Making new friends is a beautiful thing. Sadly, many people think that when they've reached a certain age making friends will be more challenging. Maybe you've spent a long time with a certain set of friends and find it strange contemplating making new friends. If you've suddenly and unexpectedly lost a large chunk of your social circle due to unforeseen event, it can be particularly challenging.
There are many reasons you might want to make new friends, including:
- Moving to a new area
- Getting divorced or breaking up with someone
- Losing your best friend
- Finding you've grown apart from your current friends
- Wanting to expand your social circle
- Wanting to meet people who are interested in a new hobby you've developed
If you are over 50 (or any age for that matter!) and concerned that making new friends can be difficult, you are not alone. A quick look on Google will show you that common search terms include:
- How do I make new friends without it being awkward?
- How do you meet people in your 50s?
- How do I make friends later in life?
- Where can I make new friends?
If you don't randomly meet new people through your work and hobbies, making new friends can seem daunting. Don't worry, though, because there are many ways of meeting new and interesting people.
Meeting new people through apps
A few decades ago, the idea of making friends through apps seemed absurd; doing most things digitally back then seemed absurd! Now it is the norm.
Apps can be an incredible way of meeting new people. Unlike attending events where people may not be looking to make new friends, on an app, you know the person you're speaking with is open to friendship.
What's also good with apps is that you can find people with similar interests. Apps like Bumble BFF (you can also use Bumble for dating) allow you to create a profile. You can list some interests and answer some questions, such as, "If you had a superpower, what would it be?" This helps when starting conversations as you have something to talk about.
LinkedIn is another app that's brilliant for meeting likeminded people in your professional life.
There are many dating apps you can use to meet new people as well, but as a general rule, most people on those are looking for dates!
Making friends through online groups
Social networks that you may already be part of, such as Facebook, offers groups and pages that you can join. Anyone can set up a group, or page, for a specific purpose. Many cities, therefore, have groups such as "Singles in London" or "Over 50s in Brighton." It can also be groups targeted to a specific interest, such as "People in Birmingham Who Love to Bike."
These groups then tend to arrange get-togethers where you can meet the people in the group.
To find the right groups/pages for you, have a look around to see what's available in the social networks you use. Also consider joining specific social networks for over 50s, such as Silver Surfers, Fifty Plus Forum, and Buzz50.
Online networks for meetup groups
Organisations such as Meetup, A Small World and InterNations offer events in major cities around the world--some also host events in smaller towns.
Meetup is a site where anyone can set up a group tailored to a specific interest. For example, you'll find groups such as "Manchester Entrepreneurial Meetups" and "Yoga in Edinburgh." There is, quite literally, a group for every interest imaginable. Some groups also offer interactive online meetups.
InterNations, on the other hand, is a site created initially for expats looking to make friends when moving to a new city. It has since grown to include locals and opened up its doors for people to create groups, similar to Meetup. However, InterNations still also hosts monthly events in major cities around the globe.
A Small World, or ASW, was similarly created for travellers but targeted to the jet set. It evolved into a networking site for anyone looking to make new friends, but like InterNations also hosts events globally. It acts a little bit like a private online membership club.
On these three sites, you'll find members of all ages.
Private membership clubs and co-working spaces
Back in the day, private membership clubs were for businessmen smoking cigars and doing deals. Today, you'll find membership clubs for both men and women across different demographics. There are membership clubs for creatives, entrepreneurs, and high-brow business people, amongst others. A quick look around your town will help you see if there is one you might want to join.
In a sense, your local co-working spaces are membership clubs of sorts as well. They are targeted to people who need a desk to work from--whether daily, or once a month. Co-working spaces tend to be great places for meeting new people. And they are known to organise various social events for their members.
Even if you don't technically need a desk to work from, joining a co-working space to sit down for your monthly admin tasks isn't a bad idea. And maybe getting a desk will finally make you start that business you've been dreaming about, or selling your wares on Etsy or local markets.
If you partake in a local course, workshop, or event, you stand a good chance of meeting others with similar interests. Mixing it up, so you participate in the odd event that lasts a couple of hours, together with longer workshops or courses, is a great idea. Why? It ensures you meet a mix of people and also have the opportunity to get to know some of them better as you spend more time with them.
Likewise, joining a local organisation to do volunteer work can help you meet more locals. Not only that, volunteering is linked to better health, more happiness and longevity!
Local clubs are another great option for meeting others. It could be a gardening club, a book club, a chess club, or a cooking club. Whatever takes your fancy.
Participating in local sports can also help you foster connections. Even joining the local gym can lead to new meetings!
Starting a charitable organisation, offering to mentor others, or starting a club is another option. And you can sell your crafts (if you make them) at local fairs and markets, which could be another option for networking.
Lastly, make sure you don't miss out on local events and festivals. See what's happening at your local library, church, and so forth.
Making new friends is a trial and error process, which is why it might be nice to try a couple of different things. Don't despair if you don't meet someone you hit it off with at the first event you attend, or the first online group you join. Attending one-off events and joining activities that take place regularly will help you expand your chances of meeting people you'll develop friendships with.
When everyday opportunities present themselves, be willing to take them. Invite the neighbours over for a cup of coffee, for example. Or head out for a cup of coffee, so you have the opportunity to meet people at a local café. Most cafés, pubs, and so forth also offer events, such as quiz nights. Ask the owners what event you might enjoy.
If you feel shy or are a tad uncomfortable meeting new people, you aren't alone. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and try to attend events where you think you'll meet likeminded people. The most important thing to bring along is a good attitude and a willingness to explore new connections.
If you struggle socially, you can also read a couple of books on social skills. Believe it or not, there are tried and tested tips for making socialising both more comfortable and more effective! Learning to communicate well is also the backbone of any relationship, as it's the bridge that bond you to another person.