making friends after 50

How to Make Friends After 50

This is a subject that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  It seems like when we were younger there were built-in ways to make friends.  We had kids in school and we met lots of people through them.  We worked in an office building, but now we don’t go to the office.  Over time our best friends may have moved away.   

Whatever the reason, I find that it’s not as easy for older adults to make new friends.  I miss being in social circles with people who have similar interests.  I want to have a few golden girls for my golden years.  

More importantly, studies show that people with strong social connections live longer.  All of the social isolation in 2019-2020 is proof that we need close friendships.  A recent study from Michigan State University study finds that friendships are more important the older you get.

making friends after 50

I’m going to experiment with finding new friends and report back with helpful tips for each method.  I’m pretty introverted, so this isn’t easy for me.  Think of it as a science experiment.  

I’m going to test out these ways to find new friends.  

Here are 25 of the best ways to make new friendships and meet people.  The first step is to choose just one and do it.  

  • Joining a book club:  Book clubs are an easy way to get together with people that you don’t know very well and you have a built-in conversation topic, the book.  You can a book club through your local library or by using this site, which you can sort by genre and location.
  • Volunteering: Helping a cause you believe in can bring you close to like-minded people.  I recently found this site that helps you match up your interests and skills with volunteer opportunities.
  • Take Classes or Workshops: Whether it’s painting, pottery, woodworking or learning a new language, these classes can be a great place to meet new people and you can learn how to do something new at the same time.  I found a list of 30 ideas for adult classes.
  • Online Communities: Joining online groups, forums or communities related to your interests can lead to real life meetups.  I can think of two online groups that I’m in that have in-person social events.  One is a podcast that has a Facebook community.    
  • Join Sports Leagues: Participate in sports like pickle ball or bowling.  These sports have leagues based on your skill.  
  • Networking Events: Professionally oriented events can lead to personal friendships, too.  This sounds like torture to me, but I will try it.  The best way to find one is to search for “networking group” + your city.  The one I found is also listed in meetup. There are so many meetup groups for all different kinds of interests.
  • Running or Walking group: These groups can provide a routine opportunity to find people who are interested in physical health.  It’s easy to talk while you walk (or maybe for some while you run).  Local athletic stores often host these.  In Dallas, there is a store called Run On that organizes group runs and walks.   
  • Attending Social Gatherings: Attend parties, barbecues, or other gatherings when invited.  If you are like me, you might be inclined to decline these invites but try going.  
  • Religious Institutions: If you’re religious, your place of worship likely has social events or study groups.  A church group is also something where you meet on a regular basis, which helps you by giving you a weekly commitment.  
  • Community Gardens:  Depending on where you live, there are often community gardens that you can volunteer in or rent a space in.    
  • Hosting a Meetup or Social Event: Have a game night, potluck, or any gathering and ask attendees to bring someone new.
  • Coworking Spaces: These spaces often have social events for members.
  • Local Festivals or Events: These can provide a shared experience to bond over.  Does you town have a medieval festival or an art festival?  I’m ashamed to say Dallas has both of these, but I never go.  
  • Gyms or Fitness Classes: Exercise can provide a routine opportunity to see the same people and strike up conversations.  I’ve belonged to my local YMCA and they have lots of classes and a really non-intimidating environment.  You can visit your local gym for free in most place at least once to see if you like it.  
  • Cooking or Wine Tasting Classes: Bond over a shared love of food or drink.
  • Concerts or Music Festivals: Shared musical taste can be a great conversation starter, although it can be hard to talk if they are loud.  
  • Using Friendship Apps: There are apps designed to help people make new friends.  You might have thought of these just for dating, but they aren’t.  Here’s a list of the ones that are out there.
  • Public Speaking Clubs: Organizations like Toastmasters can help you meet others while improving your speaking skills.
  • Taking Your Dog to a Dog Park: It’s a great way to strike up a conversation with other dog owners.   You can find people at official dog parks or at local parks.  
  • Attending a Book Signing or Lecture: These types of events are usually held at book stores and libraries. There is a program called Arts and Letters Live, which is through the local museum, so museums are good place to look.  
  • Farmers’ Markets: These can offer a leisurely, low-pressure environment to strike up conversations.  This sounds like a stretch if you are not one to make long conversations at the grocery store, but at farmer’s markets there are often local vendors selling things they make and they like to talk to people about them.  
  • Hobbies and Crafts Fairs: Connect over shared interests or learn a new skill, whether it’s knitting, pottery, or an art class.
  • Language Exchange Programs: You can make friends while learning a new language.
  • Local Political Groups or Campaigns: If you’re politically inclined, these can be places to meet like-minded people.  This might be last on my list because I’d rather not discuss potentially sensitive topics right off the bat.      
  • Take a New Route to Work or Try a New Coffee Shop: Sometimes, changing your routine causes you to run across new people that you’ve never met before.  If you like coffee, try out new coffee shops on the regular.  Mel Robbins just did a podcast about how to meet people in your neighborhood coffee shop. It was really good.

If this list sounds really overwhelming, it does to me too.  I’m a shy person and some of the things on the list are way outside my comfort zone.  

I recently read How to have memorable conversations with new people.  The biggest take away is that all you have to do is ask questions and listen.  You don’t have to make small talk or talk about yourself if you’re curious about someone else.  Interesting people are really interested people.    It seems backward, but it does work.

I’m going to test out each of these and let you know which ones worked best for me.  I’ll also be reporting which of these would work best for someone who is not like me at all (i.e. more of an extrovert).  

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