Everything seems relatively easy when you are young and have your entire life ahead of you, whether it is getting a new job, exploring hobbies, finding a date, or something as plain as making new friends. Maybe it is because of the outgoing nature people rock in their youth or the sheer fact that there is ample time for trial and error. Once you reach your midlife, you are literally halfway done with life. Mistakes are still just as easy to make but not as easily undone.
According to several pieces of research and personal accounts, almost 47% of people over 40 feel lonely and crave the similar intense bonds of friendship they enjoyed in their youth. The importance of having good friends cannot be exaggerated enough; it not only improves your mental health but enhances your physical well-being as well. Studies suggest that a solid friendship can even boost your immune system and minimize the chance of chronic illness. An ever-increasing threat of depression in midlife can be averted if you surround yourself with genuine friends.
Now that we know the pressing need for friends in life, let us focus on building new friendships. Returning to our initial discussion, we articulated why younger people make friends more effortlessly. But why is it not the same for people in their midlife?
When you are young, you have schools, colleges, parties, regular get-togethers, and whatnot, making it a birthplace of new friendships. But once you age, responsibilities take over parties, and daily chores replace get-togethers.
Time Is A Factor:
Can you imagine just whiling away precious time over a single phone call with a friend? It was almost routine when you were young, but at this age, even a five-minute phone call can seem like a luxury. With a mile-long to-do list, work, and other duties at home, meeting your friends takes a backseat.
Studies show that people become more individualistic and, to some extent, narcissistic with age. You love keeping to yourself, mostly because of a lack of energy after a long day, but a small part of you thinks most people are not deserving enough of your friendship.
We look for the past in our present; that’s human nature. The solid friendships of your young days can never be replaced, but that should not stand in the way of making new ones.
Tips On Making New Friends In Your Midlife:
No. 1: Manage Your Expectations
People gradually start falling into the endless cycle of loneliness in and over their 40s due to a lack of friends. So, it is normal for you to want to make new friends. Yes, even at this age. But managing your expectations is step one in building new friendships.
With age, the burden of responsibilities keeps piling on us, leaving little room for anything else, let alone meeting new people. Now, suppose you have started getting acquainted and friendly with someone from the neighborhood, but they often seem to be declining your proposal to go for a cup of coffee or even a mere get-together. It is natural for you to feel frustrated and even unwanted, but chances are they are just caught up with some commitment at home or work.
The key to forming a lasting bond at this age is to set realistic expectations from your new friend.
- They are not ignoring you but are stuck with other obligations.
- A few solid friends are better than many loose ones.
- Even friendship requires effort.
- Some friends are not forever.
No. 2: Put Yourself Out There
If you expect new friends to magically appear on your doorstep, brace for disappointment. Just like dating, if you are seeking new friendships, you have to put yourself out there. Be more social. For instance, if you are into sports, join a running group; if you love art and craft, pottery classes are just the thing for you. These social groups will offer you a space to meet like-minded people with whom you can gradually develop a lasting bond.
Exploring your hobbies and passions is the easiest way to meet new people with similar interests as you.
If running clubs and cooking classes are not in your scheme of things at the moment, you can always try to forge a bond with your officemates. Who says colleagues can’t be good friends? The office is to the elders, what school is to children. Several pieces of studies show that people who have good friends at work are likely to be better performers.
If none of these work out for you, you can always turn to dating apps. Did you know almost 23% of people on dating apps are actually looking for genuine and platonic friendships? Download an app that caters more to people seeking friendship than the ones that are infamous for hookups and flings, and set up your profile. One of the foolproof ways of not receiving unwarranted dating offers from fellow users is to make it clear in your bio that you are here for platonic friendships, not romantic relationships. Keep your fingers crossed, and hope to meet your soul buddy.
No. 3: Reach Out First
For more people than you can imagine, this advice is hard to take for many reasons. It can be because they feel vulnerable or fear rejection or even find making the first move a risky shot.
But understand, taking the initiative to reach out shows you are interested in knowing the other person. If you are struggling with striking up a conversation, here are some ideas:
- Be specific. For eg: “I am going to a movie this weekend, do you want to join me?”
- Let it be simple: “Do you want to meet up for coffee this weekend?”
- Don’t go back and forth with the conversation. If you want to meet the person, say it like that. For eg: “I will go for a hike next weekend. Join me if you are free.”
If you ask more yes and no questions, you are more likely to get an honest and direct answer. Beating around the bush might make you look needy and, to some extent, a bit weird. If they say no to your offer, don’t try to persuade them. Either they will come up with an alternative plan, for eg., “I can’t do it on Wednesday, but Saturday will work out fine.” or they might flat out say, “No.”
No. 4: How About Reviving Old Friendships?
While it is essential to make new friends, no one says you can’t form new bonds with old friends. With changing priorities and responsibilities towering over you, hectic work life, and family, some childhood friendships can take a backseat and get lost among a myriad of things.
Reviving old friendships can be tricky. If you were the one who lost touch, there’s always a chance your friend will be skeptical about your sudden interest in their life. But that is no reason to give up. You need to be open to having an honest conversation about how things fell apart the last time and also discuss how things will be different this time. Here are some ways to reach out:
- Send a simple text: “Hey, how are you doing?”
- Ask for a meet-up: “Haven’t seen you in a while; let’s meet.”
- Own up to your past mistakes: “Sorry for how things ended. Can we do it over?”
- Subtly convey what you think about them: “Hey, I saw a Facebook post that reminded me of you.”
The first step is reaching out to them. Things will take their own course after that.
No. 5: Turn To Your Neighbors
You never know; your best friend for life might be right next door. But most people don’t make the effort to know their neighbors, let alone think of forging a friendly relationship with them. Take the time to communicate. How?
- Take walks around your neighborhood. You are more likely to meet people on these routine walks.
- Attend social gatherings in your neighborhood.
- You can even arrange a get-together. Don’t worry about people turning up for the event; chances are your neighbors are looking to make new friends just as much as you.
To End It
No matter what your age is, it can be tough to make friends; for some people, more than others. But that should not stop you from trying. No one is asking you to be a social butterfly but let go of the hang-ups and go with the flow. And, don’t forget, a few solid friends are better than many acquaintances.
Note : Image credit to unsplash.com