It’s not so easy to make new friends when we get older and being introverted makes this task even more challenging. However, there are good reasons to build your own little tribe, and it’s really not as hard as it seems.
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Making friends has never been a priority for me. As an introvert, I’ve always enjoyed and valued my alone time more than anything else. In fact, I have jokingly expressed on more than a few occasions how I’d be better off living with animals instead of having to deal with people! Dealing with others can take us there sometimes. Because of my introverted ways, I’ve never had a bunch of associates, but I did and still do have a few that I genuinely consider friends.
Side note: I feel like we throw the term “friends” around way too loosely. After all, just because you interact with someone daily doesn’t mean that they are your friend and vice versa. Here’s to being more intentional with our words!
Being that my family has moved from place to place over the last 17 years, there were times I’ve had to force myself into meeting new people, which has surprisingly led to some lasting and precious relationships. In my younger years, I was very timid and introverted. It would take everything within me to walk up to someone and strike up a conversation.
Some of my friends who may be reading this might think I’m delusional because it would seem that I actually form new friendships pretty easily. While I admit this is somewhat true, I’m still very selective with those I choose to spend my time with–especially now that I’m older. I’m also still very much an introvert and at times deal with social anxiety, but I’ve found that once I hit my 40s, it somehow became more natural to approach people I didn’t know.
During a conversation with one of my besties a few years ago, the topic of making new friends came up. We both came to the conclusion that the older you get, the more difficult it is to build and sustain new, meaningful friendships. For one thing, there isn’t much tolerance for foolishness. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to claiming someone as your new person. And for most women over 40, peace is the top priority above all else. I believe this is the primary reason people become more introverted as they grow older.
So when it comes to connecting with others on a level beyond a simple “Hello, how are you?”, there are a few things to consider. As it is, most women are already cautious as to who to trust, and most everyone is suspect. Toss in an introverted personality into the mix, and the process becomes a little more complicated. Whenever I meet a woman that could potentially be the one I could hang out with, here are a few things I ask myself:
–Are her intentions genuine?
–Why does she seem so interested in me?
–Is this someone I would want to have my phone number?
-What is her personality type?
–What value will this person add to my life, and what can I offer them?
Do Women Actually Need Relationships With Other Women?
Being totally transparent, there was a time in my life when I had absolutely no desire to connect with other women. I felt many were mean-spirited and bossy, which is part of the reason I didn’t have many friends. There was no time for two-faced fakeness, so I hid behind my introverted personality for a long time. I later realized that not only do I need other women, but someone may also need me.
Women over 40 lead interesting lives. Most of us are established with a variety of interests. Many of us have traveled to several parts of the world and are often experiencing loneliness along with trying to figure out where we fit in–and if we even want to. A lot of us are done with the first part of living but are in the infancy stages of the second chapter of life. All of this considered, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s a little challenging to develop brand new friendships with other women we don’t even know.
As relational beings, women benefit significantly from fostering friendships with other women, and research supports this. Some studies even suggest that women who endure loneliness die earlier and get sick more often.
A quality group of women is one of the best support groups you’ll ever have. We learn from each other and help one another to grow in ways men cannot. Some women will say that their spouse is their best friend. There’s nothing wrong with that. I share this same sentiment about my husband. However, when it comes to talking about specific issues and ideas that only another woman will understand, I prefer to share with my small circle of friends.
Meeting New Friends as an Introverted Woman Over 40
Introverts don’t want or need a plethora of friends. We don’t need to be the center of attention, small talk is one of the worst things ever, we listen more than we speak, and some people can only be tolerated in small doses. We enjoy our own company and rejoice when plans to go out get canceled. This is who we are, but we do make great companions!
It’s so vital that introverts connect with other people who are willing and able to accept their unique differences. They must understand that boundaries are set to prevent insanity. The women in my circle acknowledge this, and they are okay with all of it.
As I’ve mentioned before, at this stage of life, women over 40 generally don’t have the time or desire to entertain anyone or anything that’s energy-draining.
So, with all of these stipulations, how do we make friends? Well, there are a few ways.
1. Online Communities
Not too long ago, I came across a post on Facebook that suggested that the people you meet on social media aren’t your real friends. While I believe this to be true, I also know from firsthand experience that it’s entirely possible to make real connections with people you initially start conversations with over a shared post.
Social media groups and other online communities such as virtual book clubs are golden for introverts. We can follow along without saying anything unless we want to and no one really cares. I belong to a couple of special interest groups on Facebook that focuses on topics I am passionate about. I’ve actually met some amazing people by participating in group discussions.
If you are active on social media, find a group that interests you and perhaps you’ll find a new virtual friend who you could one day meet in person for a cup of tea.
2. Places of Worship
If you go to church, I’m sure you’re used to the pastor telling you to turn to your neighbor to greet them. Honestly, I don’t like that part of the service because it feels weird. The other thing I strongly dislike about church sometimes is, that’s the one place besides school and work that you will find cliques. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is. However, I’ve met some friendly, caring women at church, some of whom I still communicate with till this very day.
Join a women’s group or another auxiliary where you can use your gifts to uplift and encourage other women. I’m sure you’ll connect with someone who needs you just as much as you need them.
3. Outings, Gatherings & Events
Do I attend very many social events? Nope. But, when I do, I always try to connect with at least one person there. Just think about it. Of all the people in the room, you can guarantee that someone else there feels just as socially awkward as you do. In fact, as I’m writing this, I just received a message from one of my girlfriends I met at an event a while back. We’ve been friends for over ten years now.
Let me start by saying, I know we don’t go to work to make friends, we go to make money. Also, some colleagues can get on your last nerves! However, every once in awhile, you’ll meet a unicorn or two that will make it hard for you to move on to another place of employment.
I can honestly say that work is where I’ve met a few of my closest friends. These are friends that make going to work every morning more enjoyable. I think everyone should work with at least one person who makes them feel this way.
It takes time and effort to cultivate meaningful and lasting friendships, but it’s totally worth it. Again, as an introverted woman over 40, you don’t need to have a gazillion friends. At the same time, you also shouldn’t think that you can do this life alone. Women thrive together, so use intention and wisdom to find your tribe. A few good friends can make living so much better.
All the best always and thank you for reading.