.

3. Adults find it harder to deviate from their routines than younger people do.

As a kid or teen, or even in that phase of being young but not quite a working cog in the real world yet, it’s easy to sway off the track of a regular routine. Kids would rather play with a new friend than do their homework, clean their room, or finish their chores. As an adult, you know that veering off the path of the regular routine could lead to work complications, loss of income, and disorder in the home. In real terms, adults choose routines and general life orders over the possibility of meeting new people and having fun. 

4. Competitive workplaces aren’t conducive to friendships.

When you get into a career and start working your way up, chances are that you will be career-focused and that the work environment will be quite competitive. While it is great to have friends at work, the level of competitiveness can make it awkward or uncomfortable. As an adult, career usually trumps friendship.

5. Adults find it difficult to relate to people in different life phases to them.

When you become an adult and leave college, you will be in the middle of the real world. People around you will be of all ages and life stages. As an adult married with 3 kids, you might not be too inclined to “hang out” with 25-year-olds who have just started their careers in the same office as you. You will probably want to make friends who have similar interests and are in a similar life phase. This can make making friends more difficult. 

6. As an adult, you have far more responsibilities to tend to.

mother sitting on sofa and working

When you are a kid or a teenager, you don’t have too many responsibilities to take care of. As an adult, all of your responsibilities are important. Because of these responsibilities, such as job, deadlines, kids, pets, property, and bills to pay, you might have far less time available for making friends. 

7. Adults enter more serious and restricting relationships as they get older. 

When you are a young adult and free, you don’t need to answer to anyone about where you are, what you are doing, and with whom. When you are married or in a serious adult relationship, all of that changes. Your partner will expect you to dedicate more time to the relationship than friendships. Finding time to make friends when you are in a committed relationship can be hard.

8. Adults have more criteria for ‘what makes a good friend’ than kids do.

When kids are on the playground, they aren’t thinking along the lines of “is he/she going to be a good friend”. Children have very few criteria when it comes to making friends. They don’t base their bonds on a person’s background, attributes, morals, etc. As adults, we become far more judgmental and tend to want to align ourselves with people who are similar and can add something of value to our lives other than just fun. 

9. People’s partners in adulthood can make making friends hard. 

If you have a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend and are serious and committed, you might find that some of the people you view as good friend material might not be as impressive to your partner. This can make making friends as an adult quite hard. 

10. Adults have less time and patience for drama and inconsistency, which might have been acceptable in youth.

As kids and teens, we generally entertain drama as we have some of our own too. As we find our feet in life, things can become dramatic and chaotic. As we get older and become more comfortable with who we are and what we want and expect from life, we don’t really “put up” with drama anymore. This can make it hard to make new friends, as adults tend to cut people off when they bring drama into their lives. 

11. Leaving college/university is a culture shock – a separation from friends.

In college or university, you are in the same boat. You attend classes and have similar free time together, and all, sort of, understand what each other is going through. When you qualify and leave your tertiary studies, you are thrown into the workplace that is packed with people of different ages and experience levels. You are separated from your friends and expected to stand on your own two feet as a newcomer. It can be daunting and can also deter the making of new friends on a whim.

Busy working day

12. People are generally encouraged to be individuals instead of community-focused.

The whole world seems geared towards getting people to become more individualized (especially in this digital era). In many places, it seems that community focus is a thing of the past. Often, community members aren’t encouraged to go to group barbecues, neighbors don’t know each other, there are no community gardens – the more people are deterred from community focus, the harder making true friends will become.

13. It’s easier to have digital friendships than real-life friendships.

The world is so connected online these days that it almost seems like too much effort to have to go out and have face-to-face conversations. This could mean that while you are keen to make friends, all the “good friend stock” is sitting at home making and enjoying friendships online. Also, online friendship might not be as valuable and beneficial as a traditional one. For instance, they might not be there when you truly need them. 

Last Word

If you have been wondering why you have been struggling to make new friends as an adult, rest assured that millions of people across the globe are facing the very same problem. Now that you have a bit more understanding of the reasons behind this, you can decide if you want to make changes in order to make new friends or if you would rather continue your life (and social circles) as it is. 

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.