Does the very idea of making new friends in middle age make your stomach drop?
Life lulls us into a false sense of security. We spend years talking to other parents at our kids’ sporting events, working with the same inner circle of people, and making small talk with our neighbors.
…until midlife transitions, seriously shake things up.
Maybe the kids leave for college. You and your partner decide to get a divorce. Or you change careers. Or you end up moving hours away to care for an aging parent. Suddenly you’re tasked with making new friends in your 50s, and it’s awk-ward.
Don’t stress. All you need is a plan.
Using my roadmap below, making new friends in middle age can be an opportunity to expand your horizons and social network.
Grab a seat, and let’s get started!
Want to know the secret to making friends in midlife? There is no secret. If you want to meet new people in your 50s, be proactive. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
So many women tell me they’re open to making new friends in middle age—and even go so far as to say they’re unhappy and lonely without these relationships—but when I push back and ask what they’re doing about it, I get radio silence in return.
I’m a big fan of Steven Southerland’s quote, “Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Swim out to it.”
During messy midlife transitions, like getting a divorce, stop wandering around at the docks. To meet more people, make new friends in midlife, and reap the health benefits of these relationships, go after them.
Invite an acquaintance to get a cup of coffee.
Think about the people in your life who are already in your radius. For example, if you pass by your neighbor’s house every night while walking the dog and you always exchange pleasantries with them, why not ask them over for dinner? If you talk to a woman after your yoga class every Wednesday, ask her for brunch on Sunday.
Prepare a Script.
“I want to make new friends, but I don’t know what to say!”
Congratulations! In this scenario, there is an easy button. If you’re going through a midlife transition and need to get used to talking to new people, write a script.
For many people, uncertainty in the first few moments of a new introduction feels stifling. A cold introduction can leave anyone feeling embarrassed and less than eager to repeat the experience. A simple script can give you a boost of confidence going in.
When I do mock job interviews with my clients, I can feel the tension in their voices melting away as we go through the questions. I hear them perk up. Their voices sound brighter and more animated, and they speak slower and more clearly as they get more practice.
Sometimes, we even practice introductions and small talk before significant networking events. Why not write a script and practice making new friends in midlife?
Just start with a script, and don’t overcomplicate it. I like to say, “Hi, I’m Jen. We haven’t met,” or “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Jen!”
Rehearse with a family member or a coach. Introduce yourself and practice answering the usual questions, like, “What do you do?” and “Where are you from?”
Shift Your Energy.
When it comes to making new friends in middle age, we’re our own worst enemies.
We assume the worst and bring low energy to our interactions, never giving them a chance.
In a recent conversation with a client, all of Tracy’s doubts bubbled up. Tracy told me she avoided new introductions because “I assume people don’t like me,” “I don’t make friends easily,” and “I don’t want someone to agree to get coffee with me just because they feel bad or guilty.”
Approaching conversations with this energy doesn’t feel good to us or the people we’re talking to.
The next time you introduce yourself to someone new or invite someone to do something after work, assume they like you. (They probably do!)
When you invite someone to get coffee or grab lunch, imagine they’re excited and looking forward to getting to know you. Maybe they’ve been hoping you would ask.
Seek Out Community.
One of the most important things we can do during messy midlife transitions is to build connections. Put in the work to make new friends in middle age, and you may reap the benefits for the rest of your life.
According to a study from Harvard, healthy friendships increase happiness, decrease dementia risk, and even help you live longer.
When you start looking, you’ll notice opportunities to make new friends around you. Your neighborhood might have events and meetups for its residents. If you’re a churchgoer, your church likely hosts bible studies, family picnics, concerts, and more. Can you join a local book club, running group, or Orange Theory class?
You can even make new friends in midlife and further your career by attending local networking events and business conferences and making introductions there.
Make It an Opportunity.
There are two ways to see it. Either you view midlife transitions and making new friends in your 50s as something that’s dragging you down, or you view it as something that is building you up.
Think of it like trees. Trees experience different seasons. In autumn, a season known for transition, trees, and their leaves are vibrant, colorful, and resplendent. Winter comes, and perhaps things will look grim for a while. Then spring inevitably comes around again.
Just like trees, we go through different seasons in life. Making new friends in midlife is the start of a new season brimming with possibility.
What if it’s your season to try dance lessons just like you always wanted (and make new friends at your dance class)? What if you use midlife as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone?
For example, I encourage my clients to embrace online resources for making new friendships. If that describes you, indulge me and log onto Meetup.com. Just try it, even if you have reservations. You can search for meetups by location or event type. Plug an interest or “40+” into the search bar and see what happens. You might find 40+ socials, events, evening walks, art classes, live music, a pickleball league, and more.
Cheering You On!
Good news! You’re not a 14-year-old at their first high school dance. You have years of wisdom and experience, and making friends in midlife is as easy or difficult as you make it out to be.
Steal my roadmap to make new friends in middle age and let me know how it goes. I’ll be here, cheering you on. Need an extra hand making new friendships or navigating difficult midlife transitions? I’m at my best when I’m helping others. Hop on a free clarity call to see how I can help you.