Developing new relationships can be exciting at any age, but in this guide, we specifically discuss how to make new friends and forge relationships in retirement.
Friendship plays an essential role in happiness
Friendship is hugely important at every stage in life, and retirement is no exception. What’s more, in retirement you could make the most of the extra free time you have to discover different experiences and meet new people – leading to new friendships and relationships.
In this guide, we take a closer look at the importance of friendship and offer some useful tips on how to make new friends in retirement. Read on to find out more.
The reason we need friendship
According to a 2017 study by research psychologist William J. Chopik, friendship has strong links to happiness and can contribute to improved physical and mental health.
Interestingly, it also found that as age increased, friendships were often more influential than family. The study showed how friendships can provide a unique source of support for people in times of need.
This research also found that friendship is particularly beneficial to those over the age of 60, as it helps to provide support and creates new social surroundings. This is hugely important when facing bereavement or major life-changes, and it can also help combat loneliness.
When you have someone to turn to and have deep, meaningful conversations with, you can even boost brain health and help lower your stress levels. And let’s not forget the impact on a person’s social understanding and outlook. Friendships can transform the way that you see the world, help you see other people’s views and introduce you to new social groups and situations. Simply put, friendship can help make you a better person.
Explore your past social circles
Think back to any regular dinner parties, dates or events that you used to attend with certain friendship groups. Even if it’s been a while since you last contacted these social circles, reach out to them and strike up a conversation.
They are likely to still have the same sense of humour, interests or personality that made you all such a close-knit group. Moreover, rekindling previous friendships can cut out a lot of the work involved when having to meet new people.
It might be that you get invited to a work or school reunion, if you do, don’t turn it down. Even if you no longer have a relationship with the people who you initially befriended, you’ll be able to meet these old friends and people who share similar backgrounds and experiences.
You may also find that you can again reignite and nurture an old relationship at such events. Either way, exploring your past social circles is an excellent way to take a trip down memory lane.
Find a new friend who lives at least 20 miles away from you
A friend in another city, county or even continent is an excellent way to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy new experiences. Finding a pen pal is perhaps the best way to do this, and it will enable you to form an entirely new relationship.
Alternatively, use online communities, forums or friendship matchmaking sites such as Stitch to find new friends from further afield. Not only will you be able to learn more about new cultures and people, you may find shared interests and common views that transcend your location. You may also have a new place to visit in the future too!
You can use technology to your advantage
In today’s world of fast digital communication, connecting online can feel a little detached at times – especially when compared to a good old face to face meeting.
However, despite its faults, technology has also introduced us to a new and exciting era for friendship, giving everyone the opportunity to speak to each other and connect regardless of location or lifestyle. For those with friends or family overseas, it means being able to talk to and see each other at the press of a button.
Better still, there are plenty of niche social networks and sites for people to meet each other and develop new friendships. Find companionship by looking into an over 60s website or forum such as Gransnet or Sixty + Me where you can share experiences, stories and opinions.
Volunteering is a great way to make friends
Getting stuck in and volunteering for a local charity or community group is the perfect way to forge new friendships with like-minded people. You’ll find that you form bonds with the people you work with or encounter on a regular basis.
Volunteering is also likely to introduce you to people you may have never met before, from different social and cultural backgrounds or completely different interests and tastes. Who knows, volunteering may be the start to an unlikely friendship?
Join a new club
In addition to volunteering, joining a club will make finding new friends all the easier by placing you in a situation with people who share a common goal. Look for local clubs or community groups that you can get involved in, develop a new skill or hone a hobby. Coffee mornings, craft clubs and Yoga are ideal choices.
We offer plenty of community clubs, exercises and events across all McCarthy & Stone developments, helping our residents to meet new people and enjoy new experiences with ease.
Age should never be a barrier
As they say, age is just a number. And when it comes to making new friends, it’s important to keep this in mind.
If you decide on volunteering, you’re likely to end up working with younger people. A younger friend can share with you their unique insights and views on the world. By sharing your wisdom in return, this can create a fulfilling, stimulating relationship.
Gender shouldn’t dictate a friendship
Platonic relationships between genders can be a fulfilling way to gain companionship and are a healthy form of social interaction.
Millennials have thrown the idea of same-sex based friendships, out of the window. It’s harder to find millennials who only have friends of the same gender, than those without.
So, bear this in mind and look to actively seek friendship from the opposite gender, to give yourself a satisfying, fulfilling friendship in retirement.
Get to know your neighbours
Befriending your neighbours provides a good opportunity to get out of the house without having to travel far. Additionally, it can provide mutual benefits including having someone to check on your home when you’re on holiday, or even look after your pets.
Close friendships with neighbours are also a lovely way to engage in community spirit. Living in a retirement development immediately places you in a community of like-minded individuals. From the start, you can take comfort in knowing that similar people will be around you.
Even though retirement can seem to cause some hurdles when it comes to finding new friends, the reality is that it can be the perfect opportunity to develop new and meaningful relationships that you may have never experienced before.
So as a final piece of advice, use this time to explore different friendships. In return, you may discover new sides to yourself too.