Learn how to make friends (and keep them)

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Making new friends can be just as difficult as finding a romantic partner, particularly as you age. Building friendships in your formative years is somewhat simpler, with regular access to your peers through school, work and hobbies. But without access to these forums, you may struggle to know where – and how – to make those all-important social connections. Let’s start with the where:

Join a club
Whether it be based around sport, crafts, theatre, cooking, dance, books, games or some other special interest, clubs are a great way to meet like-minded people in a setting that encourages social interaction. You can usually find these through community organisations, your local council or even neighbourhood flyers. Meetup is an excellent free resource that offer a wide range of interests and events in your local area.

Volunteer
Are you interested in a particular political or social issue, such as the environment or animal rescue? Perhaps you would like to help out at a charity organisation? These types of groups often heavily rely on volunteers, so you’re likely to fit right in. Each state and territory also runs Community Visitors Schemes through community-based organisations, to partner volunteers with older Australians experiencing social or cultural isolation.

Online
The internet and social media have removed geographical barriers to communication, allowing you to contact and connect with people from all over the world. You could try a friend-finding app such as Bumble or Meetup; strike up a friendship over games such as Words with Friends, or join an interest or community-based group on Facebook.

Through your neighbourhood or social network
If you’ve recently moved or don’t have an existing circle of friends – never fear – there are plenty of opportunities to meet people if you take a leap of faith. This could be a small step, such as introducing yourself to a neighbour or chatting to your local barista or grocer. Even if you don’t become friends with them, it’s good practice for putting yourself out there – particularly if you’re somewhat introverted. If you do have a social network, be sure to accept as many invitations as possible, or why not invite an acquaintance for coffee? Sometimes it takes a little discomfort and perseverance to break into a new circle.

So, once you’ve established a new connection, how can you keep it? Being a good friend takes work, but it can lay the foundation for a lasting friendship. Be sure to:

  • put in effort to stay in contact, even if it’s just by sending a quick message to let them know you’re thinking of them
  • be there when they need you and listen
  • be open, kind and approachable
  • make each other laugh.

What do you value most in a friend? How have you made connections with new people?

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Written by Louise Baxter



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