Forming friendships after fifty can sound like a daunting task. The fleeting friendships that we’ve created in the workplace or with parents of our children’s friends may no longer exist. After the kids leave the nest and after you’ve stopped working, you may find yourself drifting apart from friendships that turn out to have been situational, ones that have been linked more closely to being at the same place at the same time than to feeling like kindred spirits.
Losing common ground can sometimes mean that the relationships you’ve created don’t always feel the way they once did. Others may find that the friendships they’ve maintained have begun to feel too stifling, complicated or unsatisfying, leaving you yearning for a friendship that’s spontaneous rather than scheduled.
Most social opportunities don’t dry up once you’ve reached a certain age.
It’s not too late to find that spontaneous companion you’ve been looking for. In fact, the timing may be just right. No one is more attractive to others than someone who is engaged in a lifestyle they’ve created for themselves. Whether you join a gym, start a class, or volunteer at a nonprofit, finding something that awakens your passions and places you in contact with the same people with the same passions.
Developing close friendships is kind of like dating. Don’t be too eager, too soon. Every friendship starts off with the exchange of a “hello”, a question or compliment. Real relationships take time to blossom. As two people get to know each other, the layers peel away until they fall into a comfortable groove where conversation flows naturally. Don’t expect too much too soon or act too needy, being open and honest will tell the other person you are open to new relationships.
If you’re middle-aged or older there’s nothing that should prevent you from developing your people skills. Yes, when some of us are truly advanced in age we can develop cognitive issues that hinder our ability to learn, but that’s hopefully a world away.
Staying active is a big part of meeting new people, there is a life outside of the PTA. By joining local groups with topics you care about, meeting kindred spirits will be that much easier. Joining an online community can be rewarding but leaving your computer and going out is a better way to foster closer relationships.
Don’t forget to expand your thinking. Making friends who are different than you, with differing interests, could be just the thing to invigorate your passions. By expanding your friendship pool you may find a friend for life. Is there an elderly neighbor on your block who might welcome your company, or a young mother who would love to have some adult companionship once in awhile? Intergenerational friendships yield valuable payoffs on both sides.
Don’t underestimate making friends in midlife. It’s never too late to make friends and not everyone else is paired up already. If you take the time to look around, you’ll find that there are people just as hungry for friendship as you are. Now is just the right time to create those lasting bonds after fifty.