I find that as I near 40, I have very few friends. Years of relocation for new schools and new jobs have left me with a paltry social life outside of home. As a kid who grew up with a very isolated dad, I don’t want my son to see his father friendless. But, how in the world do men my age find and foster new friendships? Here are the 10 questions/hurdles that come to mind:
1) Where the hell am I supposed to meet these people? My days are comprised of work and home, and possibly the gas station. I don’t want to make friends with people at the gas station.
2) How would I even initiate a male friendship? In your 20’s, hanging out happens organically, but not when you’re older. I’d actually have to ask someone to hang out with me, one-on-one. If you’ve ever asked another man out for coffee or a beer, you know it can be awkward.
3) When would I find the time to hang out with anyone? As a working stiff, I’m at work or commuting 50 hours per week. So when I’m not working, I want to spend time with my family. Carving out time for other people, especially new people, is tough.
4) Can a married man invite a woman into a friendship without seeming creepy? In high school and college I had more female friends than male friends. But now that I’m older and married, I can’t imagine asking a woman to hang out without my intentions being questioned.
5) Do dad play-dates ever work? I know that my wife has started a few friendships with our son’s friends’ moms. I’ve tried a few play-dates with other dads, but it’s so rare to find a kid-kid and dad-dad combination that clicks, I’ve given up on the idea.
6) How do I disentangle family friendships from personal friendships? This is an extension of #5, but one of the easiest ways of finding friendships that don’t conflict with family time is by getting together with another family. But, with so many players (dads, moms, and kids) it’s bound that something doesn’t click. The relationships that have worked tend to be family friends/acquaintances and not close personal friends.
7) Do work friendships work? Since I spend so much time at work, you’d think there might be coworkers I could be-friend. But my work role feels quite rigid and it’s hard to imaging expanding those relationships into friendships.
8) If I dislike phone, texting, and on-line friendships, am I screwed? I’m stuck on carving out face-to-face time, but these days, folks seem perfectly content fostering text-based or other on-line friendships. I hate being on the phone, I’m too cheap (old?) to text, and I steer clear of using social media as my primary friendship outlet. What am I to do?
9) Is anyone else in the same boat? Where I live, many locals are born and raised here, and so it feels like everyone’s got established friendships. Is anyone else looking for friendship at my age?
10) Am I bound to be friendless for the rest of my days? After my wife finally puts me in that crooked nursing home when she moves to Florida, who’s gonna hang out with me?