Turning forty comes with distinct notes. Your metabolism is slowing down or non existent. Yearly doctor check ups are now mandatory. And my absolute favorite peril about turning forty, is that maintaining friendships are harder.
While, some may paint it as all doom and gloom, your forties come with immense clarity not seen in younger years. You have a better understanding of who you are, and you know where you are headed or not headed, and at this stage of your life you will be okay with that revelation.
Your forties are also often a time of reflection and transition. Some friends might not want to accept these changes in you, and they move along. But I’ve found that while the quantity of friendships might wane, the quality of my friendships has generally improved over time, and at this point in my life, friendships are the best they’ve ever been. In my experience, my friendships are more meaningful after forty.
Below are five reasons why friendships are something to look forward to in your 40’s.
1 – Less Time But More Connection
Khadijah* feels in her younger years friendships were draining and also time consuming.
“Also I wasn’t the type of friend that wanted to talk about my children or my husband. When I was away from them I did not want to be constantly reminded of them. I had so many other interests, and this meant I was an anomaly in my circle of friends. So instead I steered clear of trying to make friends even though I was in a new city.”
Looking back, Khadijah didn’t feel like she missed out although she did feel lonely. This only hit her much later in her life. Once all her kids were in school and she found she had more time she sought people who shared her interests and very soon she found herself surrounded by strong like-minded women.
“I liked that I had a tribe who encouraged me to do better and be better. Whether it came to doing more exercise or being more mindful of my salaah. These friends had my back and they got me. It left me feeling like I belonged, something I never felt in my twenties or thirties. And we were not even spending time together on a daily or weekly basis, but our get togethers were valued more.”
2 – Expectations Are Low, But Rewards Are Immense
While our twenties are often referred to as care-free, friendships during these years came with expectations. You wanted more and expected more from your friends. Often the disappointment left you feeling bitter.
Your forties come with the understanding that everyone is busy and forgiveness and letting go are more important than your expectations.
Brooke Benoit, Editor at AboutIslam, feels she is friends with women who grab life by the horns so they are constantly busy.
“I get a lot of apologies for tardiness or missed rendezvous. My response is always the same, ‘It’s okay. Every woman I work and play with juggles an incredible schedule and it seems that most, like me, don’t really want it any other way.’
“Maybe we can cut back, but we don’t want to. We are old enough to have seen and done so much, and this includes experiencing immense beauty and goodness. We want to see more, give more, do more. The women I know in my age group – 40’s – are phenomenal, and I love having them as friends. They are wise, determined, forgiving and empathetic. They make for the best of compadres in this turbulent life.”
3 – You Feel More Secure
Friendships in our 40’s are decidedly different than those in your 20’s or 30’s. You will feel much more secure in who you are, and therefore much more confident in developing and sustaining meaningful friendships, as well as in the subtle art of letting friendships go.
Mariam, a university lecturer says, “I was much more willing to put effort into relationships that were not ultimately worth the effort. Now I am happy to let go without feeling like a failure and invest the time in people who I care about. Even if it means I have less friends.”
This is the age when you accept people more freely. Your younger years come with expectations of being with the “in-crowd,” or having a lot of friends.
Compatibility mattered, of course. And you sought out people who were more like you. I recently found myself at a book event and was seated next to a lady who was probably around my mum’s age. We got on like a house on fire because we shared a common interest: books.
When she asked for my number at the end of event to keep in touch, I was taken aback but now our monthly coffee meetups are something I look forward to. The age gap does not bother me at all.
4 – Less Drama
You’ve seen it and heard it all, and who has time for drama? Your friendships in your earlier years had a lot of miscommunication, sometimes petty exclusions, weird power dynamics and plenty of drama.
In your 40’s your friendships are straightforward. We get together because we want to, and we say what we mean. There’s no space in your busy life for drama mamas.
5 – Express With Ease
I’m an introvert. A misconception of introverts is that they tend to steer clear from relationships and people. This is not true. I have found that as an introvert I want my relationships to have a deeper connection. And when I have this I find that being around people I value, can re-energize my soul instead of draining it.
Having a deeper connection means you can express what you feel with no apologies. I have learnt this comes much easier to me at this age. I want people to know upfront how I feel about them. There is no facade. People see the real you, without filters, so you connect on a deeper level which in turn makes your friendships stronger.
Gratitude for the people around you and the friendships you have cultivated is something you should always have. Every friend has their role and this something you may only realize later in life. There will be your lightweight friends and your lifelong friends, everyone coming with a different depth which you will learn to value and appreciate. It can only get better from this point.