When you enter your 40s, you’re often more secure emotionally about your place in life than at any time before. You’ve achieved a few of your biggest goals and you’re working on checking off a few more. You’ve been in and out of love, and you’ve figured out where you want to be. This should be the easiest time to make friends—but it isn’t always. Making friends after 40 can be difficult, especially with a busy, jam-packed lifestyle. We rounded up some tips to make the process easier.
Reach out First
New friendships require more time to get going and maintain than the friendships you’ve had for years, so it's extra important that you reach out first and ask new friends to do something. Know that you may have to be the first one to make contact for several months while you're getting your friendship established.
When people are older and have set schedules, they have to readjust to add new friends into their life. It’s not that they don’t want or need new friends; it’s just that shifting priority to their new friendships takes an adjustment.
Always being the one to contact a friend over and over can be exhausting and will have you wondering if your new pals are really invested in the relationship like you are, but the best bet is to continue making contact while doing your best to not take it personally. Eventually, your new friends will start calling you first to schedule things and a more balanced friendship will begin to form.
Meetup has a handy search already built-in for 40-somethings looking for groups and friendship. The site has a variety of groups that help pair you with like-minded people looking to hang out and do something new. Taking up a new hobby is a great way to make new friends; it allows you to be open to conversations and new people.
If meeting people on the internet makes you uncomfortable, consider taking up a new hobby in real life. Sign up for a weekly cooking class, workout class, language course, or art lesson.
Revive Friendships With Caution
It’s natural to think of your old friendships when you’re looking for friends, but be cautious. The problems that broke up you and your friend all those years ago might still be there. Every friendship is different, however, and it's possible that people can change. "If you remember that friendship fondly and if you just drifted apart, it may be worth a call to see if they would be interested in catching up over coffee," says psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker.
Act slowly if you decide to revive a friendship, and if it works out, you’ll have a new “old” friend. If not, don’t dwell on it. There are plenty of people out there looking to meet new friends.
Volunteering is especially good when you’re feeling frustrated about the effort involved in making new friends. If you’re over 40 and realizing for the first time in years that you actually need to look for friends, you might be feeling down on yourself—but don’t allow your feelings to gain traction. Instead, focus on others. When you turn the focus off of yourself, you’ll not only open up your world to new conversations and people, but you’ll also be in the perfect state of mind to form a new friendship.
Take Your Time
One of the most frustrating things about friendship is that it takes time to form and can’t be rushed. Don't force yourself on anyone. Make the effort to connect, but if that overture isn’t welcomed, move on to another person or group. Don’t dwell on people who have no room in their life for a new friend.