Three older women friends arm to arm walking

Making New Friendships as Women in our second half of life.

Along my daily walk, now, is a border of Saskatoon bushes nestled in among other common wild prairie plants. Lodgepole pines, spruce and poplar trees pose in a sloping bank, but lean toward me as if waiting for me to interact. Sometimes I’ll boldly step off the path into the trees, duck to avoid pointed branches, or grab on to them with a gloved hand to steady myself on the uneven ground. It’s somehow comforting, even among prickly pine branches and thorny rose bushes, to be in these close-knit quarters with life. 

I sometimes call the path my “walk around the block” even though there is no concrete sidewalk or neighbourhood houses. Instead, it is farm land, with a shed that hosts the farmer’s combine during harvest season, and with an old grain bin where you can climb a ladder to a flat roof to browse the landscape from a top view. It’s very quiet, not a person in sight, a contrast to just a year ago when my “walk around the block” included greetings to neighbours and sometimes a friend alongside. 

Moving from the city to the country, from working life in the office to working life at home, it’s natural that I would have less social interaction. In some ways, I welcomed the change. I didn’t like navigating the downtown traffic in the early morning darkness anyways. On the other hand, I knew without the social structure of my working week in the office, and the ability to spontaneously meet up with a long-time friend in a coffee shop easily, there was the possibility of social isolation and becoming lonely in my new place. 

I’d read that impact of loneliness on health is similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. A non-smoker myself, and newly remarried, the effort to maintain and forge new friendships in my new place is necessary for your mental, relational, and physical health. Also, now that I am in this stage of life (my late 50’s), meeting new people, interacting with others in positive and productive ways, and developing friendships is a key to a healthy mindset as I age, and lessons the chance of depression. 

Ways to Develop and Expand our Social Circles

Meeting new people and creating new friendships takes effort. For those of us that are inclined to be more introverted than extroverted, a new circle of friends can be intimidating. Finding new people that share a common interest is a great way to feel more comfortable as you stretch out in your new local area or your new city. Also, research shows that intergenerational interactions can boost your health. So, don’t limit yourself to the same age group when it comes to social interactions in common interest groups. 

Places to Meet New People with Common Interest

Places to meet new people with common interests are easier to find these days since the explosion of social media. Searching in your social media networks for groups in your area that share your similar interests such as quilting, photography, bird watching, and book clubs can connect you with like-minded people. Also, your community may post events on their  Facebook page.

If a social networking site is not your thing, your local library, local museums, and local community centre will often posts events on their websites or bulletin boards. Joining local groups, such as a church group, a women’s bible study or prayer group will also connect you to women of faith that can develop into long-lasting friendships. Joining a class in a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, such as an art class, cooking class, or sky-diving class is another way to meet interesting people and develop a new social group. 

It isn’t easy as older adults, to jump out of our comfort zone and take that step toward a new friend group. I’ve coached middle-aged women to take that first step toward meeting a new group of women, and the common denominator for their success is being intentional. Writing down one thing you can do each week to meet new people is an easy way to begin. When we write our intentions down, we are highly more likely to complete them than when we just think about them. 

What intention will you take this week to cultivate new friendships (whether you are in a new place or not)? Who can you ask over for coffee this week? Not only could you be forging a new friendship, you could also be lifting another woman out of loneliness. 

Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia

How to expand our Social Network with New Interests

Being curious and exploring a new interests, a new skill, and a new hobby can give you a fresh perspective and meet new friends. You may not end up liking the new hobby, but you can still gain connections with others.

I remember reading a story of young lady who attended a photography meet-up, even though she didn’t like taking photographs. And, even though she did not attend to pursue romantic relationships, she met a man at the meet-up who eventually became her husband. And, by the way, she still doesn’t like photography! 

Is there something you have always wanted to explore? A new hobby, or a new place, or a new volunteer opportunity? Whether we find ourselves living a new neighbourhood, town, city, or in the country, it is a great place to explore new interests and social activities. A fresh place gives our minds a fresh perspective, and eliminates any narrow scopes we have been living. You’ve already proved you are open to change, so why not get curious and get going on new stuff? New stuff keeps your mind active and keeps us interesting! 

How to Bridge the Generation Gap for New Friendships

Just because we are women in our second half of life does not mean we are not interesting to younger women as female friends. Women that are in their 40’s, 30’s or even younger are facing similar challenges that we did at their age. The world may look different but challenges with health, work/life balance, children and siblings still exist in essence. 

Having friends that are younger than us helps us to break the clichés that older women do not have anything in common with the young and vice versa. You’ve got a life-time of experience and your embarrassing or life-changing stories will relate to women of all ages, since we are all women sharing this time together called life. Let’s be curious and connect will all generations. After all, the most important thing is connecting.

Connecting with others is God’s love in action

Final Thoughts:

Being a reader, I am always on the hunt for other readers. Recently, I learned my husband’s eldest son’s girlfriend loves to read. So I asked her what she is currently reading and, even though the book she is reading is not my usual genre I generally read, I have tagged it as my read. Being curious about what books she likes to read connects me to her, one of my new extended family members, and introduces me to new books! 

Sometimes I do get nostalgic about my old way of life, living in the city with my social connections close-by. A healthy dose of nostalgia is often wonderful, reminding me of the beautiful friendships I made in my old place, that was once new, too. Since moving to my new area, I need to make more effort to connect with my strong friendships such as planning quality time together weeks in advance, instead of spur of the moment gatherings. Our walks around the block are pre-planned instead of spontaneous. But that’s okay. Even a good thing. 

Because, while I wait to be with my friends, my heart is joyful in anticipation

What are ways you make new friends, and stay connected to your long-time friends?

Scripture Friendship Cards (Feel Free to Download PDF and share with your friends)

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Lynn,thank you for your insight on making new friendships.
    I am very blessed to have many friends . Since I have been volunteering; old acquaintances are becoming new friends.
    Nice to hear Sydney enjoys reading. What a great way for you to connect with her !!
    Blessings on your work .❤️❤️❤️

  2. Lynn, this is really great. Thanks for sharing this. I am also putting something together on this topic. We need this interaction more than ever before. Talking about it is a step closer to getting it achieved.

  3. Forming new friendships can be difficult as we age. But not impossible if we are intentional. I really appreciate your suggestions here, Lynn. I actually made two new friends last year without trying just because we all showed up in the same space. I love when it’s easy like that (it’s usually NOT that easy for me, ha).

  4. “A fresh place gives our minds a fresh perspective, and eliminates any narrow scopes we have been living.” Thank you, Lynn, for putting on a positive spin to change. Love and blessings to you!

  5. A smile and friendly hello can brighten the world. We may never know what someone else is experiencing in life. But, we can show God’s love to others. Great message Lynn. Have a blessed day! 🙂

  6. Lynn, I love your insights and encouragement within. You got me thinking, I’ve got to tell you a story. About a year ago I befriended an elderly gentleman who was new to the apartment building I live in. It began when I saw him outside and introduced myself and my dog to him. Then I’d intentionally speak with him when my dog and I were outside. Then he started coming to visit and chat with me I’d say twice a week and we forged a friendship. He says it’s nice to have someone nice to talk to. I also love talking to elderly people at the grocery store, you never know if you’re going to be the only one they talk to that day. Ex-extrovert here current introvert now, I enjoy being by myself. My best friend is 10 years older than me I’m 52 & she’s 62. I’ve had such a wonderful takeaway from your words today.
    Visiting today from Joanne’s

    1. I love your story, Paula! I’m sure the friendship you developed with your new neighbour brings many blessings to the both of you. When we don’t overthink our actions , and just say “hi” you can bless someone’s day more than we may ever know. My retired dad always had conversations with the check-out clerks at the grocery store – and he was legally blind! The ladies at the deli knew him well, especially! As a young mom, I’d think he was “bugging” the ladies, but he made their day. I found out later how much he meant to them when the store ladies teared up when they heard about his passing. And they made an extra special flower arrangement for his funeral. Your story has inspired me to be open and kind to whoever is on my path today…

  7. Lynn, this was so good to read. I don’t miss much about our life in the city except being closer to coffee shops and groceries, but like you say, we’ve learned to be more intentional in our planning for these things.

    And I have to say, getting to know our neighbours out in this country community has been a lovely surprise. They’re so helpful and friendly. Also, I’m getting to know the ladies at the quilting club I joined last spring. I learn something new every time I go, and I have a lot of fun.

    Oh, and I do have a story … years ago my husband and I moved to a small town. I began teaching piano and the mom of two of my young students decided she would call me every morning at 10 am. It seemed weird at first but we formed a strong friendship which has continued to be close to this day. Such a gift!

    1. Thanks for your story, Joy! It’s funny how we can think it’s “weird” that someone would want to connect with us, when God built us for connection. I don’t think I would have the courage to reach out like the mother of your piano students. That is such a gift! I’m glad the quilting club is going well for you. Connecting with a common interest (like your quilting) can bring together people from all different backgrounds, and expand our circle of friends. Writers Café has been that for me!

  8. Lynn, even those good changes and fresh starts come with challenges. Thanks for encouraging us to be aware, intentional, curious, and expectant. I can’t help but think this all gets more challenging as we get older …

  9. Great points, Lynn. When I was young, I was very shy and had a hard time to make new friends. Then when I became a Christian the Lord took me on a gradual journey towards becoming bolder and more at ease in initiating conversations with strangers. One of the ways I have used in getting to know people of various ages is to invite people from church for Christmas dinner if they have nowhere else to go. It has been a lot of fun and a great way to get to know more about these people. Of course during the COVID lockdown I wasn’t able to do it. Last year I again had 3 people on Christmas day. None of them knew each other and one of them I didn’t know well. We had a great time. This past Christmas I decided I didn’t have what it took physically to get my apartment ready and to cook a big meal, so I spent Christmas alone (that doesn’t bother me at all). I didn’t even put up my tree or any other ornaments. A neighbor actually brought me a plate of dinner, and I was very grateful for that. I’ll be 79 this year and find my energy levels are usually quite low, so I don’t know if I will ever be able to do Christmas like that anymore. But I can still strike up a conversation with someone in the line at the grocery store or someone in our lobby who I have not spoken to before. However the Lord leads is OK with me.

    1. Hi Diane! It’s nice to see your words here! Those Christmas’s that you hosted dinner will be etched in the memories of those you invited, I am imagine! Maybe the gesture will be repeated by them as well. We may never know the ripple effects of our actions, however we really are God’s hands and feet when we reach out with an invitation to gather together, aren’t we? My dad was one to strike up conversations with people in the grocery stores, or wherever he was until the day he passed. At his local grocery store, deli ladies actually would greet him by name! Amen! to “however the Lord leads is OK with me.”