As we get older, our social circles tend to shrink, which can leave us feeling lonely and disconnected. Retirement and relocation can make it even harder to maintain long-time friendships, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make new friendships as an adult. In fact, there are many ways to find new friends in retirement.
It’s Hard. Leaving your work environment or moving to a new place and starting over is not an easy task following a significant change. Even moving to a Senior Community can be a challenge.
Many of my clients struggle with starting over, but the ones that are most successful, join activities that may already exist. It is hard to make new friends staying at home. It may be comfortable. It may be safe, but it is not going to help you with social isolation and loneliness. Taking the time to explore, and putting yourself out there takes emotional energy and persistence.
Let’s discuss four ways to build friendships as we age!
Put yourself out there-literally!
Go where people gather. Many workplace friendships start because you have a regular gathering place (the office.) Find a real-world gathering spot i.e. coffee shops, libraries, etc. Become a regular and you’ll quickly learn who else is there every day as well. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations to discover shared interests and learn more about each other. Invite them to do something with you. Try some Meet-up groups in your community with something of interest that you enjoy.
Refresh your connections.
Making new friends can be a daunting task for some. There is a lot of legwork involved. Rekindling past friendships offers many of the same benefits as new friendships with the ease that comes from having a shared history. An old friend may appreciate you checking in on them. Another plus old friends are pre-vetted because there’s already some trust between you.
Join A Community.
Whether it’s a class or a club, building this predictable social time into your calendar will help expose you to the same group of people often enough that you’ll get to know them better. Go where your next friends go. If you are a reader, find a book club. If you bike or hike, find the bikers or hikers who challenge you. If you find hobbies you are already interested in, it helps with making lasting connections.
If you have recently moved or even if you haven’t, join a newcomer’s club. See what your community has to offer. Volunteer to lead a group or an activity. That helps put your name out there and allows you to meet many new people at once!
Try Social Media
Social Media isn’t a replacement for in-person relationships, but it can be a great way to stay connected with older, distant friends as well as to meet new people with similar interests. Online communities and social media can also be great resources for making new connections and staying connected with others. Whether it’s through online forums, social media groups, or online classes, the internet provides a wealth of opportunities to connect with others and pursue new interests. Additionally, online communities can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family members who live far away and to share your experiences and insights with others.
There are groups on Facebook for every interest imaginable. If you’re into sewing, love music, or are into antiques and collectibles, you’ll be able to find instant communities devoted to your hobbies. You never know, a Facebook friendship can develop into a real friendship, particularly if the other person happens to live nearby. Be sure when meeting up with people you meet on the internet to be safe and meet in a public place the first few times.
No matter what you decide to do, be sure to be yourself. You will enjoy spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and avoid those who are critical or negative. The best way to belong is to make other people feel like they belong. People report that the number one quality they look for in a friend is someone who makes them feel loved and valued. Remember you are in control. If a connection isn’t working out, don’t lose hope. There is always someone new to meet.