Making New Friends

Jun 20, 2016 | Turning 60 and Beyond | 0 comments

Friends are the sunshine of life.

-John Hay

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It was easy making new friends when we were kids – we had school friends or neighborhood kids on the block. Those were the days when we walked to school and picked up others along the way or the kids we played with at recess. Those were the days when we changed our clothes after school and headed outside to play with all the other kids until you heard the familiar sound of your mom or dad, calling you for supper.

I know people who had no trouble making friends. They had the same friends from grade school through high school and then even into university or college. Then you go off to work and now you add your work friends to your bevy of people you call friends. We get married (or not) and have children (or not). You get busy with your work lives, your children, maybe move away to the other side of the country or even further. Your friends get replaced throughout your life because of different circumstances, different interests. If you are lucky enough some of you may still have life-long friends because throughout all the upheavals in your life you had a bond that kept you together. You had a history. Consider yourself the lucky ones.

But quite often as we get older we drift away from our friends for one reason or another. If you are retired those work friends you had continue on with their lives and you go off on a whole new life.

Most of us over sixty have experienced our share of pain and suffering, we have witnessed the rotten side of human nature and have earned our emotional baggage. Therefore we build up walls around us and try to convince ourselves that we are better off alone, isolated from the “stuff” around us that can cause us pain. So when it comes to meeting new people and making friends we have a certain amount of vulnerability. Basically we are struck by a certain amount of fear. So how do you work through this fear. Making friends at this age is daunting, but possible.

Here are a few things you can do

  • Face your fears head on and actually get out there and talk to strangers. You can try smiling first. You’d be surprised at how many people will smile back.
  • Join groups or organizations that offer things that you have interests in, such as bridge clubs, maybe a book club. Or try something totally new and pursue one of those passions you have kept buried inside yourself.
  • Reach out…call someone on the telephone, invite them for coffee, maybe even someone you have lost touch with. Talk to people and then when the time is right and you feel comfortable, you can invite them into your lives.
  • If you are tech savvy you can try making new friends online. Facebook really isn’t as difficult as it seems at first. And there are many sites out there that cater to older women like Sixty & Me, on online community of women reaching women all over the world.

 

In the end, you have to be the one to put on your big girl pants and take the initiative to make new friends. Sadly, the alternative to not breaking down this fear is to be lonely, which leads many of us to depression and despair. And that my friends is not the way you want to live your life.