How to Make Friends When You’re Retired

When you’re working full-time, things like sleeping late and pajama days have to wait for the weekend. Roll onto retirement, when going to movies on a weekday morning is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The only question is, who will you go with?

One advantage to having a job (besides the paycheck) is that it enables us to meet people and make connections outside of our usual circles. When you retire, it’s up to you to make those connections for yourself.

It may sound daunting, particularly if you’re out of practice (or an introvert), but it can be done. And no, you don’t need to sign up to Tinder to make it happen.

Of course it’s tempting to just slide quietly into a life of TV dinners and sitcoms, but that’s not living. We need friends in our life, not just because shared experiences are more fun, but because science says so.

According to new research, friends may be more important than family. The study found that having supportive friendships in old age was a stronger predictor of wellbeing than having strong family connections.

Folks in the Blue Zones are proof of this. One of the many lessons we can glean from the world’s longest lived people is the importance of having a tribe. The Okinawans, for example, created ‘moais’ —groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.


How to Make Friends When You’re Retired

When I stopped working full-time, I quickly found myself becoming quite anti-social. I’m an introvert by nature, so if I don’t have to see people I generally won’t make the effort.

As much as I enjoy my own company I also realize that it’s not healthy to never go out and meet new people. My partner —who’d also become less sociable since quitting her cubicle— and I decided to rectify this by learning to say ‘yes’ more.

Saying ‘yes’ is a little scary when you’re used to saying ‘no’ all the time. But it’s also super exciting and brings with it a host of exciting possibilities that you’d otherwise have missed out on. We’ve already made new friends since embracing the affirmative.


How to Make Friends When You’re Retired

Another way to meet like-minded people is to think about your own hobbies and interests. Do you like hiking, playing chess or doing the Salsa? Find a club or group in your area and join them.

Health After 50 recommends Meetup —an online platform that focuses on providing ‘get-acquainted’ opportunities for people with similar interests— as a way of making new friends after 50.

This does mean being (or getting) comfortable with the idea of walking into a room full of strangers. But as the old cliché goes, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. And anyway, if you’ve picked a meetup that speaks to your interests, chances are you’ll meet someone interesting.


How to Make Friends When You’re Retired

Volunteering has plenty of benefits, one of them being a way to make new friends. If you enjoy the idea of giving back, why not volunteer at your local soup kitchen or dog shelter? You could also join a beach or park clean-up, visit the elderly or find a community organization that needs help. There are all sorts of options depending on your interests and skill-set.


how to make friends when you're retired

Joining a Toastmasters Club has two distinct benefits. You’ll meet lots of new people andyou’ll build your confidence. For a lot of folks, being self-assured is a natural state of being. They’re comfortable chatting with new people.

Then there’s the rest of us, who’d much rather endure root canal than walk up to a stranger at a cocktail party. It sounds counter-intuitive, but there’s no better way to hone your social skills than by learning the fine art of public speaking.

It’s not about being great at it, it’s simply about getting comfortable in new situations. I used to be super shy (as in, downright awkward in my own skin) until I decided to join Toastmasters to get over it. It was terrifying, I’m not going to lie.

It got better though, each time I went was less scary than the time before. I’m no social butterfly, but it definitely gave me confidence. I don’t hide in the bathroom at parties anymore and I even gave a TEDx talk to 750 people.

If it can do that for someone as awkward as me, the sky’s the limit for you. Remember, it’s never too late reignite your social life.


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