Jan Yager, Ph.D.
Author of “Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives” and “When Friendship Hurts”
- Reject the notion that “it’s hard to make friends as you get older.” Yes, some may be more “set in your ways,” but some may also have more time for friendship now that kids are grown and independent, some may even be working less, or even retired.
- Let new friendships evolve naturally out of the activities you do so get involved in going to workshops, volunteering, join, or start, a book club, take up a new sport, travel on your own or on a sponsored trip with your spouse.
- Look at yourself as if you’re an outsider. When you meet someone at a community event, for example, is your body language saying. Is it saying, “I’m open to friendship?” or are your arms crossed in a defensive “Stay away!” stance.
- Use online social meet to develop friendships but be careful without being paranoid. (If you decide to move the developing relationship offline, initially meet in a public place; bring another friend along if that would make you more comfortable.
- My research found that, in general, it takes three years from when you meet to become a “tried and true friend” although, of course, you may initially feel that you really like someone, and she or he likes you, and you become “fast friends.” But growing your friendship, and “testing it out,” will take time, so don’t push it or rush it or you may find potential new friends are “running for the hills” because you’re too pushy.
- Avoid the “love me, love my children” or “love me, love my spouse” mindset. On your own, you can meet a new friend for coffee or lunch, or a Girl’s Night Out, and it’s okay if you’re just friends without having to make your children or spouse part of the equation. That might naturally occur, in time, but you need not force those additional connections.
- There’s an old saying, “to have a friend, be a friend,” so work on being a better friend to the ones you already have and you may find you are growing your friendship network faster than you ever dreamed possible, even after age 50.