Making Friends After 40: How To Make Friends in Middle Age
How to make new friends after 40 when you feel like its hopeless and have not friends at 40.
When you are young and dumb making friends seemed like an effortless task. You may not have been the most popular person in your school, church, etc. but there was someone or something that took your friendship seriously. Being young meant being a goof ball and sometimes a downright idiot but your friends loved you anyway. This is not the case when you are an adult especially over 40.
Once you surpass 40 you enter into a weird milestone of life that is comparable to the teenage years. You aren't old enough to be hanging out at the senior center and yet are too old to be shaking your stuff at the club all weekend. Although you may feel like one of these extremes the fact is you don't belong in either place. I know, I know, then what are we to do?
Personally, I have moved more times than I would like to admit in my adult life. I have moved out of necessity and to quench the thirst of my gypsy spirit. This creates great travel stories and memories to share with, oh yeah, wait, those friends I am making along the way right? Wrong! You see people over 40 get stuck. Stuck in their ways, stuck in life, stuck in place. We, as a collective group, seem to talk ourselves into a corner and portray the act of finding and making friends a huge daunting task!
What are your interests? What did you love to do as a child? Bought a book to learn to make sushi? Put it down! Get out there and take a class. Salsa dancing in your living room? Get out of the house and down to the local Latino hot spot and show your moves. I am not saying that making friends is as easy as showing up.It's not. It is down right scary and a lot of effort goes into meeting people and building those friendships.
It may be awkward at first. Take for example the first time I went out without kids and over 40. New city, limited acquaintances, my mission was to find a new friend. Someone I jive with. Someone I can call at 2 a.m. and complain about laundry. That night I was going to find the one.
I am so excited for the night to begin as I get all gussied up and feel ready to take on the world. I am looking pretty in my LBD and pink cheeks. I head out for a night of paint and wine. Seems easy enough. Painting and wine are two things that people can feel good about and have fun. Should be easy to make some friends and my expectations were high! Little did I know how things would turn out.
I take my seat in the middle row. I exchange a few quick smiles with some ladies sitting next to me. I feel very alone. I also feel over dressed as I look around to see jeans was the more acceptable dress code for the evening. Ugh. This is already going down hill. I exhale and sit straighter and am thankful as the instructor takes her place in front of us. We begin and fits of laughter start to abound in little sections of the group. I try and make small talk to the ladies next to me but all I get are one word answers.
We are mid way to completion of the painting when I had to get up and get more paint. I move out my stool, pick up my plate and proceed to the front. On my way I got caught in the strap of the ladies purse next to me I pull on it and it falls off taking with it my balance. As I begin to descend to the ground I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I crash to the ground and startle the gag of ladies next to me. One spills her wine on the other one's shirt and as she tries to grab a napkin the last gal spins around to see and loses her balance and all three ladies, paint, and wine come crashing down. Once the shock and awe of the crowd wore off, I realized the ladies were giving me the evil eye.
I felt horrible and tried to apologize. But they just were not having any of that. I gathered my things and promptly left. As I was race walking to my car I heard a voice calling for the lady in the black dress. I turned around to see a woman chasing after me with keys. I must have dropped them when I was evading further embarrassment. I thanked her and she began to laugh. She laughed so hard that I began to laugh. We laughed until our cheeks hurt.
From that night on we have been good friends.
Having to go through all of that to make a friend is not a preferred method, however, it does mean you need to exit your comfort zone and be open to new opportunities. You are the same wonderful person you were then but now you have to work a little harder. Be genuine to find genuine. So, sail that boat, hike that trail, run that race, and along the way say hey to people. Smile a beautiful smile and most of all know that making friends is no scarier than looking for the monster under your bed.