Editor's Letter: A Cut-the-Crap Guide to Friendship

Lesley Jane Seymour on finding—and keeping—new friends in midlife

by Lesley Jane Seymour
lesley jane seymour image
Photograph: Greg Delves

Something definitely happens to friendship as you get older. Whereas in my thirties and forties I had to host a dinner or bring cupcakes to soccer practice in order to hover in the orbit of a potential girlfriend while I decided if we—plus my husband and two finicky kids—were a match, now I can sit down to lunch with someone I just met and know we will be fast friends. Or not. It’s the new midlife speed dating: Either you hyperconnect or, as Heidi Klum likes to say, you’re O-O-O-U-U-T!

There is, for example, the just-turned-50 beauty executive who nurtured and sold a company and now is wondering what’s next. I’ve known her name for decades but didn’t meet her until More’s beauty director set us up on a “blind” business date. The exec had read the editor’s letter I’d recently written about my dysfunctional family, so we spent half the lunch discussing her equally dysfunctional childhood. During the other half, we shared our fears about navigating the crazy midlife passage we find ourselves in.

A friend in Washington, D.C., whom I will call P., is a super-connector who puts simpatico women together like a matchmaker in heat. She often e-mails me about a great woman she thinks I’d like, ordering me to “meet her when she comes to New York next week.” And I obey. The new friend is always smart and fascinating (sometimes to the point that she ends up in More). Many of these women jump over into my personal life with shopping and career advice, and I do the same for them. “Where do you find these amazing women?” I once asked P. Her answer: “I collect them.”

Age pokes holes in every youthful delusion, so that reality eventually seeps in. What a relief! Because once you realize that no one has the perfect children or the ideal marriage or the fantabulous job, you can get really close really fast. There were certain women in the third-grade drop-off line who intimidated me with their perfect “PTA Patty” images. Only recently did they reveal that, like me, they were se-cretly wishing to sabotage every school bake sale that required us to produce homemade goods, no Entenmann’s allowed. Did I change? Or did they? Or did age soften all our edges?

Many of you have written More to say it’s hard to find new friends as the years go by. When I once complained of the same thing to P., she shot back, “That’s not true; there are great women everywhere. You have to open yourself up and look around you.” Hmm. Guess who was right?

Read Lesley previous editor's letter here.

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First Published Wed, 2012-08-01 09:12

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