Let’s talk about your offlinesocial life for a change. Most of us have pretty extensive onlinesocial lives, but what about your “old fashioned” social life (remember that one)? Since moving down here in 2013, I have met quite a few people who have moved here for retirement, work transfer, or family reasons. Many of these new residents are finding it hard to make friends. It isn’t because of the people who live here, but a lack of confidence and knowledge about how to go about it. Some of my clients have a lack of good friends here, so I did a little research about making friends at an older age. If you transferred here for work, then you might have some friendly co-workers who invite you out from time to time, but unless they are younger, they might have families that take up a lot of their time.
There seems to be an interesting phenomenon that happens around 40. After the age of 40, making friends does get a little more difficult. As kids, it’s easy. We get tossed into the same school as all the neighborhood kids (assuming you went to public), and practically forced to make friends. If we weren’t put into groups at school and told to work together on projects, our parents were taking us to the block parties and neighborhood barbeques to meet the other kids. Don’t forget sports and other extracurricular activities! The school day didn’t stop after the bell rang. It was so much easier to make friends as a kid.
Why is it so much harder now?
- It takes more than having one thing in common. When we were younger, we could become friends with anyone who shared our interest in something. Now, we want more. We look at personalities as well. We want to be able to tolerate and get along with each other.
- How exciting is your life? Maybe you don’t think you will have anything to talk about. Don’t let that hold you back. Remember, you don’t have to fill the silence or have constantly talk. Just sit and enjoy each other’s company.
- Let’s face it, we get some what set in our ways as we get older. It doesn’t have to be that way. Do something small that’s different. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand. Drive to work a different way than normal. What small changes can you make to get out of your rut? Keep your mind open to new possibilities.
- Are you finding fault in others? You could be pushing people away. Evaluate yourself and find out if you are being open-minded or judgmental when you meet people. Is there a reason for that? Did you have a bad experience at some point in your life that’s causing this issue? Talk to someone who can help. Figure out the underlying issue.
- Are you just too busy to make the time to meet people? Then analyze where your time is being spent, then decide if you are giving your time to your highest priorities. You might have to cut something out to save time. If you are working more than one job, then maybe you have to downsize to save money.
- How are your social skills? Are they rusty? Consider looking at Meetup.com groups to practice your skills in real social situations.
What happens when you find yourself in a situation and you have nothing to say?
Keep a few questions in mind to ask a person during a conversation that’s going south. Here are a few examples:
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As an adult, what do you want to be when you grow up?
- What would be your dream vacation?
- Would you like to be famous? If yes, for what?
- What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
- What kind of work do you do, and what do you love about it?
- If you were given $20 million tomorrow, what would you do with it?
If you still feel anxious or don’t know where to start, then go to a local coffee shop and talk to the regulars who come in. Volunteer for a cause you feel really passionate about. Get involved in the neighborhood or community where you live. Some communities even have newsletters, so you can keep up with the events. Go to yard sales and talk with sellers and people who drop by to browse.