Strap in, 'cuz I unshipped the Truth Cannon.
The article is a fumbling assemblage of anecdotes attempting to blast in the general direction of the truth via shotgun. To wit:
In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.
Friends are people you are willing to obligate. We're more polite as we grow older and less needy of others' help. As such, we're less likely to obligate someone to help us - "I feel like shit, come over and cheer me up" - "I took a pounding in the market, come grab a beer with me" and thus less likely to form those "OMG he broke up with me" bonds. Doesn't mean the process isn't exactly the same with the exact same outcome.
That thought struck Lisa Degliantoni, an educational fund-raising executive in Chicago, a few months ago when she was planning her 39th birthday party. After a move from New York to Evanston, Ill., she realized that she had 857 Facebook friends and 509 Twitter followers, but still did not know if she could fill her party’s invitation list. “I did an inventory of the phases of my life where I’ve managed to make the most friends, and it was definitely high school and my first job,” she said.
Holy shit - you mean she moved a thousand miles from home and had trouble finding in-the-flesh people to congregate with? COLOR ME SHOCKED!
After a divorce in his 40s, Robert Glover, a psychotherapist in Bellevue, Wash., realized that his roster of friends had quietly atrophied for years as he focused on career and family.
"Man who was a shitty friend finds himself friendless"
As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Keep your eye on this sentence. The author is going to pretend she didn't write it when she brings up children in a few paragraphs.
Differences in professional status and income also complicate matters. “It really does get weird when your friends are making tons more than you, or tons less,” said Adriane Duckworth, a former marketing executive now working as an artist in Hamilton, Ontario. She recently welcomed a promising new couple into her circle of friends, but they quickly turned people off with their obsession with money.
AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY COUNTRY CLUBS EXIST
“At our wedding, other friends of ours who were seated with them actually complained to us afterward about the couple who was asking everyone how much money they made,” said Ms. Duckworth, 32. “People who made less felt uncomfortable discussing it, and people who made the same or more just felt it was weird to talk about it so nonchalantly.”
This just in: people who are boors at weddings make terrible friends
ADDING children to the mix muddles things further. Suddenly, you are surrounded by a new circle of parent friends — but the emotional ties can be tenuous at best, as the comedian Louis C. K. related in one stand-up routine: “I spend whole days with people, I’m like, I never would have hung out with you, I didn’t choose you. Our children chose each other. Based on no criteria, by the way. They’re the same size.”
Hmmm - this sounds familiar - I'm almost sure that "a new circle of parent friends" is "proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." So how, exactly, do parent groups make it harder to make friends?
Caryl Lyons, an event planner in Danville, Calif., and her husband found a budding friendship with a parent-friend couple hit a roadblock when their young sons, who had been close friends, drifted apart. When the families planned a barbecue together, her son would say, “Can I have my other friends over?” said Ms. Lyons, 44.
"Only if you also invite their parents!"
External factors are not the only hurdle. After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship.
FOR A SELECT GROUP OF PEOPLE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH
Thayer Prime, a 32-year-old strategy consultant who lives in London, has even developed a playful 100-point scale (100 being “best friend forever”). In her mind, she starts to dock new friend candidates as they begin to display annoying or disloyal behavior. Nine times out of 10, she said, her new friends end up from 30 to 60, or little more than an acquaintance.
You think this bitch has a 100-point furniture rating scale? Or a 100-point chinese takeout-rating scale? No, she just sits there silently judging everyone she hangs out with and wonders why they let her down.
“My ideas of friendship were built by ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Diner,’ ” he said. “Your friends were your brothers, and anything but total loyalty at all costs meant excommunication. As you get older, that model becomes unrealistic.”
How many friends you think this guy had as a kid? 'cuz either he's remembering things a lot more rigidly or the fucker has always been forever alone.
Some, like Ms. Degliantoni, the fund-raising executive, simply downsize their expectations. “I take an extremely efficient approach and seek out like-minded folks to fill very specific needs,” she said of her current strategy. “I have a cocktail friend and a book friend and a parenting friend and several basketball friends and a neighbor friend and a workout friend.”
Says the chick with "857 Facebook friends and 509 Twitter followers" who "did not know if she could fill her party’s invitation list".
After a move to New York in his 30s, Dave Cervini, a radio station executive, was so lonely that he would walk his cat in Central Park, hoping to stoke conversations.
After imitating a psychopath, Dave Cervini discovered that if he conducted his friendship quests entirely over the Internet he no longer had to leave his associations up to organic events.
Now that the NYT's merry band of psychopaths is out of the way, here's the truth of the matter:
When you're over-scheduled and under-accepting of others, you will find that you have a hard time maintaining relationships.
Los Angeles is the worst for this. The place has a remarkable amount of impedance for lack of a better term - it's just a stone-cold pain in the ass to get out and do something. Last Saturday I headed over to a co-worker's place for a couple hours. It was an eight mile drive. I was there for an hour and a half. That cooked off my afternoon from 11am until 4:30pm. If you do not make a concerted effort to see someone with regularity, you will cease to see them, despite the fact that you get along gangbusters. Worse, both sides have to be committed. If one of you calls up and says "let's go to breakfast!" the other of you needs to be willing to say "I am willing to forego eating for the next two hours and punch a 5-hour hole in my day to hang out with you for an hour and a half." It doesn't take a genius to observe that it ain't much like dorm life.
If you start going "is this person really worth 5 hours of my time" then you're already making an economic assessment and you will let that person drop from your life sooner or later. If you had fun with them last time, though, you'll have fun with them next time, and every time you revisit those social connections you reinforce them.
Two tuesdays ago I was supposed to have lunch with a buddy. It didn't work out. He suggested coffee or beer. I told him to come over for dinner and to bring his wife. Then another friend called up and wanted to know what I was up to. I told him to bring his girlfriend. So at 11am I'd already committed to spending my afternoon cooking for six people. It cost me $70 to hang out with friends on a Tuesday. And it was absolutely, positively 100% worth it, even if I stopped talking to one of them for a week two days later (deadlines that were not mentioned). That's a reinforcement of the value of friendship and you know what? I DON'T CARE that neither of them would put together a tuesday evening dinner because it isn't about reciprocity, it's about friendship. Me? I like to entertain. Thus I have a house that's great for entertaining and will throw down with the barbecue and margaritas on a moment's notice. Thus, I have a lot of friends. Thus, I think this article is utter hogwash; a ham-handed excuse for people with guarded hearts to feel better about the fact that they have no one to hang out with on weekends.
Know what I did yesterday? I braved an hour of white-lining the 405 at rush hour in 103 degree weather so I could get to work 3 hours early so I could sit outside on Ventura blvd in that same weather while two friends showed up 45 minutes late. Know why they wanted to get together? They have a friend who's moving to Seattle and they thought he should know a person or two and I'm the only person they know in Seattle (even if I'm not there yet). And it was so fucking hot it gave me a headache and I ended up sitting at a pretentious "gastropub" eating a $5 pretzel, drinking an $8 lager and reading a kindle while they failed to show up on time and I'd do it again today if they asked.
Because I like having friends.