Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Making New Friends


By Karen McCoy, Marketing Consultant, Ridgecrest Village

Before you retired, you probably didn’t think about it, but now you are finding it is challenging to forge new friendships. You are finding it difficult to maintain your friendships; you no longer have that daily access to the co-workers you shared significant life moments with. If you no longer see each other at work each day, it can be difficult to make time to get together. Retirement can be the perfect opportunity to spend time with those you enjoy, but it probably will be more difficult to fill your social calendar with interesting and fun people.
You may have a better chance of meeting people if you are outgoing, but it will take an effort on your part to make new friends that have some of the same interests.

One avenue to explore to meet people is volunteering and getting engaged with the community. Doing something worthwhile to contribute to the community, many times, gives you an opportunity to forge new friendships. Becoming involved in local organizations and causes could be an excellent way to meet like-minded folks while doing something that you enjoy and matters. It gets you out of the house, doing good, and meeting people. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

Try new things and explore the local scene; you will cross paths with all kinds of people. Don’t be afraid to share your passions and interests. When trying to find new friends, ask yourself, what makes you happy? What do you want out of life? What do you want out of a friendship? Building social connections around your passion is a really great way to meet people. If you are willing to put yourself out there and make the effort, you might uncover your next best friend.

Research from the Stanford Center on Longevity shows that of all the age groups, Baby Boomers show the most signs of disengaging from traditional modes of social relationships.

How people form social networks is changing, which may make it harder to establish friendships. Fewer people are attending religious services or engaging in community organizations, two areas where people tended to meet like-minded people. Given these unique challenges, retirees may have to work a bit harder to make friends, but it’s not impossible. Give it time. Often, relationships go through the superficial stage before they become meaningful. Many times, because you are older, you are less interested in superficial relationships. So, that means, when seeking new friends, you might have to keep at it, which is why creating a routine, such as going to the same place at the same time each week, can help. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it. Just remember to smile, smile, smile.

Don’t fall into negative self-talk. Oh, “they wouldn’t want me.” Or, “I can’t do that.” Remember, you made wonderful friends at work; you can make wonderful friends now. Don’t be afraid to make the first move, talk to new people.

You can try technology. It is changing how we interact and could be a good way to meet new people. You can take a class to find out just how to use the technology. We live in an ever-changing world, and technology is here to stay. It may even be the only way you are going to stay in touch with your children and grandchildren as much as you would like. Phone calls, social media, and even email are a few ways to stay in contact with distant friends. There are also ways that you can find old classmates and other people from your past and reignite old friendships.

Don’t find yourself with fewer friends and missing out on the joy, comfort, love, laughter, and companionship that friendship brings. Get out there and make new friends; it will help fight illness and depression, and can even prolong your life.