At 72, I’m still constantly making new friends. I look for people with similar interests and am always open to new connections.

    Louisa Rogers and her husband Barry, right, enjoy hanging out with friends together.

    Courtesy Louisa Rogers

    Last week, my friend Robbie and I cycled along a bike path for about three miles, then locked our bikes and walked through brush to a small beach. No one was around, so I had a nude dip, and afterward, we sat on a rock and talked.

    Robbie is my only bicycling friend, and soon we’ll be cycling even more, because we both recently acquired spiffy new electric bikes. I got to know her through another friend whom I met on a retreat. Getting “out there” and circulating is one way I make friends.

    Creating friendships is harder as you get older, but it’s important

    I’m 72 years old, and in my experience, making friends when we’re older takes more initiative and creativity. We may be retired, divorced, or widowed, or have moved closer to our kids, knowing no one and having to start over.

    When my husband Barry and I moved to Eureka, California, 23 years ago, we knew nobody. But over the years, we’ve found ways to make friends in a few different ways.

    Look for people with similar interests

    My friend Beth, whom I met at a meditation group, is my oldest contact in Eureka. One day I ran into her and discovered she worked five minutes away from our apartment. Barry and I invited her for lunch, and she and I discovered we had more in common, including the fact that we had both grown up partly on the East Coast and that our parents lived in the same county.

    I made another friend at a Spanish-language meetup. Because Barry and I spend winters in Guanajuato, a city in central Mexico, I wanted to become more fluent in the language. At the meetup, I asked if anyone would like to meet regularly and chat in Spanish. Ever since, Sue and I have met every week to walk and talk — although, I confess, as we shared more and more about our lives, we reverted to English (so much for practicing).

    Louisa Rogers is intentional about strengthening connections with old friends.

    Courtesy Louisa Rogers

    Always be open to new connections

    I keep an eye out for potential candidates because I’ve lost friends to moves and deaths. I’ll ask someone out for coffee and see how it goes. Occasionally I end up wondering why I bothered, but usually I’m glad I did, because even if the connection doesn’t turn into a friendship, it’s worthwhile. A few years ago, for example, I discovered that a woman I’d invited out for coffee earlier was an accomplished painter. Since then, I’ve developed my own watercolor practice, and she has become a supportive mentor.

    Last week, my yoga teacher mentioned that she was studying yoga therapy. Curious, I asked her if we could have tea so I could find out about it. I don’t know if we’ll become friends, but if nothing else, I’ll learn about a kind of therapy I’d never heard of.

    Stay connected with old friends online and in person

    While I was growing up, my family moved a lot, so I treat old friends as my roots. I sleuth around on the internet, where I’ve found two pals from my teen years who I’d lost touch with.

    A few years ago, a writer friend from high school helped me edit an essay I wrote about the death of my teenage brother. She leads writing retreats in Mexico, so we share a love not only of writing, but of Mexico.

    Recently, I sent her a few questions — about what she’s currently focusing on, reading, how her family members are doing, and so on — which I also answered. The interchange turned out to be both illuminating and fun.

    Focus more on individual friends than couple friends

    Barry and I don’t have many couple friends, and for a long time it bothered me that we’ve rarely been part of what our single friends call the “couple culture.” But I find couple friends to be overrated — a four-way quadrant dynamic is usually less intimate than a one-on-one or three-way connection. Generally, he has his friends, and I have mine, and occasionally they overlap, and that works just fine for us.

    Mulling over my friends past and present, I think of the message I learned from the round we used to sing in Girl Scouts when I was 9: “Make new friends, but keep the old / one is silver, and the other gold.” This timeless truth still applies to my life today.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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