Friends around life
July 3, 2019 8:27 PM   Subscribe

How do I make friends at different stages of (their) life? I would like to get to know people in my community that are young, old, little families, everyone.

I am a youngish (early 30s) woman living in a new city. I have good friends here, but they are all in the same stage of life as me, single or a few married, no kids (good friends have kids but not locally). I’d like to expand my orbit. I would love to hang out with 50-somethings, with families with kids, with 80-somethings, with everyone.

My friends seem to all get annoyed with the people around them in life (especially babies on planes but also just in general) but I am that person who wants to sit next to the baby or become BFFs with the random woman next to me or whatever. Buttttt I’m not super (or at all) outwardly friendly to strangers.

I’ve done some community things but I am quiet before I get to know people so it can be hard to connect. And unfortunately a lot of the things I like, even when they get me out and about, are solo-ish or not conducive to meeting people. But given a little time I warm up to people easily. Any ideas?
posted by sillysally to Human Relations (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there a community wellbeing sort of place near you? I go to one located in but independent from my local church, they offer Capacitar, yoga, mindfulness, aromatherapy massage etc. Another place has just opened with yoga for parenting, a book club (example book - a woman's memoir of going from working in finance to traveling to India to train as a yoga teacher, the author gave a talk). That place is called The Wee Retreat you could get an idea from their site of what to Google locally. From my experience with the church wellbeing centre, there is a wide range of ages there (I'm 49) and people often have time for a cup of tea and a chat afterwards. In fact at my place they put out flasks of hot water and herbal teabags for people to take free/ donation. I have had some really good chats despite being pretty introverted, chatting about what people are reading currently etc. If you hated the book Eat, Pray, Love and that all sounds too woo feel free to ignore me, but I think it's a great way to meet like-minded people.
posted by AuroraSky at 9:01 PM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's such a stereotype, but explore whatever hobbies or interests you have. Is there a group or place related to one of your hobbies? Is there a place you can volunteer that's related to one of your interests?

Now, depending on your hobbies and interests, they may skew toward one age group or another, but this is how I've found a group of friends that cover a wide age range (for me, it's been through a particular author or through comic books, but whatever works for you. I know other people have certain music artists or music in general, or various tech or crafts or whatever).

But it takes time! For me, it was just showing up at things repeatedly and then other people who also showed up at these things repeatedly began to recognize me and I began to recognize them and then we were friends! And then they introduced me to their friends.

(I am in my [very] late 30s, but I have friends who range in age from early 20s to early 70s. So I know this is possible. I think a lot of it is just being open to the possibility of anyone being your friend. Good luck!)
posted by darksong at 9:14 PM on July 3, 2019


Unitarian church activities, YMCA/YWCA, volunteering, potluck meet-ups.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:14 PM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Hit enter too soon -- check out the group activities, classes, and volunteer opportunities at your local library.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:15 PM on July 3, 2019


Well, have you tried starting with your neighbours? Try bringing their bins in at night after garbage pickup for a bit of goodwill or invite them over for a cup of tea and see where it goes. We are good friends with all our neighbours regardless of age or place in life (my best friend out of them all is my next door neighbour who is 85). We regularly have dinner parties, play dates with the ones who have little kids and 50th birthday parties with the ones who don’t. And we only know them because we all happened to buy in the same cul de sac and make an effort to get along.
posted by Jubey at 2:48 AM on July 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Seek out things that people with little kids can't easily do - I know you don't have kids yourself, but a lot of people your age do, so looking for things that they can't easily do means you're more likely to find a higher proportion of retirees, younger people, etc.

So - rambling/hiking/other outdoor activity groups that go out for the whole day, or even away for the weekend; evening classes/volunteering opportunities/choirs that take place around kiddie tea time and bed time. For me it's been wild swimming (as flinging yourself into cold water is tricky with tiny kids in tow), which has a high proportion of interesting, active older folk.

And, as you correctly say, these things can take time, even for the most gregarious - I've had volunteering friendships that have taken a couple of years to really step out and stand on their own two feet outside the volunteering.

(Sorry, re-reading your question I see you're also asking about meeting families with young kids - I guess this is advice for hitting all your other groups but not those - IME there's often a divide between "stuff families with little kids do" (which is often all just families with little kids) and "stuff people who don't have little kids do", just because the demands are so different for little kids and everyone else in terms of interest, safety, attention span, need for supervision etc.)
posted by penguin pie at 3:59 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


One place in town where I see people of all ages is the library. It hosts many events that appeal to a wide range of people including movies, lectures, concerts, book and craft clubs and book sales. Attending these is one possibility or there might be opportunities to volunteer.
posted by Botanizer at 5:01 AM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


When I was involved in a community garden, I became friends with parents of small children (and their kiddos) to high schoolers to college kids to the retirees!
posted by astapasta24 at 5:28 AM on July 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


If you've ever considered getting a dog, that would help. Walking my dog in the park every morning (and in the past local dog runs) has brought me the widest variety of acquaintances and friends. Plus a common subject matter so easy to strike up conversations.
posted by newpotato at 5:46 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Join a community service club: Friends of the Library is my jam, but the historical society, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, whatever seems to fit your needs. I meet a lot of older people that way, and I end up meeting families through the service things we do.

I don't know where you live, but neighbors are also a good source of this kind of networking; if there's a way for you to spend time outside near your home (yard, stoop, cafe), you'll start seeing the same people and that can lead to relationships.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:17 AM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


MeetUp? The groups I've been to have had people of all ages in them. I have social anxiety, so I go to the more low key ones like coloring. As I've started to warm up, I've been more talkative and sociable.

So, yeah, MeetUp.
posted by kathrynm at 7:49 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Volunteer at a few different organizations until you find one that has the mix you're looking for.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:13 AM on July 4, 2019


I answered earlier but came back to say I have had mixed-to-good results with Meetup. I have social anxiety, and tried joining a mental health support group, a group to see films together, and a group to see pop/rock concerts together. The support group was good but had quite a turnover over a year, I slightly drifted away and felt reluctant to go to meets with a lot of new names listed. If someone I knew already was going that made it easier. The film group was fine but sometimes met quite close to the film start time, and didn't discuss the film for long after either, so there wasn't much additional benefit versus going alone. Under a different organiser there would often be films on a Friday evening and people would gather to socialise in the multiplex bar afterwards and despite only drinking one pint it felt more like a "going out" experience. The concert group tended to be more extrovert than me which made me retreat into myself. I read that kathrynm said she favours low key groups like coloring I never knew such a thing existed, that would be perfect for me. Overall I would say definitely consider Meetup but don't hesitate to try a few different groups before narrowing down the ones you stick with.
posted by AuroraSky at 8:23 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Friendship is more likely with a shared interest and repeated time spent together. It takes time. My recommendations are based on where I or friends have made new friends.
- Adult Ed, community/ college classes in anything that interests you. Bonus: learn stuff, make pottery, etc.
- Get Red Cross certified and Babysit; make a little money, and maybe make friends with families.
- I have a hobby and have made strong friends with people in our group. Ravelry has meetups, people make fierce knitting friendships. Society for Creative Anachronism, MeFi Meetups.
- Volunteer. Start a litter pickup group in your neighborhood, meet for a 90 minutes once a week. Build houses once a month with Habitat, etc. Do ticket check and seating for the local concert and event venue, and attend concerts and make friends.
- Book group. If you start one on Meetup, have a theme. Book groups that are very general don't do well. Many libraries have book groups and they are perfect for bookish introverts
posted by theora55 at 9:34 AM on July 4, 2019


Join a church or other religious group! This obviously may not work if you aren’t interested in religion of any stripe, but a lot of more liberal places (including my Episcopal church) are very open to “seekers” on their journey, even if they’re more interested in community service and book discussions than coming to worship services. I get the sense this is true for some Jewish communities as well.

This is how I have 60, 70, and 80 year old friends. It’s great for meeting and talking to people from all parts of life.
posted by bananacabana at 10:07 AM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Volunteer at a senior center! Often people are lonely and eager for conversation.
posted by 8603 at 10:31 AM on July 4, 2019


Previously. I've met most of my current friends through OKCupid (you can indicate that you're just looking for friendship, or get good at being friends with people who don't work out romantically), and they've had a lot of success with Bumble BFF. In my experience, it's easier to make friends once you have a couple friends who have a rich social life themselves that you can tap into.
posted by quiet coyote at 1:17 PM on July 4, 2019


What are the demographics of your job like and is there scope to socialise with your co-workers? YMMV, but my work-friends are of all ages, which is really nice.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:58 AM on July 5, 2019


The closest I've found to this was a community recreational music class, specifically taiko drumming. I think anything that doesn't specifically exclude people of different ages/abilities and requires consistent regular participation is probably the most important part. That's why so many people recommend church.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 5:04 AM on July 5, 2019


Have you explored any cohousing or intentional communities in your area? I live in one and I love it. Different types of family units, multigenerational, people starting out, retirees. We use a consensus model to make community decisions and, not going to lie, it can be maddening sometimes. It's like a family where there are highs and lows. I moved into one from living in Manhattan and just being surrounded by millions knowing nobody to being surrounded by 38 households where I have a personal connection with everyone. It is refreshing.
posted by spec80 at 7:31 PM on July 7, 2019


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