Make Friends at Any Age
Struggles with friends or difficulty making friends can occur at any age. We hear of young children feeling left out, teenagers struggling with their peers at school, people having trouble getting along with others on their job, marital and relationship problems and loneliness during times of divorce, empty nest, break-ups, or the loss of loved ones.
“Making friends presents new and different struggles throughout the different stages of our life,” said Tisha Bayless of Memorial Behavioral Health. “Life is ever-changing and so are our relationships, ability and opportunities to connect with others.”
As we grow older, it can be more difficult to find social groups if they’re not already in place. Parenting often makes it more challenging to connect with others outside of one’s immediate family and retirement, too, can make one feel isolated and lonely.
“Regardless of what a person’s situation might be, there are many things they can do to connect with others and build or expand their social network,” Bayless said. Some new ways to meet people include:
- Take a class or volunteer for something that you have a passion for – it might help you to meet others with similar interests.
- Use social media to reconnect with extended family, past co-workers or childhood friends.
- Consider getting involved in a club or community service organization that meets regularly.
- Use open body language. Often people’s body language conveys to others whether they are approachable or closed off. Making good eye contact, smiling, making small talk and engaging with others can invite conversation and may lead to a friendship.
- Reach out to those you may have lost touch with. Try to refrain from keeping score as to who has to reach out more often. Plan activities that welcome old friends with whom you’d like to reunite…even if you are the one that seems to always reach out first.
- Think outside the box. Not all friends need to be in your same age group or at your work. Friendships can come in the most unlikely forms at times. A child, a pet or an elderly person whom you volunteer to help may become the best friend you didn’t expect.
- Take a risk. Often, people have many acquaintances in their life but they struggle to reach out and make plans to get better acquainted or spend time together. Consider what might be stopping you and take a risk by asking someone to meet for coffee or for dinner some evening.
Need to talk?
Memorial Behavioral Health has counselors who can help you with emotional wellness. Find the location nearest you.