As it turns out, children might have it right when it comes to making friends.
Some of us are social butterflies, some of us are shrinking violets. It takes all sorts of people to make a world.
As children, we’ll routinely approach each other and make friends. “You like the colour blue? Me too! Let’s be friends.”
But as we get older, many people find it more difficult to branch out and make new friends – the kids have left home, their jobs are becoming quieter and they have more time on their hands – they can feel at a loss for how to reach out and connect with new people.
But fear not, for there’s no need to suffer in silence or resign yourself to feeling lonely, as experts say that there are plenty of super simple things that you can do to broaden your social circles.
The good news is that the more you try it, the easier it becomes. You just have to be willing to take that vital first step!
Try these 4 easy tips below that real people swear by.
ASK FOR SUPPORT
Linda, a 52-year old who has never been one for much socialising, advises being radically honest with those around you, even when it may be lonely.
“There’s a taboo on admitting that you’re lonely. There shouldn’t be!”
Linda made the decision to confide in her nearest and dearest that she was feeling alone and wanted some more friends in her life – a decision that she said she’s glad she made.
“Telling them that I was struggling to find new friends brought me a lot of support. People would take me out to meet their friends and joined me in activities. Soon I had a whole new social network. I don’t know if it would have happened as quickly had I not reached out for help,” she says.
DO A GOOD DEED FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Donna, 52, says that by far the best way to make new friends is to do something to help others.
“Volunteer, do a good deed for a stranger, ask those that you know if there’s anything that they need help with. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. I try and do one nice thing for someone else each day. It has made me some new friends and even when I don’t make a new friend from it, it makes me feel good and that eases the loneliness a lot.”
TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY
“Branch out and try something new,” advises 54-year old Pat, who found herself lonely after her children left home. “We all have hobbies that we’ve considered trying but haven’t acted on, it never hurts to give it a go!”
It doesn’t have to be complex. Many people find not just new friends, but personal growth and satisfaction, in joining a gym or walking group, taking a class, or learning a language. And thanks to the tech-heavy world that we live in, you’re no longer limited to joining a group within a few-block radius of your house.
“You have to force yourself to leave the house and try new things,” says Elena, 56, who knows all too well how tough it can be for the introverts amongst us to try something new around other people. “It’s hard for me because I’m painfully shy. But forcing myself to go do something – volunteering, going to the gym, talking to people in line at the supermarket… anything – really is beneficial for me.”
ADOPT A PET
“I adopted a rescue sausage dog,” says Karen, 50. “I’ve always wanted a dog and adopting made me feel positive. The number of people that I’ve met while taking him for his evening walk is incredible,” she says.
Dogs and other pets have similar psychological benefits as our human companions, boosting our feel-good endorphins, giving us someone to love and keeping us company… so it really is a win-win.