10/11/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

Making new friends can feel hard for introverted seniors, but building friendships isn’t impossible. Amy helps a reader work through concerns in efforts build connections that have meaning. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say about building friendships as an introverted senior in this edition of “Ask Amy.” 

Dear Amy:

I have never had a ton of friends. As something of an introvert, I value quality over quantity.

I have never had a tight “group” of girlfriends – just individuals, with some overlap with people who know each other.

As we’ve gotten older, and especially during and since the pandemic, I don’t see or speak to my friends as frequently as I used to.

Some have gotten busier with work and hobbies, and some are still reluctant to resume pre-Covid activities.

All of my friends seem to have friends they are closer to than they are to me, so they don’t seem to “need” me as much as I need them.

I have tried meeting new people at activities I participate in, but it’s hard to get past the friendly acquaintance stage.

We are all in our 50s, so I feel I should be past this. How do I make new, genuine, friends at this age and/or strengthen the friendships I have?

– J

Dear J:

It would help if you could recognize that longstanding, deep and intimate friendships are a fairly rare treasure.

Even people you might believe are social butterflies likely have only one or two people they feel truly intimately connected to.

Your statement reveals an assumption that “all” of your friends have friends they are closer to than they are to you.

We humans tend to assume that others are doing better than we are, or that others do not struggle in ways that we struggle. This belief seems to go back to the playground, where exclusion becomes noticeable and hurtful, and where many of us develop the uncomfortable perception that we are onlookers.


The effects of loneliness on senior health

Understanding seasonal depression

This is underscored in adulthood by photos posted on social media showing happy, shiny people.

introvert building friendships over the phone dreamstime_s_215112552

My first suggestion is that you do what you can to improve the connection with the friends you currently have. This would involve you being more actively in touch.

Even making a phone call can be hard for introverts, but if some social outreach, through a call or a text, becomes part of your daily “self-care,” some of these connections should strengthen.

These “check-ins” are a reminder to others that you are here, and that you are interested in them.

This might be especially important to those friends who are still somewhat sequestered.

Also, while you are making these personal efforts, do everything you can to stay busy. “Staying busy” sometimes seems like a ride on an empty hamster wheel, but those glancing connections with others can yield very satisfying moments, and an important sense of proportion and perspective.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from building friendships and relationships to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068


6 apps for loneliness

10 ways to help ease loneliness as a senior

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

Click here to read more Ask Amy columns curated for a baby boomer audience.

Amy Dickinson