For many people, middle age is the catalyst to take stock of life. The kids have flown the coop and there’s more time to reconsider your likes, dislikes, goal, and dreams.
Middle age is also the time we tend to look around at our social circles. Are our friendships still there? Have we lost friends due to illness, a move, or divorce? Do we want something different out of our friendships? As we age, we tend to have less tolerance or energy for fluff friendships. We want substance and real, genuine connections.
But making friends when you’re older is not always that easy. It was simple in school or during those early days in our first job – you saw the same people every single day. You were surrounded by friend candidates. But once you hit middle age, it becomes more difficult to meet new people.
The good news is, while challenging, it’s very possible to make new and lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help you make new friends in midlife:
1. Don’t Feel Embarrassed
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about being lonely or friendless. It is far more common than we are led to believe from the media. So, don’t feel bad, and get ready to put yourself out there.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your values. As an added bonus, studies have shown that people who volunteer are healthier and live longer!
3. Take a Class
Do you have a passion for dance? Painting? Photography? Taking a class is a great way to learn more about something you already love, be engaged, keep your brain young, and meet people with similar interests and hobbies.
4. Reach Out to Acquaintances
How many times have you run into someone you “sort of know” at a work function or at your local Starbucks. Every time you have a conversation with this person you think, “Gee, I wish we were friends.”
The next time you see this person, ask if they’d like to have lunch. Get their contact information and follow up. You never know, it could be the start of something worthwhile.
5. Get into the Habit of Being Social
By midlife we’ve gotten into some pretty significant habits. Some good…some not so good. If you’ve never been a social butterfly – but instead someone who is used to staying home with the kids or simply staying in because it’s easier – putting yourself out there will probably feel weird. However, it’s important to try to be social daily. This could mean simply taking a walk around your city or neighborhood and saying hello to friendly faces or calling up an acquaintance for a chat.
Good relationships are important for our overall health and the quality of our lives. While it may seem intimidating to build new friendships in midlife, these can actually be some of the most lasting and profound connections we end up making.
Do you believe you lack social connections because of fear, grief, or a low self-esteem? If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to talk about how I may help.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW