Having older friends — weird?

Originally Published: September 1, 2000 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 3, 2009
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Dear Alice,

I am a fifteen-year-old female and I have a female friend who is forty-two. I can tell this person everything — I mean, stuff that I don't tell my mom — so I consider this person to be my second mother. Now my question is: is it normal to have friends like that? All my friends who are my age think it is weird for me to hang out with her and my mom gets jealous because she thinks that this person is kind of taking her spot as being my mom. If you can, please give me an answer to this question. Thanks.

Dear Reader,

It is a special thing to have connections with people you care about, trust, and can confide in. There's nothing wrong; in fact, it is completely normal to have an older friend like yours. As long as you feel comfortable, that's what matters.

There are a few possible reasons why your peers, and mother, find your relationship with your older friend questionable. In terms of the friends you have that are your age:

  • Perhaps they're jealous that you have a trusted adult with whom to sort through things.
  • They could wish you spent less time with her and more time with them.
  • Maybe they don't understand your friendship if they've never had anything like it.
  • They might view adults as "uncool," and think there's no way your friend really "gets it."

Your mother may:

  • Be jealous of the time and energy you devote to your friendship. She may wish you thought of her as a friend!
  • Have trouble showing you that you can trust her, too. It can be hard for parents to open up about their own experiences, show you that anything you need to talk about is okay, and stop worrying. This can be especially tough if your Mom's really busy with work, your brothers and/or sisters, or other things in her life.
  • Have concerns about you being friends with someone so much older — because of a bad experience of her own, something she knows or has heard about your friend, or simply out of the "protective mother" thing. Some people believe that adults who form bonds with children are looking to manipulate or abuse them.

Think about your reasons for being friends with this woman, and what the relationship means to you. How did you meet and how do you spend your time together? Do you always feel safe when you're together? Keep in mind that sometimes there can be an unequal power dynamic between friends from different generations, and this may be part of what your Mom or friends are worried about.

Also, when you talk about things with your friend, does it make it harder or easier to talk with your Mom later? Is it possible that you are trying to make your Mom feel bad? Do you ever spend time with your friend in order to escape something that makes you uncomfortable at home or elsewhere — such as parents fighting, annoying siblings, pressure to do something you don't want to by friends your age, or someone else? These are good questions to ask yourself no matter how old a particular friend is.

It might also help to think about the ways you can build on this friendship and continue to develop good relationships with other people in your life. For example, maybe you can invite your Mom or another friend to join you and your older friend for lunch one Saturday. Or, try talking through a dilemma with your older friend first, and then finding some ways of talking about it with your Mom, too. If your friend has children of her own that you like, spend some time with them. You could also find out if she lives or works at or near a place to meet other people your age.

In the end, it is you who knows if this friendship is valuable. If it is, it's worth defending to your Mom and other friends. One way to do this is to give them some specific examples of what you like about your friend, or what you do together. For example:

  • "She's a great cook and has taught me how to make this pizza — here, have some."
  • "She has every Dylan CD. I'll find out if I can lend you some of them."
  • "She lets me go on about everything that's bothering me, and never interrupts. It really helps to know that she's not judging me." (Hint, hint, Mom?)

At the same time, you can let them know that you care about them and are willing to share your experiences with them, too.

Alice

March 16, 2009

21525
To the reader:

Older friends? It is a matter of age and exclusivity.

I am familiar with a situation where a single mom inserts herself into the life of her teens by befriending their...

To the reader:

Older friends? It is a matter of age and exclusivity.

I am familiar with a situation where a single mom inserts herself into the life of her teens by befriending their friends. Her pattern seems to be to become very involved by planning and going to all activities with the group. She facebooks her teens friends. She is not inclusive or comfortable with the parents of her teens friends. On more than one occasion she has kept secrets from other parents and seems to try to isolate these befriended kids from their own families.

An older friend is not a problem, but a minipulative older friend can be. It would be wise to notice if your older "friend" befriends your parents as well, attempts to bring you and your parents closer, and encourages you to be honest and open with your own family. If not, you should ask yourself, why?

February 5, 2009

21388
To the reader:

I'm 35, and have lots of friends who are both younger and older (as well as my age.) My youngest friend is 21, and my oldest 99! I really treasure all of these relationships. My...

To the reader:

I'm 35, and have lots of friends who are both younger and older (as well as my age.) My youngest friend is 21, and my oldest 99! I really treasure all of these relationships. My younger friends remind me of what it was like to be their age, and have the enthusiasm and joy that comes with discovering many things for the first time. My older friends have a kind of wisdom and life experience, and give me a sense of what I can look forward to. So no, I don't think it's weird at all, so long as you also have friends of your age (and so long as your friend also has friends her age).

July 7, 2006

21335
Hi, I definitely don't think it's weird to have older friends. When I was 17 (I am 19 now) I became very close friends with a teacher of mine who was 32. We hung out at school and out of school as...
Hi, I definitely don't think it's weird to have older friends. When I was 17 (I am 19 now) I became very close friends with a teacher of mine who was 32. We hung out at school and out of school as well; she became so much more than my teacher. Everyone at school thought it was very weird and I got a lot of crap from my friends about it. Which in turn drove me closer to my older friend. An older friend can be so great to have; they have so much life experience, they are usually more compassionate and non-judgemental, as well as often wise and learned. I don't think valuing this makes you weird at all; I think it makes you mature. I do think it's important to keep up your other friendships as well; don't stop investing in them, even if you feel more drawn to/more comfortable with your older friend at the moment. As for your mom, I can understand her feelings, but that shouldn't stop you from hanging out with your friend. Perhaps you could put your mom's mind at rest by making sure she knows you still value her friendship and input. Spend time with her, talk to her, etc. Anyway, good luck with it :) and don't worry, you're not weird.

June 3, 2005

20897
Hey Alice,

No, I don't think having an older friend is weird; it has actually helped me with my well-being.

I am 23-years-old, and 3 of my closest friends are above 35. My closest one...

Hey Alice,

No, I don't think having an older friend is weird; it has actually helped me with my well-being.

I am 23-years-old, and 3 of my closest friends are above 35. My closest one right now is my mom's age.

Yeah, I know my mom is jealous of her, but she's gotta understand that this friend isn't like a mom to me, she's at my level, and my mom just isn't.

I think much deeper, and I am more emotional over things. My friend knows and understands, and relates to that.

My friend, who is 37, she was actually my freshman teacher, and she and I have been close since I was 14.

Yes, my mom was jealous for a long time, but in all honesty, I needed my friend during that time, no one else was going to be able to relate or understand.

The disadvantage, though, is your older friends might not want to hang out with your friends, because YOU may be more beyond your years, and that is why your friend associates with you. She doesn't realize your age, same as you don't realize hers.

Friends that are older should always be treasured all the way through our lives, and even if we lose touch, never forget everything they taught you. Because chances are, you may have taken a part of them with you, and that is a very special gift God gives us, a piece of someone's heart, into our own. I encourage you to write out what you feel, don't try to talk to your mom about it. I usually don't even tell my mom when I hang out with my friends that are older. I just say, "Yeah, I hung out with my friend today, and we did this, or that." She doesn't need to know anyway, it isn't her business.

Above all, try to make sure your friendship is balanced, and that you don't dominate the conversations. If you think you are going on about yourself, maybe try limiting it by how many minutes you talk about you, and then ask how they are.

That is one thing I regret when I was a teen. I talked about me and my problems so much that when my friend had some, she wouldn't tell me, because she thought I was too fragile, and instead stressed herself out.

Just be you, and just be there for your friend, and never concentrate on age, just memories.