Forming new friendships has been a large topic of conversation here at Starts at 60 in recent weeks. A few weeks ago we asked how long it had been since our over 60s here had made new friends and 52% answered that they couldn’t remember the last time they did so. So we’ve made it our mission to make making friends more easy. And today we’ve got tips. But first I have a story to tell you about one of our dear community members, Jenny.
Jenny joined Starts at 60 about a year ago. She is a widow in her 60s with a few health problems. Vibrant and happy most of the time it seemed, she had just moved to the northern beaches of Sydney three months earlier trying to find her happiness after losing her husband a year earlier and was feeling a little down.
She wrote to me in a private facebook message one day. “I have just moved to a new area and don’t really now how to get started making new friends. I am worried that most people my age in this area seem to have their own friends already and I just don’t know how to be the new kid on the block. I thought it was going to be easier to have a fresh start after my husband died… but I’m just not getting to where I wanted to,” she wrote.
We chatted back and forth for a few days then I wrote an “Our Community Cares” article for the site asking people for ideas on how they had made friends before. Jenny wrote back after reading it with a pledge… She was going to more actively seek out a few friends. She joined the U3A and a bridge club in her area and started to volunteer at the Coastguard too. It was remarkable how meeting a few people made her whole world spin differently and over the next couple of weeks I heard less and less about her angst and more and more about the busyness of her life – a great thing I think. I am sure many of us can relate to this.
If you can, and are considering stepping forward to find a few new friends in your life, what can you do?
Admit that you would like to make some new friends
Having some self-awareness of your desire to add to your friendship network is an important first step. Pay a little attention to what gets you excited these days… Is it the latest edition of SVU on TV, the daily updates on Facebook by Starts at 60, or do you wish your phone would ring a little more with interested people who want a chat? Would you like to go to the movies more or have someone to enjoy a wine and a meal with occasionally.
Look deep within for any flags that are telling you you’d like to get out more and set them into action. Today isn’t a day for loneliness… it’s a day for action.
Decide what kind of friends you’d like, and what kind of friend you want to be
As we all should know… the reason friends pool around you is because of you! If you don’t make an effort, care or show concern, friends likely won’t show concern for you. But flip that attitude around and become someone who is a keen friend and you might be surprised how people are drawn to you.
Look for things to say yes to
It can be nerve wracking or even desperately uncomfortable to consider joining a group but, the first step always lies in saying “yes”.
Take a look around you at what is available that you are interested in.
A choir, a charity, a dance class, a meetup, a mens’ shed or a bridge club are all very interesting ways to meet people. In fact, research shows joining interest groups is one of the best ways to meet kindred spirits. If you can pick something that aligns with your passion, you might be surprised how much you have in common with the others who also have similar interests.
Invite people in
I always find that inviting someone I have built a bit of a bond with into my home brings our friendship a lot closer, yet increasingly I think more and more people stay out of each others’ homes unless they become very close. Could you build a few special friendships by inviting a small number of new friends you meet in your adventures over for a dinner party? Even if the idea of cooking for a large group makes it all seem too hard or expensive… you could plan a “pot luck” dinner where everyone brings a plate or an afternoon tea where all you need is a cake and tea.
Why not try the Starts at 60 Coffee Meetups?
Have you found a good place to make friends? Or been through a similar process of gradually starting to look for friends?
If you are enjoying the company of Starts at 60, you might like to consider coming to our Coffee Meetups in each capital city across Australia tomorrow, Tuesday 17th February. For more information or to book your ticket… go to www.startsatsixty.com.au/events