You Are Never Too Old (or Too Smart) to Find a New Friend

(photo by Liz Weddon, Unsplash)

You are never too old (or too smart) to find a new friend. Partners may come, partners may go. But a good, close friend is worth more than, well, maybe, anything. That said, it might be particularly hard for you to find one if your rainforest mind is so vast that no one you know can keep up with the pace of your thoughts or follow your random leaps into theoretical meanderings. Or if no one wants to be in your Infinite Jest book club. Or if even you are overwhelmed by the intricacies of your mind palace. And if I know you, which you know I do, your empathy doth overflow. You probably are the only one you know bringing soup to your elderly neighbors and listening respectfully to your Aunt Ginny as she rambles on about her hip replacement surgery and the only one who sees the complex, subtle nuance and multiple sides of controversial situations.

What you really need to find is another you! Am I right?

And, just to be clear, I’m not saying that finding a friend is essential because, well, I’ve been single for more years than you’ve been alive. No. I mostly love my quirky, creative lifestyle. I am saying this because we all need a reliable “bridge over troubled water.” Especially now. And that bridge is often a friend, a buddy, a sidekick, a bestie.

The renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel agrees with me. “…Friendship is a love story. Different from romantic or filial love, it’s its own unique love story. Making friends is the first free choice relationship we have as kids. Our friends provide community and continuity in an ever-changing world. Our lifelong friends are our witnesses. They accompany us through the trials and tribulations of lovers that come and go, job changes, family rifts, births, deaths, and recoveries. And we are a witness for them, commiserating or celebrating together over morning coffee or late-night phone calls…”

And there is this from NYU professor Niobe Way: “…So the question for me is what happens when we’re born wanting love in all sorts of forms and people and ages and places, but we grow up thinking we must want love from only one person, from a romantic partner? What happens to us? What dissociation is necessary for us to arrive at that thinking? And for us to think that if we never find that one person, then we’ve never had true love? We use so much garbage language around so-called “true love” and “the one and only.” We’re putting all our emotional eggs in one basket. The fact that we somehow think that romantic love is more important than platonic love or friendship love is a product of our dissociation, a product of our disconnection from ourselves…”

Wow. Right?

How, then, do you find another you? Here is my simple starter guide:

The Guide: (Based on my own experience!) Stay on your life-long journey of self discovery so you are clearer about who you are and what you want out of life. Get support from sensitive practitioners who soothe some of those lonely parts of you and give you healing attention. Learn all about rainforest minds so you know what you’re looking for. Participate in activities you enjoy and look for the other RFMs. Take the risk to ask one to join you for tea, coffee, or a walk. If they have potential, take the initiative to nourish the connection, even if they are busy with jobs and families or you think they already have their friends. Chances are, they need a RFM friend, too, and they will be grateful for your persistence. It may take some time before they start to reciprocate by setting up times to meet and to deeply recognize the amazing gift you are giving them of your tender, loving heart, and to open their heart to you. If you have a pattern of finding folks who take advantage of you, you’ll need to be extra careful and willing to let go if someone turns out to be another one of those. In that case, give yourself compassion and kindness and seek out a good therapist, coach, body/energy worker, or acupuncturist. But don’t give up. Your open-hearted rainforest-y chum is waiting for you!

So, my little chickadees, let’s stop using “garbage language around so-called ‘true love’ and ‘the one and only’.” Instead, find another you! And in the words of the amazing long-time friends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, “I have my friends, therefore I am!”


To my dearest bloggEEs: I have to admit I feel like you all are my good friends! When you comment here or send me your fan/love letters (and buy my books!), it nourishes and soothes my aching-for-the-world heart. I am so grateful for each one of you!

(Note: I’m not saying you can’t have a partner, too, by the way! I’m still looking for one, myself. I’m just saying to not minimize, neglect, or ignore the power of the friendship love story!)

And here is something you might find fascinating. About four years ago, I read a book called Evolutionary Relationships by Patricia Albere. Then I joined her spiritually innovative group, the Evolutionary Collective. I am not usually a joiner but I have stayed with this because it’s like nothing else I’ve ever known. And it is all about love! There is an introductory course starting in November (2023). Here are the details: Mutual Awakening course.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

10 responses to “You Are Never Too Old (or Too Smart) to Find a New Friend”

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  1. David Avatar

    The idea of friendship as “witnessing” really resonates! We are social creatures. To know and become ourselves, the “I am” of Jane and Lily, we need to find loving and faithful witnesses and who we want to reciprocally see; that ol’ virtuous cycle of being. As you point out, for RFMs that can be hard! I make friends easily enough; the empathic tractor beam helps, and doing therapy has made it so much easier to suggest coffee, approach strangers at a bar, or simply to be myself, which people apparently like.

    But finding faithful witnesses — friends with whom I can be/held — is a different project. I know plenty of smart, weird tropical brainforests. The irony is that the therapeutic work that brought me out of my shell has now raised my standards around self-reflection, envy, and permissive seeing — witnessing for — to the point that what used to feel warm and nourishing can be empty. I want nothing less than a meeting of souls.

    So, the search goes on. I have a few souls I commune with; maybe that’s all I need. None of them are me, exactly, since (to be reductive for a moment) most of the PG RFMs I know are lost in their own brainforest, chasing after this or that jack-o-lantern when some more basic wound needs healing. But these few souls do tend to be RFMs, with a striking ability to receive and celebrate others. I suspect the advice in The Guide applies to them too!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, yes, the “therapeutic work” that changes us makes it harder to be satisfied with the people who we used to think were right for us. “I want nothing less than a meeting of souls.” Me, too, David. Me, too.

  2. Juergen Avatar

    I’ve been searching friends for years, without any success. Then I talked to a therapist and she told me to stop searching friends. I wondered how this may work and she said: “Look, you’ve been searching a long time and couldn’t find a friend. Therefore you should stop looking for friends and enjoy your life. And, what can you lose?” It was hard to believe but eventually it turned out to be true (for me). I stopped searching friends, I enjoyed my life and after a couple of months they were there. I found a good friend and a sweet girlfriend as well. Or maybe, they found me 😀

    Thank you for your post! 🙂

    1. pprober Avatar

      Ah, yes, Juergen! Enjoy your life and the friends will find you. Thank you.

  3. Clignett Avatar

    This is such a powerful message! I love it!
    For me, I’ve been looking for a “sort of me”, doesn’t necessarily have to be a “me”, but close enough, but failed miserably. Yes, I have my friends, some are even smarter (but not RFM), and some are less smart (also not RFM). And it’s just not the same. I’ve known some of my friends since high school, some are former colleagues, and some are actually family (!), and we just stayed in touch. Not daily or weekly or even monthly, but every time when we connect (usually by phone, as we live too far away from each other to just pop over for a coffee or tea), but when we talk, it’s about everything. Meaningful stuff, happy and sad stuff, advice giving to each other, but not in a way that you “must” follow the advice”. Warm, empathetic and meaningful. I love each and every one of them!
    We check up on each other, just because we can’t help thinking about them (or they me) and it’s always right on cue.
    When there’s time, we meet up, Indie adores them as well 🐶🥰. In his beagle mind they can’t leave anymore 🤷‍♀️🐶: ”we’re a pack now, so don’t you dare leave!”
    But that one friend, who gets how your mind works, who can listen and ask questions (relevant), who can open up to me as well, haven’t found that person yet. I’m still hoping. In real life, that is.. it’s really lonely out there, in that way.
    So my new goal for next year is 1. To move to another place where Indie and I can actually settle, and 2. To fiend a friend ( or more) who cán understand my ramblings, my overflowing mind sometimes, my change of hearts because I think I’ve found a better way to realize something or other..
    I so much agree with the love story between friends are better than a love story where there is only one “partner”. Of course there are exceptions, I’ve experienced it for myself. My long ago partner wás actually my best friend. Until it went sour. But I still miss that feeling (not him 🙄🤣) of having the best of “two worlds”..
    Not giving up hope, though!

    Thank you so much for this! It strengthens me in finding that “me” person!

    1. pprober Avatar

      It sounds important that you are acknowledging the friends you have even though they aren’t RFMs. Sounds like those relationships are still fulfilling, Clignett!

  4. Leafy Avatar

    This is interesting to me. In a sense, making friends has never really been an issue for me, perhaps because I was already aware to an extent of my RFM nature. I do find groups to be more of a challenge though. It’s not an issue of not fitting in. Rather, a lot of groups seem to play some sort of role. It seems largely unconscious, like a social instinct to blend in, or rather to try and stand out while also blending (be exceptional, but as social norms prescribe).

    This is also true in individual settings, but I find that when you build individual rapport, people tend to lift some of the mask when they sense they’re not being judged. They act less like someone else altogether, i.e., some sort of ever confident, happy, socially effective person who shows just the right amount of vulnerability, who stands out just in the right ways, etc. I should note too that I’m not talking of the masking due to social anxiety, but rather about an active enacting of a role where the person represents some sort of social ideal. In fact, people who do this most I often find are popular. Also, in a sense, it seems to me that people take part in groups to be sociable and maintain good vibes, avoid conflict, etc. but no effort is made to foster deeper appreciation between its members.

    I think it comes down to the fact that in groups, people are often aware of their position especially acutely, and then loss of face especially matters. With just one person, if you see they’re not evaluating you in order to compete with you, you can have actual friendship develop.

    Either way, I know it’s not quite what the post addresses but I think it’s related. Ultimately we don’t only need friends, but community. Since even individual friends are such a challenge for us, finding an entire community where our RFM ways is the norm I’ve found challenging. I do appreciate the suggestions you make, however, with regard to external resources.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh yes, it’s related, Leafy. And the topic of community is a good one. My perspective is mostly from living in N. America although I do consult with people around the world. I wonder what it’s like in cultures where community is more emphasized over individualism. Is it easier to feel a part of something more? Is giftedness more “acceptable?” The group I mention in the end, the Evolutionary Collective, is the first group I’ve experienced that works for me. There is certainly always more to say. Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts!

  5. River Avatar

    Well. This is certainly RELEVANT to my life these days. Thank you for the reminder and the beautiful description of all the ways love can show up…and why we need to seek it in diverse places.

    Finding “another me” is the challenge for sure, but I’m so glad I like Me enough now to want someone who can meet me where I am and where I’d like to go.

    1. pprober Avatar

      I suspected you might find it relevant, River. 🙂