Yes, you can make friends later in life
A lot has been said about how it’s harder to make friends after a certain stage of life. While it’s true that after college, you’re less likely to be thrown into situations where you’re constantly around new people, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of ways to add new friends to your inner circle. And it’s definitely worth it to try since studies have shown that a healthy social circle can help us live longer, happier lives. Friends support us during significant life changes, and they help advise us through marriage and parenting, and our careers. They also add a much-needed element of fun to our lives and give us a spark that might otherwise be missing. So whatever you do, don’t miss your shot at creating new and meaningful friendships whenever you can.
1. Look for connections everywhere
If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find there are more chances to meet people than you might think. They’re actually around us all day, every day. Perhaps the most obvious friend-potential lies with your peers at work. This is a given for some people who already have strong bonds with colleagues, but rarely do people look for friends in their company outside their immediate team. If you keep your eyes wide open, you might notice someone at an all-company outing that looks fun and interesting or someone you pass daily in the break room or at the copier. Take the time to strike up a conversation and see if there’s friend chemistry. And make sure you’re not just relegating members of your own team to friendships or bonding during work hours. A cocktail outing or brunch on the weekends with workmates can make projects run easier and more smoothly when you’re actually working together. Neighbors are also low-hanging fruit. Is there a cool girl in your building that always seems friendly? Or someone next door that you often pass and get good vibes from? Strike up a conversation and see if there’s a real possibility for friendship. It may feel awkward at first, but people who work and live where we do usually share similar tastes and lifestyles and can make for excellent friend material.
2. Be a joiner
If you’re ready to widen your circle of friends and get some new energy flowing into your life, the fastest way is to join something. A running group. An art class. A cooking class. An Italian class. Any class, really. Not only will you meet like-minded people who want cool hobbies, but you’ll also have the added benefit of learning a new skill. Volunteer work is not only rewarding; it’s a chance to meet other people. You can add value and people to your life at the same time by signing up to help others and meeting other people who are also using their time to give back.
3. Put yourself out there
As the old saying goes, fortune favors the bold. If you catch yourself chatting with a cool person at a coffee shop that seems like friend material, go for it. You can just come right out and say, “This may seem a bit random, but I’m always looking for new friends—would you ever want to hang out sometime?” If you meet an amazing friend-of-a-friend at a dinner or housewarming, don’t just let it be a one-time chance encounter. Ask to swap numbers or follow each other on social media, then follow up a few days later to lock in another hangout. Too many people are busy lamenting a lack of new friends while at the same time letting these chances slip away from them. The people out there with huge numbers of amazing friends usually put in the work by first noticing an opportunity right in front of them, then by doing a bit of the chase.
4. Now follow up…again…and again
Like all new goals and habits, making friends requires consistency. When you’re trying to solidify a new friendship, it takes several interactions, big and small, to really lock it in. The key is to keep the connection going, not letting it lapse for weeks or months at a time while you’re trying to get a friendship off the ground. Remember things you two talked about excitedly and follow up—texting over the article you mentioned, sending a link to that new album or an upcoming film at the local indie theater. New friends are a wealth of new ideas, viewpoints, and inspiration. This kind of back and forth is healthy for both sides of the friendship, helping you each to widen your net of knowledge and influence—and show off the things you already know. And be sure to find a variety of ways to get 1:1 facetime: breakfast dates, walks in the park, coffee runs, cocktail hour, movie nights, and more.
New friends help us grow and evolve. They bring fresh energy with them and experiences and wisdom that can serve you in your own life. It’s been proven that close friendships keep us healthier in mind, body, and soul. That’s why it’s so worth it to make sure you’re adding great new people to your life whenever you can. The number one tip is to keep your eyes open for new friend material—it’s all around you. And just like any habit, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.