Is it harder to make friends as we age?

Jul 08, 2023
Perhaps it's too much trouble for some people to extend themselves. Source: Getty

I’ve always been an outgoing person. Put me in a room of strangers and I am right at home. I love getting to know others as I find their nuances fascinating. 

But lately, my heart seems to be closing a bit. I’m not as eager to open up to new people as I used to be. Perhaps it’s because a lot of people I’ve known for so long are slowly disappearing. And a bit of me goes with them as they leave.

Some of my closest friends live in Los Angeles, about 2500 miles away from Naples, Florida where I live now. I was hoping to visit several of them when we went to Los Angeles recently, but I was unable to see several of them because many were dealing with serious health challenges.

One had Covid-19

One had bronchitis.

Another had pneumonia and then suffered a stroke.

One could barely walk into the restaurant without the help of her husband.

Because they’re so far away, I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.

It’s hard to replace the deep connections that I’ve had with them. I’ve seen them through divorces, death, and a multitude of problems. Over the years, many went from walking upright to using a cane, a walker, and finally a wheelchair.

Then I don’t see them at all.

I know it takes time to develop new friendships. But many of the newer people I have met in Florida don’t seem to reach out the way that I do. Maybe they don’t like me. Maybe they don’t feel we have much in common. 

But I think it’s larger than that. I think some people just don’t wanna bother getting to know new people. And because they travel to their hometowns during the hot humid summers of Florida, maybe their emotional energy is saved for people they know from home.

Perhaps it’s too much trouble for some people to extend themselves. Or do they feel old and tired and prefer the company of their spouse, dog, or plants?

But it’s important to stay integrated with people. I know when I volunteered at our local senior centre, it gave me such a sense of purpose and made me feel integrated and engaged with my community. I belong to something greater than myself.

Perhaps I now need to get integrated with other social networks. But until I do, I still attend several Zoom improv classes per week which keeps me connected with my deeper friendships from home.

What do you think? Is it harder to meet people as you’ve aged? If you’ve moved to a new community, has it been even more challenging?

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