Five Foolproof Steps for Making Friends After 50

UPDATE:  Though I wrote this post 4 years go, wonderful people keep commenting and reaching out for ideas about how to form new friendships in midlife and beyond.  Though the post is old, the issues are timeless.  And as you can see from a follow up post, I’ve learned from my readers that there is really no foolproof way to find friends at any stage of life.  That said, the ideas in this post work for many of us.  But the most helpful aspect of the post comes from everyone who has left comments.  So please keep telling your stories, sharing your ideas, and reaching out for support.  Also don’t forget that I offer a free 30 minute coaching session to my followers (sign up on home page) if you need encouragement and a few new ideas.  The original post:

I just moved to Colorado a few months ago. I was excited about the change, but worried about how I would adjust, since I didn’t know anyone here (apart from my daughter, son-in-law, and baby granddaughter.) The last time I moved, from Boston to Florida, I didn’t make much of an effort to form new connections. Instead, I maxed out my cell phone plan calling up my old Boston friends. I spent too much quality time with Ben & Jerry’s. I was lonely, but I didn’t want to admit it, and figured that my town just wasn’t a good place to meet people my age. Then I was introduced to a friend of a friend who had moved to my town in Florida only three months earlier. She is a widow in her mid 60s with some health problems. But she is vibrant and happy. And she rapidly made a bunch of new friends who keep her very busy. I felt a little embarrassed that she had pulled off something in a few months that I hadn’t managed in well over a year. I realized that I had fallen for a self-fulfilling prophecy: That you can’t make friends over 50 because everybody in that age group already has enough friends. But I’m learning that’s just a myth. There are lots of people out there who need or want friends: Their lives may have been jolted by geographic moves, divorce, or loss of a spouse or partner. Some people simply wake up and realize that some of the friends they have no longer offer the support that makes their friendships worthwhile. I know someone who has been going out to dinner with a friend once a week for the last 20 years. They have absolutely nothing in common except for their weekly dinner ritual.

So when I arrived in Colorado, I made a resolution to actively seek out friendships. Here are the steps I used to keep me out of solitary confinement:

1. Admit that you are lonely

Self-awareness is the first step. Last year, I got so used to a limited social life and a lack of local confidantes, that I stopped noticing how lonely I was. A trip back to New England—where old friends seemed very interested in spending time with me—reminded me of what I was missing. So pay attention to the signs of social disconnection: Are telemarketers the only people who call you in the evenings? Is watching Grey’s Anatomy or Project Runway the highlight of your week? Have you stopped cooking meals because it’s so much trouble for “only one?” Do you find excuses to strike up conversations with strangers in supermarket checkout lines? Whatever your loneliness red flags, recognize that loneliness is not a character flaw—it’s simply God’s way of telling you to GET A LIFE!

2. Decide what kind of friend you want to be

The most important ingredient you bring to a relationship is yourself. What kind of energy and commitment are you willing to put out there in your search for connections? Make a decision that you will show up in the world as someone who is worth having as a friend. That way your energy, honesty, and caring personality will draw people to you when you meet.

3. Reflect on the qualities you are looking for in a friend

Even though you don’t have enough (any?) friends right now, this is no time to lower your standards. In fact, the more conscious you are about what kind of friends you want to have, the more likely you’ll find people who meet your needs. Are you looking for someone who:
Enjoys some of the same activities you do?
Shares your political or religious beliefs?
Has something in common that you can both talk about?
Doesn’t complain excessively about physical symptoms or family problems?
Has a similar standard of living?
Likes to listen as much as she talks?

Once you have identified your criteria, keep them on your radar as you implement step 4.

4. Become a joiner

This is a tough one, because so many of us are shy about joining groups. My Florida friend adopted the strategy of saying yes to any invitation she received to get involved. She joined a scrabble club, a singing group, and a meditation group, all at the invitation of her new neighbors. She is already so wired into the local community, you’d never know she’s only been living here for only a few months. On the other hand, I have a friend who recently retired, who has thought about joining some environmental organizations, but who resists, saying “I don’t do groups.” Accept your discomfort about groups and join some anyway. It’s really the only efficient way to meet kindred spirits. View it as a necessary evil. And choose only those groups devoted to activities or causes that you are passionate about. Focus on how you can contribute to a worthy cause, and you’ll lose your self-consciousness about being the new kid on the block.

5. Invite people to dinner

Many of us are intimidated by the prospect of having people to our homes, especially people we don’t know all that well. So challenge yourself to dust off that old recipe book, and host a dinner party for a few people you hardly know. It will give you a night off from eating Lean Cuisine, and there is nothing like home-cooked food to help people feel welcome and connected. By inviting a small number of new acquaintances, you won’t have to worry about keeping the conversation going all by yourself—your other guests can help you. If the thought of food preparation makes you want to jump off a bridge, plan a pot luck dinner, or even a group dinner at a modestly priced restaurant. The important thing is to break out of your social shell and take those first steps to forming new friendships.
Thanks to, a great online resource for connecting with people based on common interests, I am actually enjoying the process of meeting new people. I joined a local writing group and an alternative healing group. I really clicked with Annie, another member of my writing group. So now I’m fortunate to have my first Colorado buddy, who coincidentally lives right in my neighborhood. Gotta stop blogging so I can meet Annie for breakfast.
Meanwhile I hope you’ll use the comments section to share your experiences and ideas about making new friends—at any age!

160 Responses to “Five Foolproof Steps for Making Friends After 50”

  1. MIchelle 03. Nov, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    I come across this post and I am so lonely for too long. Ive lost my friends and family. I keep trying but to no avail. now I read all these posts of people going thru the same loneliness and I want to talk with all of you, you seem like a group i’d like to talk with too. how do we do that? is this just an article ?

  2. Rich 04. Nov, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    As a man in the same situation, I thought I would add my story. I am in the process of getting divorced after devoting myself to my family for 20+ years. I used to have a large, tight knit group of friends, but we drifted apart over the years. Some moved away, some got heavily involved in hobbies in which I had no interest, etc. I have a few friends left from that group, but they are either alcoholics who only want to stay home and drink or jobless losers with no money. And I haven’t made any new friends in years.

    I have an adventurous spirit and I like to do stuff, but no one to do it with. I ended up here because I want to proactively address my situation and I am looking for ideas. Unfortunately this page seems short on practical advice (I’ve already admitted I’m lonely) and long on commiserating. Which is fine – reading other people’s replies made me realize how common my situation is. How funny that in this time of social media and on-line communities that we can’t parlay that into making more personal, real life connections.

    I am going to look into getting involved in activities and clubs, but that will not be easy. I want to do it because I believe in the cause or love the activity and not just join to be a joiner and meet people. That seems a little superficial or fake. So the challenge becomes how to find clubs, groups, and activities.

    Thanks to everyone who shared their experience here.

  3. Heather l 05. Nov, 2015 at 2:03 am #

    Hi i wont start this by saying i just happened to come across this as i actually typed in how to make friends at 50. As of the 29th of dec this year my best friend of 28 yr has been gone she passed away very quickly within 12 wks last year of cancer. Although i have a partner an a good family my life soon became very empty and the lonelyness i dont know i cant seem to find the words i felt smothered in a darkness i suppose. An i became like many others the tv became my sole companion i went to bed as soon as evening meal was over and as days turned too weeks then months iv realised iv stop living my life too iv become so lonely i crave company so bad as many said going shopping r a hairdrwssing appointment id chat constant knowing i wont see anyone for weeks again. I do live with a partner and my youngest daughter so i am not totally alone i just want a friend again a good friend who can share in each others lifes i just dont know how to make a friendship start again but on the other hand i cant bare this feeling of never having a close friend any more i my life.

  4. Lynne 11. Nov, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    Hello. It’s incredible that there are so many people suffering from loneliness and yet there appears to be very little real support or opportunity to meet with like minded people. I’m in my 50’s my husband decided he simply didn’t want to live with me anymore. I think I’m a kind, interesting, warm heated, person with a young attitude and outlook at life but living alone and seeing my future alone is so not for me. I live in the UK and can not find any groups in the north west of England that meet for a ‘ social’ and I’m so sick of trying to fit in with couples. There must be a way to connect people from within a 20 mile radius to meet have some laughter and enjoy just ‘hanging out’ as my daughter says. It’s too sad to think that there are hundreds of people all sat in our own homes with the same feeling of loneliness and we can’t find a solution, there has to be one.

  5. Kaye 20. Nov, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    I stumbled across this blog when I typed in “how to make friends after 50”, and am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading through the post and discussions.

    I just turned 55 a few days ago, and can resonate so much with what others have said. My situation is a bit different than most – I live with two women who are like family to me, so I do have an abundance of love and support, at least family-wise. But since moving to a new city a few years ago, I am finding it almost impossible to make new friends.

    I do the things that people advise – going to Meetups, pursuing my own interests, and so on. I have ‘friends’ at work. I have ‘friends’ online. I am intelligent, kind, curious, and reasonably attractive. People enjoy talking to me at work, and my online ‘friends’ are responsive and interactive, and always mentioning how ‘sweet’ and ‘beautiful’ I am.

    However. In the meetup groups I’ve gone to, people are very nice, but it doesn’t go any further than whatever the thing is that we’re doing – people don’t seem interested in connecting outside of the group. The ‘work friends’ don’t respond to suggestions to spend time together outside of work time. The online ‘friends’ make nice words about ‘getting together for coffee sometime’, and so on…but no one is ever available.

    Clearly, I am not the only one who desires new mid-life friends, and who is seeking to make some. But the vast majority of people I’ve met who are anywhere close to my age seem to have their friends, have their kids/grandkids, have their social circles…and don’t seem to be interested or have motivation to develop new friendships of any depth or meaning.

    It’s frustrating and hurtful. Just this morning, an online ‘friend’ who I’ve been trying to develop a friendship with (and who has expressed mutual interest, but who is never available) responded to my Facebook post about a restaurant that we might try together with “great, that’s super close to my work! I think I’ll try it next week!”. Ouch.

    I’m trying really hard to move into an acceptance of just pursuing my interests, and if friendships develop, great, and if they don’t, great. But what I would really like is to have at least a couple of friends…the kind of friends who you can call upon for help, share beyond social superficialities, and also to build and be a part of a bit of a social network. I don’t think it’s too much to ask…..but I’m pretty much drawing a blank on how to help it happen. I try not to be sad about it….but the truth is….I’m sad. Not despondent….I am fortunate to have my two partners, and we love and support each other. But I want some friends! Real friends!

  6. Kathy 20. Nov, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Hi Kaye, I could have written most of your comments myself. I know it’s hard when you’re doing all the right things and not getting the results you hoped. Just keep doing those things. Successful salespeople know that it may take a hundred sales calls to make one sale. When looking for friends, we’re in effect “selling ourselves. Also, as I’ve mentioned try to be a little selective about people in whom you invest energy, so you don’t get your heart broken too often.There’s a fine balance between being open to new relationships and setting yourself up for rejection such as by that thoughtless FB friend. Even on Facebook, it’s often possible to tell if someone is friendship material. For instance, do they take the time to comment supportively on any of your posts? Meanwhile keep holding those lovely women who are like family close to your heart.

  7. Kathy 20. Nov, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Rebecca, great idea! Maybe you could let people know your general location and ask if anyone else on this blog lives in the area.

  8. Kathy 20. Nov, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Amy, if you have anxiety about leaving your home, it might be worthwhile speaking about it with your family doctor or other health professional. Ask to speak with someone on the phone if you’re unable to travel. Staying home may be intensifying your feelings of isolation. I hope you’ll reach out to talk to someone about how you’re feeling (as you can see, you’re not alone.) Wishing you the best.

  9. Kathy 20. Nov, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Virginia, please don’t give up. You may have already tried this, but it’s really important for your physical and emotional wellbeing to be involved in an activity that is fulfilling and meaningful to you. Many people find volunteering in their area of interest–sometimes they meet friends, but even if they don’t, they’re doing something that gives them a feeling of satisfaction or purpose. All my best to you!


  1. Why Men Fail at Friendship | Psychologist and coach, Corporate consultant, Writer and editor, Mind-body practitioner | Dr. Kathy Jordan - 21. Jul, 2014

    […] have been a lot of responses to my old post “Five Foolproof Steps to Making Friends After 50.”  Only one man has ever commented about the challenges of male friendships, though a few women have […]

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