After young adulthood, he says, the reasons that friends stop being friends are usually circumstantial—due to things outside the relationship itself. One of the findings from Langan’s ‘friendship rules’ study was that ‘adults feel the need to be more polite in their friendships,’ she says. ‘We don’t feel like, in adulthood, we can demand very much of our friends. It’s unfair, they’ve got other stuff going on. So we stop expecting as much, which to me is kind of a sad thing, that we walk away from that.’ For the sake of being polite.
How Friendships Change Over Time – The Atlantic. That’s my former colleague Emily Langan talking, and I think she’s right. Doesn’t make things especially easy for someone like me, who in his mid-fifties leaves a bunch of old and strong friends behind for a new job in a far-away state. (Not that those people aren’t still friends, but like all relationships, friendship thrives on proximity.) People have been wonderful to me here at Baylor, but the “rules of friendship” for people my age influence us all — even when we try to ignore or bypass them. One of the recurrent themes in the rich writings on friendship by (my friend!) Wesley Hill is the fear of being, or being perceived as, “needy.” As long as that fear is in play, deep friendships will be hard to cultivate and sustain.