Having friends throughout all stages of your life is important, from playing together on the school playground, Saturday nights on the town in your 20s, to friends whose children eventually end up growing up alongside your own.

It’s human instinct to desire being surrounded by people who can make us laugh and smile throughout the ups and downs of life.

However, as we grow older, life can get in the way, friends can move abroad, or naturally just drift away. According to Age.uk, it’s projected that by 2025, 2.3 million over 50s will class themselves as lonely, as the process of making new friends as an adult is harder. Entering your older years, friends are vital to provide companionship and keep us active.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week, Nicky Wake, relationship expert and founder of Chapter 2 has compiled together a list of tips to making friends in later life.

1. Try to enter situations with an open mind 

Entering new situations can be scary and intimidating, especially if you are going in with the intention of meeting potential friends. As a result, our defensive systems go up and we restrict part of our personality, often the part of us that shines and people love.

When entering situations with new people, remember that these individuals could also be on the lookout for new friends. Keeping this idea in mind will put you at ease and make you feel more comfortable entering new places.

2. Embrace a new hobby 

You might not get to choose who you work with, or who you live next door to, but you can choose what you do in your spare time. From jogging to art classes, these types of classes allow you to chat and spend time with like-minded people. 

A common misconception about joining sports clubs is that you must be some kind of pro. However, most leisure centres and local teams will have a ‘social’ league, which is less competitive. There are a variety of non-sports-based activities you can try too, including book clubs, art groups and local choirs.

3. Pursue your passion and volunteer

Do you have a deep connection with a local charity or social cause? This could be the perfect opportunity to get stuck in by doing good and meeting new people. If you’re passionate about a particular social or political cause, see what local groups are active that you could join, or if you are feeling brave, start one yourself!

4. Accept rejection, but keep on trying

You might find a group that seems like a perfect fit, but you realise after, it just wasn’t for you. Or you might find a group that fails to accept you into a closer circle. 

Both are completely natural and should not deter you from continuing your hunt for a wider social circle. It might be that the people you hoped to connect with are busy in their personal lives and don’t have the energy at the moment to explore new friendships, but that doesn’t mean the next group won’t!

5. Go online – but look in the right places 

In today’s digital age it is easier than ever to connect with people online, even on a global scale. You can use social networks to keep in touch with friends and family members who don’t live close by to you. 

Alongside keeping in touch with existing friends and family members, there are numerous websites targeted at creating friendships.Sites like 50plus-club.co.uk and stitch.net are specifically aimed at people over 50 seeking friendship and companionship. For those happy to explore friendships and activities for any ages Meetup.com which helps individuals meet new friends with common interests.

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