Dear Barb—Friends of an Age

Dear Barb:

I am a woman in my mid forties.  When I was younger, I seemed to have a lot more friends than I have now, and the friends that I do have I am not that close with.  I remember when I was a teenager my friends were my lifeline.  We shared everything.  Life was just that much better having a friend to share your secrets with.  Now I keep my problems to myself and try to work them out.  I don’t know why adults seem to feel they have to shoulder everything, why can’t we be a little more like we were when we were younger? Do you have any suggestions on how as an adult, I can develop deeper connections with my friends and family? Lori

Hi Lori:

I agree with you – as adults we do not feel the need to share our problems with others, and that can be a good thing or not so good.  At times we do need to learn to solve our own issues, but sometimes we need a shoulder to lean on, and that’s when we need our friendships.

To cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships and friendships, there are certain qualities we need to develop.  Being a good listener is a valuable tool in any relationship.  We all like spending time with a person who asks questions and most importantly takes the time to listen as we speak.  Many people are already planning what they are going to say next while the other person is speaking, therefore not listening to their response.

Another important aspect required to create more meaningful relationships is to share.  If someone is sharing a painful experience, share a similar experience you have been through.  This will create a deeper understanding between you both.  Likewise, share happy times and plans you have for your future.  It is also important that you do not interrupt when someone is sharing, as this indicates to them, that you are not really interested in what they are saying.  A friendship will not reach a deeper level if a person is always being interrupted; instead they will stop talking and retreat.  Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship.  Another good practice in relationships, whether personal or business, is not to gossip.  People who gossip about others, will gossip about you.  An important quality in a true friendship is to not just be there during the good times, but during the bad times as well.  Supporting another person at all times indicates our level of commitment to them.  What’s more friendships need to be enjoyable and fun.  We need to share laughter and joy.  Genuine friendships require us to give of ourselves, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Thank you for the excellent question, Lori.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.