On my article about meeting new friends after moving to a new city, a reader asked for friend-finding tips for people over 40. I’m not sure if I’m the best or worst person to ask, because meeting friends has been a struggle for me for the past 7 years!
Seven years ago, I married Bruce and moved to Vancouver, BC (age 35). Before that, I had more friends than I could keep up with. But ever since my marriage I’ve found myself lacking friends and craving the connection friendships bring.
I don’t know what my problem is – and that’s my first tip for meeting friends when you’re over forty.
Think about what stops you from meeting new people
I think I’m having trouble meeting friends in Vancouver because of a combination of things: I’m married, I’m an introvert and prefer to be alone instead of with people, my husband doesn’t need to spend time with friends, and I like spending time with my husband. Plus, I think Alberta (where I lived before) is friendlier and more down to earth than Vancouver (where we live now). For the first two years of marriage, I didn’t need friends because my husband met my emotional and social needs.
Whether or not you’re married, it’s healthier and better to have friends outside your marriage. Social connections (especially in person, not online) create physical and emotional health, and give us additional support when life throws curveballs. And if God forbid your marriage should fail or your spouse should die, you’ll need all the support you can get.
Know your personality
If you’re an introvert (like I am), take this Test for Introverted Personality Traits. It’ll give you insight into your personality, which will help you meet friends when you’re 40 plus.
Get a dog (it’s impossible to own a dog and not meet friends!)
We’ve had Georgie for 1.5 years, and I get lots of social interaction just by walking her a couple times a day. I’ve made friends with neighbors near and far, and am actually throwing a party next Saturday night for all the friends I’ve met walking my dog. Plus, people who own dogs are often healthier and happier (pet research proves this) – and if you’re over 40, you need to start focusing on your long-term health!
Join – or start – a book club
I started a book club in North Vancouver, partly because I knew it was a good way to meet friends and partly because I love reading and talking about books. Is there a book club in your community or city? That’s one of the best ways to meet friends when you’re 40+.
If books aren’t your thing, join a MeetUp group. They’re specifically designed to bring people together who have common interests – which is what meeting new friends is all about! Do an internet search for MeetUp groups in your city, get out of your comfort zone, and drop in on a meeting every couple of weeks.
Learn something new – or volunteer your time
I always hate giving this tip (take a class, learn something new) because it’s so clichéd. But it’s a great way to meet friends when you’re over 40 years old! I started playing the flute a year ago, and joined a community band. I also went back to school in September, to get my MSW (Master’s of Social Work). Those are fantastic ways to meet new people while challenging your brain and staying healthy!
If you don’t want to learn a new instrument or go back to school, find volunteer opportunities in your area. I’m a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Vancouver, and I love it. Being a Big hasn’t helped me meet new friends, but I know I’m changing my Little’s life.
Think about why you’re not establishing friendships with the people you meet
One of my online friends, Cherie Burbach, is the About.com Guide for friendships. In 5 Reasons You’re Not Making Friends she writes, “How do you present yourself to new friends? Are you open and approachable? If not, you may be scaring people off from trying to get to know you better. Be sure to use body language that invites conversation (don’t cross your arms or frown, for example) when you’re in an environment where you have the opportunity to chat with someone new.”
This relates to my first tip for meeting new friends: ask yourself if you’re standing in your own way to connect with people in a real and meaningful way.
Are you meeting friends but still feel alone? Read How to Stop Being Lonely – 10 Creative Ways to Cope With Loneliness.