As we approach our forties, fifties, and beyond, we may find that our friendships have dwindled away. It is a big change from the days when we were attending school or raising young children. Then, we were surrounded by other students and other parents who were eager to get together for study groups and birthday parties.
Now, it may feel like you are a bit more on your own, especially if you are transitioning through a divorce, packing your children off to college, or changing careers. Here are a few ways to stay in touch with old friends and making new ones.
Maintaining Old Friendships
1. Mark it on your schedule.
- Meeting up with friends is just as important as following up with business clients.
- Pull out your calendar to stay on track.
2. Take a vacation.
- Video calls and texting bridge long distances, but cannot match sitting around the table together after dinner.
- Use your personal and business travel to drop in on each other occasionally.
3. Collaborate on a project.
- Pursue the same activities even while you are miles apart.
- You will find plenty to talk about if you are both taking gourmet cooking classes or training for a charity run.
4. Accept the change.
- At the same time, distinguish between relationships worth sustaining and those that have run their course.
- You and your old college roommate may no longer have much to talk about even if you used to gab all night.
5. Pump some life back into former ties.
- On the other hand, maybe you still wonder about a former coworker you have not seen in years. Take the initiative to be the first to reach out.
- Social media makes finding people much easier than it used to be.
Making New Friends
1. Explore your common interests.
- Look for other people like you.
- Visit the places where you are likely to find other vegetarians, bluegrass music lovers, or booklovers.
- Sign up for a ceramics workshop or audition for a part in a community theatre production.
2. Use social media to your advantage.
- Adults of all ages congregate on Meetup or LinkedIn.
- Enjoy the online discussions and invite someone local out for coffee if you want to get to know them better.
3. Volunteer in your community.
- Working for causes you believe in provides gratification while you extend your network.
- Call a natural history or art museum to see if they are accepting new docents.
- Organize a fundraising dinner for an animal shelter.
4. Branch out of your comfort zone.
- There are advantages to socializing with men and women of different ages.
- Chat with someone older or younger when you are eating lunch in the park.
5. Be patient with yourself and with others.
- It takes time to forge a connection.
- Stay cheerful and busy so others can see your good qualities without feeling pressured.
Being a Friend
1. Reveal yourself.
- As toddlers or seniors, friendships develop when we allow others to get to know us.
- Share a little more personal information as you become more comfortable with each other.
2. Prepare for rejection.
- There may be all kinds of reasons why a people in your yoga class resists hanging out afterwards.
- Give yourself some credit for trying and then move on to another prospect.
3. Focus on quality.
- Having a few close friends beats having hundreds of followers on Facebook.
- Focus on meaningful interactions instead of some arbitrary definition of popularity.
- In later life, you may find yourself happier enjoying more solitude while still treasuring those occasions when you gather with loved ones.
4. Give and get support.
- Giving and taking may be the most important sign of a quality friendship.
- As your move into more mature years, you will learn to lean on your circle of friends to serve more and more as your advisors, sounding boards, and cheerleaders.
We all have plenty of fascinating years ahead, so find people to share them with. With skillful cultivation, many friendships can last you a lifetime. Remember, you are never too old, or too young, to find new friends!
“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
For more information, see MartinaMcGowan.com