I couldn’t wait for recess. My best friend, Kathy, was meeting me by the big tree in the playground. We were going to play “Peter Pan and Windy” with a bunch of school friends.
Of course, I was going to be Peter Pan OR Captain Hook. (Did I want to be the good guy that day or the bad? A question I still deal with every morning.)
When we were young finding new friends was easy. It was the girl sitting next to us in grammar school, the new mom in our neighborhood who had kids the same age as ours, or a colleague from work.
Over the years we learned that friendships didn’t always work out. We lost touch in the midst of our busy lives, or we felt the rejection of a friendship betrayal.
But in each friendship, we learned something. Loyal friends validated our giftings and kindly helped us process our mistakes.
We didn’t waste the rejections—we learned from them. We grew stronger and wiser.
Strong women get lonely
The things you had in common with many of your friends in the past, such as raising your kids or connecting at work, disappear over time.
Your children grow up, and eventually, you retire. Your interests change.
Often you move away to be closer to your adult kids and their families, or your friends move away for similar reasons.
Divorce, the death of a spouse, or severe health issues are also significant life changes.
It takes a strong woman to face these kinds of adjustments, but that doesn’t mean she likes the loneliness that often comes with change.
Having friends kicks loneliness in the butt AND helps you live a long life.
So let’s look at how to find new friends when you’re over 50.
What do you love to do?
We naturally connect with people who share our passions. So your first step in discovering new friends is to identify what you’re passionate about.
If you’re not sure what your passion is right now, ask yourself what makes you feel alive, excited, happy, content, or accomplished. For example, might it be one of the following?
- A certain hobby or craft
- Bible study
- A social cause
- Your pet
- Walking or hiking
- Learning new things
- The theater or acting
- A sport
Who else shares your passion?
Once you’ve identified what you love to do, choose one of the suggestions below to encounter people who share your passion.
Take a class: Consider taking a course at your local community center, college, or church that interests you. Join in the class discussions AND ask some of your classmates out for coffee afterward to continue the conversation.
Volunteer: Go on a missions trip. Donate your time to a homeless shelter or animal shelter. Serve at a soup kitchen. Join a group fighting against sex trafficking or another cause. Teach a Sunday School class or volunteer in your grandchild’s classroom or your local YMCA.
Go to a conference, festival or a retreat: Attend a local writer’s conference (if you are an aspiring writer), a local historical festival or Renaissance Fair (if you like history), or a women’s retreat with your church women’s group.
Look for community festivals that honor different cultures where you can explore different foods, traditions and start up conversations with others doing the same thing.
Small talk often leads to connection, so don’t be shy about extending the conversation to lunch or dinner: “Would you like to grab a bite and continue this conversation?”
Walk the dog: No matter where you go to walk your dogs there are ALWAYS people who stop to pet them and chat. Fill in the conversation with questions, and you may find a new friend right in your own neighborhood.
Join a Facebook group: Facebook works nicely for finding new online friends. So many women who’ve never known each other have become prayer partners and close friends from engaging on one of my various Lounge Facebook groups, so I know this works!
Here’s how to find a Facebook group that shares your passion…
On your Facebook timeline click on “Groups” (usually on the left sidebar). On the top toolbar of the page that pops up, choose “Discover.” Look through the list to find groups that share your passion.
You can also do a search in the Facebook search bar by typing in your interest and groups (“quilting groups”). Click “Join” when you find one you’d like to check out.
Reconnect with old friends: I get together throughout the year with a bunch of former high school girlfriends for lunch and the occasional retreat.
This December we’re meeting for a three-day retreat at an Airbnb. In years past it’s been at a retreat cabin or a road trip with girlfriends traveling to a cool destination. Getting together for lunch or dinner works well too for those who live locally.
Attend a class reunion and make a point to engage someone you’d like to have as a friend, whether old or new.
You can also search out old classmates at classmates.com OR on Facebook by entering your old grammar school or high school in the search bar.
Join Meetup: Meetup helps you discover local groups of people who have the same interests as you. Do you like to read, shop for antiques, write, visit museums, hike, travel, discuss art, or design a quilt? There’s probably a local group or club for that! You can also find international meetup groups if you like to travel.
How to find that one special girlfriend in a group…
… you know, the one that will go out to a movie with you or meet you at your favorite coffee shop.
Now that you’ve found a group to hang with—GREAT! You’ve taken a big step to find new friends.
BUT how do you connect with one person enough that she becomes a close friend?
This is easy if you’re outgoing. BUT what if you’re shy or have some triggers from past friendships that didn’t go well? Not so easy,
Your mission… if you choose to accept it, is to look for someone in the group who needs a friend.
You’ll know who she is because she’ll be asking for advice or input on your shared passion OR she’ll be somewhat shy and quiet.
Introduce yourself. Be friendly—this is basic Proverbs 18:24, right? What woman wants to hang out with someone who isn’t friendly?
Ask questions about her life, how she got started with your shared passion, and listen to her answers.
If she asked the group for advice, gently ask her a few questions and then give her your helpful counsel. Keep it short and sweet.
After a few more conversations with her, ask her out for coffee to chat some more.
If you do this enough, eventually someone will click with you and then … you have a new friend.
Still feel a little uncomfortable with how to find new friends?
Practice smiling and being friendly with everyone you meet during your day.
- It may be the cashier at the grocery store who could use a little appreciation.
- Or the person walking her dog who loves it when someone pays attention to her pet.
- Or a woman standing in line at the bank.
Think of it as a kindness exercise–sharing a smile and a question or comment with the individuals you meet throughtout your day. You’ll find that it makes it easier to connect with people in a group setting.
What’s your friendship story? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.