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Feeling Older?  Puleeze. Making New Friends

September 10, 2018

by Amy Epstein

My Upper West Side Caring Collaborative group met last night. Thirteen members showed up—a record number for a very muggy July meeting!  The topic picked by our hostess was about making new friends, specifically, how easy, or hard, it is to do that now that we’re older.
There were many opinions, which I’ll attempt to summarize here.

Generally, everyone thought it was totally possible to make new friends now.  I think everyone also agreed that TTN is extremely valuable as an organization to provide those networking opportunities through mingles and meetings of Transition Peer Groups, Special Interest Groups and Caring Collaborative Neighborhood Groups.

Here are some of our thoughts on friendship. I’m giving these thoughts my own organizing titles:
* Provincialism:  We may have preconceived notions of friendships that often turn out to not be helpful, such as “I probably won’t find a friend who lives on the Upper East Side”, said one Upper West Side member who confessed to overcoming those notions as she subsequently made friends with TTN’ers in many neighborhoods, including the Upper East Side.
* Fear of Rejection: It’s difficult to make a friendly outreach if you’re afraid of having it rejected.  Many in the group nodded their heads in agreement.  However, one member volunteered that often, turning down a request to get together could be because the person you’re contacting has other things going on.  “It’s not you she’s rejecting,” she said. “It’s just other things, so please let’s try again.”
* Shyness: Some of us are just not that outgoing.  Meeting new people and extending a friendly handshake is not something that may come easily.  It’s worth trying to overcome that but realize that the more TTN events you attend, the more women you’d get to know to potentially find friends.
* Finding Close Friends Now is Harder:  It’s true that our childhood friends may have lived nearby, or been in our classes and, therefore, shared many of our life experiences. Given those commonalities, it was relatively easy to find mutually compatible people with whom we could find our friends. 
That doesn’t mean that we can’t now.  We just have to try a little harder. Meeting and talking to other women in TTN is a huge help in finding some commonalities and shared interests.  Another is a willingness to suggest getting together: for coffee, a movie, a museum visit. 
TTN Special Interest Groups (SIGs) may be particularly helpful, since members with similar interests join them.  As an example, this link is to TTN’s SIGs, and you can see how many different interests are included (you must log on with your email and password):
Finally, don’t be dismayed or discouraged if the person turns you down, especially if she says, “I can’t right now but let’s do it another time”.  Life is just getting in the way of a new potential friendship.