Throughout our lives, we’re thrown together with people in various situations, making it relatively easy to find friends. During our formal schooling, we’re bound to find others that share our interests, and we end up becoming friends. Then as we get older, in our careers, we meet people at work that we find have common interests. However, as we approach retirement, our opportunities for meeting others can seem to dwindle. I often hear women over 50 lamenting over the difficulty of finding new friends. By that point, our children are mostly grown and have gone on to have families of their own. In some cases, life has scattered the friendships we’ve built up over the years; perhaps those who once lived close have moved for work or to be closer to other family members. Either way, we may find we’re not attending dinner parties or meeting up at cafes like we used to do.
Research has shown that we require friendship to maintain our well being throughout our lives. Scientists at Brigham Young University even found that social isolation increases your risk of death anywhere from 30 to 60 percent. It isn’t healthy to be isolated or alone all the time. But what’s to be done?
It may require some effort on our parts, but friendship after 50 isn’t mission impossible. Here are a few tips that can help you find your footing in this new uncharted territory.
- Reach out to friends you may have lost touch with over the years. You can just as easily rekindle old friendships as begin new ones.
- Be active. Choose an activity you enjoy. Perhaps join a book club or volunteer organization that hosts regular events. If you have a gym membership, enroll in a fitness class. Find a local establishment that hosts trivia nights and join a team. These are all ways to get out and socialize with others who have a similar interest. Strike up a conversation with those you meet doing these activities, and you’re sure to find a like-minded soul.
- Don’t buy into the stigmas surrounding people “of a certain age.” Be yourself. There’s no need to limit yourself to friends that are the same age as you.
- If you have the means, a pet companion can make a world of difference. Not only will you have a companion, but if you have a pet, you may be viewed as more approachable. If you have a dog that you take for walks regularly, you may be able to bond with other dog owners you see along your route.
- Invite your neighbors to join you for coffee and muffins or a backyard barbecue.
- Attend community events. Use your local newspaper or social media to find out when events are occurring in your area and go.
- Take a class on something you’re interested in; maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, or perhaps you enjoy pottery and painting. Local craft shops and many colleges and universities offer hobby courses or workshops.
The key is to be open to striking up a friendship even in the most unlikely places. Putting yourself out there just a little bit can provide you with new opportunities for fellowship. These are just a few ways that you can expand your social circles after 50.