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Why It’s Harder to Make Friends After 40 (and How to Combat the Odds)

Why It’s Harder to Make Friends After 40 (and How to Combat the Odds)
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No matter how old you are, it’s always a little challenging to make friends. When you reach middle-age, however, it can be super daunting. Not only do you face the typical hangups that people have (i.e. fears of what others will think of them), but you add to it a lifetime of having friends come and go from your life.

Does making friends in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s have to be intimidating and scary?

It doesn’t have to be, but we should look at some of the reasons why it’s difficult and consider how to overcome them. Here are the top 17 reasons why it’s hard to make friends after 40.

1. People are busy with their family.

Probably the top reason why it’s difficult to make friends after your 40’s is that by that point in their lives, most people have other commitments.

People in their 40’s typically have older children (i.e. teenagers) and those children tend to require a lot of time. So, unless you are involved in the same things those parents are involved in, it can be extremely difficult finding people your age to socialize with.

One way to overcome this hurdle is to volunteer to do things that these families are into. If the parents of teens are taking their kids to sports and other social events, then volunteer to coach or help out at those events.

You may feel weird doing that at first (especially if you don’t have kids), but when you get involved those feelings will dissipate.

2. People’s social circles rarely change after 30.

Studies have shown that, when people reach their 30’s, they start to value quality friendships over quantity.[1] Once their social circles dwindle, people settle for fewer friendships.

As an outsider to those social circles, you may find it more intimidating to “break in” to an already established social circle.

The best way to deal with this is to join clubs or activities that match your personality and interests. Find a common reason to come together with these people, and you’ll open the door to more quality friendships.

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3. Higher levels of individualism.

Existing quantitative research suggests that people are becoming increasingly individualistic, materialistic, and narcissistic.[2] Millennials are upending many of the social trends of the past because of this sense of individualism. People are spending more and more time online and, thus, keeping to themselves.

One way to address this issue is to find your own sense of individualism. Know thyself. Learn to be happy on your own so that you don’t come across as clingy in social interactions.

4. Lack of education on friendship and social skills.

If you look online, there are many blogs for helping people find relationships, but there are few that address making friends. The advice that one might give to make better relationships does not necessarily apply to making better friendships.

One of the best resources for making friends is a timeless classic: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Or you can learn from the tips here:

14 Ways to Find Good Friends No Matter What Your Age

5. When you’re older, it takes more than one thing in common to make friends.

When you were a kid, it was much easier to make friends. You tended to gravitate towards anybody who had anything in common with you. If you played football, most of your friends were probably football players. If you were a cheerleader, most of your friends were probably part of your cheer squad.

Now that you’re older, you realize that compatibility is important in any type of social relationship. This is why the best plan of action is to join clubs and volunteer for things you care about. This allows you to socialize with people who care about the same things you do.

6. Fear of reaching out to others.

There’s a certain type of pride that keeps us from reaching out to others when we need them. We are afraid of rejection, and we fear the judgment of others.

Here are three ways to overcome that fear:[3]

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  1. Rewire your brain by reading and listening to motivational material.
  2. Have a plan for those times you fear the most (i.e. a lull in the conversation).
  3. Set the goal to talk to at least one new person every day.

7. You have nothing to talk about.

This is typically a sign that you need to spice up your life. If you have little to talk about, it may be time to address the reasons for that. Have you been so focused on work that you have forgotten how to enjoy your life?

It’s also helpful to understand that you don’t have to be constantly talking to enjoy someone’s company. When you’re hanging with the right people, you can comfortably share silence.

8. People are more set in their ways.

According to psychologists, people don’t change much beyond their 30’s.[4] This could mean that, if you’ve spent a significant portion of your adult life alone or without friends, it may be tougher to make friends in your 40’s.

You can still break that mold. In fact, you can reinvent yourself in any way that you want.

Start by making small changes in your life. Change the way you drive to work. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. Keep your mind open to new possibilities and reach for them whenever you can.

9. You aren’t making yourself available to others.

How often do people invite you to do things and you tell them no? You won’t make new friends if you don’t embrace new opportunities.

Start saying yes to these invites, even if you don’t particularly like the person who is inviting you. This will open you up to new opportunities which will inevitably lead to making new friends.

10. You don’t have enough money to do things.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it can be super frustrating when people want to do stuff that costs money. You don’t want to impose on them or sponge off of them, but you also don’t want to turn down opportunities to socialize.

Learn to make a budget. When you pay off a bill, earmark some of that new income for social purposes. Dump it into a savings account and only use it for social occasions.

11. Your social skills are rusty.

If you haven’t been out for a while, you may feel like your social skills are rusty. You may have never really had much of a social life to begin with. Whatever your situation, there’s only one way to overcome it.

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You have to be willing to fail and look foolish. You have to be willing to take chances. The only way to sharpen your social skills is to practice in real social situations. Consider using a group like meetup.com to help sharpen your social skills.

12. Digital interaction makes it harder to socialize in real life.

According to research, we typically can only handle about 150 friends at any given time.[5] This includes your online social network. Perhaps to supplement your lack of social interaction, you’ve inserted yourself into various online communities. These communities are taking up that space in your brain.

Scale back your online presence and start weening yourself off of social media. You don’t have to quit entirely, but you need to set some limitations on how much of your life it consumes.

At first this will feel strange, and your levels of loneliness may increase. But that is a temporary feeling that will give you the fuel needed to go make friends in the real world.

13. You find fault in everybody you meet.

Maybe you are sabotaging your potential friendships. Perhaps you are having trouble making friends in or after your 40’s because you have spent most of your adult life pushing people away.

Do you have some trauma in your past? Have you been burned by friendships in the past?

Take some time to self-evaluate. Address the issues that have you pushing people away or finding fault in others. Go to a therapist and work through these issues with someone who is trained to help people.

14. You’re trying to protect yourself from getting hurt again.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous reason. If you’ve had a friendship go sour in the past, you’re going to be skittish about making new friends. We fear repeating the pain of a past failed relationship whether it be romantic or otherwise.

This is another thing to work through with a therapist. Be willing to take new risks or your attempts to make new friends are over before you start.

15. Your time is limited.

Perhaps you are too busy to make new friends. Maybe you’re forced to work two jobs and manage all of the other responsibilities in your life. If this is the case, then you need to analyze what is dominating your time and why.

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Make a list of the things you have to do in a week. Maybe you’re living beyond your means. The best way to save time and money is to downsize your life so that you can free up resources for other pursuits.

16. The older you are, the more difficult it is to get excited about spending time with people you don’t know.

When you’re young, much of the excitement of doing things is in the fact that it’s the first time you are doing them. When you reach your 40’s, there’s little that you can do that you haven’t already experienced.

I challenge you to see the world through fresh eyes. Practice changing your perspective on things. Listen to stand up comedy, podcasts, and audio-books that uplift you and shift your view of the world.

Many times a lack of excitement comes from being stuck in the same patterns for too long. It’s time to shake things up a bit and make some changes.

17. Your life isn’t as interesting as it was when you were in your 20’s.

Your 20’s are usually about discovering yourself and trying new things. Your social circle is usually as big as it’s going to get because you have so many irons in the fire. As you get older, things start to settle into a routine.

We are creatures of habit, and that habit can make our lives boring. The best way to change your perspective and make your life more interesting is to travel to new places. When you are remaking your budget, open up a category for travel.

The bottom line

Making friends in your 40’s can be intimidating and scary. Your goal is to make it an adventure. See it as a new challenge and begin tackling the reasons you’ve pulled away from people.

This will make your life (and you) more interesting. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Your new life awaits!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

James Leatherman

The founder of Happymindsets.com and is passionate about personal growth, psychology, philosophy and science

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Last Updated on July 15, 2021

11 Relationship Goals Happy Couples Have

11 Relationship Goals Happy Couples Have
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Happy couples don’t just magically happen. It takes a lot more work than simply walking down the aisle, saying vows, and making googly eyes at each other because once the excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon is over, comes the real work.

Creating relationship goals that you, as a couple, can aspire to, sets you up as a team right from the get-go. Being a team—a partnership—provides each of you with a safety net. You have each others’ backs so that you don’t fall, and if you do, there’s someone to catch you before you get too hurt.

Relationship goals are beneficial because you have an aim—something to work for that will enhance your partnership.[1] By having goals, you know when you reach them, when you fall short, and why. Goals keep you working—not working for me, me, me, but working for us, us, us.

Below, I’ve listed some note-worthy goals to make your relationship happy, friendly, and solid.

1. Go Through the Rough Patches as Allies

Let’s face it, all couples go through hard times. But having a goal right from the beginning that you’ll be there for each other, not only during the fun and happy times but especially through the most challenging times, increases your chances of making it through.

Set up a goal for those prickly times. Make it so that when the bad times hit, you pull closer together, not farther apart. Discuss this prior to the hiccups. It’s like having the fire extinguisher ready before the fire, not after the fire burns down the house.

According to Karensuestudios, “the key to setting goals, is to set attainable goals. You start small and work your way up.”[2]

2. Become the Best Versions of Yourselves, Together!

Being in a relationship can become its own comfort zone. The things you used to do while dating may fall by the wayside. Maybe you stop caring about your appearance, or you start taking each other for granted. You both stop growing as individuals and as a couple. This can easily create a rut.

Just because you’re with someone who loves you for who you are, that doesn’t mean you stop evolving. Never allow yourself to stop growing. The show must go on—you must go on. Keep learning, expanding, and reaching for higher ground. Doing this will keep you more interested in life, not to mention more interesting to your partner. This is how cracks in the marriage are avoided.

“A healthy relationship is kind of like a trinity, two individuals create something deeper and better than themselves, yet they are still themselves. For a relationship to grow, you must also grow as an individual and not lose yourself. This can be really hard for mothers. They can get so caught up in work, husband, children, that they don’t know who they are anymore” —Silouan Green

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If you each become the best version of yourself, your partnership becomes the best version of itself!

3. Be Each Others’ Cheerleaders

There is no room for jealousy in a relationship. Sometimes, couples can be competitive, especially if they have high-powered jobs. Or there may exist some ulterior motives for why one partner might not want the other one to succeed.

Supporting each others’ dreams and goals is essential to a marriage’s longevity. Be happy for each other. Root for each other when needed. That makes your partner feel supported, and it will encourage them even more. If each partner is happy, they are more likely to work on maintaining a happy union.

4. Dedicate Time to Each Other

When there are copious responsibilities to attend to, it’s easy to put your partner on the back burner. After all, you live together—you “see” each other all the time. You might think, “It’s okay. I’ll talk to them later, or tomorrow. No biggie.” But it is a biggie.

Relationships need tending to. Your time together needs to be prioritized. If not, it’s too easy for other things to take its place. People can feel ignored and lonely in marriage.

Dedicating time to each other is extremely important. It is how you stay connected—how you stay current in each other’s lives. Neglecting your partner because there are more “important” things to do will not keep your partnership grounded and solid.

5. Speak Well and Respectfully of Each Other

I’ve listened to many couples speak ill about their partner. You would think they’re talking about their arch-nemesis, instead of their honey. What happened? This is the person to whom you made googly eyes, remember?

Talking about your partner’s flaws and painting them in a bad light is never productive. In fact, the person listening will not forget how bad your spouse is. so, the next time they see you together, they may think, “Poor Mirna. There’s that monster she married.”

Having arguments is normal, but try to fix them between the two of you. Don’t drag others into the mix. Talking badly and disrespectfully of each other simply leaves a bad taste in other people’s mouths, not to mention yours!

6. Learn Each Others’ Love Language and Speak it

We all love in different ways, and we all like to be shown love differently. That’s why it’s important to sit down with your partner and find out how they want to be shown love.

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For instance, my husband taking my Jeep and filling it up is an act of service, which is a love language I really appreciate.[3] While I love the flowers he sometimes brings home, they’re not as exciting to me as having my car gassed up and ready to go. Some people are touchy, feely, while others love to be told they are loved in words.

Make it a goal to find out what your partner’s love language is, then show them you love them in a way that will make them feel even more loved.

7. Try New Things Together

Be on the lookout to explore new territory. It doesn’t have to be mind-blowing, it just has to be new.

My husband and I work out regularly, but I’m always searching for new things. So, this past Sunday, I said, “We’re not doing our regular workout today!” My husband just stared at me wide-eyed (he doesn’t like change), but I don’t care. I said, “Today, we’re trying a Bollywood workout. Let’s go!” I found a workout on YouTube, and for the next 30 minutes, we huffed and puffed, jumped and danced, and had a great time. After it was over, he turned to me and said, “Boy, that was hard and fun.”

My son and his wife did something similar—rollerskating. To take the edge off the day-to-day grind, they decided to try rollerskating. Now they make it a date night every Monday night. They’re exercising, dancing, and sharing a new experience. Together!

According to Maggie Peikon,[4]

“Enhancing experiences that already make you happy by putting a new spin on them is another way to try something “new” in a less intimidating form. Switching things up can help to keep you inspired and motivated. Because, let’s be honest, it can be quite dull and uneventful following the same monotonous routine day in and day out.”

8. Fulfill Your Vows and Commitment to Each Other

Wedding vows can be beautiful and moving. But what happens after the wedding is over, after the excitement wears off, and you’re now not dancing at your own wedding party, but living a regular life?

Vows and commitments are important. As your marriage ages, things can get stale. The promise, “I will love you for always, and treat you like a Queen,” are just words recited on a special day. It’s the follow-through that’s important.

According to the article, 5 Ways Your Wedding Vows Will Save Your Marriage,[5]

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“But wedding vows force us to rethink what is important and what we value. Vows force us to recognize that we need to appreciate each other on a regular basis. Wedding vows let couples hear why they are chosen and fulfill their need to feel wanted and appreciated. Vows such as “Your creativity and talent inspire me,” tell our partners what is important to them. One of our favorite quotes comes from Mother Teresa, ‘There is greater hunger in the world for appreciation than for bread.’ Writing vows that cement why you want and appreciate your partner can help reinforce what’s important to you.”

Make sure that the vows you made on your special day are the ones you’re living in your married life.

9. Prioritize Each Other

Being in a relationship doesn’t always guarantee that you’re always going to be present and engaging. Today’s busy schedules often prevent that, but you must prioritize your partner.

How do you do that? By actively doing things for each other. Clean up and do the dishes after dinner. Surprise them by cooking their favorite meal. Turn down the bed at night while they’re busy putting the kids to bed, etc. You get the picture. Come up with ways you can surprise your partner by doing little things. Make it a habit.

According to Elizabeth Burke,[6]

“We all have to-do lists that seem to never end. These can be task and errand oriented, like picking up dry cleaning and going grocery shopping. There’s goal-oriented lists, like getting a promotion at work or running a marathon. And even people-oriented lists like taking care of yourself and making sure you’re happy and doing the same for your partner. With all that we have to accomplish, it can be difficult to prioritize. There are certain things that take priority, but ask yourself – where does your relationship fall on that list? Of course taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Outside of that, if your relationship isn’t even at the top, there can be consequences.”

10. Keep the Romance Alive

When you’re dating, you come up with the most amazing romantic things to do for your partner—watching sunsets, flowers, love letters, etc. But something goes awry along the way. Maybe it’s the work schedule, the familiarity, the kids, the dog, the family, etc. Whatever it is, it makes you forget that you’re lovers. But that’s exactly what you are: Lovers! And lovers need romance.

Romance is just as important 10 years post marriage, as it was while you were courting. Why? Because after being married for a while, the struggle is real. Life can step in many times with problems that need to be solved. Romance is needed more than ever to bring some heart and soul when things get a little rough.

As Carina Wolff said, “Just because you’ve finally settled into the comfortable stages of a relationship doesn’t mean it’s time to stop putting in an effort to keep things exciting.”[7]

Note: Being romantic doesn’t mean expensive. It can just be the two of you spending time together sharing your dreams and aspirations; planning a trip, taking walks in a garden, a candlelight dinner, or just dinner together while talking about your day.

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11. Spend Time Together and Apart

In a marriage, spending time together is extremely important, but it’s just as important as spending time apart. You may be in love, but you’re not glued at the hip. Your partner cannot be everything to you. They cannot provide everything you need. That’s too big a burden.

Expand your relationship with other people–family members, friends, acquaintances at the gym, etc. Expand your circle. Your partner, of course, will continue to be your priority. But you can still enjoy different hobbies, different experiences, and different people. Then, come home and share everything with your honey. As you expand, so will your relationship.

“No one can be everything to anyone. In other words, it’s healthy to have more than one person you can open up to, depend on, and have fun with. So, if your partner is the only person who fills those needs for you, we’d recommend you try to expand your social group.”[8]

Final Thoughts

Relationship goals are important because they give us something to shoot for. The health of a relationship depends on the love and effort poured into it. The more you work on it, the greater the rewards.

Goals give you a target—something to aim for—that will strengthen your relationship. When you reach your goals, you know you’re on the right path, and when you don’t, find out what can be done to get you back on track.

Relationship goals keep you working as a team—a team that feels united, strong, secure, and loving.

What are some of your relationship goals? See if you can’t define those and implement them into your relationship.

Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

Reference

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