How to Make Friends in your 40s
Humans crave connection.
Some people crave lots of connection and others want lots of solitude (but, they still need interaction with others).
When you’re young, you have access to others your age via school and make tons of friends.
As adults, it gets harder.
Yes, you’re surrounded by adults in every phase of your life - work, activities, the gym, etc. but life gets in the way. Everyone is busy, and friendships drop lower on the list of priorities.
In many cases, friendships weaken and drift away. Or, maybe you’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone.
I’ve talked to so many women in their 30s and 40s that crave female friendships.
But, how do you make new friends when you’re busy and don’t have much free time?
It’s almost like dating - you want to find a great guy to spend your life with (or just have a little fun!) you have to get out there and date.
The same holds true for finding friends.
We all want to be part of our own Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte tribe, right?
My Friend Story
As an introvert, I tend to have a few close friends instead of a large number of acquaintance friends. I’ve been fortunate to keep these friends in my life for 20+ years.
But, they’re in Atlanta (where I grew up), and I’m in Connecticut.
We stay in touch, and I see them during the few trips I take to Atlanta every year.
But, I miss having girlfriends locally to meet up with for coffee or dinner. I miss having someone to go shopping with or see the latest rom-com.
I do have one close girlfriend that’s local. I met her about ten years ago after realizing I needed to make an effort to meet new friends.
I also have acquaintance friends as well (for example, the friends I may grab coffee or lunch with at work, but we don't hang out outside of work), but I'd love to grow my circle of local close friends.
I know how hard it is to find like-minded women to befriend. Once you find these new friends, it's also a challenge to find the time to nurture it to build it into a close friendship.
But, it’s worth the time and effort!
You Need Girlfriends
Remember that human connection part?
You may have the best partner with whom you share everything, but husband/boyfriend/partner is different from a non-romantic friend.
You need both in your life to experience the full spectrum of connection.
As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If we don’t have that circle, we’re missing a key ingredient in our lives.
As much as you may love your spouse or partner and even though they may truly be your best friend, they can’t stand in for the benefits your girlfriends provide.
Benefits of Friendships
Stress reliever: If you have a lot of crap going on in your life (maybe even with your partner) your friends will rally around you, listen to you, and make you laugh. They help you see the lighter side of life.
Feelings of being included, accepted, loved: Studies have shown those without friends tend to feel more isolated and lonely (not shocking results!). When you have close friends, you feel accepted, loved, and seen. It doesn’t take a lot; only a few close friends will do the trick.
Happiness: Having no friends can lead to feelings of depression (not that this causes clinical depression- that’s an entirely different issue). It goes back to the previous point - if you don’t have any friends, you tend not to feel accepted or liked which takes a toll on your happiness. When you have a few close friends, your level of happiness rises.
Support: Your friends are with you through thick and thin. Your closest friends are there for you no matter what and knowing you have that unconditional support is gold.
Allows you to be you: There aren’t too many places or situations where you can let down your hair, take off your masks, and truly be your authentic selves. With friends, you can do just that, and it’s such a freeing experience.
Go on Friend Dates
So, how do you make new friends if yours have fallen to the wayside over the years?
Go on friend dates!
Much like dating to find a romantic partner, you can “date” potential friends. You have to get outside of your comfort zone and go where you’ll find other women who like what you like.
Activities you can do to meet new friends
Join a local group: Check out meetup.com for local events that align with your interests and hobbies (this is how I met my local bestie ten years ago!).
Join a book club: This is a great way to meet other women who share a similar hobby!
Reach out to women at activities you already do: Talk to other women at the gym or before/after your yoga class
Go on solo coffee dates and look for other solo women: Just like you might strike up a conversation with a cute dude, strike up one with someone that looks friendly, or that’s reading a book you love.
Putting yourself out there to ‘ask’ a potential friend on a friend date can be scary! It’s almost more terrifying than asking a guy out for a date because that's generally accepted. But, asking a stranger to hang out as friends is a bit atypical.
So, to help you out, here are a few of my tips.
Tips to Ask out Potential Friends on a Friend Date
Compliment them: Everyone likes someone that compliments them, so this is a perfect ice breaker.
Be genuine: Be yourself, don’t try to be someone you’re not
Make a move: If the conversation goes well, just like dating, ask them to hang out. It might be for coffee after yoga, a local art show if you’re both into art, or checking out a new restaurant for brunch.
Move on: If the connection is not there, don’t force it - move on. You’ll find other women to befriend that are just like you!
As life gets busy, women tend to let friendships fall to the wayside.
I’ve never heard anyone say they aren’t looking to make any more friends in their life!
Finding new friends can be scary when we’re older, but if you approach it like you approach finding a romantic partner (without the romance, obviously), then you can attract more of that in your life.
Open your eyes, get out of your comfort zone, be friendly, and make some new friends.