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Finding Friends in Your 60s is Magical… Here’s How to Do it!

By Karen Venable March 01, 2018 Lifestyle

In the book about downsizing called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s suggested that you discard items in your home that don’t bring you joy. The same could be said about friends, I suppose.

What happens, however, when a friendship you treasure is taken from you? When you lose a friend because she moves, or you do? Or there’s a rift due to divorce, or a change in jobs or interests? Or the ultimate tragedy happens – your friend dies? The joy in your life diminishes.

Is this an inevitable part of the process of growing older? Yes, unfortunately it is. But does it mean that your life must constrict, becoming smaller and lonelier as time goes on? Absolutely not. You can – and you should – make new friends.

Making Friends Is Hard Post 60

Post 60, making friends is easier than ever. Do you know why? Because as we grow older, the old social constructs fall away, closed groups no longer hold their power, cliques dissolve, exclusivity becomes irrelevant, the jockeying for social or workplace position is over.

As a cohort, we become more genuine and open. Almost all of us suffer some losses, which tend to make us more appreciative of those who are in our lives. It also makes us more open and compassionate toward new people who arrive on the horizon.

Have you found that nowadays, when you meet someone your age for the first time – say at a friend’s party – you experience an ease in getting to know them that wasn’t often possible when you met someone new in the past?

Do you notice that conversation is quick to become comfortable and honest? That it’s much easier to get to know – and like – someone than it was when you were 40, or 30, or even 17? I certainly have found this to be the case.

Friendship Is Good for Your Health

Making and nurturing friendships is good for our health, both physical and mental. According to a recent article by Anna MacMillan in Time Magazine, friends may be more important than family.

She cited a study reported in the journal Personal Relationships that found that having supportive friendships in old age was a stronger predictor of well-being than having strong family connections.

In that study, more than 270,000 people across almost 100 countries were surveyed, and the data collected revealed that both family and friend relationships were associated with better health and a stronger feeling of happiness.

However, the more surprising finding was that in advanced ages, that association occurred only for people with strong friendships.

The author of the study, William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, says the findings aren’t surprising when you think about it.

Why? Because we can choose our friends while we can’t choose our family. So, it stands to reason that usually we enjoy our time with friends more than with family. We get together for fun and leisure, or for conversation about topics we want to discuss.

Family gatherings, on the other hand, may touch on repetitive issues that are tiresome or annoying, or they may involve activities that are serious, stressful or monotonous.

Friendship Is Bigger Than Family

So, if you think that family is all that you need as your circle of friends grows smaller, think again. And if you’re telling yourself that you can’t make new friends because you’re no longer heavily involved in your career, or you no longer participate in activities associated with your children’s lives, get that idea out of your head.

There are lots of ways to meet new friends. Take a class in something that interests you. Attend performances and be aware of those around you. In other words, be a little more open and outgoing than your usual self.

Attend or Hold a Salon

When someone invites you to a party, outing or dinner gathering, say yes even if your instinct is to stay on your couch for the evening.

Finally, don’t be shy about gathering new people to you. Some women I know have started hosting ‘salons’ in their homes. A salon is an evening of conversation around a stated topic of interest.

They either invite a speaker or they simply prepare some questions to get a conversation going on their own. And they not only invite their friends, they encourage them to invite their friends.

I call it “socializing with a purpose,” and it’s a lovely throwback to the salons of the Age of Enlightenment.

So – do go out and meet new people. Be open to developing new friendships. It’s for your own good.

Have you made any new friendships in the past few years? Are you contemplating moving to a new location? If so, what are your plans for finding and making friends in your new neighborhood, town or city? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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I have made several attempts at making new friends. I joined a tennis team and after a year nominated as Captain by the Coach then elected by the team. Served for 5 years. Even built the team up when the coach took sick and passed. Took us from last place to third in one season and then to 1st the next season. Giving my all and lotalty to everyone on the team. There was comradery but the introduction of three younger “entitled” players started a period of discord because they did not want to work their way through the ranks. After 1.5 years of drama and constant attacks and no one standing up for me, I resigned. Not one of my “friends” called me.

In my new community (55+) I got involved in Tennis and even volunteered my services (for free) to renovate the tennis center. But took the brunt of blame because it took the BOD so long to distribute the money for the renovation. I was ridiculed, insulted, verbally abused and ostracized by the very community I moved into the community to be a part of and was working towards their goal! Then when it was finished they would not schedule the grand opening for one day later than they wanted so I could return from my first Christmas with my inly grandchild. So I got no recognition, no thanks, nothing. To this day few people know that I single handedly planned, sourced and managed the renovation they all love!
I am a kind, generous, witty, intelligent woman and it boggles my mind why I have such a hard time making friends. I hide my political views. I am not argumentative. Slow to anger and rarely confrontation unless pushed to the point of no return.
I thought I had made a couple of friends when I joined a new tennis team in my community. Things were going great until the Captain started with her nepotism and drama., when she decided it was my turn to be the brunt of it I resigned because I was so traumatized by the last experience I was just not going to put myself through ANYTHING like that again. Plus I had seen how she treated some of the other players and decoded if she started that with me I’d walk! BUT I don’t understand why my “friends” now don’t want to even talk to me. I did not bad mouth the captain. I simply resigned from the team. Wished everyone well and bowed out gracefully. Yet here I am. Two called me I explained why I quit, agsin without bad mouthing the Captain (who by the way had asked me to be on the team then asked me to be co-captain). I always stepped ip when she asked me to but the minute she asked my opinion and it wasn’t what she wanted go hear …. Anyway I did drag the entire team into it. I did not leave them short handed. I simply resigned. When I was Captain of the other team, my teammates knew if they needed anything day or night, they could call me. I was there for them. My best friends, who live a distance away, always tell me what a wonderful friend I am but yet here I am.
Honestly, I am just sick of trying. It really is not that easy!

The Author

Karen Venable is a huge supporter of shared housing. She is working with the Village to Village Network on prototyping the concept of shared housing. She has also worked with and the National Council on Aging on issues of shared housing.

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