When you were a child, making new friends was easy. The school playground was a hotbed of fun-loving kids with endless imagination and open hearts. Friendships were based on common interests in recess activities and school subjects, and strong bonds were formed with one simple question: “do you want to be my friend?”
As we age, however, forging new friendships becomes more difficult than it used to be.
Life experience and the happiness and hardships that come along with it shape the adults we become and affect our ability to develop meaningful relationships.
Some older adults are overcome with anxiety in social situations and are reluctant to approach new people for fear of being rejected. Others have a burning interest in making new friends and developing relationships, but may be unsure where and how to meet new people. Sometimes it is as simple – and as difficult – as ‘putting yourself out there’ with your best foot forward.
Check out the following tips on how to make friends at 60:
Confidence is key in most situations, and meeting new people is no different. Kids have an inherent confidence that allows them to wander up to a complete stranger and ask to be friends, without fear or hesitation. As adults, many of us lose that sense of confidence and inhibition. An article in Psychology today, entitled “The Essence of Confidence” suggests that “the catalyst to bring the function of confidence to life is the realization that your actions influence your results.”
In other words, it is up to you. When you accept that you are in control and you have the power to influence outcomes, such as making new friends, you develop a sense of confidence in yourself and what you ‘have to offer’ others.
The article also suggests that “confident people have a history of having playful positive visualizations of themselves in all sorts of moments.” Envisioning yourself approaching someone new and introducing yourself, or trying out a new activity or class to meet people will help you feel confident when you’re ready to go for it.
By pursuing activities and hobbies that you already enjoy, you are sure to meet people with similar interests.
In a blog post for Psychology Today, Irene S. Levine Ph.D., advises older adults who are looking to forge a new friendship, to pursue their own hobbies and interests, “so you are an interesting person and can meet people who are like-minded.”
Take time to consider your own interests. What excites you? What are you passionate about? The benefits of embracing these interests are two-fold: it will encourage you to pursue a passion you enjoy while opening the door of the opportunity to develop real, long-lasting friendships.
Trying something new is also a great way to meet people and make possible friendships.
Dr. Levine suggests getting to know what classes and activities are available in your community.
Volunteering is a great way to use your skills, give back to a cause that is important to you and of course, meet new people.
There are endless organizations, not-for-profits and charities that are in need of volunteers, so why not give it a try?
In many cases, men have more difficulty than women when it comes to developing new male friendships as they get older, yet research suggests that men crave intimacy just as much as women.
The Distilled Man posted an article entitled “Making Guy Friends as a Man: Male Friendship 101,” which suggests that there are several things that trip men up:
It’s important that older men set aside any fear of not measuring up and actually practice connecting with people. The Distilled Man also suggests the following rock-solid advice from Dale Carnegie’s famous book: “How to Win Friends & Influence People:”
Forging new friendships in your senior years is not always easy, but by having confidence in yourself and your social abilities and taking the abovementioned suggestions into consideration, you will be well on your way to initiating coffee dates and get-togethers in no time!
Do you have any other tips we haven’t mentioned on how to meet new people and make friends after 60? We’d like to hear your advice and suggestions in the comments below.