As we get older, we may find it harder to make friends. What once came naturally to us as young people, can now seem rather awkward. When we were young, we were out and about, going to school and work as well as all kinds of social activities and sporting events where we were constantly meeting new people. Now, we are home more and may find our social circle shrinking.
As with anything worthwhile in life though, making and maintaining friendships doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it. Social goals should be just as much a part of our goal planning strategy as financial and other life goals because they are just as important.
If you’re feeling a little left out, don’t fret. Below are some suggestions of practical things you can start doing today to make sure you remain in touch with others and retain long-lasting relationships throughout life.
Start a small group in your home
It could be anything from a Bible study to a bridge club or some other type of game night. Just get a few friends together with a common interest and set up a regular time to meet. Don’t be shy in asking. Believe me, they are just as hungry for the community as you.
Shortly after my husband retired, we started hosting a Bible study in our home every other Wednesday evening. We have four other couples that we’ve done life with through the years so we invited them. It’s an evening we all look forward to. Not only just studying the Bible, but sharing our life concerns with each other and praying together for our friends and families has strengthened us. The community is just as important as the Bible lessons.
We elected to meet every other week because we didn’t want to get burned out from having to prepare every week or for our guests to get weary from driving across town to our house every week. Every other week seems to work well for everyone involved. Once a week or once a month may work for you. Just make sure it’s a systematic event on your calendar to keep everyone engaged.
Join a small group at church
Most churches these days have small groups. They are a wonderful way to make connections and get to know people in your local church. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just attending worship services, saying hello to a few people, and then leaving, especially if you attend a large church. While the worship experience is wonderful and necessary, you are missing out if you don’t make worthwhile connections with some of your fellow congregants. The ideal small group size is no more than twelve people and be sure to choose a group with whom you have a lot in common.
It’s possible at this stage of life, that you have a church already with a lot of friends and acquaintances. If so, that’s a tremendous blessing. Just be sure you keep staying connected to those people as you age.
Our church is large so we told the small group organizers that we would prefer a group of similar age people and they hooked us up. It meets every week, but since we don’t host it, we are free to skip it if we have something else or are too tired to go on a particular evening. We rarely miss, however, unless we are out of town because we enjoy studying and talking about the Bible with people our own age. We are developing some relationships there with people we would never otherwise meet even though we attend the same church.
Join the gym
Your local gym or YMCA is a fantastic place to make friends while contributing to your health. Most offer a variety of classes for any level as well as essential workout machines. Some even have a pool for swimming which is one of the best exercises for us older adults. Over time you will naturally meet and get to know the people who are in the classes or working out around you. Just be friendly but not freaky. Some people will be friendly back and some won’t. You have to accept that. It’s nothing personal, some people just aren’t in the mood to be friendly and that’s okay. You’ll find many who are. If you go during the day and not during the busy after-work hours, you’ll get to know many retired people.
Many health insurance policies cover the cost, so it could be free for you to enjoy. If you’re not able to work out, you’re always welcome to come to hang out and drink coffee with other patrons.
Host family and friends at your home
Don’t sit around and wait for your kids to invite you to their house. Invite them to yours! If your family is like most, your grown children are busy with their careers and raising their kids. Inviting them over on a weeknight for dinner can be a huge help for them while giving you time to visit. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal. After all, they are probably not going to eat fancy at home during the week. Something easy and simple like a homemade pot roast with vegetables and salad would be a delicious meal for you to enjoy together and give them a nice break in the process. Offer to host on holidays too! I find that almost anytime I’m offering to cook food my kids will show up.
Set revolving dinner dates with friends
We have some friends that we routinely schedule a dinner date with every three months. That’s only four times a year, but we have a blast every time we get together. We go to a nice restaurant and catch up on everyone’s news. It’s just fun and I always come away feeling refreshed.
We try to make it a point to get together with Bobby’s sisters once a month. We don’t always make it because of our schedules, but when we do, we have a blast.
My husband’s company has a retiree dinner every month at a local restaurant. He makes it a point to attend when he can and he always comes home energized. If you don’t have a regular dinner with retirees from your previous company, perhaps you could start one. All you have to do is send out a text to see who’s available to come and then make reservations at a local restaurant.
Have lunch with friends
Why not make it a point to routinely have lunch with one of your friends. At the beginning of each month, think about who you would like to spend some time with and call and invite them for lunch. If they can’t make it, invite someone else.
The opportunities are endless
There are so many other ways to meet people. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to meet people with the same passions as you.
Traveling is great for human interaction. This relationship may be nothing more than short-term, but any human interaction is always stimulating. My husband and I have met many interesting people on cruise ships over the years with whom we’ve had wonderful, conversations. Also, invite some of your family and friends to go with you on some of your travels. It’s a fantastic way to spend a good deal of quality time with them and grow your relationship.
There are also bowling leagues, pickleball teams, biking groups, and all kinds of clubs and activities you can join according to your interest.
Yet, none of these things will happen unless we are proactive. We have to be intentional with our relationships. Maintaining strong relationships takes work. Don’t sit around feeling lonely and sorry for yourself because people seem to have forgotten you. Get on the phone and make those connections. You’ll enrich your life and also the life of others in the process.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.Romans 12:10