Cultivating friendships takes work but offers rich rewards


By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer

Having friends to share things with is important for one’s happiness and longevity.
Having friends to share things with is important for one’s happiness and longevity.

REGION – As we get older, making friends can become quite challenging. People are focused on their careers if they are still working, families and often times also providing care for an older parent. This can leave little time for friendships and a social life. 

When you are younger, making friends seems easier to do. In school, whether K-12 or college, you are surrounded by people. Once you have children, there are playgroups, sports and more to put you in a position to meet people. You really don’t even have to think about how to make friends. 

Things to try

If you are new to an area, there are many things you can do to try and meet people. Joining a club with common interests is a great way to meet new people. This could be a reading group, dinner club, gym class, card game, travel, walking or hiking club and more. 

“Often the Council on Aging in your town has something for active seniors aged fifty and above,” said Jennifer Lish, a clinical psychologist in Worcester. “Vintage Vagabonds in Holden, the hiking club in Princeton, Audubon sanctuaries, YMCAs and Jewish community centers are all great resources for activities. Do something with other people every day. Friendships will happen,” she explained.

Putting yourself out there can be hard, but it is important to be friendly and approachable with a genuine smile. Be confident enough to initiate a conversation, whether it be in the grocery store or the gym. 

If you have children, think about things you did when they were younger. You might have organized an outing or a playgroup to include the parents so you could get to know them better. Or you joined the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to get involved in your community and meet other adults. Now that you are older, you can still get involved in your community. 

“I recently decided to start playing pickleball and joined a group that was on the court,” said Janet Lavine of Westborough. “They were very welcoming and friendly, and I’ve met people I never would have had the opportunity to meet all while doing something that’s fun while getting exercise at the same time.” 

Volunteering opens many doors

Volunteering is a great way to give back and socialize. Many towns have needs for volunteers at food pantries, the library, community gardens, schools and more. 

Getting involved in your community and beyond is a great way to cultivate friendships. Participate in town politics and say ‘yes’ to attending events. Reach out on social media to friends of friends. Strike up conversations at coffee shops, stores, and other settings. These casual meetings can sometimes lead to real friendships. 

The internet also plays an important role in helping to put like-minded people together on websites like and There are literally hundreds of Meet Up groups for a wide array of interests like photography, hiking, baking, Mahjong, museums, book discussion and more. The site is also very easy to navigate. 

If you are employed, a great way to cultivate friendships is to suggest an activity to join in after work. If you have a significant other, getting to know their coworkers can also widen your circle of friends. 

Pets are also a great way to meet people just by being out and about with your furry friend. A dog park is also a really good way to meet people who share a love of dogs. Reaching out to neighbors in a friendly way and even inviting them over for a meal or drinks can spark a real friendship.  

The benefits are proven

Jillian Goltzman, a writer for Healthline, said, “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.’”

Cultivating friendships takes work and you need to make a conscious effort. Nobody wants to be lonely. Having friends to share things with is important for one’s happiness and longevity. 



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