VOGUE Australia

Making friends as an adult can feel as scary as dating, but it can also be just as (or even more) rewarding.

- Words: Julia Frank

There’s nothing quite like approachin­g the end of your third decade on Earth. Hopefully you’re on a journey you’ll be proud to tell a future generation about. Maybe you’ve travelled overseas, invested wisely and found a fulfilling vocation.

By the time it comes to blowing out the candles on your 30th birthday cake, if all goes well you’ll also be surrounded by a group of loving and loyal friends. Perhaps some of them have been in your life for many years; others may be newer to your inner circle. There are probably a few friends you didn’t expect to still be alongside you at this point; and others whom you thought would stick around but, for whatever reason, your paths diverged.

It’s the unexpected friendship­s you make in your late 20s that can prove the most challengin­g, yet also exciting and uplifting. They’re the friendship­s made over caffeine-fuelled nights in the office, during children’s play dates in a park, or even via an app such as Tinder, when you’re simply looking for a new bestie in the most 21st-century of styles.

When you meet a potential friend in your late 20s, the criteria for turning that initial spark into BFF-ship is a lot more complicate­d than it was back in your school days. (Less sharing of history notes; more finding shared experience­s from your varied histories.)

In your late 20s, a new friend isn’t necessaril­y someone from a similar background, but rather someone on a similar path as you at a similar time. In a way, it’s a lot like dating, or even job hunting, and timing is everything.

A new friendship requires nurturing, which can feel like a near-impossible task when coordinati­ng two more-than-crazy schedules and trying to maintain existing relationsh­ips. You also have to put yourself out there in a way you may not be used to with old friends. Should you initiate? Is coffee an appropriat­e first friend date? If it goes well enough, should you follow up? How soon is too soon?

The key to making new friends as an almost-30-yearold is being open to risk, rejection and, ultimately, disappoint­ment. This may seem negative, but it requires you to act hoping for precisely the opposite – just like you would on a first date.

What do you have to lose by expressing interest in a potential friendship? The worst-case scenario is the other person isn’t interested and you move on, unscathed, except for a minor, fleeting, bruising of your ego. There are plenty of fresh friends in the sea. You just have to swim up to them.

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