The world and how we relate to it has rapidly changed, impacting how we interact with each other, stay in touch, and maintain an active social presence.
As the years tick by, our circumstances change. It’s inevitable. Friends relocate, moving closer to adult children or to a warmer climate; some just drift away as interests shift beyond what used to hold us together. We need to find ways to fill the void left in their wake or risk becoming socially isolated.
More so than when we were younger, we need to make an effort to maintain a dynamic group of friends and associates within a changing lifestyle. This may mean opening our mind to other options, including technology.
Virtual forums for women are popping up all over the internet. Sixty and Me is one of the most prolific and relevant for women our age.
It offers forums and discussion boards covering topics as benign as travel, fitness, and make up, to more serious subjects like career choices, feminist politics, heath, and aging, to truly intimate discussions of sex, marital difficulties, loneliness, aging, and death.
Whatever’s on your mind, you can talk about it online, and, evidentially, you won’t be alone. These sites are popular and frequented regularly by thousands of women, all looking to supplement their personal relationships.
Another source of online conversation is available through your Facebook page. Facebook public and private pages show up when you search for a topic, whereas the secret groups can only be joined upon invitation from a member.
The subjects are limitless and quite interesting. I’ve joined several Facebook writers’ groups and have enjoyed sharing my work and exchanging ideas with other writers.
If you prefer to meet new friends face to face, there are sites for you as well. Friend Finders are similar to online dating sites except their focus is social connection rather than romance.
Many are co-ed, but some are strictly for women, and the experience can be anything from simply joining a group for an activity, to submitting a profile to be matched up to those with whom you may be compatible.
In the interest of research, I signed up for Girlfriend Social, a matching site exclusively for women. I filled out my profile, representing myself honestly, and found it interesting to note that my ego danced around a little before I hit submit, fearing no one would choose to connect with me.
Participating in these sites does require a little self-assurance, or at least the courage to push past any insecurity around putting yourself out there.
I was matched with a number of women within a 90-minute driving radius of my home. Most were at least 20 years my junior, and many were not good matches for my preferences and lifestyle, but a few seemed promising, so I clicked their box in hopes they would respond.
I also checked the option to connect with women virtually rather than in person. This appealed to me because I spend lots of time online and enjoy corresponding in writing. I also imagined it would increase my pool of potential matches. After several days, however, I have yet to make a connection.
A creative twist on friend finding, Meet My Dog invites people to make matches with other dog owners who are interested in including their furry friends in the fun.
I didn’t sign up because, unfortunately, my dog is not as social as I. But I can see how bringing along a couple of canine cuties could help break the ice.
If you don’t mind showing up solo to join an activity, Meet Up may be for you. The website provides a user-friendly platform for people who want to hike, bike, enjoy gourmet food and wine, share films and books.
Any activity you can imagine probably has a Meet Up. And if there isn’t, the site encourages individuals to organize one.
I joined a women’s writing Meet Up and have been getting together with this same group of women every month for over two years. They’ve become an important part of my social circle and have helped me become a better writer.
I also occasionally join a hiking Meet Up and have explored lots of new trails I would otherwise have missed.
I was pleased to discover the meet up group Finding Female Friends Past 50 in Southern California has over 2,000 members, proving there is definitely a place for us within this community.
Girlfriend Circles is a well-developed online community based on the creator’s book, blog, and videos about how to create meaningful friendships at all stages of life.
With 7424 members, the site matches you with those either in your area or with similar interests and encourages you to utilize online correspondence or engage via hosted video forums as well as discussion boards on many topics around vulnerability, communication, and intimacy.
It is a very active and engaging experience for which I signed up, not only as research for this article but because I am always interested in broadening my social circles.
I was matched with several women who live similar lifestyles and have engaged in some of the online discussion groups. All and all, a good experience so far.
So, if you are game, motivated to join in and can take the initiative to start a conversation, I believe it is possible to have a meaningful connection with women via the Internet. But as with most things in life, what you get out of it depends largely on what you put forth.
How do you connect with people online? Have you signed up for any of these websites or found others? If so, did you find them helpful and satisfying? If not, what holds you back? Do you think virtual friendships can be fulfilling? Please share your experiences with our community.