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For years, sociologists have noticed an interesting trend: people build plenty of friendships in their 20s, but find it difficult to make and maintain friendships as they move into their 30s and 40s. Often, this is due to factors like work and becoming busy with family. In any case, friendships mean more than just a number on your social media profile. Studies have shown that having a healthy group of friends impacts your longevity and health. If you're in your 40s, several tricks and strategies can help jump-start your social life.
Change Your Day to Change Your Friendships
When you're a middle-aged adult, it may seem tempting to keep doing what you've always done when it comes to work, life and social activities. But if that day-to-day routine is not creating the strong friendships you want, it's time to switch things up and step a little outside of your comfort zone. This will look different for each person. Some people find it fun to try online friend-making tools like forums and social media. Others have had success playing the "friendship lottery" and simply striking up conversations with strangers while in a doctor's waiting room or coffee shop. Be open to the random opportunities that arise throughout your day!
Tell Me What You Like, What You Really, Really Like
When hitting the friend-making pavement in your 40s, you already know what you like in life. You have your interests, hobbies and dislikes, and you've likely made well-thought-out decisions about politics, religion and similar issues. This level of self-awareness means it's that much easier for you to connect with other people who have similar interests and similar lifestyles when it comes to career, children and habits. Try joining a group of like-minded individuals, such as an outdoors club, a bowling league, a new church or a reading club. If you can't find a group of people who share your interests, consider starting a group in your community about something that you love or are passionate about.
Hit the "Mute" Button on Your Inner Critic
Over the years, your inner voice has had a lot of practice giving loud, impassioned critiques of you and your choices. One of the biggest hurdles for adults who are trying to make friends is their inner voice and their fear of rejection. Don't let your inner worries sabotage your efforts to forge new relationships. It may be difficult to fully silence your inner critic, but you can block it out with two strategies. First, make a list of all your strengths, qualities and accomplishments. This helps boost the way you view yourself, which trickles into the way that you present yourself to others. Second, accept the perspective that those apparently perfect, flawless people around you who seem so put-together likely have their own fears and flaws. This can empower you to chase new friendships with more boldness and confidence.
Give It Time
If you're in your 40s, you might feel pressure to hurry and find new friends as the years tick by. Don't let the clock get you down. Good friendships take a lot of time to build, and require an investment of energy and commitment. Don't try to be someone you're not just so you can quickly impress the next person you meet. Be yourself, keep your chin up, and embrace new opportunities to meet people as these opportunities unfold naturally before you. As connections are made, follow your instincts and let those friendships grow at their own pace instead of trying to rush things to the "best friend" level.
- The New York Times: Friends of a Certain Age -- Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?
- Redbook Magazine: Making Friends at 40
- Psychology Today: Friendships in Adulthood -- Needing, Making, and Keeping Them
- Psych Central: 10 Ways to Make Friends
- Time: Recipe for Longevity -- No Smoking, Lots of Friends
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.
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