By Alex Morris
Making good friends as you get older can be difficult. Trying to balance your personal life with work can leave you with limited time to get out and about. Worse still, the longer you leave it the more anxious you become about meeting new people.
Whilst it can be difficult to take that first step back into the world of socializing, once you have made the move you will usually find things fall neatly into place.
To help you kickstart the process, below are 14 possibilities to keep in mind – with some initiative, a smartphone, and a charm offensive, nothing can hold you back.
1. Overcoming nerves
Firstly, I’m aware the below 13 points may seem easy in consideration. But when the time comes to socialize, it’s often a tad more difficult. If you are shy, highly introverted, or out of practice with talking to people, it may even seem like an impossibility.
If you have anxiety, then you can find services such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) – it offers tips on how to deal with, and even overcome, some of the symptoms to make socializing easier.
Just remember, many times you will find yourself nervous and anxious before meeting people, but once you’re talking away you will calm down and begin to enjoy the experience.
It’s just about taking that first step and chatting to people, but you can condition yourself to make positive steps simply by following some coping strategies here:
Feel Anxious in Social Situations? Try These Methods
Now, to meeting people! The first option is challenging as it depends on your personality type – it will either be too obvious or crushingly difficult.
What are your opportunistic options?
Approach your neighbors, for instance, and get to know them over a coffee or tea. At work, offer to catch up over drinks and get to know your colleagues in a relaxed environment. Attending a party? Get talking to people when you arrive, find someone you have something in common with, and then offer to connect on Facebook. From there you can suggest meeting for drinks.
This one will be nerve-wracking/annoying for the introverts of this world, but an opportunistic streak (even if it’s a cheeky one, such as inviting yourself to after work drinks you heard colleagues discussing) can go a long way.
3. Frequent a local café
Choose a café you like, head there at regular intervals, and practice your charm offensive on the baristas. It can be fun practice for other social occasions, plus you can genuinely get to know people.
Day after day, as the weeks pass, your confidence will grow and you will become a regular – a great way to practice witty conversation with the staff.
Also, it’s a chance to drink some coffee and tea and you can’t grumble at that.
4. Break out of your comfort zone
Break on through the habit of a lifetime – try something you would never normally do. This could be taking up rollerblading or learning a musical instrument – nothing is stopping you from joining a local band.
Volunteer at the local theatre, or take up amateur acting. Out of the randomness can come lifelong friendships, so dare yourself to try something new.
Meetup helps you find meetups that interest you – it’s as simple as that. It can be difficult to meet new people and think of conversation. Especially if you’re nervous. If there’s an activity to get on with, though, then conversation can be free-flowing.
Heading off on holiday, whether locally or abroad gets you around people – obviously. In this scenario, everyone is in the same situation. You’re in a new location, you don’t know anyone, and it’s an ideal opportunity to get talking to complete strangers.
Wondering where to go?
Lonely Planet is an excellent site to check out for ideas – it has a brilliant blog.
There’s also Atlas Obscura, in case you feel you have done it all from a travel front, which offers endless weirdly wonderful tourist spots from across the world.
And of course, we have plenty of suggestions for you on Lifehack: World’s 10 Best Destinations To Travel Alone
All it takes to find a worthy cause is a quick Google search. It may be a local cat shelter needing volunteers to take care of its felines at weekends, supporting the local library, or at a sporting event (motorsport races always need track marshals, for example).
Wherever you volunteer, there will be other volunteers, too, making it a fun way to get to meet new people. It’s also something to add to your CV/résumé.
8. Join (or even start) a book or film club
You can find plenty of these already set up on the likes of Meetup. But if there isn’t one in your local community, then you can start one.
Books or films are an easy choice to get a conversation going, as you’re rarely like to find people who hate films.
Simply ask someone what films they like and you will be off for hours. Ask someone about their favourite author and you will get the same result.
9. Late night classes
If you want to learn something new, and meet a batch of new people whilst you’re at it, then here’s a rewarding option. Have a search on Google for late night classes or adult training courses in your area. You will pretty much immediately meet a group of people with a shared interest.
10. Try meet-friends apps
There’s an app for everything these days, including ones for making good friends no matter the situation you’re in. Peanut , for example, is for your mothers looking to connect – “Meet as Mamas” as the site puts it.
Or there’s Bumble BFF. This is very handy if you have found yourself in a situation where you just don’t know anybody nearby (e.g. if you have moved to a new city).
Huggle is an other: “Discover people who go to the places you go to” reads the slogan. The app filters people based on the locations you go to, what you get up to, and what you’re interested in. From there, you can connect and see where it all leads.
If you’re over 50, there’s Stitch. It’s about companionship, travel, and activities and can connect you with people locally and globally.
11. Join a sports group
Sports, asides from keeping you fit, are usually pretty sociable occasions.
Think of the likes of badminton, tennis, cycling classes, cricket, and various others. Book yourself into local matches at you have got a bit of casual competition on your hands – a great way to get natural conversation flowing.
12. Get a pet
Animals are great companions, which is a major bonus right away if you’re feeling lonely.
Whether you get a cat, dog, fish, hamster, or a pigeon (yes, these make great pets!), there are going to be other people out there who love these sorts of animals as well.
A pet dog is arguably the best option, as you can take it for walks, bond, and head to meetups (such as with the pug one in New York above). It’s an easy conversation starter, as most people can talk for hours about the various quirks of their four-legged friend.
13. Start blogging
A bit of a shift now, as the final two involve sitting behind a computer. But you can find good friends from across the world easily if you start blogging on a platform like WordPress.
With its online community, it won’t be long until you have come across lots of people you have things in common with.
Pick a topic you’re interested in, such as films, music, or food, and people will arrive to look at the content you’re publishing.
14. Online gaming
Video games aren’t for everyone, but if they have piqued your interest then there are plenty that encourage socialising (in digital form).
If you’re suffering from anxiety and unsure about getting out and about in your local city or town, then games can be a fun way of starting the step towards bigger things.
MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) are a great place to start. Titles like World of Warcraft have many millions of players across the world.
Some people have even married after meeting on it! That’s not mandatory of course. But it shows you how well you can get to know people through a mutual passion.
Your age can’t stop you from meeting friends!
No matter how old you are, you can still make friends and bond with others.
To begin with, just keep things simple and avoid unnecessary stresses.
Start a blog, chat to people online, read some of the ADAA guide if you’re nervous, and maybe reconnect with an old friend you have not seen for a while.
After that, you can slowly ramp up your socializing plan to take on bigger opportunities. Ultimately, you’re the boss. You don’t have to meet anyone – downtime in solitude can be great, after all – but if you have experienced a twinge of loneliness on a Friday night, then consider a few of the steps above to make some good friends.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
This article was first published at Lifehack