Rekindling Old, and Making New, Friends in Your 50s
Never doubt that having good friends continues to be important as we get older.
In fact, I think midlife is a time when having real friends is more crucial than ever.
I say real friends because this is definitively the time for quality over quantity. Having friends, even just one, who see you and hear you, and for whom you do the same, is incredibly grounding, comforting and vital.
“Spending time with positive, loving friends you care about and trust can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall.” – mentalhealthamerica.net
So we agree friends are important. But is this you? Hmmmnn, I used to have friends. Where did they go?
Many of us have been so busy focusing on work, careers, kids, family…keeping our head above water – that we’ve let the time and attention we used to give to nurturing friendships slowly fade away.
It can be challenging to squeeze in time for any kind of self-care – and that is exactly what time and conversations spent with real friends is. Self-care.
Maybe we’ve been subliminally assuming that our friends from the past will still be there two decades later when we surface from the frenzy of our 30s and 40s, and enter our 50s and beyond.
Sometimes they still are and our friendship can continue from where we seemed to have left off – but frequently we find, those friends are gone.
Either they’ve moved on from the empty space we’ve allowed between us, or they’ve literally moved away.
Years have passed since we nurtured many of those friendships and as close and real as those friends were – the years bring changes that can shift what we have in common and what our friendship needs are.
Our interests and our life’s wins and losses can vary greatly, but our need for deep connection with real friends never changes.
Whether we’re facing big celebrations like our children’s college acceptances or the birth of a grandchild – or coping with the hard stuff such as the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, or an empty nest – real friends are there through it all, cheering, laughing, or crying right along with us.
Have you been making time to feed and nurture your real friendships?
Or are you at a point where you’ve arrived at your first totally free Friday night (finally) and you consider who to call and it’s crickets in the friend department.
There’s no time like the present to put in some effort and rekindle old friendships that were meaningful but have drifted apart.
Find the time to attempt getting together for dinner, lunch or a quick cup of coffee. Maybe all you can honestly fit in is a phone chat or catch up email. Whatever you can manage – reach out and don’t wait another day.
Chances are, that friend is thinking is about you too.
As for making new real friends in midlife…
I continue to use the word real because although we have a bit more time opening up in our schedules, at this age, we have zero tolerance for fake.
We’ve outgrown pretending to be anything we’re not. We have no space in our over fifty lives for friendship drama or any of that mean-or-cliquey-girls-in-high-school BS.
I think the best place to cultivate new friends in midlife is with the women you already kind of know and feel pulled toward.
The ones you could see yourself casually hanging out with. The ones who you feel inside it could be so easy with.
The ones you feel somewhere in your sixth sense – way down in your gut – are your people. Your gente. Your tribe.
But you just haven’t made a move to dip your toe in the water and test whether you both can move from acquaintance to real friends.
When the opportunity to gather with those women, or even one, comes up – i.e. you get invited to join a book club or attend an interesting program happening at your library, take a chance and go.
We’ve gotten so used to saying no to social invitations (guilty as charged) because we genuinely are busy and still have many responsibilities at home.
But the more we say no, the greater the chances that busyness becomes a cover-up for being scared.
Scared it will be awkward. Nervous we won’t fit in. We might not know what to say. They might not like us. Ugh. Feels like being stuck in high school all over again for some of us.
Suck it up and take a little leap of faith.
Stick your toe in that water and dare to say yes the next time you are invited somewhere and you feel a little twinge inside saying, this could be fun…
Here’s a double-dare – an even bigger comfort zone challenge – be the one who extends the invitation!
I know it’s ballsy, but what do we have to lose at this point in life?
Think she may refuse to sign your yearbook in June?! Or worried that she’ll smack-talk about you behind your back on Snapchat?!
Not going to happen – and who cares anyway!?
We have so very much to gain from keeping and finding a few real friends to ride out the next chapter of our life with –Thelma and Louise style, laughing, consoling, counseling, sharing, daring, comforting and growing (but not necessarily driving off the cliff) with.
So, go text, call or email your close friends if you have them. Tell them you love and appreciate them. Set a date to see each other’s faces.
And if you look around and find yourself without friends, don’t wait until you’re sitting in the nursing home to find a pal.
Step out of your comfort zone NOW! Join that book club, attend a free local evening program, go volunteer somewhere, and say yes to GNO (even if it’s bingo). You are more than likely going to find a kindred spirit who is also in search of a real friend.
Cheers to having real friends in your 50s and beyond. May we keep them, find them, make time for them, appreciate and love them.
If you’re feeling this post, you might like The Importance of Good Friends in Your Life
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