Ever feel like it’s impossible to make new friends as an adult?
Between busy work schedules, shuttling kids or grandkids to and from events, and other obligations, we often don’t have the time or energy for social interactions.
Or, if we’re retired, we may have too much time on our hands, feel isolated, and don’t know where to begin to make new friends.
Or maybe you’re transitioning to a new stage of life and don’t have much in common with your old friends anymore, or rarely see them.
But it is possible to make new friends as an adult, regardless of where you’re at in life.
The importance of making friends as we age
With everything we have going on, it can be easy to place making friends on the backburner of our lives.
But the truth is, social connection is just as important to our health as eating healthy and staying in shape. Studies show that a lack of connection in older adults can lead to serious health conditions.
Here are some steps you can take to get back on the road to making those connections again!
Discover what you enjoy
One of the best ways to meet people is finding others who share your interests and perspectives on life. But some of us have been running our lives on autopilot for so long that we may have forgotten what we enjoy.
Or perhaps life experience has caused a shift in our viewpoints that we have yet to consciously acknowledge, and we’re still hanging onto people and activities that don’t bring us happiness.
Take some time to self-reflect and figure out what you stand for and what you enjoy doing. It may be helpful to make a list of your values and hobbies, or even things you were once interested in but never got around to trying. Then, use this list as a starting point to discover people and events that align with your interests and values.
Sign up for a workshop or activity
Now that you have a better idea of what you enjoy doing from your list, you can explore local (or online) opportunities to pursue these interests and meet like-minded folks.
Or, if you’re feeling particularly brave, consider signing up for something that you’ve always been interested in but never tried. To start slowly, consider an activity that’s similar to a current hobby. For example, let’s say you’re an established piano player but you’ve always wanted to learn guitar. Sign up for private lessons! Or if you enjoy crafting, try taking a watercolor class.
Attend local events
In addition to workshops, local events are a great way to connect with others. To see what your community has to offer, check out bulletin boards at the neighborhood laundromat or the local library. Radio stations usually keep a running list of events as well. For those who prefer to browse virtually, Facebook and Eventbrite are great options. For the latter, you can even filter your options by date, category, and format (in-person or virtual).
Volunteer with an organization whose mission resonates with you
Not only will you feel better through helping others, you’ll meet people who support the same causes as you (who may also be looking for a friend!).
How to make the first move
So you’ve found a jogging partner or met someone at book club who shares your love of historical fiction. Now what?
Making the first move in pursuing a friendship can feel like asking someone on a date – scary and intimidating. Here are some tips to make that process feel a little easier.
Remind them of shared interests. If it feels hard to say, “Hey, want to grab a coffee?” Try, “I enjoyed our discussion of the role of women during World War II, and I’d like to talk about it more over coffee sometime.”
Stay positive. Focus on what you enjoy about the experience and ask them what they’re enjoying. This may spark conversation and lead to a deeper connection.
Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable. Chances are, the other person is feeling just as uncomfortable as you are and will appreciate your honesty about putting yourself out there.
Be you! The best way to find someone you connect with is to be your true, authentic self.
For more on making friends as we age, check out this Mia Vita podcast episode featuring Martha Gamboa, founder of Frendii – a regional-based social club for women over 50 seeking friendship.