“I spent most of my life working and raising kids, and I’m now preparing to be a retired empty nester. I would love to get out, meet people my age, and make some friends, but I’m not sure where or how to start.”
Making friends as an adult can be hard, especially for people who are older. Because it’s easiest to form friendships with people you have a lot in common with, you probably are looking for ways to meet like-minded people who are around your age. Bars, nightclubs, and concerts may attract a younger crowd, so finding the right kinds of activities is important for middle-aged people trying to make friends.
Strong, close friendships are essential parts of staying happy and healthy as a middle-aged or older adult. If you are struggling to find friends as a man or as a woman over 50, consider some of the suggestions below to meet people and make friends.
Sometimes, the best place to look for new friends is in your past. If you have friendships you’ve neglected or people you’ve lost touch with, consider reaching out and trying to reconnect. It can sometimes be easier to rekindle a prior friendship than it is to develop a new one from scratch.
If there are people you want to re-establish a connection with, here are some ideas of how to do so:
- Send a note, card, or small gift to them in the mail to wish them well or say hello
- Send an email or Facebook message asking them how they are doing
- Send a text or call them to check in and let them know you were thinking of them
People who live close to each other and see each other often tend to have an easier time developing a friendship. If you live in a neighborhood, consider looking close to home for new friends. Having a friend who lives nearby makes it easier to connect with each other on a regular basis.
Here are some ways to make friends with your neighbors:
- Join your HOA or a community watch group to become more familiar with people in your neighborhood
- Download the Nextdoor app, which connects you to an online feed of people in your neighborhood and keeps you up to date on what’s happening where you live
- Spend more time outside in your front yard or at the pool or community center in your neighborhood (if you have one)
Hobbies and activities can be a great way to have fun, get out of the house, and meet like-minded people. If you are interested in learning something new (like woodworking, baking, or painting), consider signing up to take a class or course in your community.
Becoming more active and involved in your community is also one of the best ways to meet people and make new friends as an older adult. Here are some ideas about how to get out of the house and meet people who have similar interests and hobbies as you:
- Join your local YMCA or gym and look into classes and events they host
- Look for events at your local library or community center
- Spend more time outdoors at local parks and on greenways
Meetups are another great way to become more active and social while also bringing together people who have a common goal of making new friends. You can look for meetups near you by going to Meetup.com and typing in your city or zip code. If your goal is to meet people you have a lot in common with, try looking for meetups for older adults or for people who have a similar interest as you.
If you have some free time on your hands, volunteering can be another great way to meet new friends while also giving back to your community. Many volunteers are people who are retired or not working full-time jobs, making it more likely that you will meet people around your age.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some steps to take to find a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests and values:
- Find a cause or population you care about (e.g., children, older people, animals, the environment, mental health, etc.)
- Research different organizations and nonprofits in your city that are working for the same cause
- Call around to ask about volunteer opportunities and learn more about the requirements and process for becoming a volunteer
Another way to meet people and foster close connections with them is to join a support group. For example, if you’re trying to rebuild your life after losing a loved one or after divorce, there may be a support group in your community that can help. There are many benefits of a support group, but the main benefit is that it connects people to others who they can relate to, making it easier to form close relationships with them.
Another way to deepen your connection with someone is to connect with them over a common goal. For example, if you want to get in better shape and start an exercise routine, you could look on Nextdoor, Facebook, or meetups for others who are also looking to become more active. By connecting with people with similar goals, you can help keep each other accountable while getting closer to them at the same time.
If you have looked into the options for social activities, groups, and meetups in your city but you aren’t impressed, consider starting your own club. Instead of waiting around for someone else to start a book club, community watch group, or bible study group, take the initiative and set it up yourself. This way, you position yourself to meet new people and connect over a common interest, and you also help to connect with others who are feeling isolated or alone.
Done the right way, social networking over 50 can help you build your social network and become more connected with people in your community.
Some of the features that can help you meet people on Facebook include:
- Events calendar which lists some of the activities going on in your community and which of your friends are planning to attend
- Groups that can bring together people with a similar interest, goal, or hobby
- Gaming where you can play games and interact with other people online
You could also try Instagram and Twitter to meet new friends. Our guide on how to make friends online may help.
Another great way to make some new friends is to volunteer to help organize or host events for work, your church, or other organizations you’re involved in. By taking an active role in planning and hosting social events, you will become more familiar with the people planning to attend and will end up interacting with them more. This can make it easier to transition an acquaintance into a friend, giving you more chances to get to know one another.
People who are more self-compassionate and who are proactive about their physical and emotional health report having better relationships with other people. Learning to set boundaries, practice self-care, and dedicate time for yourself are all important ways to make yourself more of a priority. By doing so, you will be better able to relate and connect with others without overextending yourself.
If you’re shy and have a hard time talking to others, it may be because you filter too much of what you think about saying aloud. Loosening this filter will make it easier for you to be more authentic and genuine with people and also provides more of a chance for people to get to know the real you.
Try loosening up around others by:
- Sharing your observations or opinions out loud instead of keeping them to yourself
- Making jokes or interacting in a more fun, light-hearted or playful way with others
- Not putting so much attention or energy into your appearance, the impression you make, or what others think of you; focus on other people instead
If you can work on being more approachable, you won’t have to do all of the work in starting conversations because people will come to you. By being friendly, open, and welcoming to people, you will be signaling your interest in making friends with other people and will attract people with the same goal.
If you want to attract more friends, here are some tips:
- Smile at people: it makes them feel good and also helps to lower their natural defenses or reservations
- Keep your body language open: sit near others, keep an open posture (e.g., don’t slouch or cross your arms over your chest), and use gestures to welcome other people (e.g., a nod, wave, or ‘come closer’ gesture)
- Show interest in people by giving them your undivided attention, making good eye contact, and listening attentively when they speak
Your spouse or partner may want to be included in your new social life, in which case it’s a good idea to work on making some couple friends. By doing things and leaving the house together, you can spend quality time with your partner while also working to meet new people and make some new friends.
Here are some ideas for husband and wife social groups or groups where you can meet other couples:
- Attend a couples’ workshop or retreat to meet other couples while improving your relationship with your partner
- Sign yourself and your partner up to take a class or learn a new hobby together, like taking a cooking class, where you may meet other couples
- Look for events and activities that are designated for couples, like ballroom dancing, date night specials at a favorite restaurant, or romantic activities where you may run into other couples
If you are still working, you might be able to make friends at work. If your colleagues are much younger than you, it’s easy to assume you won’t have anything in common. But if you take time to learn more about your coworkers, you may uncover some shared hobbies and interests, which could be the beginning of a friendship. Keep an open mind. You might find it helpful to read our article on how to find things in common with someone.
It can be difficult to make friends as a middle-aged or older adult. When you make an effort to get out more, meet people, and start more conversations, you are bound to make some new friends. By working to be more social, you will also be helping to keep yourself happy, healthy, and active, which is proven to improve the quality of life in people who are over the age of 50.
Universities, parks, community centers, libraries, and even your local YMCA are all great places to meet friends over the age of 50. Looking for activities, events, and meetups near you can also be a good way to meet new friends. You may also be able to make friends at work.
It is possible to make friends after the age of 50. The key is to get out more, start more conversations, and work on being more physically and socially active. This will give you more chances to meet people who are around your age.
For a husband and wife, it may be important to include each other in your social activities and plans. You can work on making friends together by attending classes, meetings, or activities as a couple and by targeting specific events that are likely to attract other couples.