Lifestyle

5/5/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

When was the last time you made a new friend? For many of us, it was probably in our teens or 20s when we were in school, living in close proximity to people our own age or working our first job. These days, as our circle of friends shrinks due to many different circumstances, it becomes harder and harder to make new friends in older age.

There are certainly many obstacles to friendship in later life, but below are five effective strategies for getting over these hurdles and cultivating strong, beneficial connections that can add value to your life.

1. Spend the time.

Friendships take lots of time to flourish, and in your younger years, we had many built-in mechanisms, like school, work, and doing our laundry at the laundromat, to put in that time. Unfortunately, we don’t have those ready-made opportunities anymore, so we have to actively work to find them. Join a club, attend church and church-related functions, or enroll in a class to be around people with whom you share interests. After spending the time, a relationship is sure to blossom.

2. Show your true self.

The older we get, the more walls we build. We don’t show our vulnerabilities, tell our stories or express our emotions like we used to. Opening yourself up to people encourages them to show their true selves in return. That’s when deep, meaningful bonds happen and it will be easier and more fulfilling to make new friends in older age.

How Friendships Change as We Age

3. Find common ground.

Younger people can often strike up a friendship with someone who shares a single interest with them. However, compatibility becomes much more critical with age. Volunteering for causes or becoming a member of organizations that have meaning to you can help you make new friends in older age that will endure and grow stronger with time.

4. Be willing to take a chance.

How many times have you thought, “If I invite her for coffee, she might turn me down,” or “I’ll look silly starting a conversation with him”? But to make new friends, you must be willing to go out on a limb. You might experience a little discomfort or even embarrassment, but it’ll be well worth the risk!

5. Put yourself out there.

Bottom line, you’re never going to make new friends in older age by sitting in a room all by yourself. You have to accept invitations, talk to strangers and put yourself in all kinds of situations where you might meet people you like (and even if you don’t like those people, they may introduce you to someone you do!).

Making friends in later life isn’t as quick or effortless as it was when we were younger, but when we succeed at it, those new friendships can be even more rewarding!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide. She also writes for many other local magazines and publications.

Terri L. Jones