Smaller, but closer circle of friends

Pam Droog Jones

BY PAM DROOG JONES

I’ve been thinking about friends and friendship and how those have changed for me over the years. What got me started was an article in the New York Times, “Friends of a Certain Age,” by Alex Williams. He quoted Stanford psychology professor Laura L. Carstensen who said as people move toward midlife they interact with fewer people, but grow closer to the friends they already have.

I believe that’s right. Now at upper middle age, I have a fairly small core of real, true A-list friends and a somewhat wider range of B-listers. My two oldest friends go back to Brittany Junior High. I met and held on to a few more from college and early jobs. I have two dear friends from my Hermann era. Since I moved to mid-Missouri I made one new friend who lives in Columbia and I have a good friend in Jefferson City but I knew him from St. Louis.

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I tried to cultivate more friendships here but for whatever reason they didn’t go anywhere. Maybe it’s my own fault. Or maybe it’s like Carstensen said, “After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with.” Williams added, “Manipulators, drama queens, egomaniacs, a lot of them just no longer make the cut.” Well, drama queens can be fun.

I thought about two friendships that were like mirror images. One friend had been a big part of my life. We were there for each other through all of the major events. But I had to let the friendship go because I never could meet her expectations. Previously, another friend let go of me. She didn’t return my calls and frequently cancelled plans. I never understood why. Now I think maybe she felt she couldn’t meet my expectations. Still, occasionally we “like” each other’s posts on facebook.