'I wondered why making friends is so hard as an adult. Then I learned of the "friendship dip."'

Since when was making friends so hard?

At school, they just kind of showed up and we bonded over a packet of chips at recess.

At university, and later in the workplace, things happened naturally because we were pretty much forced to be in each other's presence on a regular basis.

Friendships blossomed in the close quarters of a share house. The incidental exchanges over time helped shape our understanding of one another's character and views - we developed foundations strong enough to overcome the odd compromise or personal crisis or irritating habit.

Watch: Did you have a lot of friends in high school? Post continues below.

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The shared history settled down around us like a warm jumper. It's not just knowing someone else well, the comfort comes from the knowledge they know you well.

But people moved on. A few relocations and a couple of kids later and friendships of this kind are a distant memory. The old friends still exist, but the distance and busyness makes companionship near impossible. 

It's seriously difficult to replicate the shared history with new friends, it's like switching therapists and having to repeat your story over and over to help them understand who you are. 

Building friendships in the context of adult commitments and problems is effortful and tough. I've learned I'm terrible at small talk and my kids interrupt me in conversation at 30-second intervals. I overshare and tell people about my episiotomy too soon. 


It doesn't help that I'm also not in a traditional workplace and spend most time caring for children or working from home after hours. I just don't see many people my own age incidentally. The friendship dip has hit hard and early.

I've also discovered friendship is a bit of a habit. Once you've been friendless for a while, or stopped calling or texting people, it becomes increasingly difficult to regain contact. I forget to call or reply to a message and then so much time passes that it becomes awkward.

Being a loner isn't all bad all the time but the research is pretty clear that the health impacts of having few or no friends are profound. An enduring network of close friends is a common feature of the blue zones, areas of unusually high life expectancy and quality, discovered by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain in the early 2000s. 

Listen to No Filter, A reason, a season or a lifetime. They say friendships only fall into three categories, and these tend to be them. Story continues after audio.

After our most recent relocation, a 10-hour drive away from where we lived previously, I spent at least the first few years wondering 'where did all my friends go?' before I finally swung into action. 

This is how I pulled myself out of the post-children friendship dip of my early 30s.


There's nothing quite like a game of social netball to show people your true colours and get an immediate read on others. A bit fiery? A bit too relaxed? Good for a laugh? Serious? Flaky? All these characteristics are immediately obvious on the court/field/pitch of your preferred sport. It's almost like friend speed dating. 

Being part of a team also simulates many of the feel-good emotions that result from long-term friendships. It's a social event with a degree of accountability and regularity to help build friendships.


Mother’s groups.

Mother’s groups often get a bad rap but there is absolutely nothing stopping you from shopping around. If you find the group unpleasant it's probably not going to contain your future friends, find another one! 

I listed on a Facebook noticeboard to form a mother’s group when I moved and luckily hit the jackpot. 

Invite people over.

I still struggle with getting organised to invite people over. I have a tendency to aim for perfection and wait for the house to be immaculate or the weather to be prime or for the groceries to be fully stocked. I realised this was seriously hampering my social calendar because I hate grocery shopping and my house is pretty much never clean for longer than 30 minutes. 

Inviting people over spontaneously has been the source of lovely friendships that otherwise may not have happened. Flaws can be endearing, and your real friends don't care if your house is messy. 

Book club.

Reading the same book as someone else is a cool shared experience that you don't have to be physically near someone to enjoy. My book club meets once a month in person but we chat on and off about the book while we are reading it. Book clubs can also be tense at times and a good opportunity to practice tolerating views you may not agree with.

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