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, you’ve figured out where you want to be.
This should be the easiest time to make friends. But it isn’t.
Meeting new people of any type can be difficult when you’re over 40, especially with a busy, packed life. Many folks in their 40s have friendships that have lasted a long time, or they maintain a close relationship with family members. Since people really can only handle a certain number of acquaintances in their life, they may like you but not have the mental and emotional space to develop a friendship with you.
Establishing new friendships is something many people over the age of 40 find a challenge. Here are some tips to make it easier.
Reach Out First
New friendships require more time to get going and maintain than the friendships you’ve had for years. What’s more, you need to reach out first and ask new friends to do something. You’ll probably have to be the first one to make contact for several months.
That’s because when people are older and have established 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 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. 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. Check it out but don’t stop there. 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 sets you up in the perfect mindset and allows you to be open to conversations and new people.
There are also websites that can connect you with new friends, and many of these are perfect if you’re over 40. Sites built for making friend connections are perfect for those who are busy but still want to make friends, or for those who are just going through a new phase in their lives and in search of new relationships.
Revive Friendships With Caution
It’s natural to think of your old friendships when you’re looking for friends again, but be cautious. The problems that broke up you and your friend all those years ago might still be there. Don’t think you can go back to just the good times you shared, because when you revive an old friendship the bad parts of the relationship may remain.
Every friendship is different, though. People change and grow up and sometimes that friendship with all the hard edges is now softened. Go slowly if you decide to revive a friendship and if it works out, you’ll have a new “old” friendship again. If not, don’t dwell on it. There are plenty of people looking to meet new friends.
People sometimes hesitate to volunteer as a way to meet friends, but it does so much for your self-esteem and attitude that it has to be included here. Volunteering is especially good when you’re feeling frustrated about the effort involved in making new friends, and 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. There are plenty of places looking for volunteers and when you turn the focus off of yourself you’ll not only open up your world to new conversations and people, you’ll be in the perfect state of mind in which 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. If you try to force yourself on an already established group, for example, it will set you back mentally and emotionally. 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.
As you do this, you’ll need to go at the right pace. If you try and force a new friendship it won’t stick, and you’ll be back at the beginning and feeling frustrated. Embrace the fact that friendships take time.