How to Make Friends at Any Age (2023)

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Friendship is an essential part of the human experience. In fact, friendship can be powerful medicine. There are numerous studies that show strong social support can increase self-esteem, ease anxiety, and improve overall health. Some studies even refer to it as a proverbial “vaccine” for improved health.

More than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults over age 65 are socially isolated. While loneliness has long been associated with a decline in mental health, it also poses an increased risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke.

Finding quality friends is an obstacle at any age, but older adults may have a more difficult time. “In later life, we tend to be less active in environments that give an opportunity to make friends,” says GinaMarie Guarino, a licensed mental health counselor with PsychPoint. While younger people often find socialization within school and hobbies, older adults may spend their time prioritizing their family or career.

“Some people never progress beyond the friends they made in school or college, or stick with family members. However, as we get older, former school friends can drift away, people pass on, and friendship circles diminish,” says psychotherapist and self-help author Tina B. Tessina, PhD.

Making friends later in life can be challenging, but not impossible. If you’re struggling to strengthen your social circles, try these 10 tips to make friends at any age.

Is there an interest you’ve always had or a skill you’ve wanted to learn? Do you have an activity that once brought you joy that has fallen to the wayside? Hobbies often fall off our to-do lists when life gets busy, but they can be a helpful tool in meeting others with like-minded interests.

“It’s important to reconnect with things you enjoy and doing so is the easiest way to build new friendships organically,” says Paige Harnish, licensed independent social worker and owner of Lifetime Therapy Services.

Brush up on your art skills with a community painting class, boost your endorphins with a group exercise class, join a book club⁠ — the opportunities are endless. Carve out time for hobbies that can enrich your overall happiness and provide an easy path to friendships.

Don’t be afraid to make the first move

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Much like dating, finding friendships requires you to take chances and put yourself out there. Taking the initiative to spark conversation with someone or invite them on an outing can feel awkward at first. Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back from making the first move and showing interest in getting to know someone.

If your invitation is rebuffed or you find you don’t have a strong connection, don’t take it personally. “Congratulate yourself on having the courage to have taken that risk. Take a breath and when it feels appropriate, try again with someone else,” says psychotherapist Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA.

Jessica Tappana, psychologist and founder of Aspire Counseling, finds that repeated exposure and shared interests are the two main elements that foster friendships. “Look for opportunities to regularly see the same group of people. Bonus points if it’s a group of people who naturally have the same interests or values,” says Tappana.

These community groups and volunteer programs can create a consistent routine that provides a natural rapport over time. As you get to know these peers, you’ll likely have an easier time building deeper friendships.

Reach out to your local community center in your city to find opportunities and groups. Many cities have senior activity centers that are free to the public. You can also search for a local YMCA or the like, which often provides programming for adults of any age.

Finding volunteer opportunities may require some additional research on your part. If you’re passionate about a particular cause, reach out to an organization in your area to ask about volunteer opportunities. If you attend religious services, your place of worship may also host volunteer events to partake in.

No one likes to be judged at face value. When meeting new people, psychiatrist Dr. Rashimi Parmar recommends having an open mind when approaching someone new for a potential friendship. “Try to be a little more forgiving and flexible during your interactions and give the person more time to grow on you,” she shares, “Focus more on the positive aspects of the person while ignoring minor flaws or differences.”

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While there’s a harmony that comes with finding someone similar to you, don’t ignore people with different interests. “Sometimes we gravitate toward people who we feel most similar to, but a lot of richness can come from difference,” says Saba Harouni Lurie, founder of Take Root Therapy.

Working on your self-esteem may be easier said than done, but building up your confidence can be a great help in finding friendships. Parmar encourages patients to engage in self-compassion and positive self-talk on a regular basis.

As you build up confidence in yourself, use this as an opportunity to build self-awareness. Ask yourself what types of relationships you want to have in your life and discover what qualities you bring to a friendship. Having a better understanding of yourself can help you attract people who fit the relationship you’re looking for and weed out fickle friendships.

Friendship is a two-way street. Healthy friendships typically require both parties to feel invested in the relationship. Reciprocity can be a reliable gauge of what value someone puts on a friendship.

Lurie recommends asking yourself, “When you invite someone to talk or to do something, do they accept the invitation? When you ask them a question, do they respond and continue the conversation with their own inquiry?” If the relationship is one-sided, this may not be the right person to focus on.

In a “give and take” relationship, you also don’t want to be all “take.” Be authentic and vulnerable, but don’t use your friendship as an opportunity to take advantage of someone. If you’re the friend who always talks about themselves, be cognizant of also asking and actively listening to the person you’re starting a friendship with.

Make the space and time for new friendships

(Video) 7 Ways to Make Friends At Any Age

Building a friendship requires effort, but once you have that friendship it takes time and resources to sustain it. “Free up your resources of time, energy, and finances so that you can invest some of it toward quality friendships,” recommends Parmar.

It’s difficult to build a relationship if you find yourself lacking the time to engage and spend time together. “If you have a busy schedule and feel burned out by the end of the day, you may have to prioritize your daily schedule and set aside some time over weekends toward this goal,” says Parmar.

While life circumstances come up, carving out the time for friendship will benefit your health and happiness in the long run.

The search for a friend can feel intimidating and you may find yourself feeling like you’re starting from scratch. While you’re making new friends, don’t forget the people you already know,” suggests Tessina.

“Are there acquaintances at work, at church, in your neighborhood, involved in your child’s (or your own) school, or elsewhere with whom you could develop a friendship? Consider reaching out to them,” she encourages. Make an effort to strengthen an existing relationship and see where it takes you.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, society has retreated to remote work — and friendships.

Nadia Charif, a wellness coach and advisor at Coffeeble, has found that her clients can find happiness through online relationships. “A surprising amount of friend-induced happiness can come from digital connections,” she says.

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Charif recommends searching for Facebook groups with people of common interests. “Indeed, my own grandmother is a Facebook maven and is still quite vibrant — socially and emotionally — at the age of 83,” she quips.

Online communities can also make their way into in-person friendships. Try finding local groups on Facebook or find local virtual and in-person events using apps like MeetUp.

If you find that you’re feeling stuck or struggling with emotions during your quest for friendship, consider reaching out to a mental health counselor for support. Parmar finds that sometimes there may be “deep-seated issues like depression, anxiety or trauma-related conditions that need to be addressed first.”

Conditions like depression can fuel social isolation, while anxiety can sometimes cause fears about engaging in social activities. Likewise, you may find it helpful to work on strategies if you feel a bit discouraged or alone.

Finding friends can be challenging at any age but don’t let that deter you from expanding your social circle. Interpersonal relationships contribute to health, happiness, and your overall well-being.

It’s normal to feel nervous or awkward when trying to strike up a friendship. In the long run, stepping out of your comfort zone and keeping an open mind can help you create lasting relationships.

Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.


Is it OK that I have no friends? ›

People need at least a little human contact in order to thrive, and true isolation can take a toll on your overall well-being. If you're not totally isolated, though, and your lack of friends doesn't trouble you, it can be perfectly fine to be satisfied with your own company.

Is it harder to make friends as you age? ›

Making friends takes emotional, and sometimes physical, effort. As we age, making those efforts become increasingly important but may be harder to pull off. It is important to believe that new friends can always be made. People with friendships live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

How do you make new friends at your age? ›

Need an easy way to make friends as an adult? Try joining a trivia team at your favorite bar. "Joining a local trivia team is a great idea because often these groups are made up of people who are laughing and having fun. Adding humor to your life is good for your soul!" says Kulaga.

Why do I struggle to make friends? ›

A very common reason for this difficulty is that many people experience some degree of anxiety when meeting new people. This anxiety stems from a fear of being rejected or judged by others.

How can I attract friends? ›

19 Ways to Attract Friends and Be a People Magnet
  1. Become more self-aware. ...
  2. Show genuine interest in others. ...
  3. Match your words to actions. ...
  4. Make a friendly first impression. ...
  5. Find common ground. ...
  6. Stay in touch. ...
  7. Lend an ear. ...
  8. Show excitement.
16 Mar 2021

How do lonely people behave? ›

When someone feels lonely they are more likely to try to distract themselves with the other things in their lives. So if your colleague is always talking about their stamp collection, or always flying away on exotic solo city breaks rather than spending weekends at home, they might be feeling alone.

Is it normal to have no friends at 40? ›

According to psychologists, people don't change much beyond their 30's. 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.

How do adults find friends? ›

Where do adults find new friends?
  1. Book clubs. If you enjoy reading, you might find that book clubs are a great place to meet new people. ...
  2. Sports leagues. ...
  3. Gaming groups. ...
  4. Adult education classes. ...
  5. Friendship apps. ...
  6. Parenting groups. ...
  7. Senior centers. ...
  8. Churches or spiritual groups.
20 May 2022

What age do people stop making friends? ›

It turns out there's an age for when serious new-friend-making stops, and that age is 25. According to a study, the average person's peak mobile phone usage happens at 25, and then it goes downhill from there.

What to do when you're lonely and have no friends? ›

If you are unsure where to meet new people, then here are some ideas:
  1. Attend a club or organization meeting. Sometimes they will have an open house for potential members. ...
  2. Take a class. This is another good way to meet new people. ...
  3. Meet people at work. ...
  4. Join a social media group. ...
  5. Get out more.
8 Oct 2021

How do you make friends if you have none? ›

You can search for topics that interest you on Facebook groups, Meetup, or Discord. Online friendships can be as rewarding as real ones. But if you want to transition to real friendships, look for local groups. It'll be less awkward to talk to someone at a live meetup if you've already gotten to know each other online.

Why I cant get close to people? ›

People say they feel too different, shy, depressed, anxious, or insecure to connect meaningfully. Others find it difficult to trust people, or their lives are just too busy to make enough time for their friendships. Even physical ailments make some people reluctant to open themselves up to others.

Why do friends always leave me? ›

Maybe you become clingy and needy in your friendships – or at the other extreme, you might pull away completely. If you faced a lot of loneliness growing up, you might not fear being alone as such but the risk of losing someone again is simply too much to bear.

Do shy people have trouble making friends? ›

In general though, here are the ways shy people have a harder time meeting friends: They're more hesitant to start conversations, especially with larger groups. They aren't as smooth or at ease during the opening small talk / getting to know you stages of a conversation with someone new.

Why do I have no friends? ›

When someone doesn't have friends it's almost never because their core personality is unlikable. It's usually due to a mix of interfering factors such as: They're not knowledgeable about the skills for making friends. They're too shy, socially anxious, insecure, or unconfident to pursue friendships.

How can I be attractive? ›

11 scientific ways to make yourself look and feel more attractive
  1. Get your sweat on. Break a sweat and it could help lift your spirits. ...
  2. Give some compliments. ...
  3. Put a smile on. ...
  4. Give yourself a pep talk. ...
  5. Don't self-sabotage. ...
  6. Assess your relationships with others. ...
  7. Have a sense of humor. ...
  8. Have sex.
9 Aug 2017

How do I meet positive people? ›

Ten Ways You Can Attract Positive People
  1. Say Positive Affirmations Before Going to Social Events. ...
  2. Eliminate Negative People from Your Life. ...
  3. Show Gratitude. ...
  4. Go to Social Events That are Out of Your Comfort Zone. ...
  5. Be Flexible. ...
  6. Avoid Negativity. ...
  7. Help Others and Give Love. ...
  8. Stop Being Judgmental.
25 Oct 2020

Is it common to have no friends at all? ›

Not having friends might feel inherently shameful. But it's not. Today, being friendless is more and more common. Whether it's high-profile celebrities or other famous people, it's challenging to develop and keep close friendships.

What does it mean if you have no friends? ›

When someone doesn't have friends it's almost never because their core personality is unlikable. It's usually due to a mix of interfering factors such as: They're not knowledgeable about the skills for making friends. They're too shy, socially anxious, insecure, or unconfident to pursue friendships.

Is it normal for a teenager to have no friends? ›

There are many reasons why a child may not have many, or any, friends. She might be noticeably different, either physically or intellectually. He may lack social skills or a have a personality that puts off others his own age. He might not share the same interests as his classmates (for example he may hate sports).

Why do I dont have friends? ›

Lack of friends can be a result of reading signals incorrectly. Many people think other people don't like them, so they don't like them in return and thus it goes on and on and before you know it, you hate that person, before you've even spoken to them.


1. I’ve struggled to make friends my whole life. But something is changing.
(Nathaniel Drew)
2. How To Make Friends As A Grown-Ass Man
3. How do you make new friends in your 30's and 40's?
(The Minimalists)
4. Decrease SOCIAL ANXIETY and MAKE FRIENDS at Any Age with 3 Science Backed Strategies
(Explearning with Mary Daphne)
5. How to Meet New People - 6 Tips for Making More Friends
(Thomas Frank)
6. 10 Tips for Making Friends at Any Age | According to Experts | Hamzah Life
(Hamzah Life)
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