In an earlier article, (Friendship in Older Age 1/5/19) we looked at 3 different types of friendships- Old friends, Worn-Out friendships and new contacts that may become new friends.
Today we look at how you make new friends. A friend of mine walks into a room, a shop, a bar……in fact anywhere and in a short time he’s having conversations with everyone, chatting like old mates and enjoying the energy of conversation. He has friends worldwide, remembers names and stories they have told him and becomes quite sad if he spends too much time alone. He’s a raging extrovert and gets energy from connection with other people.
Enter Nora. I get exhausted by too many events and conversations. Entering a room full of people I don’t know and having to “mingle” is a nightmare. It’s not quite social phobia I just run out of things to say, go red in the face, forget names and after an hour I’d just like to go home exhausted. Yet public speaking is no problem at all, presenting to a thousand people doesn’t worry me but social chit chat is another beast altogether. Introversion is about energy drained, not necessarily shyness or lack of confidence. It’s just hard work and I much prefer deep friendship with a smaller group of people.
We know that being connected to others is vital for a healthy life so how do we make friends in our later years?
It’s useful to understand the fundamental difference between the way introverts and extroverts prefer to socially connect. It was a light bulb moment so many years ago when I realised I wasn’t defective or strange….I just had a strong preference for acting like an introvert, although I could also be every extroverted for a short amount of time and with people I know.
So what is your preference- Introversion or extroversion?
Extroverts will find it easier to join groups, chat with strangers and generally keep connected. They may find it harder to develop and keep deeper connections to good friends and listen to the detail in conversations.
Even with a strong introvert preference it is very possible and important to develop new connections and friendships. Here are some tips
- Use the virtual communities on the internet such as Facebook to make connections. Using Skype you can chat to people worldwide. Be cautious and privacy conscious but social media is a boon to introverts in particular
- Use Meet Up and similar apps to connect with other people of similar interests
- Create an interest group I advertised on the local Facebook group for a social catch up for people in this region who are bloggers and internet based business owners. Four of us got together recently and created the WEBsters We meet for a one hour coffee catch up at a local café and share ideas, resources and just hang out. It’s advertised again on Facebook and next month each of us will invite one other person each…and so we’ll grow. Its one hour a month- very doable for even the most introverted and so much fun! You can always use the local paper or community notice boards if Facebook isn’t appealing.
- Create webs. Just like the interest groups suggest to your friends that you create a new group. We Jaunt is a group of friends who go on one outing a month. Sometimes it’s 6 of us and we go to a gallery and then have lunch. Sometimes the Jaunt is a session with a colour consultant and stylist and we get a group discount. At other times it was just 2 of us and we drove to a coastal village and took photographs. It doesn’t have to be expensive. We try to use public transport where possible and sometimes we invite others outside the core group of six of us, but six is an easy number of people to organise.
- Set yourself personal social goals. Some examples are- One afternoon tea with a new connection every 2 weeks. Making small talk in 3 shops with people you don’t know! Some days you can convince yourself that no one will be interested in meeting up with you or simply having a chat…….try it! Take the risk..I bet most people will be very positive.
- Create a personal “business card.” It can be fun and have your email and mobile phone number on it- an easy way to swap details or simply bump phones!
We’d love to hear about what you do to create new friendships. What’s worked for you? What tips can you pass on to others? Please leave your ideas below in the comments box.