Friendships nowadays, are difficult to create and difficult to maintain for various reasons.
First, people are shallow as a whole. And stupid. Yes, it’s not PC to say that, but that’s the truth. Maintaining any level of deep emotional intimacy with people like that is going to be exhausting and difficult, no matter what!
People are also tend see friendship on a superficial level. Now before anyone gets on me about how I have misanthropic views, let’s look at current trends. Most communication is done via the use of technology, and this logically means there is less face-to-face interaction. The fact is, a lot of people would rather text than call; they’d rather use facebook as the replacement for getting together and hanging out.
Also, it is my personal observation that there are generational differences. I guess I’d be a Generation-Yer and from what I can see, my generation is quite shallow, obtuse, and cliquey when it comes to friendship-making and maintaining. We were raised with faster, more, and instant gratification. Many of our parents indulged in this even more so with the “over-praising” movement that started in the 90’s. In other words, we need to be told that we are just great how we are (no matter how messed up) and we are entitled to getting what we want, how we want. Does that sound like the best recipe for a friendship, where there is give and take?
We also have to consider the local culture of an area we live. I am in the Midwest, where people are very polite and have manners when it comes to social interactions, but there is this level of aloofness that seems to have pervaded since immigrants from “back in the day” first settled here. This aloofness was probably necessary for survival and keeping cultures intact, and it continued as time went by as the overall local culture. It’s hard to make friends with aloof people, that I can say! But I also know it’s different when you move away from the cities area. Turns out, most people who live in the Twin Cities aren’t even from Minnesota.
I second the meetup.com suggestion, but it’s not an instant fix. There are various steps to take when seeking friendships.
First, you have to really work on a lot of self-growth. People aren’t going to make you happy with yourself (not saying that’s your problem, but putting it out there) and no ounce of joining activities, volunteering, etc. is going to automatically lead to friendships. In fact, I daresay going into those environments with the expectation of eventually making friends is probably going to work against your favor. Trust me, people can smell this stuff a mile away, and you don’t even have to be desperate. For whatever reason-- be it human nature, culture, whatever-- when someone is seeking friendships, it’s not an attractive thing versus if they are just living their life and happen to meet others around them who they share commonalities with.
In addition, you’ve got to re-evaluate what you want out of life, and who you are willing (and not willing ) to enter your life for friendships. Life changes can alter the dynamic of friendships-- leaving college, getting a full-time job, being in a relationship, getting married, etc. You have to take an honest assessment of yourself and prioritize the non-negotiables versus the negotiables. This sounds a lot like looking for a marriage partner or a relationship, doesn’t it? There are several differences between marriage and friendship, but overall there are underlying core principles that are the same for both.
Last but not least-- you have to be open to making friends with people you may have never thought you would. NO I am not saying go out and make friends with someone who thinks running a meth lab is a great hobby, or with someone who takes great joy in bashing religion or the like. Sometimes we all have hang-ups regarding who we think we’ll be great friends with, and in reality it turns out that’s just not how it is. I know with myself, I tend to get along better with people who are older than myself-- as in 10+ years older. A few years ago, I would have balked and eschewed any attempts for making friends with someone who was 10+ years older than myself and sucked it up with being a couch potato and homebody. Now, I don’t care much for age, but more about whether principles and beliefs are respected and shared. I am sure many people my age must think that I am odd, but life never works out the way YOU want it to.