The Very Real Struggle Of Making Friends In Your 20s

Liking the same boy band just isn’t enough anymore.

Think about your five best friends. Chances are most, or maybe even all of them, are people you’ve known since school. I know mine are.

My best friends know me inside out. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t seen each other in a year (because we live in different countries) or if it’s been a while since we spoke on the phone – I know it will never feel awkward or weird when we get together. We know each other’s parents, ex-boyfriends and embarrassing hobbies (trampolining, anyone?), and being with them means I can be myself and completely let my guard down – it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

But for some reason it’s not the same with friends I’ve made in my 20s. I’m grateful to have them in my life, but I also feel we will never reach that aforementioned familiarity, which poses the question: Why is it so hard to make good friends in your 20s? In school, liking the same boy band was enough to become BFFs instantly.

Nowadays I can’t be friends with anyone unless we have similar lifestyles and values, and it’s hard to tell what someone is really like because as we grow older we tend to hide behind a wall of politeness and socially acceptable things to say. I also doubt I will ever truly know everything about them, since we didn’t grow up learning new things and making mistakes together, which lays a few roadblocks down.

The experts think the biggest hurdle when it comes to making friends in your 20s is a lack of time. Shasta Nelson, author of Friendships Don’t Just Happen, notes: “If friendships feel harder when we’re older, it’s more often than not because we aren’t putting in consistent time with a few people. Yes, we might think we’re pickier. Yes, we might think we’re more stressed. Yes, we might think it’s because we need our world view to match … but in reality we can like and bond under all those circumstances, just not if we don’t spend time together.”


Sounds logical, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier. When 40 hours a week are taken up by work, and weekends are packed with open-house inspections, baby showers and weddings, there is little to no time left for bonding with new friends, which is why they often stay acquaintances.

But who knows – maybe in 10 years I will count some of the people I’ve met in my 20s as my closest friends. By then we will have celebrated important new phases in our lives – most likely starting our own families – and may feel closer to them as a result, while some older friendships may have suffered due to different lifestyle choices.

Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking nobody will ever compare to my childhood friends – but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I consider myself very lucky to have a handful of really close friends I’ve known my whole life; keeping them until I grow old while continuing to form new, more superficial but still valuable friendships is all I could ask for.

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Comment: How many high-school friends do you still keep in touch with?