I have been going through some things, and have lost a lot of friends in the last few years. I need to make a fresh start, but meeting new people seems so hard right now. I'm in my mid-30s, and wondering what's the best way to make new friends?
It's not uncommon for someone your age to be looking for new friends. As we get older, our lives (and those of our friends) change, and we may need to move on and meet new people.
In my opinion, the best way to meet new people (and therefore, make new friends) is through activities. The more people you come in contact with, the greater chance you have of finding one or two that you really click with. Make a goal to branch out and try new things, and as a result you'll meet new friends.
Ways to Try New Activities
There are many ways to try out new activities. One way is to first look online and see what types of groups you might enjoy. Groups like GirlFriendCircles or Girlfriend Social help you to connect with other women looking for friendship, for example, while a site like Meetup.com lists events in your area. In fact, there are several websites that can help you connect with others, which is especially useful if you're someone that is a little rusty at making conversation with new people.
Another way to try out new activities is to look for classes or events in your local newspaper, area college, chamber of commerce, or community center. These types of places will frequently post notices for new things going on in your area. Find one or two you think you'd really like, and go from there.
If you're completely stumped for things to try, give some consideration to volunteering. This is really good option if, as you mention, you've just gone through a major life event. It's a way for you to get outside your own experience and help another person. This will help you build self-esteem and give you confidence when it comes to making small talk and meeting new people.
How to Connect With People
Part of the "trick" to meeting new friends is having an open and friendly attitude. You want to be the type of person that people are naturally attracted to (in a social sense) and someone that invites conversation. The more comfortable you are in your life in general, the better you will be at conveying a message of openness.
It's important to note that when attending new events, do it with the goal of trying out a new experience, rather than coming away with a new friendship. This simple change in attitude will take the pressure off of conversation. If you try too hard to connect, you'll come off phony and desperate. This will make you appear aggressive to others and people won't be as eager to find out what you're all about.
The best activities to choose are those that allow you to be yourself and let your personality come through. Choose things that allow time to chat and get to know one another. This way conversation will be more natural. Don't worry if some of the group members already know each other. Just keep showing up and enjoying the activity, and eventually you'll meet people individually.
Best Advice? Don't Give Up!
Meeting new people is the first step in making friendships. Concentrate on just getting out and doing new things first, which will help you feel less lonely even if you don't make friends right away. As you slowly get to know people, aim for smaller group activities so you can have time to talk with folks and figure out who you most naturally click with. Friendships will come, but it can take some time, so don't get discouraged.